As humans with an ego, we have an inbuilt tendency to judge others. We can get upset with their words and actions, and a sense of hostility arises within our heart towards them. This hostility is fuelled by our negative thoughts about that person; remembering the things they said or did, picturing them in our mind as a certain kind of person whom we dislike. When we do this, we completely forget any good qualities that person might have and we focus only on their mistakes, and on their ego (which is dysfunctional by its very nature).
And of course, people rarely consistently behave in the way that we think they should, so we have to accept that because of their ego, their neuroses, their fears, emotions, insecurities and general conditioning, people will never think, speak and behave to up our standard. We are all flawed in this way. I know I am stating the glaringly obvious, but its important to see that our ego is very unforgiving when it comes to the behaviour and character of others. This reveals a lot to us about its nature. It has a tendency to focus upon faults, and ignore the rest.
So this is why it’s very important that we develop a forgiving nature in our heart that is willing to let go of judgment, fault, criticism and our own past wounds. I know this is not easy, but for the sake of our own heart and soul it is essential. People will undoubtedly offend us, disrespect us and hurt us – sometimes intentionally but usually unintentionally – and it’s how we respond to such things that determines the degree to which we grow and evolve.
If we can learn to let go of the anger, disappointment and hurt, our heart can heal. This is why it’s so important to reach out to those with whom we’ve had disagreements, and to be willing to build bridges. If we are unwilling to do so, and if we are unwilling to forgive those who have upset us, our heart simply cannot to open to the degree which it needs to, and we will prolong our own suffering.
There is a saying which goes something like this: “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” If we are angry with someone and we wish suffering upon them, what is occurring in our own heart while we do this? Well, love is not there, that’s for sure, and in its place is the more toxic energy of resentment. It’s impossible to comprehend the profound spiritual consequences of feeding such energies within our own heart. To say they are detrimental is a colossal understatement, yet when our thoughts are caught up in judgment and anger, we believe we are in the right. This is the delusion of the ego, whose sole purpose seems to be to keep us separate from Love, and exert control over our reality. Love and control do not go hand in hand, because love always offers freedom.
The absence of love from our heart is the cause of all of our suffering, even though we get so used to being in that state, and just accept it as our norm. We may not be in pain, but we are separate from the most important force in the universe; the force that our heart has been designed to have flowing through it. It’s like a dried-up river bed: it offers no nourishment whatsoever. But we get used to it being that way, and we get used to seeking for nourishment from external sources; sources which are incapable of giving us the what we truly need. There is just no substitute for the love that should be flowing through our heart. People get hooked on things like power, attention from others, consumerist pleasures, drugs and even food in their deep need to fill the yawning gap left by love, but they can never be truly satisfied. We all know this intuitively. We all know that we need love flowing through our heart.
This is why it’s absolutely essential that we forgive those whom we feel have wronged us or hurt us. Because while we are angry or offended, we harbour the desire to punish those whom we deem responsible, and love cannot be present. Forgiving someone means ceasing to want to punish them, because while we are wanting to punish them our heart is poisoned with the seeds of hatred, even if we feel we are totally justified in our position of offence or anger. We are literally holding on to suffering. We have to let go. We need to let the anger and offence pass, let the angry thoughts leave our mind and invite thoughts of forgiveness in instead. Yes, this can be very challenging but it is essential for everyone involved; most importantly yourself.
We need to decide in our mind: “I want to stop punishing this person. I want to have peace in my heart. I want to forgive them.” If you can make this decision in the midst of anger, hurt, offence, pain, resentment and so on, a profound transformation will occur in your heart and the river will begin to flow again. Love will return and bring the deep nourishment that we all so desperately need.
Shine like the Sun
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