Template for Forgiveness

The following meditation is adapted from a talk given online on the Healing & Insight channel of World Wide Insight on Saturday January 23rd, 2016


 

Today I would like to offer you a guided meditation that I call a ‘template for forgiveness’.This is practice that views the process of forgiveness through the lens of the five precepts.  These seemingly simple guidelines intended to reduce and remove so much avoidable suffering from our own lives and the lives of those around us.As I’ve said this is just a template and this practice should be broken down and undertaken over a period of sessions sittings may be lasting weeks months or even years.

This template has been greatly influenced by teachers such as Gil Frondsal, Jack Kornfield,  Ajahn Thanasanti, Noah Levine, Christina Feldman… and particularly the teacher and author Jeff Oliver for his book ‘Forgiveness for Everyone’.

Whatever posture you adopt for today’s practice the most important aspect is our intention – as Gil Fronsdal suggests – our posture should represent our Heart’s desire to awaken…our Heart’s desire to move away from misery towards the end of misery without creating yet more suffering for ourselves… or causing more suffering for anyone else along the way.

We sit upright, dignified, alert…  soft face,  relaxed jaw,  shoulders dropped back easily…

In Buddhism we learn, cultivate, and incline our mind by the process of repetition.

The first stage of this practice is to ask for forgiveness from those whom we have caused hurt or harmed.We might imagine that we are breathing in-out of Heart area…We recite the following phrases like a silent whisper…


I ask for forgiveness from others for whatever harmful things I have done: the mistakes, the failures and the wrong-doings that I have intentionally or unintentionally done with body, word and heart.

(1) I now remember how I harmed you physically or emotionally.

(2) I now remember how I hurt you by taking what you did not freely give [or by withholding that which I should have given to you].

(3) I now remember how I betrayed you through my sexual misconduct.

(4) I now remember how I abused you through my words, through my lies, through my angry, slanderous, gossiping speech.

(5) I now remember how I abandoned you through my intoxication.

Out of my own pain; out of my fear; out of my hurt… out of my not knowing. 

But that was who I was then …not who I am now…and not who I will be in the future.

You have nothing to fear from me today,

For the thoughts, words and acts of pain I have inflicted on you,
I ask for your forgiveness.

For the harm I have caused you, knowingly or unknowingly,
I ask for your forgiveness.

For the sorrow I have caused you, 
I ask for your forgiveness.

Please forgive me. 

Frequently checking in with our heart centre to note the feelings that we might find there resistance, conflict, blockages, anger, hatred, surrender… maybe you will find relief and maybe some release?


The second direction of forgiveness is towards ourselves for all of the hurt and harm that we have inflicted on ourselves… through our thoughts… through our words, spoken or not spoken… and through actions…

I ask for and I extend forgiveness to myself for whatever harmful things I have done to myself: the mistakes, the failures and the wrong-doings that I have intentionally or unintentionally done with body, word and heart.

(1) I now remember how I harmed myself physically or emotionally.

(2) I now remember how I hurt myself stealing from others or by withholding that which I should have given to myself.

(3) I now remember how I betrayed myself through my sexual misconduct.

(4) I now remember how I abused myself through my words, through my lies, through my angry speech… through my words spoken and unspoken.

(5) I now remember how I abandoned myself through my intoxication, my addictions, my compulsions.

Out of my own pain; out of my fear; out of my hurt; out of my anger… out of my not knowing. 

…but that was who I was yesterday… not who I am today…  and not who I will be tomorrow.

I now ask for… and extend to myself… a full and heartfelt forgiveness,

I forgive myself for not understanding,

I forgive myself for the mistakes of the past.

For the thoughts, words and acts of pain that I have inflicted on myself, 
I offer myself forgiveness.

For the harm that I have caused myself, knowingly or unknowingly,
I offer myself forgiveness.

For the sorrow that I have caused myself, 
I offer myself forgiveness.

I wholeheartedly forgive myself,
I forgive myself now.

Frequently checking in with our heart centre to note the feelings that we might find there resistance, conflict, blockages, anger, hatred, surrender… maybe you will find relief and maybe some release?

Can you let go of the identity of being both the perpetrator and the victim of these hurts?


The last direction forgiveness is towards those who have hurt or harmed us; to those who have abused us; to those who have abandoned us…

Of course there are some hurts that are just so large, we may feel that we can never forgive them.  But it is suggested that we place these hurts on the ‘backburner’ and not let them overwhelm our practice.

The Buddha suggests that the path to liberation, the path to freedom is a gradual path…we should only take on that which we can work with… we only take on that which we can manage.

Those of us who have suffered the bigger wounds, the unforgivable hurts… and I would suggest that applies to every addict…  we might simply set the intention, that one day – with this practice  – with my Buddhist practice – I have an aspiration that I will be able to forgive that person – that event.  But right now, right here I am not ready.  So having set the intention…  we can let go of the expectation of where or when or how that forgiveness may come.

As we commence our practice of forgiveness we might mindfully note if there are tangible benefits of letting go of these painful and sorrowful memories.  We can expand our practice to take home more serious betrayals and abuses from the past.

We might start this stage of our forgiveness practice by just bringing forward into the present moment the small hurts… the small slights, the petty betrayals and minor abuses.

As far as I am ready and as far as I am able; I forgive others for whatever harmful things they have done: the mistakes, the failures and the wrong-doings committed intentionally or unintentionally with body, word and heart.

(1) I now remember how you harmed me physically or emotionally.

(2) I now remember how you hurt me by taking that which I did not give or by your withholding that which you should have given to me.

(3) I now remember how you betrayed me through your sexual misconduct.

(4) I now remember how you abused me through your false speech; your angry words… through your gossip and slander.

(5) I now remember how you abandoned me through your intoxication, through your addictions and through your compulsions.

Actions born out of your pain; out of your fear; out your anger or simply out of your not knowing.

I have carried the pain and sorrow of your actions in my heart for too long and now I put them down……now, I set you free…  I release you.

You have nothing to fear from me.

For the thoughts, words and acts of pain that you have inflicted on me, 
I offer you my forgiveness.

For the harm that you have caused me, knowingly or unknowingly,
I offer you my forgiveness.

For the sorrow that you have caused me, 

I offer you my forgiveness.

I forgive you now.     

 


Bhāvanā (Pali; Sanskrit, also bhāvana) literally means “development” or “cultivating” or “producing”[1][2] in the sense of “calling into existence.” It is an important concept in Buddhist praxis (Patipatti). The word bhavana normally appears in conjunction with another word forming a compound phrase such as citta-bhavana (the development or cultivation of the heart/mind) or metta-bhavana (the development/cultivation of lovingkindness). When used on its own bhavana signifies ‘spiritual cultivation’ generally.