How to Forgive the Unforgivable

How easily can you forgive someone for a transgression against you or a loved one? How easily can you forgive yourself?

The inability to forgive has a massive impact on your life design. A past betrayal can hinder your ability to be vulnerable and allow a new love into your life. Distrust can poison future opportunities and color every aspect of your day from impeding your ability to trust the next partner, to crushing your own self-image because you believe yourself a poor judge of character and unable to make sound decisions. The inability to forgive encourages looping negative thoughts while feeding anger and depression, two endlessly greedy emotional states.

To provide a new perspective on a familiar topic, the following is a zen story on forgiveness I learned from a source of my own inspiration, Amma:

A man visits his teacher seeking guidance. He says, “I'm having a really hard time forgiving. You are always preaching about forgiveness. And I believe in forgiveness. I just was just…you know…this person, I just can't forgive...

It was so terrible. I'm not able to forgive and I don't know what to do.”

The teacher replies, “This is what I want you to do. Get a bag of vegetables and carry it on your shoulder. You cannot put it down until I tell you it's okay to put it down.”

Puzzled, but trusting his teacher, the man agrees.

He gets a big burlap bag of vegetables, hauls it over his shoulder, and goes throughout his day performing his daily tasks.

It starts to get heavy.

He returns to his teacher and says, “It's getting really heavy, this bag of vegetables. Can I put this down?”

“No,” the teacher replies, “No, no, you must keep it over your shoulder.”

The student agrees to continue.

More time passes and the bag gets heavier and heavier. The man begin to stoop under its weight and it's affecting his posture. But he respects his teacher, who keeps telling him “just keep it there.” So he continues...

The vegetable begin to rot.

He returns to his teacher. He laments, “This bag of vegetables is really hurting me. I'm all stooped over and it's really it's getting gross, even starting to smell.

Can I put this down?”

“No,” says the teacher, “Keep it keep it on your back until I tell you.”

The man agrees. He walks away with the vegetables on his shoulder, hunched over.  The vegetables continue to rot and get mushy. They drip down his back. He begins to get itchy. The smell is so rank that nobody wants to be around him because he stinks like rotten vegetables.

Finally, he can't take it anymore.

He's itchy, stinky, and isolated. Nobody will talk to him anymore. He throws down the burlap sack of vegetables and returns to his guru.

He says, “Teacher, I had to put it down. It was hurting so much, and stinking, and I was itching.

Nobody would even talk to me. I wasn't welcome into anyone’s home anymore. Nobody would come visit me. I had no friends, I smelled so bad. I had to get rid of it.”

His teacher smiles at him, showing him so much love, and says:

“This is what happens when you don't forgive. You think that it's somehow affecting them.

But really, it's you.

It's a negative force you carry around. It weighs you down and affects your whole persona until you become rotten and stinky, and people don't even want to be around you.”

This week I challenge you to practice self-love and forgiveness.

You deserve it.  


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