Finding Forgiveness, Part II
Please visit the last post “Finding Forgiveness” for Part I of this journey.
How the forgiveness journey begins: In week #1 (this week), Lama Marut asks us to look our pain square in the face. This might sound easy, but it does require the wisdom to know why it is essential in order to fuel our courage to take action. First, we must admit that we are actually in pain. Many spiritual practitioners are in denial of their pain, which retards their progress and prolongs their suffering. In order to cure the disease, you must first acknowledge that you have something which needs treatment, right? This is a tricky topic for spiritual practitioners, as we often interpret that we are magically beyond anger and sadness. Getting angry represents failure for some people on the spiritual path, because we somehow think that we are supposed to look and feel and act with bliss and perfection, never having negative reactions to negative situations, EVER! I can’t think of anything more impairing to a seeker’s progress than such notions.
Break it down & keep it real: Satya is a Sanskrit word for “truthfulness”. Ask yourself, “Am I being truthful about my feelings?” When we deny our pain, we are not being truthful. Lama Marut says that if we weren’t suffering, we wouldn’t be seeking out help from a spiritual path to begin with, and we need to recognize that we are indeed suffering. One of the noble truths of Buddhism is that “life is suffering”. As Lama Marut puts it, you can’t heal until you feel. Even long-time practitioners must periodically return to this basic step to heal from the battlefields of life. This is a natural process that we can embrace by thinking of it as an essential “tune-up”. We tune our cars and instruments; we need to also tune our bodies, minds, emotions, etc.
Some of the causes of suffering:
1. Our views on the world and our experiences within it, such as:
* Not getting what you want
* Getting what you don’t want
* Denying our feeling, which does not allow us to properly address them. Ignoring our unpleasant feelings will not make them go away. Instead, they will fester and emerge in other negative ways that continues to feed the fires of our suffering by reinforcing its causes (the cycle of Karma)
* Holding the wrong worldview, such as believing that your good or bad actions toward others will not be consequential for you
3. Delusion – Thinking that we are something that we are not.
* Thinking that “I am an angry person”, instead of “I have anger right now”.
* Thinking “I am a hunky athlete” identifies you wrongly as this body,and sets you up for deep disappointment when you grow old and your good looks and health fall away.
Ultimately, the aim of this practice is to find forgiveness. Lama Marut makes it clear in his teachings that before the truth can set you free, it will piss you off and scare the hair off of your chest. Addressing your unhappy feelings takes great courage and commitment. He tells us that forgiveness is “not a superficial version of turning the other cheek . . . that leaves us feeling victimized and martyred.” He drives home the point that forgiving is not the same as forgetting, and that forgetting can be a form of repression. He reminds us that holding grudges drains our energy and takes a toll on us physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. He goes as far to say that not forgiving is actually killing us. I don’t think this is a stretch of the imagination. When comparing a child to an adult, it’s not hard to see a large difference in lightness of spirit, quickness to smile, ability to sleep, and overall health. The expression “carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders” speaks volumes about how difficult and unhealthy it is to carry around our grudges. Ask yourself this: “How can I be happy and peaceful and simultaneously hold a grudge?” Lama Marut calls this the “sharp pain from the dagger of anger” in your mind. Said simply, anger and resentment are destroying your happiness and peace of mind. “Feeling upset cannot help me realize my hopes . . . to become happy,” Lama Marut reads, as he likens this process to becoming the butterfly from the caterpillar. Becoming the butterfly is painful but ends beautifully.
Coming next: action plans for becoming the forgiveness warrior. (Some of you may have already noticed I’m breaking these original parts into manageable segments. =-)
Free Podcasts from Lama Marut on this topic: Inciting Happiness, Part I