Earlier today, I was reading a book by Jack Kornfield in which he quoted a phrase that is reputed to have originated in the time of The Buddha; “Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.” On the next page, he mentioned the two former prisoners of war who met. One asked the other, “Have you forgiven your captors yet?” To which the second replied, “No, never!” “Well,” said the first, “they still have you in their prison then don’t they?”
As I read those passages which were part of a chapter on “Forgiveness Meditation,” I began thinking of all the people I would have to forgive in order to be released from the prison of my mind. Kornfield said people sometimes don’t even realize they have hurt or wronged us, so great is their own suffering of pain, confusion, and ignorance. That increased my list exponentially until I realized that in my own ignorance and confusion, I allowed things to happen to me that now must be forgiven. I have often put myself in situations where I could be hurt by others.
This has, I quickly saw, created a very unusual situation; I must also forgive myself! In fact, if I forgive others while overlooking myself, I have only achieved half my goal, and forgiveness is totally incomplete. Then, as I examined this dilemma further, I concluded that forgiving others is really not the issue at all but forgiving myself is everything! In many circumstances, I became hurt, damaged, by a situation that could possibly have been avoided if I’d only discussed what was bothering me with the other parties involved. Instead, I believed that discussion would either be futile or lead to further exacerbate the problem that probably didn’t even exist beyond my perceptions.
So often we see ourselves as victims of others whom we may perceive as stronger, more popular etc than ourselves, when in fact others may behave aggressively toward us because we intimidate them! Many times we become victims only of our own ideas about others and what we believe they think.
If we look closely, we will see that we are more alike than we are different.