Forgiveness of self. When once the Dalai Lama met with Jack Kornfield and other western teachers of mindfulness asked what they were experiencing as they were bringing this practice to the modern society. They said to him “how do we work with the self-hatred that so many people carry”. The Dalai Lama had this confused look on his face – although he does speak good English. “Self-hatred” – then he turned to his translaters and went back and forth for a few moments – “hmm… what does this mean?” Because there is no word in Tibetan for self-hatred. Finally he turned to the westerners and with great tenderness said “but this is a mistake”.

Without forgiveness we are chained to the past. So much judgment, self criticism and harsh voices come up. One of the ways the word forgiveness is explained is “to lift the burdens of the past, to free ourselves from the suffering of the past”. Two ex-prisoners were sitting together years after they have escaped this really brutal prison camp. One of them said to the other have you forgiven your captors yet? The second one said no, never. Then the first one said so they still have you in prison don’t they?

So its not really for others. It is to lift the burden of harshness the hatred and pain in your own heart. We all have been hurt, betrayed or harmed by others. This is our common humanity – sometimes knowingly sometimes unknowingly. We are all vulnerable human beings tender at times frightened. There is a temple in Hawaii – known as the temple of forgiveness. Whatever crime you commit, if you can get inside this temple, you would be forgiven. Another explanation given is: Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.


How can we reach a state of forgiveness? Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change. You might actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you, when you’re ready. Marianne Williamson wrote:

Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.”


humor: when asked what gift he wanted for his birthday, the yogi replied “I wish no gifts, only presence”