Thursday, November 5, 2015

Forgiveness, Sorting Through Your Secrets

"Some harm that people do to themselves or others may appear to 
outsiders to be less grave..." -- Forgiving Yourself by Beverly Flannigan

Many people find it difficult to forgive themselves for the simple, secret reason that they felt some benefit or pleasure from the now regretted experience. It may have been a sense of power, control, emotion, energy or mastery. It may have been a degree of delight in depriving another of a benefit such as needed material items, or the plain truth.

Keeping secrets for these reasons may make a later impulse to self-forgiveness more difficult; self forgiveness is self-confrontation and requires for many, a measure of courage. We don't like what we see in the mirror, yet we live with it day after day. Forgiving Yourself by Beverly Flannigan, discusses forgiveness and includes the issue of secrets.
 "Some harm that people do to themselves or others may appear to outsiders to be less grave than it is to the person unable to forgive himself. You may have been told that you 'did the best you could' or 'didn't know.' You may not have been able to listen to other peoples' condolences because you knew something no one else knew about the situation. For example, you may have felt momentarily good about hurting someone or physically aroused, assaulted, or angry at a person."

If what you know about your situation, you keep 'secret,' it likely is at the center of your inability to forgive yourself. Flannigan recommends to such transgressors that they write down as much as they can remember about the situation, include all the details without fearing the memory; express those parts of yourself in writing that you think or thought then, were unacceptable.
She advises the writing be kept in a safe place; refer to it as often as needed, adding details or feelings which you may have not recalled at first writing. This may take weeks as things surface in your mind.

Concluding this discussion Flannigan notes that, "With each phase of forgiving yourself, you come closer and closer to truth. Eventually you will expose more of your truth to another person."
  For now, the hard work of confronting what you most dislike in yourself takes you closer to the time you feel genuine relief and can say to yourself, "I feel whole, I forgive myself."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Zen Koan, "What is this?"

There are many seemingly simple spiritual practices that when engaged often bring to a person some surprising and purely deep results. While many may interpret "simple" to mean naive or stupid, these are actually that word's lesser implications.
A check with your dictionary will likely reveal that its first definition is actually "free from guile; innocent; free from vanity, modest; singular, unified without clauses."

So from this one, simple practice,
ask the question, "what is this?" Ask yourself often and sit quietly, listening for the answer, which will come if you do.
You may find this difficult to do because many times in fact, we want to run away from ourselves and our reasons. Why? For lots of reasons or no clear reason at all, like a habit. And like Nasrudin looking for his key the dark, the familiar seems so much better than anything else. That is until we discover what else there is.

What is it that you think; what are your habits? What is it that you feel? Can you label your thoughts, your feelings? Will you sit quietly long enough for them to present themselves? For many, labeling a thought or feeling is surprisingly a challenge. Will you sit for the days, weeks, months or the years that it may take?
Asking what is this is a first step in the "willingness to just be," as Zen teacher Eric Bayada describes in his book, Being Zen.