Friday, March 17, 2017

Part of Enlightenment: Four stages of Forgiveness and Fun and Freedom

Enlightenment as a Four Stage Delight
Forgiveness as Fun, Freedom and … Discovery

So, here’s the deal.
If we are a slave to the past, we are a slave to the past. We are stuck.
We are living in a myth.
The myth is that the past can be different, or should be different, or even, “we would have been better off,” if the past had been different.
All this is both unknowable.
And most of all, undo-able.

Can’t undo the past.

So, here’s the four stages of forgiveness :

First, write down your gripe with the past. Make it one sentence long, with a “should” or a “shouldn’t” in it. Cut the the chase of what you most consider their fault and sin and awfulness.

Someone should have treated you better.
Someone shouldn’t have been mean, critical, abusive to you in the past.
It can be little: they didn’t return your call.
It can be huge: they were your parent and they swatted you around. (Yeah, Mom.)
It can be persistent and annoying: they were your parent and they couldn’t get out of a critical mode with you. (Yeah, Dad)

As before, have two chairs.

Sit in the Suffering Chair, and look at the words you’ve written. Count the words.
Feel the pain of believing those words.
Realize the power of however many words: Mom shouldn’t have hit me. Five words.
Dad shouldn’t have criticized me so much. Seven words.

In the suffering chair, really “get into it.”
Feel as emotions, what happens. Write them down: feel sad, feel angry, feeling cheated, feeling small.
Write down the laundry list of these six or five or seven words, when you believe them.
And go beyond the emotion.
Feel the sensations in your body. All negative emotions have a constricting and painful effect on your body.
Feel these as in the present sensations.
Realize the power of believing these six or seven words.
Shrink your body even more.
Tense up even more.
Feel as sensing and emotional level what the Suffering Place is all about.

Now, stand, and shake it out a little. Hop or go up on your toes and flop down on your heels, a bunch of times. Shake your hands happily at the wrists.

And move now, to the Present Chair.
Sit here and feel your pelvis against the chair.
Maybe even do a little pelvic rocking.
Look around.
What do you see?
Listen around.
What do you hear?
You are in a body.
What shape are your legs in? Not like getting in shape shape, but if you were to draw them, what shape would it be.
Same with arms: what shape.
What are the legs and feet feeling and touching.
Same with arms and hands: what are they touching and feeling.

Good to feel.
Right now.

See what that does to your mood and your love of life.

And, as before, go back and forth.

So, come to a third chair: let’s call it the Realization Chair.

And from that: look at the present chair and the suffering chair, and realize that the “problem” isn’t about the words you wrote, but is about which chair you want to sit in.

So, in this Realization Chair, look at the words on the paper and say, “So what?”
If you really feel this, then you’ve reached the first level of enlightened forgiveness.
If not, hang out in the two chairs some more and see what happens.

Step Two:
This is a little wild, but stand up and hop a little first.
See if there’s a way of learning about the words, that puts in the category of thankfulness that this happened.

Sound strange, but it’s like this:
Mom was pretty mean and critical and even physically abusive as I was growing up and then the mean and critical kept up.
From the realization chair, I can see that this was her stuckness, and in the present has nothing to do with me.
And from the learning and loving chair (might as well have a fourth chair), I can be thankful that she was the way she was.
Because I can actually love her.
And if I can love a woman who was in many ways not the kindest or nicest person, then the love feels even stronger in my heart.
Put it like this:
Say Mom was awful 60% of the time. If I can love here even with that, how much easier to love my wife, who is awful 5% of the time.
Or myself, who is awful 10% of the time.

It’s practice.

And Stage Three is one great and easy, and relentless, way of sharpening this love for the “bad” person.

It’s the famous “turn around” of the work of Byron Katie.
It’s the “see the beam in your own eye, instead of the tiny splinter in your neighbor’s eye” of the Bible.
It’s the famous, “mirror” idea of the New Age folk.
It’s the folk wisdom truth of the saying that “one finger pointing out means there are three pointing back.” 

Or, it’s good old fashioned psychology: Projection.
Whatever I see wrong with you, is something I don’t want to see as wrong with me.
And almost always is.

If I see you as selfish, I probably am too.
If you see you as negligent, fearful, grumpy, disrespectful, critical, and so on, again, almost always, that’s me.

To really slam this home, try to preach your sermon directly to their sin.
Which means.
You shouldn’t be so angry.
Goes to:  I shouldn’t be so angry about your anger.
You shouldn’t be so grumpy.
I shouldn't be so grumpy about your grumpiness.
You should respect me more.
I should respect more you for your lack of respect for me.

Don’t rush that one.
Wrap your head around it.

With me, it was Dad and his criticalness and Jeri Lynn and her running off with another man, that really brought the power of this home to me.

Dad was fairly relentlessly critical.
I did the two chair thing, and realized that without the words in my head, his criticalness was his thing, and I didn’t have to take it personally.
And then at the “turn around” I was shocked to realize how many years I’d been critical of him, either in my head, or to my friends, about his criticalness.
Alas, I could pass out the sermon, the medicine, but wasn’t practicing what I preached and wasn’t taking my own medicine. This can be both humbling and humor making.

With Jeri Lynn, taking off with another man: it’s a long story, and we were both ready for it, and I had it coming.
When I was present, I could appreciate the lack of arguing and the end of something we’d both grown weary of.
But with the “Jeri Lynn should love me more” story, I could be greatly miserable.
And then one day, I did the reversal. “I should love her more.”
For awhile it was just words. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course I should.
Then it lit up and became real.
Oh, my: she’s with a new lover that she really likes.
If I loved her more I’d be happy for her happiness.
And in that state I was truly free.
She was free of me and our fighting.
I could love the freedom and happiness that was bringing her.

This was a huge shift to say the least.

So, that’s the third stage of forgiveness:
So what?
Loving what you are learning.
Humility or revelation or even humor about realizing that you are a sinner, too.

And fourth?
I think I’ll go into this more later.
But for now, it’s kind of like this: What we think happened, either was different than we remember.
Or, the motives and the overlay of what was happening was vastly different.

I saw this one day with my father.
Looking at a memory of him from the Being Present chair, I suddenly got this realization of the immense sorrow that was behind his criticism. How he really was trying to love me, and was too cut off from his own self-love to be able to do this.
He was still critical. Yes. This was something he was very stuck in him.
But he wasn’t malicious, though his words and tone seemed to imply that.
He was sad and desperate for love and going about it in all the wrong ways.

Poor Dad.
Sad and compassion for him, and then….
Time to live a life of love and forgiveness that he couldn’t.

That’s what this is all about.

It’s work.

And without it: we aren’t free.

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