Forgiveness

The Initial Wrong

When one person commits a significant wrong against another, both souls are damaged by the same fire. People can be quite cruel, and some fires blaze long past the initial revelation of the wrong. If the friendship/relationship continues to hurt both people, the first step must always be to reach a healthy environment that is free of toxicity. Once that’s handled and raw emotions are allowed to quell, though, the next step must be figuring out how to get yourself to truly forgive the person who has wronged you. Many world religions preach forgiveness as a central doctrine; I will be pulling from The Bible and writings from The Dalai Lama in support of forgiveness, and to give suggestions on how to actualize it in life.

The Bible on Forgiveness

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Almost all people reading this blog have at some point recited this line from the middle of the Our Father. An okay number of readers probably say it on a weekly basis at church. This line implores followers to emulate God’s forgiveness and grace, but it also warns the hard-hearted and unforgiving. How one treats those who have wronged him, those whom one has nothing to gain from and a righteous anger for, truly shows if God’s grace is within him. If one is kind and forgiving, she can expect that in turn from God. If one is condemning and violent in his anger, he can expect that in turn from God. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says “[b]ut I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.” In this teaching, Jesus asks the followers to go one step further and love those who wrong us; this prospect, without forgiveness, would be impossible. Jesus’ advice is the road map to grace and holiness; love all people, enemies and friends, and truly care for them. Rare is the undamaged soul that wrongs another, and plentiful are the broken who break others.

The Dalai Lama on Forgiveness

It is clear to see that God wants us to forgive. He not only wants this, but demands it of all those who wish to enter heaven. But anger is fiery and fierce, and it can crowd out many good intentions to forgive a person if your mindset isn’t properly altered. When putting the practice of forgiveness into action, it is wise to listen to the words of the 14th Dalai Lama. In his book How to Expand Love he expounds upon the topic of love at length. At the center of his teachings and meditations was the concept of rebirth. One was asked to imagine each person of significance in his life, whether it be friends, neutral persons, or enemies. In rebirth, each person has been all things to you at one point in the cycle. One is encouraged to meditate on the fact that all persons were at one time his mother, and he was theirs. All persons have at one time nurtured and raised you with the care and unconditional love of a mother. By proxy, you have felt the same love and devotion for all persons as your child countless times. In this way, enemies and neutral persons can be loved as if they are close friends. One can expand his circle of loving relationships to all humans, and eventually to all living beings since they are included in the cycle as well.

Putting it into Action

Once, through wisdom from religions and traditions, one realizes the freedom of living a forgiving life, another step exists. In order to remove all anger and bitterness from the process and allow one to be forgiving immediately after he is wronged, one must change his mindset about enemies as a whole. The Dalai Lama explains that one should be slightly joyful at having enemies. As his thinking goes, one must practice patience to reach enlightenment, and one must have enemies to practice patience. Therefore, one must have enemies to reach enlightenment. This is true also in Catholicism as one must have enemies to forgive in order to receive God’s grace and mercy. In Romans 12:21 it is said, “do not let evil defeat you, but defeat evil by doing good.” To allow anger to overcome ones self and to spite those who wrong you is letting evil defeat you. Instead, strive to defeat evil by showing God’s grace and forgiveness when trespassed against.

Wilt Chamberlain and Sexuality

The well-known, oft-statistically-challenged story of Wilt Chamberlain having 20,000 sexual partners is one of the first things that pops into one’s mind when thinking of the Stilt. His claim and actions are those of a partially broken man intent on altering people’s image of him as a villain; many basketball icons from that time have said that Chamberlain made the claim in an attempt to gain clout. He was also a sexual machine, however, with threesomes on a nightly basis not being out of the ordinary. This kind of sexuality is historically glorified in men (see: 10 men with 1000+ partners)¬†and shamed in women, with the latter gaining sexual freedom very recently. Wilt Chamberlain, by being the NBA all-time rebound leader, also allows me to touch upon the Rebound and how it factors into my view as sexuality as a whole. ***Please do remember that all opinions expressed in this post (and others) are strictly my opinion and how I choose to view my life, and I am in no way trying to tell you how to live yours.***

