Illuminations 47 – Self – Forgiveness

In this audio issue (click here for the audio issue) of Illuminations, I talk with counselor Arcana Siddhi about self-forgiveness. Those of us on the spiritual path have high ideals, ideals which we often don’t meet. And especially for those who tend to be perfectionists, this can result in a lot of self hatred, guilt and shame. We fall short of our ideals, or worse, sometimes we fall flat on our faces and may not be able to forgive ourselves for it.

Or we have a self image of a good person, a good devotee, a good this or that, yet we inevitably confront the reality that we often act in ways totally incongruent with that self image, and again, we can’t forgive ourselves. This inability to forgive ourselves makes our lives difficult. And it makes it all that more difficult to forgive others.

I ask Arcana Siddhi how, considering the above realities, we can forgive ourselves. As a professional counselor she deals with this problem often and was able to shed great light and insight on the topic.

As many of you know. I have been teaching workshops on forgiveness for years. This site gives more details about the workshops. The blog is entirely dedicated to the topic of forgiveness and contains many ideas from my workshop. Feel free to share this site and blog with your friends and associates. As you will see, it is written for a broad audience, so those who might not be so spiritually inclined will get a lot from it.

Self forgivenessThe more I do the workshops, the more I see how needed and beneficial forgiveness is for ourselves, for relationships, for minimizing conflict at home and in the workplace, and for dealing with all the bigotry, hatred and prejudice in the world. Ours is a culture of “If I am wronged, I get back.” Most people’s accounts of all the injustices and hurts that were done to them is overflowing and they use these accounts to justify blame and anger. They build up these accounts and carefully save them. Anytime someone performs some horrible act, you can know for sure their victim account is overflowing.

Our culture loves retaliation. Movies are full of it. The hero is wronged and the whole movie is about him taking “justifiable” revenge. So our kids grow up thinking, “If someone hurts me, I must take revenge. Forgiveness is a sign of weakness.”

People guard their victimhood. It is a story upon which they can justify their failures. If they lose that story, how can they justify their blame and anger? Anger makes them feel powerful. Ask them to forgive and they fear they will lose their power. But all anger and blame does is hide their pain, pain they don’t want to face. Forgiveness is the only door out of the prison of this pain.

Because forgiveness is so much needed in our world, and because practicing forgiveness brings people to a higher level of God consciousness, my intention is to expand these workshops around the world by training a team of facilitators to deliver them.

If you know anyone who might be interested in organizing a workshop please direct them to the site. Or consider contacting someone at your school, office, community center, yoga studio, temple, etc. to discuss the benefit of having such a workshop.

May you always think of Krsna,

Mahatma Das