The November 23, 2015 issue of Time has an article on the survivors, family members, & friends shot by a racist young man, Dylann Roof, in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015; the date is to be noted due to a six-month anniversary of those killed at Emanuel AME Church, coming up in December, 2015. Our prayers go out for the community of Charleston as well as Emanuel Church and the survivors.
Two weeks after this horrible massacre occurred, there was a Bond Hearing for the defendant; two of the survivor families told the judge that they had forgiven the shooter–soon, as news usually expands, the media had us thinking they all wanted to forgive the killer.
Then, you have to ask: what were the consequences going to be for Dylan Roof? Others expressed that they felt a life-sentence in prison would give him the time & space to think about his actions, and what to do about it. Sadly, Dylann Roof is only twenty-one years old. In this situation, maybe his young age will give him the time to seek some kind of transformation; we also offer compassionate prayers for him & his family.
The mention of forgiving Dylann Roof, helped swirl a controversy within the church community, & among the survivors. Was it really the right time to offer forgiveness before even the trial and legalities surrounding it had begun? Forgiveness–now? Can we forgive now if we know nothing about any remorse shown by Dylann Roof? In other words, does the “forgiveness process” work in some sort of natural way?
People often say, “Forgive & forget.” Yet having forgiveness for someone, or even receiving forgiveness for ourselves, doesn’t negate or void out “forgetting.” Having the ability to recollect or recall someone or an event is actually a kind (Pema Chodron calls it “the soft spot”) of “being” in the moment of time, where we can “fact check our actions & thoughts,” giving us a “chronos” moment where we can see the potentiallity of this process.
Forgiveness often finds the denotative definition found in the dictionary, and people use this definition in reconciliation; forgiveness is not always an earth-shaking event, epiphany, sort of like a piercing crack of thunder in the sky. Forgiveness, on the other hand, appears to demonstrate that forgiveness is a process, not an event.
It’s the “how,” the connection with how we offer forgiveness that is uniquely singular in its expression. There’s another view of forgiveness, and this is widely extant. That when we gain forgiveness or when we forgive another, this will provide closure for the entire incident or situation.
If we think this way, it means that we negate the fact of our humanity and our need to be holistically healed, and to function within an environment(s) (this definition used by General Semanticists).
Recognizing that everything is in process, this may lead to less anxiety for us; the Earth is in the Gaia process, a living organism. This is why we need to develop the closeness to the One; a process means that lives & beings cycle on because the initial experience happened in a “time-space” context. So, there doesn’t appear to be any genuine, “transcendental” closure–all of the Universe is in flux, changing, adapting and “being.” We may also may get some consolation that everything in our world is impermanent, no ending, no beginning, and every single seeker will hopefully find the radiance of love. +
“I don’t forgive someone until they admit their guilt.” Forgiveness generates & nudges our hearts–it’s our personal responsibility to release someone from the debt. Interestingly enough, Webster’s Dictionary defines the prefix “for” as meaning “away, apart, off.” When we accept someone’s forgiveness or when we forgive, what has been impeding our relationship is given away, the need for forgiveness (even the hardest & meanest of people can receive or give forgiveness); we put off what harms our reconciliation with ourselves & others. Forgiveness & compassion are twins at work in this process.
+ Someone (and many do) say, “What if I can’t forgive myself?” Why not? What holds you back? This is your work to do. You, as precious & priceless as anyone who lives on this earth; our priority now is to awaken and shed The Light outwards to others–it may turn out to be “our apocalypse.” No action or thought is so vile that it can’t be forgiven by the “Beloved.”
Attempt to focus on the act of separating a past, previous image in your head from this “in the present moment,” where you and I exist right now! This is our present, emotional/spiritual reality. Below, find something to consider: + Why this person, place or thing is so difficult to forgive? Secondly, what specific emotions come up in tandem with the past experience one has gone through due to your prevailing social conditioning?
All of the faith traditions teach & practice forgiveness fueled by compassion. How about us getting down, wild & wooly (this can help us in the winter!) about forgiveness, that has its source in love. Out of Buddha’s many experiences, there resides a story of compassionate forgiveness. Pardon me, if I don’t have some of the details correct in the story. Once a mass-murderer went to see the Buddha; the murderer implored the Buddha to free him of his sins of killing & bloodshed, and to allow him to be Buddha’s disciple.
Buddha warmly, with his jolly smile and rolling belly, invited the ex-murderer to come inside the monastery and follow his teachings. Not only had the former murderer started practicing mindfulness, he was aware of the severity & heinousness of his actions & crimes, but he was also willing to give his life up in service to the Buddha; so by loving Buddha, clearly he demonstrated his love for the “Beloved,” and all people who suffer just like us. So go and give your “green forgiveness” away bringing life to others!
Here’s what Andrew Harvey writes about forgiveness in his book, entitled “The Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi:” “We all should be practicing this alchemy of forgiveness by reaching out to the torturers, the killers, the maniacs, the bankers, and to all those inside ourselves, perpetual hands of unconditional love. That is the only force that can swerve them now” (p. 201). Perhaps forgiveness will be the force that saves the planet! Copywrite: Christopher Bear-Beam December 2, 2015