Forgiveness comes from a deep openhearted state of compassion. Really, it comes from our spiritual essence – which I call divine being – because from our spiritual essence there is an understanding of what suffering is all about. From the heart of divine being, what we realize is that everything that causes us pain and sorrow is ultimately born from misunderstanding. It’s a type of illusion. When Jesus says “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” this is what he’s pointing to. When people are in a state of spiritual clarity – an inner state of psychological, emotional, and spiritual unity – then by the very nature of that unity, they don’t act out of ignorance. Ignorance is simply a misunderstanding of the fundamental reality, of what we truly are.
When we lose consciousness of our deepest self, our deepest being as divine being itself, then in a sense we go unconscious. Part of us goes to sleep, you might say. Then, we are prone to illusion. We misunderstand things. We think if someone insults us, for example, that we need to respond with anger; we forget that they’re just expressing their own inner conflict, their own inner division, which is ultimately based on misunderstanding. The very root of sin, to use Jesus’ language, is something that can be forgiven. It’s forgivable because it’s an unconscious act, a result of being spiritually asleep. We can’t be blamed for being unconscious, for acting out our unconsciousness, even for feeling the effects of our unconsciousness within our psychology.
Everyone has those days when you feel like you’ve woken up on the good side of the universe when everything just naturally feels whole and complete, when you’re happy and at peace and you don’t really know why. When this happens you’re more aligned with life, and you naturally go about the day as a much more open person. You’re more compassionate and you’re more loving because compassion and love are expressions of being internally united. So forgiveness is ultimately an act that comes from that inner unification. One doesn’t have to be entirely unified inwardly to forgive. Forgiveness can also come out of the sense of open-heartedness, of understanding that nobody is perfect.
The open heart is compassionate because it maintains an essential connection. But as soon as we separate ourselves from another – as soon as we say, “No there’s nothing in you that corresponds with something in me,” as soon as we forget that you and I essentially share the same spiritual essence – then we cut ourselves off, and we go into blame.
Forgiveness comes from that deep intuition of our sameness, of our shared humanity. That perception starts to lower the walls of defense, and being judgmental is ultimately a defensive game, a way of saying, “I am not like you.” To forgive is really a way of saying, “I see something in you that’s the same as in me.” Then, even though you may be upset, even though the other person may have caused you pain or harm, when you connect with your shared humanity, there’s forgiveness.