(This is one of my journal musings followed by a valuable life practice added to the end. Hence, the intimate, personal style of the beginning.)
Time to forgive the horrors of the past, the wounds I carry: CalArts, my parents, an unforgiving world, our sick culture. Time to love all our inadequacies, frailties, slights, wounds, mistakes, the human drama. Time to say, You were wounded, I am wounded, we are all wounded, we are blind and deaf and confused and hurt, and we don’t know what we’re doing. We make mistakes. We long for love, peace, forgiveness.
I long to forgive it all, release the past, be deeply free, be love now, be peace-not namby pamby, but truly – to truly forgive – to say to all of it, my life, the people, places, things: I love you. I am sorry for my part in it. Please forgive me. Thank you for your gifts. To start unconditionally embracing this world of horror and woe, beauty and wonder-unconditional friendliness, kindness to it all. A kind heart is at peace, and I long for peace-to be kind to the whole mess, my mess, our mess-what a mess!
In this musing above, I talk about the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono (which I am NOT an expert in). My understanding of this practice is that you say to anything or anyone in your life where there is suffering, “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” And you keep doing this, so that you can be released of suffering, they can be released of suffering, healing and wholeness can be restored. You keep doing it so you can feel it and mean it deeply and be a part of the healing of our world.
How does it work? I’m no authority on this, but my understanding is this. You think of somewhere where there is suffering, maybe it’s something in yourself that you don’t like or struggle with, maybe it’s another person you know who is suffering that you are concerned about, maybe it’s our economic system or the ecological conditions of the world. And first you say, “I love you.” This step is about embracing of all of it, the full catastrophe, as Jon Kabat-Zinn called it, really embracing it with love. Not just accepting it, but embracing and loving it as it is and sending it love.
I believe if you can truly do this step, that is all you would ever need to do, and you would create profound healing within yourself and rippling out from you to countless other beings in your world.
But since, as humans, most of us struggle to truly love the suffering, the ugliness, the brutality, the lies and so forth, we have three more steps in this practice to help us and to deepen the healing and blessing.
The next steps are “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” They go together, as any sincere apology, needs to include a request for forgiveness, not a demand but a sincere request. “I’m sorry. Please forgive me” is about taking the radical step of acknowledging our part in the suffering, no matter how unrelated to us or distant from us it may seem, no matter how much it appears to be someone else’s fault and not our own. We take radical responsibility for our part in it, our contribution to the situation, the suffering, the lack of well-being.
For instance, if someone we love is ill, we simply say “I’m sorry. Please forgive me,” opening to the fact that we are all one, and I am somehow a part of your illness. Nothing is separate. I’m sorry for how I have consciously or unconsciously contributed to this. I’m truly sorry for my part in this. Please forgive me for anything I may have done, said, thought, however I may have contributed to this. And at the same time, we need to forgive ourselves.
And the last step is “Thank you.” What a beautiful, important step. In this step, we give thanks for any blessings, seen or unseen, any learning, any gifts whether they are hidden or obvious to us now, that have come or will come from this situation, for however it is helping us to grow or heal or shine or who knows? Thank you. Thank you for the gift of being alive, of being part of the whole mess.
Try it with something small first and then expand. Try it with someone you want to help. Try it with something in yourself you want to heal. Try it on aspects of your body you reject. Try it on world conditions you don’t like or accept, that you wish were different. Try it on everything. Also, I find it can be helpful with practices like this to decide in advance, I’m going to do this for 5 minutes or 10 minutes and then let it go, or another way I like to do this is while on a walk. See what happens and let me know.
To your inner freedom, maxima