Forgiveness – the Path to Freedom and Healing

Forgiveness is not a parami or a brahma-vihara. However, forgiveness is an important skill for us to develop along the Buddha’s path. Forgiveness requires love, compassion, joy and equanimity. As part of the human experience we will naturally be hurt and hurt others. If we cannot forgive others or cannot forgive ourselves, our suffering will only continue the cycle of harm. Forgiveness offers a path to freedom from this cycle.

This week, Jeff shared a talk given this year by Tara Brach titled “The RAIN of Forgiveness,” in which she moves beyond inviting us to forgive and lays out mindfulness-based tool to heal and free our hearts: RAIN (Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture).

You can listen to the talk here:

  • Our “armoring” is tied to preventing further harm and represents an ancient coping strategy
  • Forgiveness begins when we start to sense the pain that comes from pushing others out of our heart
  • We cover our inane purity with our defenses and then we identify with the coverings
  • “Should” is an argument with reality
  • “If you want to see the brave, take a look at those who forgive.”
  • Our failure to know joy is a direct reflection of our inability to forgive
  • Forgiveness is a process
    • We bring compassion to the wounded place within us first
    • We see that the other person is also suffering
  • RAIN practice
    • Recognize the feelings within ourselves
    • Allowing the feelings to be there
    • Investigate the felt sense within our bodies
    • Nurture the wounded person within ourselves
  • When we forgive, we still protect ourselves against future harm
  • Tara also discusses forgiveness as a societal level, moving from a system of punishment (and banishment) to a system which includes forgiveness