Here’s another exchange, this time from the blog comment section, that is so good it would be a shame not to make it an article:
What about forgiveness? I find that a little bit confusing in a practical way. I am able to forgive almost everyone, and find that quite liberating. But there is one person which has done me great harm and I am not sure about forgiveness. I feel that I still have links to that person, and a lot of bad emotions, particularly anger. I can´t leave that in the past.
But also remember you said forgiveness can be fatal thing.
Forgiveness is a very difficult topic to talk about, because of Christianity. They made it basically a given that not only are we under pressure to forgive – because there’s an implicit threat that if we don’t, we’ll be treated mercilessly – but also that God isn’t really God unless He forgives. In all of that, the concept of justice is not only sidelined, but is practically made a “bad word”.
I would introduce some common sense into the whole thing, and first of all define the basic concepts we’re dealing with, so that we can think clearly about them.
First of all, God’s nature is good, and this nature is the basis of all righteousness and, for lack of a better word, ethics. You can’t have God in your consciousness and be evil; evil by definition severs connection with God. Things that are good are such because they contain some aspect of harmony and alignment with God, which is the fundamental spiritual opulence and wealth behind all wellbeing, happiness, truth, reality, knowledge etc.
Evil is, by definition, any orientation of consciousness away from God, and, consequently, actions that are performed in such a state of spiritual darkness. Also, there is a special category of evil that goes even beyond mere acts in a state of spiritual darkness, where darkness is embraced, where one feels it fully as one’s own, and acts in specific hatred and opposition to the light of God. This is what I would call “sin”, and this is where I seriously differ from the Christians, who use this word too lightly, in my opinion. To them, even masturbation is a sin. To me, it’s not necessarily a sin even to be in a state of spiritual darkness, because one can say that darkness has “will” of its own, and defines what you can experience, what you can feel, and how you can act, to a very large extent which basically excuses a blind man for not seeing and admiring the light. For the most part, being in darkness is the property of this world, and we can’t really help it. However, to embrace and justify darkness, to say there is nothing more, to attack the light and those who embrace it – this choice to embrace evil and be its instrument, this is truly sin against God. To be an instrument of ignorance and suffering, to be that thing that is terrible about this world, to be hell to others, that is sin.
So, what about forgiveness? It’s my opinion that when we define things properly, the question doesn’t truly arise. You see, if one is in spiritual darkness and acts blindly and deprived of the light of God, he is more in the order of a hapless victim of the world, and more in the order of someone we should feel sorry for, than someone that ought to be condemned and punished for his actions. Such souls are weak, because the strong ones bring their own light into the world, and they fight against darkness even despite overwhelming ignorance and darkness, but the weak ones are suppressed and extinguished by the world, and their existence is seldom more than meaningless victimization and suffering. Should we hate them? No. Should we feel particular sympathy for them? Also, I would say, no; I would reserve sympathy for those who remember the light of God and who fight darkness of the world with all their might, but who make mistakes, stumble and fall under a great load. For those who just blend into the background noise of a world of darkness I feel nothing. I wouldn’t condemn them, but I wouldn’t lift a finger to save them, either.
What about those who joined the enemy, who chose to become his soldiers and minions, who embrace the darkness and become its apostles and prophets? What about those, true sinners in a philosophical meaning of the word, where sin is an act of opposition to God? Literal opposition – those are the beings who would try to seduce others away from faith, who would torment the saints, who would try to hide the truth from others? To forgive them, I think, is to embrace darkness yourself. I think they should be rejected and condemned, but ultimate judgment and vengeance should be surrendered to God, and not pursued personally. To quote the Bible: “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; for their day of disaster is near, and their doom is coming quickly.”
I understand the concept of forgiveness in the sense of surrendering ultimate judgment to God, because while we are here we don’t know all the facts, and can thus judge wrongly. We are also not as just as the Lord, and this might mean that we would either punish too harshly, or too leniently, out of fear of error. It is much better to cede judgment to the one whose ultimate job it is, because the perfect light of God is the ultimate judge of all darkness, and no stain can survive in His presence. The Earth can turn on its own without need for us to get out and push; if that is so, how much more can God, who is the ultimate Good, take care of justice? Our job, however, is to stay true to God, and to remain in His holy presence, so that we could do good. This means making choices – what to embrace, and what to condemn and reject; and, often, choosing not to reject certain things or beings is to reject God himself. If you’re in love with God, truly and strongly, contempt and hatred for all that is His opposite will be in your nature, and you won’t even have to think about it. Forgiveness, I fear, is one of those things we are forced to think about too much, because they are spiritually unpalatable, and yet they try to convince us that it is essential for our spiritual wellbeing. However, once we clarify things by thinking about them in clear and unequivocal terms, it becomes much less of a dilemma.
