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Author Topic: Forgiveness  (Read 240 times)

EclecticWheel

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Forgiveness
« on: December 11, 2018, 09:12:39 pm »
For the purposes of discussion I'd like to ask how you understand forgiveness.

It's upheld as a virtue by Christianity, but I imagine different people have different understandings of that word.  One Christian friend of mine believes forgiveness is not complete without full reconciliation, and if one party makes that impossible, only a limited forgiveness can be granted -- a letting go of personal animosity, but no more.  I hear a similar sentiment among conservative Christians in my family, a sort of forgive but not forget attitude.

Another friend of mine tells me that I don't have to forgive.  I've had some pretty horrible things done to me by a few people.  I've carried a lot of anger, and then it just sort of dissipates over the years, and eventually I have come instead to feel compassion for these people and even interact with them positively, though I do limit how close I get to them and guard boundaries I had to fight very hard to establish some years ago, though I've had the pleasure of being able to relax them to some extent.  Some of these people are mellowing with age.

Recently I found that I had forgiven my grandparents for some serious things I won't bother you with the detail on.  My grandfather had reached out to me, as he is very ill, and I embraced him back into my life after some years of cold distance on his part.  He wants to spend time with me before he departs.  As for his wife, I don't exactly embrace her, but I'm able to interact with her in a limited way, and I don't feel any more anger.

I don't try to forgive them.  It's just that after a number of years and having set boundaries to prevent further provocations I find myself no longer angry, and since I'm not angry, I start feeling compassion instead which is how I generally feel about people anyway.  I'm not sure my friend is right that I didn't have to forgive in that sense because I don't seem to have had a choice in the matter.  If my other friend is right that forgiveness involves full reconciliation, then there is one for whom I've let go of the anger, but there is still no full reconciliation -- I feel that is impossible because of the other party, and I do not seek to make myself vulnerable again to that sort of treatment.

Mostly I have up to this point thought of forgiveness as just letting go of shit.  I don't tend to emphasize it as a virtue since I don't experience it as something that can be done voluntarily.  It's a sort of natural unfolding for me.  It is important to me spiritually simply because of the benefits I receive from it, and my spirituality largely revolves around obtaining what I can best ascertain is good for me as a whole person.  But this isn't really something I obtained through effort unless my other spiritual disciplines indirectly contributed to the state, in which case I did not do it intentionally.

What is your understanding of forgiveness or its role?  Does your faith address the matter?  I know various neo-pagans may have totally different sentiments about the word or different understandings of what it means.  What are your thoughts?
My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Donal2018

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Re: Forgiveness
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2018, 11:58:40 pm »
For the purposes of discussion I'd like to ask how you understand forgiveness.

It's upheld as a virtue by Christianity, but I imagine different people have different understandings of that word.  One Christian friend of mine believes forgiveness is not complete without full reconciliation, and if one party makes that impossible, only a limited forgiveness can be granted -- a letting go of personal animosity, but no more.  I hear a similar sentiment among conservative Christians in my family, a sort of forgive but not forget attitude.

Another friend of mine tells me that I don't have to forgive.  I've had some pretty horrible things done to me by a few people.  I've carried a lot of anger, and then it just sort of dissipates over the years, and eventually I have come instead to feel compassion for these people and even interact with them positively, though I do limit how close I get to them and guard boundaries I had to fight very hard to establish some years ago, though I've had the pleasure of being able to relax them to some extent.  Some of these people are mellowing with age.

Recently I found that I had forgiven my grandparents for some serious things I won't bother you with the detail on.  My grandfather had reached out to me, as he is very ill, and I embraced him back into my life after some years of cold distance on his part.  He wants to spend time with me before he departs.  As for his wife, I don't exactly embrace her, but I'm able to interact with her in a limited way, and I don't feel any more anger.

