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Most of what we call "forgiveness" is bullshit.

Here is some of what I have heard or read about forgiveness.


“You’ve gotta let things go sooner or later.” (Other variations: “Sooner or later, you have to forgive” and “You just have to do it.”)


“How do you drop something? You just drop it. You just do it.”


“Forgiveness is a decision. You’ve just gotta decide to it.”


“You’ve just gotta get over it.”


“If you haven’t done it by “x” time, you’re weak/wrong/bad/suffer from the pitiable character defect of “not being able to get over things.”


“It’s hard, yes. But it’s just the right thing to do.”


“It’s the healthy thing to do.”


“It’s the Christian/Muslim thing to do.” (The Buddhists and Taoists don’t seem as concerned from what I can tell, but correct me if I’m wrong.)


“If you forgive, then you, too, will be forgiven, ‘cause it’s not like you’re perfect either, you know.”


“If you don’t let it go, you’re gonna make yourself sick.” (Otherwise known as: “Forgive or you’ll  give yourself cancer.”)



It all means well—like, it really all means so much well and is all so well-intended.


And it’s bullshit.




Part of the issue is that forgiveness isn’t a thing in and of itself.


Forgiveness is the natural byproduct of a pain being “seen” to the degree that the thing we think was irrevocably lost, killed, stolen, taken: we realize it was not. We realize it was only buried.


Generally, when we think of “seeing” our pain, we think of understanding it. Understanding what happened, why it happened, how it’s affected us, etc.


Understanding is helpful. I really love to understand things and value it.


Understanding, though, has little to do with forgiveness.


This is because understanding ultimately is a mental concept. Understanding happens in the mind.


We think understanding will liberate us. It won’t. It can’t.


This is because liberation happens only in the body.


The body gives zero fucks about understanding. (Okay—maybe she gives a few fucks. But not many.)


The body cares about, craves, yearns for, will not settle for less than, having the thing be seen.


Thank Goddess and God for our bodily integrity that won’t let us get away with the above truly well-meaning platitudes.




How to see the thing—the pain?


Because maybe you have seen it. You’ve grieved, you’ve raged, and the thing is still with you—and the thing is, you actually want to forgive for the best reason possible: so that you can finally be free.


Usually, we are seeing from where we are now. We beat on pillows as we see what happened. We relive the thing, the event, as we talk about it.


The issue here: we’re seeing the pain with the intention of making it go away—again, so we can be free—free of it, more specifically.


Here is the thing: we have to see the pain…free of the agenda of making it go away.


It sounds counterintuitive, I know, maybe.


But your body knows this is the truth. Until you see in this manner, free of agenda: the thing, the pain, the nonforgiveness, will stay with you.


An agenda says: I will deal with you so that you will go away. In other words, an agenda uses the present moment to get to a “better” future moment.


This is why agenda-based seeing does not work: The body will not settle for less than seeing that is free of agenda.



What does seeing free of an agenda look like?


Well, you’ve read this far, so I’ll tell you exactly what it looks like. I’ll warn you now that it may seem anticlimactic, just like when I said that love is the capacity to feel good.


But here goes, my friend.


Agenda-free seeing—the beginning of true forgiveness--looks like remembering the thing that happened. (You’re probably already really good—too good, you might feel like—at this part.)


And then, though: it looks like seeing the pain that arises as you remember the thing that happened.


And THEN: it looks like saying to that pain: “I see you. I see you, and I’m not going to try to get rid of you.”


Anticlimactic, maybe. But only conceptually, only to the mind.

Bodily? It's true relief: true liberation.




Normally, we start doing something with or to the pain. We want to fix it. We want to make it  go away. That’s what we’ve been told will help us feel better.


It won’t.


You see, and you see, and you see. You don’t do “something” to the pain. You non-do to it. You be with it. You hold it. You kiss its sweet forehead. Which is your own sweet forehead. 


And finally, the body begins to feel some relief.


For the thing we thought was irrevocably lost—some part of our own selves:  we realize it was not lost. We realize it was only buried.


In being with our pain, we are reunited with ourselves.


At this point, there is nothing to forgive.


There may be more to see.


But there is nothing, really, to forgive.


I have more to say about forgiveness, but this is a good start.


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