pink flower closeup eThe most powerful forgiveness I ever experienced came in meditation, spontaneously and without prompting. It happened first because I was dedicated to a meditation routine, and secondly because the inner timing was right for me to heal.

This forgiveness of another person also took hold because it was supported by understanding, again borne of meditation.

A lot of forgiveness doesn’t work or won’t last because it’s the ego trying to forgive. You can’t “do” forgiveness. It has to happen. It’s very helpful to get the ball rolling if the person that hurt you asks to be forgiven. Not only apologizes but asks for forgiveness. Oftentimes this doesn’t happen. We have to have the good sense to go ahead and forgive anyway.

Why is forgiveness “good sense”?

…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.

— Sally Kempton

It frees the other person too, whether they feel it or not.

Forgiveness has to start with willingness. There’s a place for the ego at this stage. It can begin as simply as saying out loud, “I forgive you.” The other person doesn’t have to be there. This is one personality forgiving another. It’s a choice you make and the ego has to participate.

Another level of forgiveness is available if we’ve cultivated emotional intelligence and mental maturity. The reward of growing emotionally and mentally is that after you’ve acknowledged and cleansed your hurt feelings, it’s a simple decision to not let resentment continue to poison you.

It’s important to remember that forgiveness isn’t a compromise of your boundaries. It doesn’t mean that if the other person continues in hurtful behavior this will be acceptable to you, or that you stop protecting yourself. Forgiveness is designed to improve the relationship, and discard the baggage. One party is willing to take responsibility, and the other to let go.

Self-forgiveness is important too as it improves one’s relationship with oneself.

A word about letting go. It doesn’t necessarily mean to forget. It simply means there’s peace.

To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go is to let be.

— Jack Kornfield

Finally, there’s a depth level of forgiveness. This is a spiritual heart opening. Here there’s unequivocal recognition that the person who’s the source of your wound is full of humanness and not without basic goodness. The behavior that caused you distress comes from their personality, their ego-mind. If you relate to them only at that level, forgiveness won’t take hold, it won’t stick.

Here’s how radical forgiveness works. You may even cut off relations with the individual who wronged you, but you forgive them spiritually, fully embodying the truth that you’re varied expressions of the same consciousness. For example, to this day I’m estranged from the person I forgave spontaneously all those many years ago, but I’m also not imprisoned by wounds, resentments, negativity and dysfunction.

There are steps to forgiveness. First, we’re doing forgiveness. This can be very helpful and it has to start somewhere. When we’re doing forgiveness we may also be deluding ourselves or in denial. Forgiveness can’t be faked. The only way you’ll know it’s real is if you feel the experiencing state.

In that state you feel the fellowship of souls. Two souls journeying on Earth, giving and taking lessons, engaged in soul work. Once there’s a connection at the soul level, the personality understands that holding on is futile. We can honor and love another as a soul, while forgiving them in everyday life without having to accept their actions.

Spiritual forgiveness opens our heart and mind to widened perceptions. It gives us a portal through which we can experience unity and harmony, and establish wisdom and compassion as reliable resources within us.

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Forgiveness is Soul Work