What does it mean to forgive? Not in a flippant, half-hearted lip-service way, but to really forgive. Those who trespass against us, even the bible said we must forgive them, and yet it is difficult. We perceive situations of transgression, error, fault and betrayal as being consciously orchestrated against little old us, as if it were personal, an attack on sovereign land; but what if we’ve got it all wrong? what if we’ve got it back to front upside down inside out in a cognitive mix up? A transgression against us implies that there is an us to be transgressed upon. Can we really be sure that this is so? How do we know?
The self, the ‘us’ is an abstraction, a container – a folder containing every quality that we possess or that is associated with us. This may sound paradoxical, but it is difficult to address this earthly body without a word such as us, me – a pronoun, however, this word is not sufficient evidence of this self, this ‘I’ to which we refer, against who transgressions are carried out against. Our self is nothing but a collection of our thoughts, feelings, behaviours, relationships, interests and memories, but the self does not embody those things, it merely refers to them. We are the space in which thoughts, feelings, behaviours, attitudes and beliefs occur, but we do not take the shape of them – we are not them. The same as we are not the music that plays with our eardrums, we are merely witnesses.
When people betray us, transgress against, or act in a way that makes us feel negatively, we are not the feeling of betrayal, of insecurity, or the negative emotion. We are the space in which those thoughts, feelings and sensations arise, and yet we do not take the shape of them, we do not become them. Witnessing acts that cause emotions to arise and choosing to simply witness and not become involve, this is how we forgive, this is how we move on. For if we transgressed or betrayed, we might find it easier to forgive ourselves, and yet we hold grudges, negative emotion and resentment for others; why do we get such special treatment? is it because we know ourselves so intimately, that we know that we are not rotten to the core? Can we be so sure that the other person is? are they not the same as us?
The configuration of the world is influenced by the decisions we make, and the actions we take against others in the pursuit of justice, of emotional regulation. Forgive like you wish to be forgiven, like you would forgive your child for stealing candy from the cupboard; we are all children, we makes mistakes and we transgress.