I don't try to forgive them.  It's just that after a number of years and having set boundaries to prevent further provocations I find myself no longer angry, and since I'm not angry, I start feeling compassion instead which is how I generally feel about people anyway.  I'm not sure my friend is right that I didn't have to forgive in that sense because I don't seem to have had a choice in the matter.  If my other friend is right that forgiveness involves full reconciliation, then there is one for whom I've let go of the anger, but there is still no full reconciliation -- I feel that is impossible because of the other party, and I do not seek to make myself vulnerable again to that sort of treatment.

Mostly I have up to this point thought of forgiveness as just letting go of shit.  I don't tend to emphasize it as a virtue since I don't experience it as something that can be done voluntarily.  It's a sort of natural unfolding for me.  It is important to me spiritually simply because of the benefits I receive from it, and my spirituality largely revolves around obtaining what I can best ascertain is good for me as a whole person.  But this isn't really something I obtained through effort unless my other spiritual disciplines indirectly contributed to the state, in which case I did not do it intentionally.

What is your understanding of forgiveness or its role?  Does your faith address the matter?  I know various neo-pagans may have totally different sentiments about the word or different understandings of what it means.  What are your thoughts?

This is a challenging topic to address, as it is a serious topic that requires some thought and effort. I will try and make an initial pass at the topic.

I am not sure how to address this from a more pagan perspective, but I will address it a bit from my upbringing as a Catholic. I hope that is acceptable. I know a lot of folks are sensitive about Christianity here, and I don't want to offend anyone.

Anyway, one thing we were taught about Forgiveness, is that Forgiveness on the Divine level was in proportion to repentance. To receive Divine Forgiveness, one must own up to one's failures and repent. This is a clearly Catholic idea. It is not a bad idea in human ethics for forgiveness to be in proportion to repentance, I think. Someone needs to be sorry and make amends before forgiveness can be granted. It may sound obvious, but I think it bears being stated.

If someone harmed me or my family, my natural instinct might be to seek revenge. The Christian precept is to "turn the other cheek". This does not mean suffer wrongs silently. Rather, the idea of"turning the other cheek" is given to mean, "don't answer a wrong with another wrong". Instead of lashing out at a wrong-doer, rely more on justice than revenge. In serious crimes and wrong-doing in society, we rely on the system of justice, the courts, etc. In more personal and social senses of wrong-doing, we must rely more on ourselves and the more informal social community rather than a formal system of justice. Meeting violence withh violence is just a vicious circle. Justice is about breaking the circle, I think.

If someone has wronged a person in a more social sense, I think forgiveness is a way of rising above petty social politics. I have been in situations where members of my extended family have done others wrong in the family. Sometimes in cases like these, it takes the bigger person to rise above a perceived wrong-doing. The person who forgives is a person demonstrating good character and good values. Holding on to bitter family animosities is something I have seen in my extended family, and I think people who can let go and forgive are not just showing good character. They are making peace in a way that is probably beneficial not just to the whole family, but for their own sake as well. The person who forgives ends the argument, and maybe healing can then occur.

Anyway, there are some ideas about forgiveness. I don't know if there are any other perspectives in a more paganish vein. I think ethics in various paganisms is probably a big topic in itself. A possible pagan view might be that forgiveness is healing, and healing is natural. If one can forgive, one can promote healing, both in individuals and in communities. This seems to me a paganish idea: That which heals is natural, and therefore appropriate to a pagan outlook. To forgive is to begin to heal.




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Re: Forgiveness
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2018, 10:17:02 am »
For the purposes of discussion I'd like to ask how you understand forgiveness.

...

What is your understanding of forgiveness or its role?  Does your faith address the matter?  I know various neo-pagans may have totally different sentiments about the word or different understandings of what it means.  What are your thoughts?

Forgiveness is a one of the virtues of Hinduism. Forgiveness is encouraged because we can carry the emotional baggage with us into future lives. We should not only forgive, we should ask forgiveness. We have prayers asking forgiveness of God (whichever one we worship). Not that we fear God's (or Goddess's) punishment, because they don't judge or punish, but because we want to show our good intentions and devotion, and that we are trying to live dharmic (righteous) lives. Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that even the worst, most vile sinner should be considered saintly if that person's heart and mind are in devotion to Krishna. So if God is so willing to forgive, who are we not to?
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

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