Forgiveness - how?

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Forgiveness - how?

Postby delora » Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:43 am

From reading around this forum, it appears there does not appear to be much in the way of forgiveness in the suttas. From what I understand, the buddha ascribed metta for one's enemy, but didn't talk of forgiveness as such. This may make sense intuitively, as forgiveness isn't exactly an emotion as such (a bit like patience).

I am currently working on a book by Jack Kornfield entitled Forgiveness. It is okay, but so far, doesn't seem too substantial. I am also working through the Dalai Lama's autobio. It is interesting to see how he related to the Chinese.

It's my belief that there are different levels of wrongdoing. The Dalai Lama puts it aptly when he says that the worst kind of violence is that which is dressed with a smile. Harmful actions, which are deliberately thought out and plotted, imo, are much worse than heat of the moment actions. Harmful actions that are plotted, but disguised as help or in the form of a smile, has to be the worse.

So, my question is, how does one related to such happenings, where one is subject to quite calculated and thought out ill willed action?

I am capable of putting it to one side, but that is almost forgetting about it. Which doesn't really strike me as what the buddha might prescribe? Even the Dalai Lama is quite frank about his experiences. He makes fun of the Chinese subtly too. It did question my idea of compassion as not saying bad about anyone - I am still not sure about this. Does this also mean that the past is worth recollecting and 'understanding'? Sometimes this can be a very painful and emotive process.

If I do think about the past wrong that have happened to me, I am occasionally shocked by someone's (only explicable) motives to their actions. And this arouses such an intense anger it is scary.

So I think the question is... is forgiving and not-forgetting perhaps the wisest thing to do? And how does one do that? Is there any literature or suttas out there that point to this?

I guess this also relates to the question of whether you can really understand someone's motives? I am thinking of a particular case here where a person consistently went to great lengths of deception and ill will, and caused me a great deal of pain. I can see their damaged and traumatic past, but the person in question is of extremely high intelligence, and some of their methods seemed shockingly thought out and self centred. I'd love to believe that they were not aware, but the facts and their actions consistently seem to point otherwise..
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Re: Forgiveness - how?

Postby bodom » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:00 am

From reading around this forum, it appears there does not appear to be much in the way of forgiveness in the suttas. From what I understand, the buddha ascribed metta for one's enemy, but didn't talk of forgiveness as such.


Hi Delora

You might be interested in this sutta quote from the Buddha on forgiveness.

"These two are fools. Which two? The one who doesn't see his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who doesn't rightfully pardon another who has confessed his/her transgression.

These two are fools."These two are wise. Which two? The one who sees his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who rightfully pardons another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are wise."— AN 2.21


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Forgiveness - how?

Postby lojong1 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:08 am

There does not appear to be much in the way of forgiveness in the suttas.

Forgiveness is what?
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Re: Forgiveness - how?

Postby delora » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:22 am

good question. if i may write as i think. forgiveness is.... a reconciliation of the past? or a way of relating to the past that leads to less suffering in the present. i'd say forgiveness is the same as pardoning, which is the same as not holding a grudge against someone. This either would be learning to live with the other person (or your memory of them), your subsequent anger, getting rid of expectations, and/or actively wishing well for your enemy.

but this is my issue, how do you deal with someone who has hurt you, or even the memory of that, without pushing it out. I guess it is related to living with anger, or not even getting angry in the first place?

are expectations encouraged to be questioned and changed in buddhism? Are they considered man made, or a natural part of existence. Supporting the latter point, I have seen 2 year olds get very angry. If this is the case is a more passive approach taken to not try to change anything but just watch whatever expectation you might have and see the subsequent anger? I think I made a mistake here in my practise, mistaking actively grasping, trying to look for or taking part in expectations, as watching as a detached observer.

Is metta practise acknowledging all the harm they have caused you, and still wishing well for them? in relation to this, how do you acknowledge past harm - is it worth analysing the past, bringing up memories, trying to understand someone and their motives? Particularly when their behaviour can be erratic and seemingly malevolent. I have heard that writing an autobiography is a good exercise. wondering what ppl thought?
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Re: Forgiveness - how?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:38 am

Hi Delora,
delora wrote:Is metta practise acknowledging all the harm they have caused you, and still wishing well for them? in relation to this, how do you acknowledge past harm - is it worth analysing the past, bringing up memories, trying to understand someone and their motives? Particularly when their behaviour can be erratic and seemingly malevolent. I have heard that writing an autobiography is a good exercise. wondering what ppl thought?

I'm not sure if dwelling on the reasons and trying to understand them, is helpful. I think that acknowledging the anger you feel is.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... n.html#saw
"Monks, even if bandits were to carve you up savagely, limb by limb, with a two-handled saw, he among you who let his heart get angered even at that would not be doing my bidding. Even then you should train yourselves: 'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate. We will keep pervading these people with an awareness imbued with good will and, beginning with them, we will keep pervading the all-encompassing world with an awareness imbued with good will — abundant, expansive, immeasurable, free from hostility, free from ill will.' That's how you should train yourselves.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .amar.html
Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings;
Radiating kindness over the entire world:
Spreading upwards to the skies, And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,

And remember that the actions of others (and yourself) are anatta (void of self), and are simply the playing out of causes and conditions. This is helpful in developing equanimity:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"Students, beings are owners of kamma, heir to kamma, born of kamma, related through kamma, and have kamma as their arbitrator. ...


See also these articles:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el006.html
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... heart.html

Mike
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Re: Forgiveness - how?

Postby lojong1 » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:04 am

delora wrote:There does not appear to be much in the way of forgiveness in the suttas...Forgiveness is a reconciliation of the past? or a way of relating to the past that leads to less suffering in the present. I'd say forgiveness is the same as pardoning, which is the same as not holding a grudge against someone. This either would be learning to live with the other person (or your memory of them), your subsequent anger, getting rid of expectations, and/or actively wishing well for your enemy.

I see most suttas as dealing with this forgiveness--it's called taming your own mind.
delora wrote:How do you deal with...the memory...without pushing it out.

Without pushing it out or clinging to it. Suttas are full of advice on that. If it isn't in the suttas, it might not be buddhist?
Is metta practice acknowledging all the harm they have caused you, and still wishing well for them?

Metta is wishing well for them (not just verbally). It's a mode of the cetasika 'adosa'--non-hatred. If acknowledging harm inflicted upon you makes you angry, best not to cultivate that practice just yet. If you can't stop acknowledging the harm, suttas are full of advice. With harm on the brain, karu.naa might be easier to work with.
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Re: Forgiveness - how?

Postby Individual » Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:46 am

delora wrote:From reading around this forum, it appears there does not appear to be much in the way of forgiveness in the suttas.

See Khanti

Also, the first chapter of the Dhammapada. It doesn't mention forgiveness, but it mentions the suffering that comes from dwelling on how others have wronged us.
The best things in life aren't things.

The Diamond Sutra
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Re: Forgiveness - how?

Postby dhammapal » Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:07 am

Most of the Buddha's teachings on forgiveness seem to be in the Vinaya.
See this article:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... ation.html

Also see my Yahoo Group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/forgivenessBuddhism

With metta / dhammapal.
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