Besides parties, food and rest, I think holidays (Holy days or sacred days) are a good time for introspection, to go inside, to come in contact with oneself.
In this context it really struck me to find out that the word forgiveness in Aramaic (the language several parts of the Bible are original written on) means to untie.
I found this to be amazingly beautiful. Usually we think about forgiveness as being about other people – forgiving others. But if we think about untying, we realize it’s actually about us, about breaking from something that holds us tight.
When we forgive, we become free.
And this reminds me of something I already knew: nothing that we do is separated from our search for happiness. We never do anything for the sake of what we are doing, but we do it for the sake of happiness. We don’t do things for the sake of money or power or security but we do them because money or power or security or whatever, even for a short moment, makes us feel good. Even if we help others, we do it because helping others makes us feel good. This doesn’t means to be self-centered—at least not the usual way we think about self-centeredness—but it’s about our inner, profound search for something that is our birth-right but apparently lost…a deep sense of happiness, of well-being, of contentment.
I like very much to think about forgiveness as untying, because it really shows that forgiveness is not about the other person, but that it is about me: I am bound, I am a prisoner, I am enslaved and I cannot be happy if I am this way. But when I break free, I am closer to happiness.
This attachment comes originally from the umbilical cord that bound us to our mothers. This is the first tie we need to break in order to live. But then, in our lives, we are continuously looking for ties, in order to feel more secure, more protected and often we confuse our search for happiness with this need for ties and security.
I feel like the end of the year is a very good moment to think about untying ourselves from the things that hold us back. And although it doesn’t seem related to forgiveness, I feel that a very practical thing we first need to do is to get rid of staff. This came to mind because recently I visited a person at his house, a person that was experiencing some difficulties, and the first thing that struck me when I enter his house was that it was absolutely full of things. There was no way to relax, to breath in there. What I saw was that before we can get rid of our inner attachments, we need to get rid of our outer ones. And one of the first things he needed to do was to get rid of those things, to empty his house.
I know it is difficult, but we all need to go back to our house, open the closet, look at our living room, and see what we can get rid of. It’s difficult because things give us a sense of belonging, of protection, of security. But once we do it, there’s a wonderful sense of space, of freedom. I recommend you to find ways to get rid of the things you don’t need. You can give them to charity, sell them, or simply throw them away. …
And then of course, another way to untie ourselves, a more profound one this time, is to let go of our resentments. We live in a society where it’s very difficult not to have some accounts with other people, and the older we become, the more accounts we have, even with people that are already dead. And every account is like a weight on our shoulders, a heavy weight in our life. We need to get rid of our resentments, of our hatred.
There is a quote I really like that says something like: feeling resentments is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. And this is so true! Resentment eats our life while doing absolutely nothing to the other person. Having resentments, even if we are not aware of then, is like a little rat eating our heart, little by little, in silence, making us bleed. We need to bring this to mind often, otherwise there are so many excuses we find why we want to keep our resentments.
…One of our best excuses is the feeling of being right.
But is so difficult to really know the truth about anything that happened! For any resentment we may have right now, in order to keep it alive, we rely on our memory. But it’s well known that memory lies! (For an interesting article about this, please see http://www.entelechyjournal.com/ericdlehman.htm)
But let’s imagine we can be sure our memory is 100% accurate. I remember a teacher of mine saying: ‘it’s even worse if you are right’. It’s worse because the believe in our rightness will make us blind to one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Nobody does anything unless they believe in the moment to be correct. Even if we know they are absolutely wrong, in that particular moment, given their understanding in that moment, they do what they do because they believe it to be good.
This is very difficult to understand, but nobody does what we call ‘bad things’ on purpose.
Of course this does not mean that a person may not have to go to jail or pay for some perpetrated wrong, but forgiveness is not necessarily an external action. It is an internal one, it is the untie, the letting go, the mental freedom that I bring to a situation when I understand that nothing is made out of evil, but only out of ignorance. A person may be blind, it may not see what I am seeing, but then, how can I resent blindness?
One more interesting thing is that in my experience, the worst moments I had in my life (and I had some very bad ones) have changed me like nothing else. In those difficult moments I have learned so many hidden things about myself, about other people, about the world. Those moments have helped me to improve myself, to change; they were like golden purifiers. Of course I don’t wait for them to happen to me again and I don’t wish them to happen to anybody, but if they do, and sooner or later we all may experience difficult moments, it’s possible to become grateful for them, to be grateful even for the people involved.
One way to forgive, to untie ourselves from a situation, is to deeply understand that in whatever happens there is always, underneath the suffering, a very quiet whisper that says: ‘you can use this to grow, to mature, to become a more beautiful human being.’ Suffering can crush us, or it can make us grow.