Guided Meditation – The Practice Of Forgiveness, by Guy Armstrong:
So, this evening in the guided meditation, we’re going to focus on a subject that we do as a complement to the loving kindness practice. So it’s not going to be a meta practice tonight. We’re going to talk about, and practice the quality of forgiveness.
If anyone knows that you absolutely do not want to forgive anyone for anything, this would be the right time for exit. But if you’re willing to try, this is the theme that we’re going to explore tonight.
So, I think Sally made this nice comment in one of her talks that forgiveness means giving up all home for a better path. Makes sense, right? This quote I’m curious about it. I’ve read it in Jack Cornfields book, but I looked it up on the Internet so it must be true. It was attributed first to Lily ___. It’s quite interesting. It’s quite wise. So it comes in at this point of retreat really for two (2) reasons. There are two (2) separate dynamics that’s going on that makes forgiveness appropriate right now. One is we’ve just have meta for friend. And when you do meta for your friend, a friend is someone who usually have gotten close to, you might remember things in your relationships that were easy and somethings were difficult. So often the friend in loving kindness particularly leads into a little bit of a relationship review where some wonderful feelings come through, but also some difficulty. So may remember times when you were hurt by your friends, you may remember times when your friends hurt you. So we often like to teach forgiveness right after doing loving kindness for friend, because some all the emotions may have gotten stirred up.
Then the second thing that’s happening, just a parallel track that’s going on, is that when we set a long retreat, for various reasons, different memories from the past come into our minds. And again, we may remember ways we’ve been hurt, and we may also remember ways that we’ve also hurt others—it could be human beings, it could be creatures.
When I sat in my first long retreat, I have all these long memories started coming. Some things that I’ve done wrong, because I was really exploring ___ and the precepts as we are by taking the precepts every week. And I was remembering all these times when I haven’t followed the precepts carefully. I didn’t even know them. So all these sort of ___ came to my mind and I felt a tremendous amount of guild and remorse over them.
So we often say, kind of, you know, using the words of ___ programs, that long retreats lead one into a kind of life review. Spontaneously. We’re not trying to do it, but unbeaten, these memories come and we kind of review our past actions. I’d say in our light of our dharma understanding. And we’re getting a new view on the mind, and greed, aversion, delusion and how fear and confusion affects us, and we see how that’s manifested in our outer life. And we see, in that perspective not so right at times. So the forgiveness practice is useful for working with ways others have hurt us, and also with ways that we’ve hurt others. So I hope both of these will be helpful.
Now, to say a little more about being hurt, because this is where often forgiveness is the hardest. We may look over our life and see things that people have done to us and we’re not ready to forgive for. You know, the pain was too great, you know, the magnitude of the action was too wrong. That, we just, instinctively feel that I’m not ready forgive, I don’t want to forgive that person, it doesn’t feel right. And if that’s the gut feeling, it’s really important to expect that. So in the meditation, you’re not going to be asked to forgive anybody that you’re not ready to forgive. Sometimes, the heart isn’t just there yet. But we will encourage you to think about, maybe someday, I could try. You know, I’ll plant the intention, you know, that someday, I’ll be able to forgive them. So, that would be one formulation that we’d work with.
When we think about forgiving somebody, we also want to be clear in this meditation, we’re not doing it for them. It’s not so that they can go about their lives with the clean conscience and they can forget about what they’ve done to us or to other people. We’re doing this meditation for ourselves, and the reason is that if we are carrying some old resentment, part of our whole makeup, our physical and emotional makeup is tied to the past. And we can’t come completely free as a human being in the present moment, for all we are still carrying that old baggage of being tied to the past. So in the total journey to freedom, we need, eventually, to let go of all these holdings that we’ve got. Sometimes, we find them in the body. We come to sit, and there’s the whole intention, there’s emotions going back to childhood perhaps, if there’s been trauma, if there’s abuse, it’s very common that they come out in the long retreat through the body. We have memories that are stored in the mind, and emotions about those incidents.
And eventually, for our own liberation, we want to be able to let the mind be clear of those old holdings. We will not be completely free as long as there’s that attachment to the past, but we can’t do that all at once. Often we’ve had many, many disappointments, and hurts, and betrayals, in our relationships and it takes time to open to them for the body to open up and reveal them for the memories to come and sometimes they’re long buried. So, we really have to be patient with this process and it can’t be forced, but forgiveness is one key element of letting go of all that old stuff to the extent that we’re able today.
If you liked this recording and would like to make a direct financial contribution to this teacher, please contact them here: https://www.spiritrock.org/InstructorDetails?calendarinstructorid=45617
Material on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License