New Page – 21 April 2004
Updated -- 11 August 2004
Forgive and forget; that's my motto. Now… what was I going to say? I forgot. Oh yes!
Holding on to anger, resentment, or vengeance is the equivalent of carrying a red-hot coal in our hand waiting for the opportunity to throw it at the person or persons who has hurt or injured you. The end result is that the unforgiving person burns their hand rather severely, and is more often than not frustrated when upon throwing the red-hot coal at the offending individual, they miss. This is the definition of “bummer”.
As Evan Hodkins  has noted, "Hatred is a self-administered noose." "The reciprocity of repugnance accomplishes a ritual of 'antagonistic bonding'. What seems like revulsion is actually glue. The tar-baby metaphor applies. The more Brier Rabbit punches and kicks in order to remove himself from the gooey manikin, the more inextricably he becomes ensnared.
"Pierre Teilhard de Chardin captured this dynamic succinctly -- 'Every new war, embarked upon by the nations for the purpose of detaching themselves from one another, merely results in their being bound and mingled togetehr in a more inextricable knot. the more we seek to thrust each other away, the more do we interpenetrate...' As George William Russel observed: 'By the intensity of hatred, nations create in themselves the characteristics they imagine in their enemies.' Anger is an unconscious effort to recover self-esteem, smugness is victimhood elevated to holiness, while war is the medicine we swallow for restoring wounded pride."
"Islamic fundamentalism displays the same brand of stubborn rigidities and haughty exclusivity that we observe in Orthodox Judaism, or, for that matter, conservative Christianity. The same affliction is evidenced across the board. They are kissing cousins, locked in a nasty embrace of ironic camaraderie."
"Fundamentalism happens when spirit is raped by power. But, alas, the fanatical zeal for domination betrays the magnitude of underlying anxieties. Sympathetically speaking, these folks are canaries in the mindshaft, unwitting barometers informing us as to the nature and degree of cultural disintegration. When faced with chaos, fundamentalism inevitably finds repression preferable to creative turmoil. The security of black and white thinking affords a fear-based alternative. As Gurdjieff reminds us: the most dangerous persons on earth are those who, with moral certitude, resolutely aver that violence is capable of attaining 'the final solution'. This is Hitler in his finest hour. More evil is executed in the spirit of self-serving rectitude than evil, if left to its own devices, could ever invent."
"Allies love us but do not tell us the truth about ourselves. They support our illusions... and contribute zilch to our spiritual unfoldment. Enemies do not love us yet tell us uncomfortable truths." "Enemies deliver unbearable truths in inelegant packages. For this reason, it is practically impossible to learn from them. Our pride will not allow it. For those who honor enemies as spiritual teachers, however, the lessons are priceless, the wisdom is deep, and the transformations -- oh my -- are exceedingly bountiful."
"Conquest offers a temporary aphrodisiac, and the perils of inward transformation are conveniently averted."
"Always remember -- the more invective our self-righteousness, the stinkier our shadow. Whatever I cannot forgive, I am doomed to commit. I can never forgive the other at the same level of consciousness at which I was wounded. I must outgrow myself. And that is why forgiveness is so ridiculously rare. The real jihad is always within. Until that quintessential inner peace is consummated, we shall incessantly recruit outer enemies upon which to run our movies. The bigger the shadow, the more enemies a nation or individual will require. Any person -- or country for that matter -- who is still uncertain about their true identity, desperately needs 'the despicable other'."
"Enemies show up when cultures or individuals get lost or stultified. An opponent always awaits us at the point of spiritual degradation. Should we allow our hatred to eat us, the enemy serves as parasite, radically siphoning our last drop of human vitality."
"On the other hand, if we greet the unlovely one with alchemistic enthusiasm, then we can easily borrow energy from our adversary and employ it to catapult us to the next leel of transformation. Sometimes, without this oppositional fuel -- this extra slug of vinegar -- we just can't manage to awaken from our malaise. Welcome this dark angel of evolution as cosmic ass-kicker and we'll all be roused. Alchemy teaches that enemies are bridges not barricades, doors not walls."
And thus if our enemies are our motivators, then forgiveness becomes the obvious first step (and perhaps gratitude the next step). The advantages of the first step are legion.
Wow! That sounds great! Forgiveness sounds like a mind-blowing psychedelic affair, but without the drugs and later withdrawal. One is tempted to run out and be offended just in order to slip into forgiveness in order to reconnect with the fireworks. Forgiveness is the best thing since sliced bread. This is really good stuff. Of course… the S.O.B. is still an asshole, right? Of course right. But a forgiven S.O.B.
(11/1/05) To be more specific, how about forgiving the members of various faiths and religions -- such as Dominionists -- who happily commit every imaginable crime on the pretense of "defending the faith". Does that sound challening. Actually it's much easier when one realizes that insanity is a perfectly good defense.
Forgiveness is the American way. Everything from the American view of bankruptcy to its national pastime to a plethora of movies with amnesia as part of the plot constantly reminds us of the second chance, the clean slate, or the shot at redemption. “ America is the land of amnesia, a frictionless meritocracy where anybody can start over at any time and work his way to the top, and every baseball team can show up on opening day with an undefeated record. It's not a mental problem; it's a national tradition.” “Maybe that's why we think we can go overseas and build brand-new nations from scratch – hey, that's how we did it, right? Wipe the slate clean and reprogram the patient.” 
