To err is human, to forgive divine.Alexander Pope
But how can we forgive others if we have not forgiven ourselves?
We can only forgive others to the extent we have forgiven ourselves.
We can’t give to others what we ourselves don’t have. How can I lend you five dollars if my wallet is empty?
Therefore let us forgive ourselves. For past fuck-ups, for past violations of the Law, for not being what expectations demanded we should have been.
But how can we forgive what we have not squarely faced? How can a disordered room be cleaned if it is locked shut, its contents inaccessible and unexaminable from without?
Therefore let us have the courage and humility to open up all the chambers of our mind-heart. To see what really is there. Only the self-centered ego resists the truth. Real gold is not afraid of the fire.
…and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.Meditations, Marcus Aurelius (Gregory Hays translation)
But how can we muster the courage and humility to open up all the chambers of the mind-heart when we’re lost in our own games of denial, fantasy, and forgetting the truth? Therefore let us study the works of awakened people with a teachable mind eager to be taught, that we may be set straight. To be taught we must first admit our ignorance.
Let us not perpetuate the error of mistaking the partial as the total. This mistake causes us so much suffering. Should we assume that since my bedroom is clean my basement is also clean? No! ”I have forgiven some things therefore I have forgiven all things” is a similar logical mistake. To break the cycle we must first admit the possibility that we suffer in part by mistaking the partial as the total; we must then search by diligent and sincere self-inquiry until we become the direct witness of the mistaking within ourselves. We dig until our shovel strikes the treasure chest.
And then not to overindulge self-pity at being reminded of our ignorance, but rather to endure the purification–with its temporary discomfort–that brings forth our best.
Handling business properly, what’s disconnected, isolated, cold, lonely, bitter, and fearful is reunited with Truth. And it is a beautiful reunion indeed–uplifting, enlightening, restorative.
Being reunited with Truth, we forgive ourselves with a recognition that we have what’s necessary to uplift ourselves from a downtrodden position. Slow and steady wins the race.
Having forgiven ourselves and become reunited with deep self-love, we grow in compassionate awareness.
Growing in compassionate awareness, we recognize that others have hurt us out of their own blindness and pain.
Recognizing that others have hurt us out of their own blindness and pain, we are more willing to forgive.
Forgiving others, we decrease hatred, hostility, and animosity in the world.
Decreasing hatred, hostility, and animosity in the world, we have served to leave this place a little better than we found it.
Having served to leave this place a little better than we found it, we have earned commensurate merit that enables a virtuous, happy life suitable to our personal circumstances.
Living a virtuous, happy life, the mind is calm and clear. The mind calm and clear, the discernment is sharp. Discernment sharp, smart decisions are made. Smart decisions made, our suffering decreases, our durable happiness increases. Virtuous cycles prosper, vicious cycles shrivel up.
And yet more layers of selfishness, immaturity, and unhappiness are still here, too. Work been done, work still left to do.
Copyright (c) 2020, Justin Jaucian
Image: author’s own, taken in Wynwood, Miami, Florida 2019