| 10 Apr 2008 @ 17:28, by David Bartholomew|
[excerpted from DoingIt!, August, 2006]
The heart of forgiveness-- of oneself and others—beats in time with my new mantra— everybody is doing their best all the time.
Try it for yourself. Repeat that phrase. Over and over. And let it unfold layers and layers of its wisdom in the asking.
It may be hard to accept. “Surely, with the state of the world as it is, we all can’t be doing our best?,” you might grumble. It may feel foreign or inauthentic as you mouth or think these words again and again. But swirl them around, play with them, chew on them, and just see if you don’t begin to feel a wave of relief, a deepening of the breath, a relaxing of the immediacy of that situation you are applying this phrase to, as something in the words begins to sink in.
There is power here.
Everybody is doing their best… all of the time. Regardless. Irregardless (yes these are the same. Check Webster’s. It’s Ripley’s!).
When we know we need to eat right… and cheat with that special sugary or fast-food treat (Hey! Why are you looking at me?)… we are doing our best at that time. Yes, we could beat ourselves up for knowing better, for lack of will or fortitude, for choosing the comfort food over the nutritious alternative or nothing. But, in that moment, with all things considered… we grabbed for the yummy and it was the best we could do… at that time. Let it go. Set a goal to do better next time.
“Forgiveness is giving up the possibility
of a better past.” -- unknown
“One pardons to the degree that one loves.”
-- Francois De La Rochefoucald
Question: Why would so-and-so do such-and-such… when he-she-or-they knows better? Why would someone cheat on a spouse? Abuse someone else? Pull a scam on the unsuspecting? Do some dirty dealing to another… when they can do better? Why, why, why? Whys are rarely helpful coping mechanisms in our world.
Answer: They are doing their best at the time.
This can be a hard pill to swallow, I know. There are just things we know ought not be done, or ought to be done better. And the size of the thing never really matters. We can be just as hard on ourselves for that annoying little thing done or not done, that little peeve, as we would be on another for some heinous act perpetuated in the world effecting thousands or millions, with all of the turnabout that is fair play and accrued karma in the mix.
But what can we do to change that thing that has happened? Nothing! And what does the continued beating up of the self or the other… do, but increase the effect of that undesired act? Keep it lingering around?
“Forgiveness is the fragrance
that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
-- Mark Twain
“Know all and you will pardon all.”
-- Thomas A’Kempis
We… can… however… go on to choose differently, and allow that those others may choose differently… hopefully soon, or immediately… and in direct contrast to that hairy thing that has just passed. And this allowance… this possibility… is created out of the notion that, whatever has been done, has been done out of the best that person could do at that time. And a heartfelt hope that they will do better, choose more wisely, act more kindly the next time the wheel spins around.
This puts us back in the now.
Within this philosophy is the understanding of the understanding that Spirit and our guardian angels have with us… all the time. How many times has it taken each of us to get it with respect to a given lesson? How many times have we blundered the same blunders, taken the dubious, lower or easier roads? And still they behold us with limitless compassion.
Add in the fact that few enough of us know ourselves and our own motivations and drives well enough, much less what it is like to have walked in the shoes of another, to question whether anybody could have done any better in a given moment. And it is time for us each to now begin holding the space that we-- any of us-- have been flawed, and are working to amend and erase those flaws. From here we may attempt to bridge, with forgiveness, our imperfect and potential selves.
This is in stark contrast to a long-held practice of cutting ourselves off from darkness, evil, any of those really nasty traits that we wish to disallow living within us to varying degrees; and perhaps worse, in negating any similarity between that which lies buried within us and the behaviors of the really bad people out there who must be so unlike us to do those things they do.
The old way has created chasms of distance between parts of ourselves, between us and others; the new way pushes on toward increasing degrees of relatability and understanding within and without, and ultimately onto forgiveness of any and all of us.
Breathe easier now and forgive. We are doing our best, getting better and gaining ground.
“Our capacity to make peace
with another person and with the world
depends very much on our capacity
to make peace with ourselves.”
-- Thich Nhat Hanh