This sounds suspiciously like the movie, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” If your life has included events which have traumatized you, why not reprogram the mind by having all the memories removed. This is the new and improved method of getting that old romance or lover out of your mind. The curious part is that the movie may be only the hint of what is to come. There is now therapeutic forgetting to help trauma victims endure their memories.
The problem is that virtual brain surgery to cut out unpleasant memories never gets to the heart of the matter (pardon the pun). There is no evidence, for example, to show that a bad memory is sufficient to remove the essentially homeopathic vibrations within the brain which may be still causing physical problems. Forgiveness, letting go of the ego-centric need to get even, and abiding by the now time-honored truth, Get Ye Over It , has much more to recommend as a therapeutic device. Remember the “the sun suddenly peeking over the horizon, illuminating giant clouds that stretch above the horizon, billowy clouds lit with orange, red, and purple, the sky afire with colors?” Where are you going to get that with invasive reprogramming?
Admittedly we may need conflict as something to keep the juices flowing. Perhaps it's our need for drama – scripts where we have all the ingredients of a plot, including the climax and the aftermath where everyone is forgiven and we even applaud the villains when they come out to take their bow for a brilliant performance. The plot thickens even more when we consider the possibility that all the drama was scripted before we came into this incarnation, and that the good guys and the villains were all agreed on their respective roles. The emphasis should be our connections, instead of our divisiveness.
Evolution, for example, is more collaborative than competitive. Gnosis – knowledge and understanding – requires the cooperation of both hearts and minds.  “If all we know of reality, of ourselves, is information, and information is infinitely malleable, how can we be sure it hasn't been corrupted? What if we all have amnesia, and we've just forgotten that we have it?”  Not unlike the thesis of the Matrix movies, we may be living in a dreamland where we've forgotten the now hidden agendas. But instead of buying into the drama – ala the Matrix movies – we need only recognize that everything is connected, and thus there is no need for Scapegoatology or Woundology. We may not have all the facts, all the information, but we can forgive anyway. After all, wisdom is based on humility.” 
If you, on the other hand, really believe you're right and they're wrong – dualistic sort of thinking guaranteed to keep you in deep do-do… forgiveness becomes a real challenge. In which case, you may need a how-to primer, such as one thoughtfully provided by Fred Luskin:
This, of course, assumes that what spoiled your past was a bad thing, i.e. maybe it was just part of the timing! Maybe the information has been corrupted. Perhaps you don't know everything – including being able to discriminate between “right” and “wrong”.
Mr. Luskin  then provides a four step forgiveness process. In the first stage: “You experience a loss in your life, feel angry or hurt, and tend to justify your negative emotions.” “You blame the person committing the wrong for how you are feeling. [This of course, gives them a lot of power over you !] It is their action and not your choice of response that you determine to be the cause of your distress.” This sounds a great deal like Scapegoatology, but then again, all of this good stuff is connected. Duh! [But I forgive you for forgetting.]
Note that when one person continually hurts you – or is in a process where you feel unable to extract yourself from their ability to wound you – the fourth stage takes on new meanings of difficulty. The question then becomes one of letting go of whatever is nagging at you (based on the other person's continuing actions) or taking positive action to solve the problem.
There are a couple of other critical factors. On the one hand, “forgiveness is not an act for once and for all, but a primary key in a continuous process of turning inward and practicing inner observation.” You often need to ask yourself what is it about yourself that allows someone else to hurt you. Any refusal or inability to forgive is frequently “rooted in a victim consciousness.” When the source of a misfortune is placed outward, there is a refusal to even consider looking inward. 
Forgiveness is an essential attribute of physical as well as mental and emotional health.
Forgiveness takes on a whole new dimension when one considers the recent years of turmoil in the Republic of South Africa . Nonetheless, Desmond Tutu makes good sense:
Keep in mind that seeking Justice can be an overrated activity. The “eye for an eye” motif tends to leave everyone blind.
Accordingly, while I am happy to forgive you for all of your many transgressions, I am expecting some impressive form of compensation being provided by you for my benefit. It's only fair. Or extortion… whichever.
“Right now I'm having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.”  Serves me right.
 “Red-Hot Rock”, IONS Noetic Sciences Review , #65, Sept-Nov 2003.
 Everett Worthington , “Tug-of-War”, IONS Noetic Sciences Review , #65, Sept-Nov 2003.
 Lev Grossman, “Amnesia the Beautiful”, Time Magazine , March 29, 2004 .
 James O'Dea, “New Responsibilities,” IONS Noetic Sciences Review , #64, June-August 2003.
 Fred Luskin, “An experience of Peace”, IONS Noetic Sciences Review , #65, Sept-Nov 2003.
 Mantak Chia, “Organs of Forgiveness,” IONS Noetic Sciences Review , #65, Sept-Nov 2003.
 Desmond Tutu, “Truth and Reconciliation”, IONS Noetic Sciences Review , #65, Sept-Nov 2003.
 Evan Hodkins, "The Other Half of My Orange; The Anatomy of Hatred", The Alchemist, Vol 2, No. 1, Spring 2003.
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