Sunday, February 22, 2009

38/52 - Forgiveness

Saturday 9:30 am with Amy

Another good class.  Afterward, a friend of mine who is new to Bikram said that Amy is his favorite teacher so far because she is always so happy, and her happiness is infectious.  It's true.  And she gets very caught up in how well people are doing.  Sometimes class almost comes to a halt, because she's just admiring something.  Today, after Floor Bow, she started talking about how we all think we stink when we are doing the pose.  She can tell by the look on people's faces as they come out of it.  And then she says that we are wrong, that the class looks great, and that she should really bring a camera in, just to capture the beauty of everyone doing that pose together.

I felt good and strong throughout the class.  I got a nice compliment on Locust.  I really need to ask someone how far I'm going up in this pose -- I have no idea, but it feels like I'm getting higher than before.  And I got fully into Fixed Firm for the first time in several months, and this time I did it with my feet pointing the right direction -- I think.

Yesterday's meditation, I think, is quite amazing.  It introduces forgiveness as a species of non-hoarding.  The idea is that we harbor anger, resentment, ill-will,  and other bad feelings about others.  Over time, we become attached to these feelings.  We cling to them.   What we need to do is forgive the people against whom we hold our grudges. 

I've always had a problem with the old saying "Forgive and forget."  If you forget, then the forgiveness doesn't amount to much because there  really is nothing to forgive any more.  Gates has made clear what's behind forgiveness in a way that I have found lacking in others.  The idea is to cleanse or purge ill will from yourself through forgiveness.  That doesn't mean you have to forget at all.  All you do is take the pain away from the memory, and what you are left with is a form of redemption.  Your memories can stay with you, but they become transformed and through the transformation, they become powerless against you anymore.

There is one small quibble I have with the idea that I should start personally forgiving people.  It strikes me that, in many cases, the ill will we bear toward others may be unjustified.  Or even if there is some cause for it, the other person may not be aware of it.  Going around forgiving people might actually cause some problems.  You say I forgive you, and they say "But I didn't do anything wrong."  And all of a sudden they might start to have a problem with you because you are forgiving them, and they don't think they need forgiving.  I haven't really worked this one out yet.  

But it seems to me that a better tactic would be to go around apologizing to people, if possible.  If forgiving people is an act of letting go, then so too is apologizing.  And others, I think, would be much less likely to take offense.  And, on top of that, in many cases where we could forgive, we also bear a decent share of the blame, and thus could apologize just as well.

1 comment:

Ellen Morrison said...

Thanks for posting. I really enjoy reading your blog. You have inspired me to work through "Meditations from the Mat" on my own, as well. ;))
I agree with you that sometimes people can be put off by your verbally forgiving them. Maybe it's because forgiveness implies blame or at least wrong-doing in our culture. A tactic I have tried with my mom is to say (or even just to think to myself when I'm around her), "I accept and appreciate you exactly the way you are and I release any past hurts or bad feelings that there might be between us." But I also like your idea of apologizing - so I may start to replace "release" with "apologize".
Aloha & Namaste,
Ellen