Thursday, April 12, 2007

A lesson learned on forgiveness...

Last night I was confronted with the cold reality that forgiveness is essential to my existance and contentment on this planet. I've heard professors and advocates of eastern religions state that the one of the main differences between eastern religions and christianity is the view of the human soul and the need for forgiveness [and perhaps they are correct on a more general basis, such as original sin (which, curiously enough, wasn't a precept of christianity until Augustine stuck his nose into theology)], but I am here to say that all men and women of all creeds must rely on forgiveness in order to acheive contentment, the goal of existance.

I have done things. Things which I regret. Things which I wish I had not done but have done in selfishness and lack of self control. Even years after the even has transpired, I have yet to feel whole again. There are parts of me I have left behind in rage and disgust, in fear and trembling. The forgiveness which I am most discussing here is the need to forgive and be forgiven here on earth by those whom we have transgressed and who have transgressed us. I cannot be fully myself, I cannot have those pieces of myself I have left behind, until I have asked for them back from people I have wronged in the past.

It is a wonderful act of selflessness, to ask for forgiveness, for most times it is selfishness that led one to the predicament in the first place. To ask for forgiveness means losing one's pride, fear of rejection, inhibitions, etc. The christian emphasis on asking for forgiveness is a regular practice in losing huberus, on losing one's sense of self, on becoming one with those around us and creating harmony in ourselves, our neighbors, and the community in which we live. My buddhist, taoist, confucian, and possibly even a humble agnostic friends can agree with me on these points.

I have two main difficulties with forgiveness. The first is that it needs to be sincere. If one does not truly understand their transgressions and feel sorry for what they have done, the acquisition of forgiveness is worthless. You have to lose the pride that stands in your way and humble yourself to the idea that you are not perfect, that you have screwed up, that you are not always correct in your actions, and that you have a wish to ammend that wrong. Without this criteria, I'm not positive it can be called "forgiveness." It is definately empty. I even debate with myself as to whether the God of christianity grants forgiveness to those who ask but do not feel with their hearts. I don't believe God does, but greater theologians than I would disagree. Perhaps we won't know on this side of eternity.

This brings me to my second main problem, which is the fear I have that when I ask for forgiveness, it will not be granted to me. You see, forgiveness is a two way street. Perhaps I have hurt people in ways they are not strong enough to overcome and forgive me. It scares me that my transgressions have permanently impaired me. The people I have hurt will not allow me to be whole again. This is something I have no control over, just think about.

The religions of the world have so much in common. I wish people would stop looking at difference and start looking more at similarities. In practice, there is very little difference between buddhism, humanitarianism, christianity, taoism, confucianism, hindu, and the like. We all have the same actions, just slightly different motives. The problem arises when people poorly follow these faiths and pawn themselves off as masters, but that is a different post for a different day. For now, let us embrace forgiveness as a practice of losing one's self and pride and trading it in for contentment and peace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good points, man. I know forgiveness can be a scary cliff to arrive at, but I think it's definitely worth it. I believe that if you're sincere about your desire to be forgiven, it's hard for a person not to accept you.

Earlier this year that game of Battle of the Sexes really hurt our relationship with the girls for a while, but I felt really terrible and--after apologizing--the girls accepted me back into their circle. I've even been able to successfully apologize to Becky before!

It can be scary stuff dude, but if you mean it then your fears are unfounded. :)