We’ve all held a grudge against something or somebody, we’ve all been jealous, caught ourselves in thinking that others have wronged us and that maybe we’re better than some other people. However, if we managed to get past any and all of those feelings, to reach the peaceful state of mind of forgiveness, we achieved a state of freedom and of enlightenment that was so sweet and welcomed.
There is a saying that goes like this: no one can make you angry without your consent; what this means is that, in fact, when we hate, when we feel that someone is deserving of hate, we are actually the ones that are consumed by this feeling, taken from a place of light and, if you will, of normalcy, and made to waste our energy and our thought process on feeling enraged.
As Marcus Aurelius in Meditations put it, reaching a state of balance in our minds, where we can control our impulses, our states and our own thought process is what true enlightenment does. But hatred is an intruder that most often takes us out of being able to judge a situation properly, be able to look at the word with eyes that can see the truth for what it is. Also, what Marcus Aurelius managed to apprehend in his writings, long before we had a real understanding of how the brain works, or long before psychology was even considered a science, was that what a human actually is, is not the body, or the brain, but the process of though in time, based on the system that is the mind. We only inhabit our brains and our bodies, and what we are is the process of controlling those material constructs. Therefore, to give free lease to hatred or jealousy to rule us is a little bit like death; we are no longer the masters of our own flowing through time, unable to “steer the boat” rightfully.
Of course, achieving true freedom and control is easier said than done, and while many will try to convince you that it can be as easy as just as saying it, the truth is that forgiveness, freedom from having our minds derailed into rage and hatred is a slow process, one that is made out of many small choices, many acts of control and of steering your mind away from evil, dark and unwarranted thoughts.
Forgiveness is not only a quality of the meek, of those that are powerless, as some would try to interpret it, and, especially, in the Christian cannon, try and see it as a superhuman feat of the saintly; nope, forgiveness can be learned, practiced, almost learned like a skill; we know that the brain is a plastic, always reconfigurable organ; there have also been studies that have shown that thoughts themselves can reconfigure a brain, and that, motor skills and any other skills, work per se, does indeed reconfigure how neurons are connected and how they fire.
Therefore, the more one exercises control over his/her feelings, in time what took a lot of control and a lot of energy will come easier, more naturally. Therefore, in order to achieve the actual freedom that forgiveness is, you need to exercise it every day; start with a small pittance, grievance. Think of something petty that aggravates you and try to steer your though from a stance of aggravation to one of understanding; try and look at the situation as if you were outside yourself, and you will learn to detach yourself from the problem, examine it externally. You’ll then gain the ability to distance yourself from that which provokes you to hate, and soon enough you will be able to apply the same principles to those things that are much more important for you; plus, in time you will learn to not even start the process of hatred, avoiding the visceral feeling that inundates you when someone or something wrongs you, and you will thus, step by step, learn to take control of destructive emotions, that strip you of your ability to be in control.
Forgiveness will then truly showcase itself for what it truly is – an act of power and of control, one that frees you and that allows you to reconnect with yourself, rather than a meek, submissive act as you might think it to be.