©2010 by guest blogger, Steven Handel
Donna says, “My tendency to form and hold onto grudges is the thing I like least about myself. I’ve been working to overcome it for as long as I’ve known I had a Pluto. Recently I came across this post by 21-year-old Zen Buddhist, Steven Handel, who is wise beyond his years. It helped me so much that I asked his permission to share it with my readers. Here’s what Steven had to say:
Who hasn’t at one point in their life held a grudge against another? Sometimes we can hold these grudges for long periods of time and even years leading up until our death. Of course we may believe we are only acting out of principle, but we are in actuality hurting ourselves. It may seem like we are coming from a place of dignity and power, but we are only wasting our energy on things that cannot be changed.
By not forgiving others we are simultaneously denying ourselves forgiveness for our own mistakes. This hypocrisy can eat away at our spirit, cripple our ability to do good, and leave us feeling down and empty. Therefore it is important to address these feelings and find reconciliation.
So someone has hurt you. You cannot find the heart to forgive them. The very thought of what they did to you makes you sick to your stomach and you blame them for all the pain and suffering you have experienced because of them. In the moment, these feelings are rational and commonplace. It is something all humans inevitably go through. But – this too shall pass.
Forgiveness is a skill. And like any other skill it takes concentration and practice to develop. People have the capacity to do some really wretched and thoughtless acts onto other human beings. But once this is all said and done it doesn’t mean we have to stop living our lives to the fullest. Forgiveness is the key to moving on and letting go.
You too may recall past acts that have hurt yourself or others. The best thing about these acts is they are no longer here. But then why do you still suffer from their consequences?
It is because you are still carrying all the heavy weight that these experiences first bestowed upon you. What use do these attachments serve but to drain your energy? Imagine if you had the courage to forgive the person who had done this to you. You would become as light as a feather in the summer breeze.
You are still here alive and breathing. Time has already healed your wounds. Your negative thoughts are your ego telling you that you must seek revenge or justice, but you can already find content in what already is. You can even feel gratitude towards those who have hurt you. Your memory of their ignorance and ill will can become a well of knowledge for you to draw upon. You are better and more conscious because of this experience. Congratulations.
But – as valuable as it may be – it is not enough to simply learn from this experience. You must also love the person in spite of what they have done. They may have caused you pain but that is a reflection of their own suffering. Don’t pity them, but pray for their salvation. Send them your good intentions and wish for them to find true happiness.
If it is possible then contact the person and make it clear that you forgive them and that you wish them all the happiness in the world. You will immediately feel lighter and more free because of this. If you don’t have any means of communicating with the person, then meditate or pray on your good intentions. They will manifest themselves through your thoughts and actions by making you more kind and forgiving of others in the future.
As long as you are alive you are bound to run into other experiences where others might disappoint and hurt you. Use these opportunities to practice forgiveness. Through your example, you will teach others how to do the same and make the world a better place. To me, that is a much more useful and productive way to invest your energy.
“Give away the stone,
Let the ocean take and transmutate,
This cold and fated anchor.
Give away the stone,
Let the waters kiss and transmutate,
These leaden grudges into gold.”
– “The Grudge” by the alternative rock band Tool
About the Author: Steven Handel is a 21 year old recent graduate from Binghamton University. Despite getting a degree in psychology, he also has a wide range of interests in personal growth, productivity, spirituality, philosophy, creativity, and entrepreneurship. He hopes to create his own business in mental health sometime in the near future. His blog is The Emotion Machine.