Week Three: Virtue of Forgiveness
Once your authentic-self gains enough awareness to align your intentions, words, and actions, you begin to understand the relationship between you and others through the principles of entanglement. As you practice (intend to connect to) the Virtue of Understanding and it becomes integrated (downloaded) into your human system, it will naturally reveal its outward expression (activate its program): forgiveness.
The Virtue of Forgiveness is the key to liberation from the judgment of the past and the inevitable changes of the present and future. Understanding the connection between your mind and body, yourself and others, your surroundings and your life situations, and how all of this is linked to super-consciousness brings you to the point of non-judgment. This is because, while you may not be fully aware of other systems intentions, actions, and behaviors, you recognize that, like yourself, their expressions and interactions are also influenced by many other entangled factors (of which neither you nor they are fully aware). Consequently, you could not possibly judge what appears to be their objective (independent) behavior, as it has been initiated wholly or partially by subjective (dependent) factors through entanglement principles. When the authority of judgment is taken away from you by the light of your own awareness, you begin to accept what is. You begin to accept yourself, others, life circumstances, and the higher power through your own understanding. You let go of whatever cannot be understood and/or accepted through this process. This letting-go in good faith is the Virtue of Forgiveness. The beauty of this virtue is that you can practice it from the smallest to the most complex circumstances beyond the condition of time or space. This means you can travel through your heart and mind to a different time or space to initiate forgiveness. This is one of the first multidimensional practices in this book.
A deep human being feels pain and allows oneself to suffer because that’s part of the human experience. Without acknowledging that you’ve been wounded and you’ve lost something, you don’t gain the benefit of the experience—of acknowledging that you’ve been hurt and mistreated, but also of healing. And so there is a power that comes from the experience. But a deep human being also lets go of their suffering—he or she doesn’t maintain it forever, doesn’t create his or her personality around it, doesn’t use it as a weapon. You don’t cling to the negative part of the experience so that you can have something to hold accountable for your failures.
Fred Luskin, Ph.D.13
Observation and Action:
This week, focus your awareness and action toward forgiveness throughout the entirety of your daily experience. Start by considering minor subjects and slowly approach more sensitive matters once you feel prepared. Fortunately, it is very easy to find opportunities to forgive others, your surroundings, and, most importantly, yourself in daily life. If focusing more deeply on this practice, you may be surprised to find how many small events in your day can serve as objects of your forgiveness, saving you from generating micro-negativity that can accumulate to weigh you down. You can forgive the mosquito for biting you, the sidewalk for tripping you, the taxi driver for cutting you off, your back for aching, your mind for generating unwelcome thoughts, and much more. In addition, you can reinforce your practice by focusing on the feeling of lightness or relief that each act of forgiveness conveys.
At the end of each day, spend your 20 to 40 minutes of daily contemplation either to continue practicing forgiveness or to consider and record your acts of forgiveness that occurred throughout the day and how they made you feel (and whether you feel they are, indeed, completely forgiven).
You can also include contemplation and action based on the instruction below, provided by Fred Luskin, Ph.D., director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project and the author of Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness.
The first step is to fully acknowledge the harm done, whether by you or somebody else, and to own the fact that you’ve lost something—that you didn’t get something you wanted, and it hurts. In a therapeutic context, that could be painful work. Sometimes it takes therapeutic work before somebody’s ready to forgive because they’ve suppressed a bad experience or been in denial about it, and it may take an effort to get them to acknowledge the harm or its consequences.
The second step of the grief process is to experience the feelings normally associated with the negative experience. It’s not enough just to have someone say, “Hey, I was beaten for 12 years and I want to get over it” if they’ve never been miserable about their suffering. They’re going to have to be miserable before they let it go. I’ve never met anyone who suffered real loss and didn’t suffer at some level. You experience a range of emotions—you’re sad, you’re scared. But when you forgive, you understand that there are other options besides continued suffering. You’re not letting go of the event—that’s immutable. But you can transform the emotional response to it.
The third and final step is that what you're grieving can’t be a secret. I try not to let people forgive stuff that they haven’t shared with others because there’s such good research on resilience showing that people who go through harmful experiences and don’t tell anybody have much worse consequences than people who do tell others. The human connection is central to healing.
Remember that by holding back forgiveness and maintaining a negative response to the memory of a situation you affect your own well-being (often more than you are affecting the would-be object of your forgiveness). It has been found that forgiveness can lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as reducing levels of depression, anxiety, and anger. People who tend to forgive generally have more and better relationships with others, feel happier and more hopeful, and score higher on just about every measure of psychological well-being.
Duration and Frequency:
Focus on forgiveness throughout all your interactions over the course of one week.
Record your 20 to 40 minutes of reflection in your Development Log at the end of each day.