Forgiveness: Mission Possible

Puja, Hanuman Yoga Festival
Puja, Hanuman Yoga Festival
Cultivating the virtue of magnanimity begins with awareness. Magnanimity is generosity of Spirit and the ability to forgive. It is perhaps the most challenging of Swami Sivananda’s 18 ities because it requires us to be vulnerable: to admit we have been hurt or have hurt others.
Freeing ourselves from the destructive effects of injustices big or small is challenging and takes time. Acknowledging there is anything that needs to be let go of or released is the first step. This awareness however does us no good if we are unable to let go of our position, our need to be righteous.
Forgiveness is not the excusing of harm done, it is not forgetting. It is the acknowledgment that a wrong was committed or experienced. This is uncomfortable and we tend to steer clear of discomfort. Having the courage to move through the discomfort of this stage allows for release and growth. When working toward forgiveness, it is possible to condemn the act, but not the perpetrator.
Viewing any act of harm or violence, as a symptom of perpetrator’s suffering? Challenging though it may be, especially when we are directly harmed, is how we move towards forgiveness. No injustice, big or small, was ever perpetrated out of a deep sense of connection and community. Think about this for a moment. Negative self-talk and gossip are rooted in our own suffering. No news report on school bullies or horrific mass shootings for that matter ever sited the offender’s deep sense of connection and belonging.
Forgiveness is possible when we become aware of suffering, our own and others. Release and growth occurs not when we shut down and build walls of protection, but when we acknowledge our truths, connect to one another and foster community.

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