Forgive for Love
Here is a wonderful talk given by guest speaker: Fred Luskin from Stanford Psychologist, Director of Stanford’s Forgiveness Project and author of Forgive for Good and Forgive for Love, from the Awakening Joy course by James Baraz.
The course teaches us about mindfulness and how to be consciously awake in our lives, with each other, without the judgment, criticism and the “us against them” concepts.
This month’s June theme is on Integrity as a Path to Awaken Joy. Integrity is considered one of the most effective ways to create the conditions for joy to arise. The connection between integrity and joy:
For one who leads a virtuous life,
it is a natural law that remorse will not arise…
For one free of remorse,
it is a natural law that gladness will arise…
For one who is glad at heart,
it is a natural law that joy will arise.
As mentioned in Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness, the happiness that comes from leading a life of integrity. It is said that other sources of happiness (such as being free of debt, having enough to provide for your loved ones or having enough wealth to share your generosity with others) produce a mere fraction of the of a life of integrity. When we’re not congruent with our values we can’t enjoy whatever good fortune we have because living with integrity is the foundation for peace of mind and true happiness of an open heart. There is a place in all of us that feels “off” when we’re not in alignment with our values. We all have a conscience which is hard-wired into us. We only need to listen honestly to our inner wisdom so we can discern between right and wrong. Mindfulness helps you become more aware of your conscience and so is a great ally in supporting your intention to be happy.
Planting Seeds of Suffering or Happiness
The general principle regarding integrity as a support for greater well-being is to refrain from intentionally causing harm to yourself or others. In every moment, you are sowing the seeds for either suffering or happiness through your words and actions in at least four ways: 1) the feeling you have while doing the action 2) the response that comes back to you from those on the receiving end 3) the feeling of either ease or remorse when you recall past actions 4) the likelihood that you will act similarly (either skillfully or unskillfully) in the future through practice that action. Often we act in ways that cause harm to ourselves or others by falling into habits that don’t serve us. We can change repeating our unskillful habits by bringing more consciousness to what we do. When we see clearly that our unskillful actions are creating more suffering for ourselves, we begin to clean up our act, not because we are trying to be some kind of saint, but because we pragmatically realize that we want to develop more well-being.
So hand-in-hand with the theme of integrity is the importance of forgiveness. Fred made the point that we’re the ones who suffer when we judge or criticize or when we are stuck in bitterness and judgment. Criticism cannot lead to well-being. He said that forgiveness emerges in a body that is open to goodness. In the end, Fred said, forgiveness comes down to kindness.
We can’t force it or pretend to be anywhere other than where we are. We need to process our hurt, pain and trauma. I often say if you aren’t ready to forgive another, then forgive yourself for being right where you are. But as Desmond Tutu says, “Forgiveness is the highest form of self-interest. I need to forgive so that my own anger and lust for revenge doesn’t corrode my own being.” This is a just a brief highlight leading up to this lecture.