Friday, May 9, 2008

Is Forgiveness Possible?

A well meaning student sent this to me and I have decided to share it with you in the hopes of a better understanding.

Student: There were many injustices done to Native people. Sometimes I wonder, why am I connected to the past injustices done to Indian people? Why am I so angry about the past? The Elders say our ancestors are alive within each of us. Therefore, I may experience anger and resentment inside of me because of the injustice done to them. The way I get rid of these past feelings is to forgive. It may be necessary to even learn to forgive the unforgivable.

Great Spirit, teach me the path of forgiveness; teach me the courage to forgive; teach me to let go. Give to me a forgiving heart.

Redhawk: Oki, I would agree that forgiveness is the answer however to simply forgive for the sake of going through the motion is senseless. In order for an entity to be fully capable of being forgiven there must be activity on the part of that entity displaying moral, intellectual and spiritual advancement regarding their understanding of the impact of the forgiveness. In other words that entity must first acknowledge the activity that need's forgiveness and then undertake positive corrective action that would earn that entity forgiveness.

In my humble opinion the invaders of this continent are at the same place now that they were at when they were outwardly stealing our land, raping and killing our women and children and committing the genocide of our race. I further maintain that this activity is still rampant with the full intent of absorbing what is left of us into a homogenous hodgepodge of diluted blood to the extent of making us unrecognizable as a race. Now it is being done covertly rather than overtly, but make no mistake about the intent which is still the same.

Therefore how is it possible to forgive and have that forgiveness stand for something that will help heal the wounds?

Then there is the concept of forgiveness and how it affects the SELF and him that needs forgiveness at least as the Self conceives the need. First and foremost is the necessity of the SELF to learn what forgiveness is and why it should be brought into being. How will forgiveness affect the Karma of the self as well as how will it affect Him that the SELF perceives as needing forgiveness. If the process is done through the awareness of only the SELF then forgiveness will affect only the SELF with no visible affect on the perpetrator. I say visible, because all thought has form and any thought directed at another will affect that other – it’s just that they will usually not know why the energy and therefore not relate it to what they did that needs to be forgiven. Therefore no lesson learned in the awareness of the other.

Consider if you will an excerpt from Thoreau’s book Walden in which he comments on the vagaries of the prospect of forgiveness:

"There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted. It is human, it is divine, carrion. If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with a conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life ... No, in this case, I would rather suffer evil the natural way. A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much. Philanthropy is not love for one's fellow-man in the broadest sense ... I never heard of a philanthropic meeting in which it was sincerely proposed to do any good to me, or the likes of me.

The Jesuits were quite balked by those Indians who, being burned at the stake, suggested new modes of torture to their tormentors. Being superior to physical suffering, it sometimes chanced that they were superior to any consolation which the missionaries could offer, and the law to do as you would be done by fell with less persuasiveness on the ears of those who, for their part, did not care how they were done by, who loved their enemies after a new fashion, and came very near freely forgiving them all they did.

Be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need, though it be your example which leaves them far behind. If you give money, spend yourself with it, and do not merely abandon it to them..."

As an observation made of these comments by Rupert Read, Manchester Metropolitan University!

What is it, almost to forgive? Is it to partially forgive? Well, we must surely understand what forgiveness simpliciter is first, before we may be able to understand what coming 'close' to or 'part-way' to may consist in. This is, I think, an important point, which will recur in our subsequent discussions.

But before we turn to the broad questions about forgiveness which will partly occupy those discussions, let us tarry a moment over the details of this striking excerpt from Thoreau. It does not, perhaps, wear its heart quite on its sleeve.

Two descriptors which I think apply to much of the above passage are "hyperbolic" and "ironical". Thoreau's dismissive and hyper-critical tone in dealing with 'the philanthropist' is, we are sure, exaggerated for effect. He has strong substantive points to make elsewhere in 'Walden' and elsewhere about (e.g.) the hypocrisy of the slave-owning charitable man; but we of course do not take literally the remarks above about running for one's life, or about the Newfoundland dog.

