The Importance of Forgiveness


I’ve been taking part in Karen Armstrong’s 2008 TED Challenge. Together, me and over 100,000 other concerned individuals have been writing a “Charter for Compassion” with Karen. The purpose of this charter is to inspire the leaders of the world’s major religions to get back to the basics of their faith. And what are the Basics? Regardless of the faith, these basics are remarkably similar: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Participation in this writing has caused me to consciously and actively practice this simple – “Golden” – rule.

The biggest stumbling block I found was in the area of Forgiveness. Sure, I’ve never had a problem forgiving others, as I’ve never really taken anything people have done “to” me as something personal.

No, my challenge has been forgiving myself.

In what ways have I been “un-self-forgiving”? I’ve recently discovered I have a tendency to be unhappy with where I am and what I’m doing Right Now. Being an A-personality, I’ve always felt my life should be filled with “doing” a whole bunch of “things” to get me where I wanted to be. And where did I want to be? Anywhere but here! It’s only since I’ve eased up on myself and realized what I am doing and where I am right now is perfectly OK have I been able to relax, ease up on the self-criticism and be at peace.

And, even if for some reason I’ve found myself unhappy with what happens to be my present situation, I allow myself the feeling of unhappiness – I don’t have to be “better” or “positive” or “good” or “right” or anything other than what I happen to be at the moment.

I’ll tell you – starting with creating an internal landscape for peace within myself has been the best place to start practicing compassion. If more of us dedicated our time towards this practice, peace in the world would be a natural and effortless result.

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