While driving back home from a function last evening my eyes caught on to a rear sticker of a car that read “forgive your enemies”. For a brief moment, I pondered on the silliness of that statement. Not that I am judgmental about what others have to say but rather after long being with the mind, knowing a little more about how it functions, I wonder how could it be possible at all to forgive someone that we are still labelling as enemy.
The world’s teaching, sad to say, religion without exception, be it in the past, even now, is consistently about doing. Are these statements too familiar to you – “I am caught in a tangle of trying to do, trying to live right. I don’t know how to not think or worry or control. I don’t know how to let go.”
Did you not start to realize that this voice has never failed in reminding you to keep doing? Yes, you need not even to remember, for you will be reminded again and again as if there is a confidant or confidante (if ever there is such a thing as a male or female inner voice) in each of us that tells us of what to do next – a private and confidential secretary of sort. Not that we are not forgetful – in fact majority of us are, for reasons we can’t comprehend of late as more and more people are complaining about forgetfulness – the thing we can’t forget, though we want it to, is the voice that keeps reminding us “what to do”, “how to do”. Have you not notice? If only this damned voice leave us to our peace and allow us a moment to savour what is in for us, NOW.
Instead of what or how to do next, which is about ignoring the present, we seldom stay in the moment and question what is going on or how and why is this happening. When we don’t pause and ponder on the present, we are only denying the present by covering up what becomes the past, allowing it to fester deeper. Instead of allowing the next step to arise from understanding, we make the next step a denial of what has occurred. To glimpse this eternal truth is the beginning of our integrity.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a thought of worry, anger, frustration, joy or happiness, so long as there is this sanity that allows us to recognize that each and every experience that comes into the our picture is an experience, not something for us to resist, to hold on to. Instead of taking the next step, we explore what is here for us. For each experience points the way to our cause, usually a dysfunctional cause. Experiences are merely effects of what our causes are churning out each moment. Only when we recognize the cause can we naturally change the course of our future. It cannot be otherwise as all changes can only occur through understanding, not through ignorance. Whatever resist, have to persist.
The journey of our inner spirit reminds us to pause and to remember that the voice in the head is merely a voice, an echo of the past or the future – devoid of essence except a resound. But this we forget. We forget to be mindful of the voice and instead fall into its prey. The voice of the ego seems to be more attractive than the voice of the spirit – never failing us at each moment whereas the spirit has to be recalled as if it is seldom there for us. Or is it because we choose not to listen?
We choose not to listen to the voice that says “enemy”. We choose not to listen to the voice that says “forgive”. When we hear the voice in our head forgive your enemy, we are quick enough to jump in and do the necessary. We give the voice a gospel truth. The voice “enemy” confirms in us that the party is wrong. The voice “forgive” confirms that we are right. But no matter how hard we try to forgive, the voice “enemy” keeps popping up in our head. And we try a little more. We enlist ourselves in counselling, in workshops, in whatever courses we can grip on to release from the tyranny of this enemy. But where is the enemy except in our mind? And where is forgiveness except a voice in our head? So long as the voice keeps going, genuine forgiveness is impossible. So long as the meaning of enemy persists, unforgiveness has to follow. How can it be otherwise?
To forgive is to make another wrong, in our mind. Instead of healing our thoughts towards others, we condemn them to eternity, by forgiving them. Forgiving is not a doing, is not a thought but rather a realization stem from understanding of a situation. When all these conditions are met, genuine forgiveness arises naturally. The meaning “enemy” simply drops off from the mind without me needing to do anything about it. It does itself.
Hence the importance of staying present and to allow the inner spirit to guide me to understand the situation by giving myself the interest to know what is the cause of the voice in the head. Does the voice enemy have much to do with what I am not accepting? Has it much to do with what is against my ideal? Is there any truth to my truth? Does the voice forgiveness have to do with righteousness? That I am right and others are wrong? That I am compelled to pardon others for the wrong they have done instead of genuinely recognizing that what others have done is not something I could pardon except to understand? Who am I to pardon or even to judge, when I can’t even see the same infesting in me, albeit a different degree? That no matter how much pardon or forgiveness for another, those ideas have never left me? Forgiveness is for myself, not for another. I am my own Enemy, and no other. I have never left myself except in my own delusion.
I can’t do forgiveness. Forgiveness does me. When I meet with understanding, forgiveness unfolds. Forgiveness is none of my business, except my work in understanding the mind.