Welcome to my blog!

We find ourselves in challenging times. To meet them more easily, I believe involves challenging ourselves to move beyond old, established habits and patterns.

Perhaps I am a bit late fully entering into the 21st century by starting my blog now, in 2010! In that my work and message has so much to do with slowing down and settling into a deeper knowing beyond and prior to our cultural modes, it may be appropriate to step extra slowly into the world of blogging and other cyber realities.

I suspect that, if you are drawn to my blog and the words here, you may also value this slower, deeper state we are all capable of. I invite you to read on and regularly, and hope the words below can support you in enhancing your ability to be, even in the midst of all the doing required in our modern world.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Surprised by Forgiveness

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

As I sat the other day to practice metta (loving kindness) meditation, I had a profound experience, which seems worthy of sharing, and hopefully of benefit to others.

Part of my metta practice is to forgive all beings that may have hurt or harmed me in any way. I also request forgiveness of anyone I may have hurt or harmed. To all beings, I wish happiness, peace, and liberation.

I began with sending metta to all those affected by the recent terrorism in Paris, including all of those suffering, sad or afraid.

Then something unusual happened as I intended to forgive anyone who may have hurt or harmed me. My mind returned to the Parisian scene of terror. I found myself thinking of those who bombed, shot and murdered so many people, and planned the attacks. As I considered the possibility of forgiving these intentional killers, I was astonished by a tingly warmth spreading in my heart. I understood suddenly that each of them had been acting according to his beliefs, doing what he believed to be good. This was a shocking thought to me, but my heart warmed with forgiveness.

Then, I thought of those responsible for 9/11, and a similar process occurred. Then came the Nazis! The Nazis? Can we possibly forgive the unforgiveable? Yes, the same warm feeling flowed through my heart. Finally, there were the Cossacks whose Pogroms terrorized my ancestors in Russia, leading them to flee to America.

Eventually, my mind included those responsible for promoting toxic pharmaceuticals, resulting in exacerbated illness and needlessly expensive deaths. Then the American pioneers cold bloodedly destroying the Indians and their land, colonials mistreating aboriginal peoples around the world, slave traders selling human beings for profit, the objectification of women, of children, of anyone who varies from “normal” or isn’t in power…  

Was this different from the terrorist acts this week? Could forgiveness go that far?

The feeling in my heart was undeniable. My intellect needed to catch up.
Forgiveness is quite different from condoning. I do not in any way approve of destructive, violent or disrespectful behavior, and feel it is important to acknowledge what has happened and the pain it has provoked. Yet, without denying or overlooking these acts, I can forgive. I can pardon those who have acted out of their own suffering, ignorance or error.

In the process of being stunned by my own process of forgiveness, I remembered then Thich Nhat Hanh who wrote the following poem, inspired by his own anger about a twelve year old girl, a refugee raped by a sea pirate while escaping across the Gulf of Siam. The girl threw herself into the sea. The wise Vietnamese monk wrote,

“I was very angry, of course. But I could not take sides against the sea pirate. If I could have, it would have been easier, but I couldn't. I realized that if I had been born in his village and had lived a similar life -economic, educational, and so on - it is likely that I would now be that sea pirate. So it is not easy to take sides. Out of suffering, I wrote this poem. It is called "Please Call Me by My True Names," because I have many names, and when you call me by any of them, I have to say, ‘Yes.’”

Please Call Me by My True Names
Don't say that I will depart tomorrow --
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

And, so, my mind continued on its journey. May I be forgiven by all those I may have hurt or harmed in any way?

Again, I was surprised. Usually, when I practice metta, my
forgiveness is directed to my parents and others who abused me in various ways throughout my life. Today, instead of intending forgiveness towards them, I found myself requesting forgiveness of my parents! I understood that, from their perspective, I hurt them by being whom and how I was, by following my own truth, as well as by my own unconscious, rebellious or defensive reactivity. My very aliveness was a threat to them.

Forgiveness is not easy. It cannot be forced. It seems to arrive when it is ready… or when we are ready. And readiness seems to arrive more easily when we have forgiven ourselves.

Can you forgive?

Please call me by my true names.

Please also consider calling you by your true names.

May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful. May all beings be free.

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