Nondual Zen Article:

Forgiving MySelf

nondual title

Forgiving MySelf
by Kathleen Sutherland

Forgiveness is a central tenet of Christianity, and probably of all spiritual traditions, at least by implication. It operates in nonduality as well. If we are One and wish to resonate with that truth, then we must let go of resentments, which can only be perceived from the vantage of the separate self.

I have long understood this principle, but still struggled with it in regard to certain people. Especially as I matured and became more assertive and confident, I saw how my younger self had been too nice. I was a people pleaser and often let others take advantage of me. I was quick to blame myself for whatever went awry in relationships. It was difficult for me to become angry or to harbor a resentment, at least on the conscious level. Those few whom I considered to have wronged me, I forgave – or so I thought.

Learning to assert myself, to feel anger and to draw boundaries was progress for me. Accordingly, I was wary of forgiveness. I was not ready to embrace it, lest it pull me back into my former meekness. So I placed it on the back burner, and allowed myself to hold a few grudges.

But as my awakening experience and the clearing work of the past few years have given me a sense of stability in both my true Self and in the character, it occurred to me that perhaps now I was ready to forgive. So I reviewed my old stash of resentments, and to my surprise, I found the dark ink on those pages had all but faded. I discovered no real need to forgive because I no longer felt wronged. I still saw that I was not treated well by certain people. But I also saw that they could not have done other than as they did.

I recently had a vision in my mind’s eye of myself and some family members on a stage, all taking a bow. Our roles had been well played, exactly as scripted. There was applause and then warm hugs among the thespians.

Resentments or anger can flare up again when I revisit memories, or when circumstances otherwise trigger old conditioning. But it usually passes quickly. When it happens, I ask God to help me let it go, and to bless this person with all good things for their lifetime and beyond. Then it's pretty much gone.

It is a real gift to no longer grapple with anger. Yet the strong sense of self remains. Forgiveness and letting go of resentments can be done from a place of strength. In fact, that is really the only way to do it. Knowing my true Self gives me that stability and fortitude.

And in knowing your true Self, you see there is really nothing to forgive. We are all actors, playing our roles, no matter how villainous they may at times seem. I find I am actually left with a lot of compassion for the bad actors of this world (including myself, at times). It is a terrible burden to have mistreated another human being or creature. When I hear of such atrocities, I pray not only for the victims, but for the perpetrator, too. I feel he or she needs the most compassion and help. Truly, I'd rather be a nail than a hammer.

Forgiveness is a beautiful practice in the relative world, from the perspective of duality. But ultimately, it leads us to the realization that there is nothing to forgive. There is only this. This cannot harm itself. This cannot hate itself. This can only be what it is: infinite love, interacting in an infinitude of ways.

I am secure and strong in what I am. I am innocent and perfect in This. I am already forgiven for what I never did. I am unborn, unbound and untouched. I am love, and only that, for I am That.