In the crucial paragraph specifically on the Jesuits and the Native Americans, the operative mode is more one of irony and satire - a satire on the clichรฉs of Christianity, thus displaying the hypocrisy and (if you like) cultural- relativity of those clichรฉs and of the values they are supposed to be connected with. The lovely invocation of the superiority of the tortured even to the supposed consolation offered them by the Jesuits - one cannot help but think here of a superiority of 'strength' and mind which itself implies a moral superiority - leads into an invitation to re-value the values of missionary and 'savage'. If we are to speak of forgiveness, Thoreau is perhaps saying, we might as well speak of it as involved in the lives of those to whom it can seem desperately alien - our ready-to-hand examples of it are liable to be comparatively unsatisfying, even hypocritical. (The irony, then, is in part that it nevertheless seems clear that we are probably not describing the Native Americans’ world-view aright if we describe it through a generally Judeo-Christian frame). We ought to think carefully, perhaps, before we claim ever to be forgiving, or even to see forgiving. "Forgiveness", like "neighborliness" and various other neighboring concepts, is a word which has become dangerously de-valued. One ought to take the remarks quoted above on the Jesuits and the Indians literally - at least in the sense that their power is such that we must take then deadly seriously.

My question is “is true forgiveness even possible?” To look at this more closely let’s look at what may be unforgiveable. One example may be Thoreau’s; how could one possibly forgive one’s own torturers? Well, what could be less forgivable than betrayal and mentally-torturing maliciousness? How does one overcome false accusation’s coming from anyone to say nothing about coming from one’s own family or intimate relations, past or present! I maintain that not much could be done to assuage the pain and loss of reputation that would be very hard to overcome! As long as there is any residue of pain, forgiveness is not complete or even possible. However if one can realistically forgive and have the pain completely gone then yes, it is possible. How many of us can accomplish such a concept? There is always pain connected to the energy surrounding the incident.

What then can we do to rid ourselves of the pain if forgiveness will not wipe it from our experience? Is it possible for the pain to completely leave the physical / mental entity upon which devastation was inflicted? I say then that acceptance of your pain as a process of living and giving yourself long periods of time will serve to greatly diminish the pain. To completely rid oneself of the pain could take many lifetimes of constant awareness and a knowledge that as each day goes by you separate yourself a little more from that which caused you such pain. New experiences and acquaintances will serve to teach that to hurt one another is unfortunately a natural process of humanity and to understand that is to greatly diminish the feeling of pain and suffering that one must endure as they process their own lessons, one by one.

The 'additional factor' is the will of the person in a position to forgive; their will must be a good will, and they must be ready not to think ill any more of the offender they are forgiving. That is the 'authenticity' required to validate forgiveness. Well, indeed, quite probably so; but does this enable us to understand how a particular act that was wrong and has been conceded to be wrong can be removed of its 'sting', of its harmful attachment to the committer of the act? That is to say: having a good and no-longer-angry will seems to be reasonably called a precondition for forgiveness, but does its mention manage to explicate or paraphrase or yield comprehension of it?

Ney, I say to the process of forgiveness! It takes much too much energy to process and all the while in the process of it you are experiencing the same pain as if it happened yesterday, much like a hypochondriac keeps themselves ill while trying their darnedest to find a miracle cure but not really convinced toward their own success lest they now have to lead a very different life without the pity and attentions gained by their fake posits! Instead much better spent the time of positive forward looking endeavors of staying happy by processing each moment as if it were the last you were to ever experience. Letting go of the desire to forgive or of being forgiven and instead living in the moment, walking a higher road than you did yesterday and realizing each new experience is the gift of life in its purest sense. We spend way too much time in the past so that what is in the future or right before us slips away into the past without notice.

To be happy is not to interfere with other process’s as they are the lessons of life for that person who by doing an unforgivable act is actually teaching themselves what not to do in the future if they are to progress up the Ladder of Ascension! Consider the possibilities of damage that forgiveness may cause in limiting the lessons for that being by confusing a plainly given lesson! If someone asks for forgiveness from you then you must consider all the ramifications of your decision before you give forgiveness. If each of you will completely heal by the forgiveness by all means it is incumbent upon you to do so, if not then hold until such time as needed to gain complete painless experience of each other.
Spend your time in smiles, not in the frowns of contemplative rehashing of what has come and is now gone but for your constantly giving old pain new life…….

In closing I offer this First American prayer for your interest: "As quietly as little rabbit's feet --- the morning-glory sun arrives to greet --- the Red Man as he worships in his way --- For this he asks the Spirit every day. Before I judge my friend, O let me wear his moccasins for two long weeks, and share the path that he would take in wearing them; then I shall understand and not condemn."

Just my opinion.... Redhawk