By Swami Chetanananda
Forgiveness is the beginning of transformation. Anger is the nails that hold our story firmly in place. We’ve each got a story about who did us wrong. There’s only one thing to do about it, and that’s to forgive—really forgive. Forget about it. Forgive and forget so that we can let our story go, because our story is what anchors us in the past and the past is something we absolutely, definitely cannot change. Thinking about it for even a minute is useless.
Instead, we need to bring the energy of our awareness into the moment, remembering that there is blood in our veins and our arteries and breath in our lungs and a heart in our chest and at least the possibility of love in our hearts and in our life. Let’s turn our attention to that. It’s not about rewriting the story, but throwing it out completely. All the work that we need to do is the work of shoveling the story out into the garden so that something else can grow besides our warts.
In doing spiritual work, we have to make an effort to turn our attention inside. People whose energy is completely externalized, who are walking around in the world captured by the external appearances and the need for some kind of feedback, people who are focused outside, looking for food and energy, are lost. Any transformation begins with reclaiming our energy and our attention and bringing it inside and holding it there. It really is work.
Here’s the interesting thing: I say, “Do the work” and most all of us think of cause and effect; work and change. So we say, “I am working on something, and I expect it to be different.” Well, in doing spiritual work, the work that we do is not the effect that we expect. The work that we do is clearing the pipes so that the clear energy that is the abundance of Ultimate Love of the Ultimate Reality can flow in our own channels and express itself through us into the field of our life. So, when I say, “I’m not writing another story”, I mean that I threw out the old story to create some space for the life of my life that is beyond the limitations of my mind and emotions and this physical world. That way, the life of my life can begin to be awakened and discover its own voice and express itself as my life in ways that are richer and more beautiful than I could have ever possibly imagined.
So it might be a good thing to think about all those anger nails that you’ve driven into your feet and your hands, because they hold you to a state that is an expression of the limitation of your mind and emotions and not of the potential that is present in the love in your heart.
There’s another point about this that is important to understand. That is: forgiveness has nothing to do with anybody else but us. It’s not like the person you’re forgiving deserves or doesn’t deserve forgiving. That’s completely irrelevant. They might. But it’s not about expecting that somebody else deserves or is going to change because of your forgiving them. It may happen…it may not. It’s not really relevant. The issue is that the tensions that we carry within ourselves completely obstruct our ability to deeply internalize our own experiences as nourishment and grow as human beings. It’s that simple.
The reason that we are concerned about forgiveness is because, quite simply, healing happens in the context of flow. It is circulation coming to the tissue that facilitates the healing process on a physical level, and the same is true more deeply within us in our hearts and souls. It is flow that facilitates healing. Forgiveness is the beginning of flow. Releasing tension allows for flow to take place, and it will do so on its own. The degree to which we cultivate our awareness of this experience is the degree to which we become ever more deeply informed about this completely crazy circumstance that we’re in and able to come to a place of complete, or almost complete, peace within it.