Forgiveness Heals

Forgiveness is not something you do solely for the person who hurt you. It is something you do for yourself, for the sake of your own inner freedom. You forgive so that you can live in the present instead of being stuck in the past. You forgive because your grievances and grudges—even more than hopes and attachments and fears—bind you to old patterns, old identities, and especially to old stories.

Think of a person you don’t really want to forgive: a parent, an ex-lover, a teacher, a betraying friend. Maybe you believe that to forgive the person means you’re excusing their wrong or that holding on to your anger somehow gives you back the power their offense took away. Or perhaps, as a good spiritual practitioner, you believe you’ve already forgiven. But if you really look, you might see that the grievance is still part of your story, even part of the meaning of your life.

“I’m this way because s/he did that to me!” you say—he or she being the unloving parent, the unfaithful lover, the guru who didn’t deliver. The problem is, when you hold on to the grievance, you also hold on to its shadow belief: “I must be flawed in some way to have attracted that hurt.”

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