While individually and collectively we have faced many challenges in 2020, I take comfort in knowing that interest in forgiveness has increased this year. For example, the Global Forgiveness Initiative reports that their website has had more visitors than ever. People are looking for freedom from pain. But what is forgiveness, really? The topic of forgiveness is so important that I have written a fair bit on it – hence the delay in this particular post. I would like to offer some thoughts on the tender topic of forgiveness together today and over the coming weeks, as we continue to develop our inner peace sanctuary, for a healthy world.
I used to deeply struggle with feeling not enough. It gripped my life as a child, as I went to great lengths to seek approval from my parents. As a student, it fueled my desire to be at the top of my class in every subject, and the inevitable depression that would follow, should I feel I was anything less than perfect. As a spiritual aspirant, it has made me want to attain an unnatural, idealized state of being—a compulsion that has caused me immense suffering. As a person, it has been at the root of all my fears and doubts in myself and in the basic goodness of life.
Over the years, I have grown tremendously in finding my inner peace sanctuary, thanks mostly to the practice of forgiveness. Yes, there have been wrongdoings that have caused me much pain, and I have had to forgive those. But the greatest source of ease I have found has come from forgiving myself. And as I look back, I see that one was never far from the other.
Feeling not enough used to make me feel special. It was the cross I would carry like a martyr who felt hard done by and who felt proud in the struggle to get things right. I started to see the mind pattern that accompanied the “not enough” as “mental kung fu”. Through it, I would try to outsmart anyone in an unconscious attempt to show that I was more than enough. As I learned to catch this tendency through the practice of meditation, a newfound life sprouted in my heart and soul.
Soon, I realized that I was far from alone in feeling not enough. In fact, “not enough” seemed to be a tendency that most of us have to some degree or another. I started to see that “not enough” drove most of our social decisions globally. As I went deeper, I touched a place in myself, that I know exists within us all: the profound fear of not being loved as I am, as I spoke about last week. It was as though a rift existed in my soul that believed I was unwelcomed by life itself. Somehow, I felt I did not belong. Feeling abandoned by the entire universe, I had carried a chip not just on my shoulder, but in my deepest being. Unconsciously, all of my vital energy had gone into trying to prove my worth.
Through various major life events, that story started to get tiring. Eventually, its heaviness cracked, and light poured in. I saw that I had never been separate from love. It was like I had been focusing on clouds in the sky, while the sun was there all along. I was choosing to see those clouds. I could choose to look beyond them. When I looked at the clouds, my life darkened and my heart became full of sorrow. When I looked to the light, I was flooded with it, and realized that I am part of all of creation.
As the word itself indicates, forgiveness is the process of giving. That may irk us if we think that we have to give to the one we feel has transgressed us. But when we forgive, the giving process is to ourselves and all life as we reclaim the power we have given away.
When we get hurt, we feel disconnected. Somehow, we feel unloved and not enough. If we look deeper, we see that the actions of others hurt us, because we were already feeling disconnected. Hurt arises because we have lost sight of the ever-shining sun, our true nature. That light source is not far away in the sky, but inside our hearts, illuminating our being in every moment. When we lose sight of this, we suffer, regardless of the circumstance.
As you look to the wounds in your life and seek solace from them, go beyond the pain. Let the grip of your mind around it soften. Pain is there because you are looking at the clouds rather than the sun. Pain is a fickle seductress that keeps you stuck perceiving yourself as less than you are. Instead, as you lay the pain down, see it as compost for the flowers in your heart—a heart that loves yourself and all life equally.
The process of moving from “not enough” to loving presence is throughout my creative work as a songwriter and composer. It is the very fabric of the music I am finalizing for MAPS (the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary). As I wrap it up as this extraordinary year comes to a close, I am inspired by the single thought that I offer it to the world as an expression of love. Through it, I forgive myself for all the ways I have thought myself separate from love. And through it and these words, I hope you find healing of any “not enoughs” you may carry. Friend, in every ounce of my being, I know you are, and we are, the light of the world.
Love yourself, love others, love our world. We are one Earth family.
From my heart to yours,