I think the concept of forgiveness is additionally blurred by those who have an actual experience of God, and perceive it as “acceptance” and “forgiveness”, and I would say that those come from misunderstanding of what happens when darkness of the world is removed from you and you find yourself in the presence of God. All the limitations fall off, because they are of the world. All the ignorance, judgments, misapprehensions, wrong beliefs – they are of the world, of the body, and just fall off in the holy presence. One interpretation is that God is acceptance and forgiveness, but I say that a better one is that God is such harsh judgment of all darkness, that none of it can survive in His presence, and so it all falls away, provided that you are spiritually detached from it all, and can allow it. If you can’t separate yourself from darkness, you will feel all the pain darkness feels in the presence of the scorching light that suffers no competition. So, God is very forgiving of sin and evil if you don’t hold on to them, and if you let go of all the darkness as soon as you are given the option. However, those who would hold on to evil and darkness, they would discover why Shiva is seen as the Destroyer, of all evil and darkness.
Of course, to hold onto sin of others in the presence of God, that would make no more sense than to hold on to one’s own, so that’s another way to understand forgiveness; you can state your complaints about the way you were treated by others, when you are in the presence of God, but then you will receive healing through knowledge that there indeed is the Light that makes all darkness and evil insignificant, and knowledge of how much God is the opposite of all that is wrong; it becomes obvious that God is the ultimate judgment upon all evil, and you can immediately surrender all fears that somehow all the terrible things that took place in this world will be somehow swept under the carpet, forgotten and forgiven. If that fear is the reason why one is reluctant to forgive, then the presence of God, and insight into His true nature, are sufficient to rid one of that misapprehension instantly.
I might be missing the intended scope of the idea, though.
It now crossed my mind that the worst sinners that I know of live in a perpetual state of complaint and whining, directed at all kinds of imaginary slights by others, and justify all their evil by their imaginary victimhood.
The “take the beam out of your own eye first, and then we can talk about the speck in your brother’s eye” might be intended for them, and it would be perfectly appropriate. A perpetual self-justification loop that uses others’ real or imaginary slights or faults is a very real phenomenon, and it is the exact opposite of vipassana, which is detachment from one’s patterns and willingness to let go.
I have seen into the mind of sinners, and all seem to be “rehearsing” the defense of their evil lives, and they expect to play their act before a compassionate God, who will forgive them, and punish harshly all who transgressed against them. This seems to be the rule, rather than an exception, so it could be said that true spirituality starts once you voluntarily stop that, let go of all self-justification, of seeking punishment for those who made you aware of something bad that you were doing, and so on. If we see the instruction to forgive others and turn attention to your own faults as something that is directed at this profile of people, then I can find nothing objectionable about it; however, I usually deal with inquiries from the opposite spectrum, from people who were actually harmed and who think they are required to just suck it up and not complain, while the evil doers will get some universal blanket pardon, which makes them feel injustice of the whole idea. Basically, the answer is that God is so inherently opposite to and intolerant of all kinds of evil and darkness, that there is no fear of Him just forgiving it; cleansing bad karma is a very unpleasant and painful process, and I guarantee that all evil-doers will either have to go through that process, or die. There will be no forgiveness, not in that sense.
However, I saw evil people with their lists of complaints directed at good people who “sinned against them”, and if those think that God is going to play along with that tune, they have a surprise coming.
There’s also one thing that needs to be clearly stated: there is a big difference between being contaminated by darkness because you endured suffering inflicted by others, and being contaminated by darkness because you inflicted suffering upon others, and you chose to be and do evil. The first form of contamination can be trivially removed simply by seeing the light and letting go of darkness – to forgive, if you really wish to state it that way. That is so because the darkness doesn’t really have a hold on you; you just got used to it because of the lack of light, and you are the one who can simply let go.
However, in the second case you are integrated with darkness on the level of your spiritual structure, formed by your choices, and no matter how much someone would want to forgive you, it just doesn’t work that way. As I said, dealing with this form of karmic contamination requires a great deal of suffering, and it’s a very nasty process. This is why I’m having problems with forgiveness – you can’t really forgive an unrepented sinner without actually accepting his sin, because there really isn’t a difference between the two; the choice hasn’t yet been made and paid for. Rather, one should surrender all judgment to God, and simply distance oneself from souls who are entangled in darkness as a result of their own evil choices, and let things be resolved in one way or another.
Of course, it is quite difficult to know whether one is dark because of external contamination, or because of a choice for darkness. While we are in this place, it’s easy to misjudge those things, because they can appear similar, which is one reason why it is not wise to be hasty with judgment of others, and it’s also the reason why I appear to be so easy to deceive by the evil ones: I prefer to be deceived, because that is the sin of others, but if I judge someone wrongly, that would be a sin of my own.