Each time you have sex with someone, you give them a part of yourself. There are infinite pieces to give, and the decision of when and who you give the pieces of yourself to is entirely yours. Those pieces of myself are invaluable to me, and I don’t want anyone unworthy to receive one. I like to know the person a little before, know that she’s worth my time, energy, and that special part of me, and, if she is, show her that I’m worth hers. For this reason, I have qualms with hookup culture. To give away this special part of yourself in an non-inhibited, casual way to a different person each weekend is an affront. It is sold as sexual liberation, but you’re slowly emptying your sexual energy–part of yourself– into strangers and half-acquaintances. People who have only ever had hookup sex have yet to experience the epitome of all sexuality–making love. Each act, move, caress, smell, and sight is amplified and exalted by being in love with your partner, and it is an experience absolutely unmatched by casual sex. For this reason and all the other joys of being in love, having a sexual partner who I have at least semi-romantic feelings for is a pre-requisite, and falling in love is like hitting the jackpot.

Love is an amazing feeling that intensifies sexuality, but it brings about an acute anguish and pain when it ends. It is the inspiration for many songs, periods of music and art, and some of the greatest creative pieces known to society. But it hurts like shit when you’re in it. One amazing feature of hookup (and basketball) culture is the rebound, an underrated statistic and overlooked healing tool available to the heartbroken. Now, I’m not going to get into details, but me and my ex-girlfriend ended on pretty bad terms, and it was messing with me for a while. Since she’s kinda an ass, there was no way she was gonna get pipe after we split; I still have the sex drive of a guy in a relationship though. So, out of frustration, the rebound happen. And suddenly, I am reminded both of how I feel in regards to hook-ups, and my firm resolve to be a friend only to my ex. While I’m not down with hookups with randoms, the rebound is a great experience to go through after a breakup.

As you all can see, my views on sex are very personalized, and I would just like to say again that this is just my views for my personal life. I fully support all people making their own decisions, and would have some serious questions for anyone telling another person how to live their life. At the end of it all, it’s really about being able to find whatever makes you happy and doesn’t hurt others in the process.

 

Wisdom, Today

The Te-Tao Ching is one of the most deeply profound, yet mysterious, books ever written. In the text Lao-Tzu’s spirituality and knowledge are clearly shown. Countless translations and copies have been made of it since it was originally written. Though it is over 2500 years old, the writing is still very relevant to modern society. A quote from the twenty-fourth chapter reads:

One who boasts is not yet established;

One who shows himself off does not become prominent;

One who puts himself on display does not brightly shine;

One who brags gets himself no credit;

One who praises himself does not long endure.

In this excerpt, Lao-Tzu puts forth many statements about boastful and brash people. The quote is especially applicable to the advent of social media and the digital age. Never before has it been more easy or normal to boast, show yourself off, put yourself on display, brag, and praise yourself publicly for everyone to see. And yet, the brakes seem to be cut; nearly all established religions directly admonish narcissism as toxic and unhealthy, but no organized religion is leading a major push against increasing abuse of social media.

I say this, and yet I digress. The tale of Narcissus, the origin of narcissism, was told in Ancient Greece, and Lao-Tzu’s writing itself shows that self-promoters and blowhards have been around for much longer than Twitter and Instagram. This doesn’t mean that these platforms haven’t amplified humanity’s narcissism, but it does mean that toxic self-obsession was alive and well before their time. Such a longstanding foe of personal development and spirituality is to be steered clear of; the key to avoid this demise is humility. It is an eagerness to listen, not speak. In it is the recognition of the worth of each individual’s thoughts and emotions. It is the humble admittance that you are one individual amongst a great multitude; you recognize your worth, but also that of each and every person in your life, and from this comes a desire to lift others up. Lao-Tzu finishes chapter twenty-four by saying:

In the Way, such things are called:

“Surplus food and redundant action.”

And with things–there are those who hate them

Therefore, the one with the Way in them does not dwell.

In this concluding stanza, Lao-Tzu gives the final virtue we are to emulate: indifference. Once the negative actions are recognized and avoided, the task of the Sage is not to hate them or to abhor those who do them. One must simply see the actions for what they are, refrain from them, and treat those who don’t with the same respect that is given to all people. The way of the Sage is that of holiness, humility, and an absence of hate, and has been emulated by (aspiring) wise men and women all over the world and across times.