I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.
One of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it??s about letting go of hatred. ?Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged. ?To me, that??s a misguided idea of what hatred is.
Forgiveness is simply letting go. That??s it. ?No more than that. ? And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”. ?Letting go means a positive non-attachment. ? It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change. ?Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is. ? Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.
When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.
If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it. ?We want to look that way too.
I went through years of wondering about forgiveness after my childhood of abuse. ? “I shouldn’t be feeling hatred”, I thought. ? When I expressed pain or hatred about my mother, the suggestion to forgive was often automatically given. ?The word ??forgiveness?? was a word used against to me that meant ??those unpleasant emotions should not be there??. ?What I was feeling was wrong, somehow. And yes, there was hatred in there.
What I learned, after some time, was that deep inside hate is beauty. ?What hatred really says is ??I want distance??. ? If there’s something incredibly unhealthy going on, hatred results, because the body and soul speak up about it. ?The flower hates the volcano, in its own way, because it cannot live near the volcano. It doesn??t dwell on it, and there is also love there ?? but it still wants distance.
Does hatred feel bad? ?Not always! ?Not when there’s acceptance of it. ?As I said, hatred is not exclusive of love. ? Just like anger doesn’t exclude love. ?I love this table of the seven levels of anger. ?What’s interesting about it is that while the first level, the most separate, is fairly destructive, the final level of anger is essentially love. ?The anger is still there, but when it shows up it comes out in harmony.
In my experience, every emotion – including anger and hatred – is a fundamental, unchangeable energy of the universe with a wide spectrum of manifestation. ? ?That’s sort of theoretical, so let’s put it this way. ?Hatred Is. ?Anger Is. They are here, within us and everyone, and there’s nothing we can do to rid ourselves of them. ?What we can do is allow them completely so that their manifestations are more ?flowing, peaceful, and respectful.
It??s very loosely analogous?to ?the levels of energy in ??Power vs. Force??. ? In that book, each emotion, person or perspective has a basic energy level. ? To me, emotional love can manifest as clinging or it can be utterly accepting. ?Anger can be rage or it can be used for a loving, positive change, like Gandhi. ?Hatred can be used to do violence (which involves a certain us-vs-them ?perspective) or it can be used to generate positive distance (from a more accepting, flowing perspective). ? No matter how it looks to others, it??s the same fundamental life energy of the universe appearing in each of those emotions, albeit manifested differently. ? As anyone seriously hurt knows, the hurt never goes away – but it can manifest very differently and even lovingly. ?The energy of hurt is expanded and flowing, or contracted and blocked.
Most people see different ways an emotion appears as being very different emotions. ? Our minds likes to do Aristotle’s trick of separating and categorizing. ?That makes us feel in control. ?But if you watch – really watch – someone when they’re talking about something in which they are very emotive, you can see the beautiful fluidity of it all. ?I began to see that it wasn’t a battle royal of emotions, each one jousting for supremacy, but instead an oceanic maelstrom that comes from the oneness of the deepest soul. ? All those different emotions were simply different faces of the same energy.
How does that help? ?It has helped me let go of some judgments, I suppose. ?Because when I try to use the knife point of categorization, I find I do violence to myself. ? Just like violence is done to others when I try to counsel them to deny real but painful parts of themselves. ? When I try to say hatred has to leave me for me to forgive, that is violence. ? And even more hatred within myself is the inevitable consequence of that violence.
But the times in which I’ve surrender – and forgived at the same time – to my own emotions, the process doesn’t make them ?go away, but instead makes the same energy manifest differently. ?It makes it feel more loving to others.
From experience, I know that any attempt to say that an emotion, like hatred, should not be there, simply creates intractableness. We end up fighting ourselves to be that image of forgiveness. The goal is wholeness, which includes everything inside ourselves, even the parts we don’t think of as “good”.
Forgiveness is not achieved in spite of hatred, but through it.