12 Principles of Forgiveness
For the past two weeks, the lectionary Scripture passages for worship have focused on forgiveness. Jesus insists that forgiveness is a required — not optional — spiritual practice. Jesus lived in a constant state of forgiveness, and challenged his followers to do the same. Of course, that is easier said than done. In my sermon last week I referred to the Buddhist teacher and writer, Jack Kornfield, who beautifully outlines the Buddha’s 12 principles of forgiveness. With practice and patience, these principles can inspire us to live in Christ’s forgiving presence.
May Christ’s grace and love be with us all as practice our faith,
One: Understand what forgiveness is and what it is not. It’s not condoning, it’s not a papering over, it’s not for the other person, it’s not sentimental.
Two: Sense the suffering in yourself, of still holding onto this lack of forgiveness for yourself or for another. This great suffering is not in your own best interest.
Three: Reflect on the benefits of a loving heart. [Buddhist texts say]: Your dreams become sweeter. People will welcome you everywhere when you are forgiving and loving. Your thoughts become pleasant.
Four: Discover that it is not necessary to be loyal to your suffering. We are so loyal to our suffering, focusing on the trauma and the betrayal of “what happened to me.” OK, it happened. It was horrible. But is that what defines you?
Five: Understand that forgiveness is a process. It’s a training, it’s a process, layer by layer—that is how the body and the psyche work.
Six: Set your intention to be loving and forgiving. When you set your intention, it sets the compass of your heart and your psyche.
Seven: Learn the inner and outer forms of forgiveness. There are meditation practices for the inner forms, but for the outer forms such as certain kinds of confessions and making amends.
Eight: Start the easiest way, with whatever opens your heart. Maybe it’s your dog and maybe it’s your child which is the thing or person that you most love and can forgive. Then you bring in someone who is a little more difficult to forgive.
Nine: Be willing to grieve. You have to be willing to go through this process in some honorable way and then let it go.
Ten: Forgiveness includes all the dimensions of our life. Forgiveness is work of the body. It’s work of the emotions. It’s work of the mind. And it’s interpersonal work done through our relationships.
Eleven: Forgiveness involves a shift of identity. There is in us an undying capacity for love and freedom that is untouched by what happens to you. To come back to this true nature is the work of forgiveness.
Twelve: Forgiveness involves perspective. We are in this drama in life that is so much bigger than our ‘little stories.’ When we can open this perspective, we see it is not just your hurt, but the hurt of humanity. Everyone who loves is hurt in some way. The loss is not just your pain, it is the pain of being alive. Then you feel connected to everyone in this vastness.
Source of transcript: The Ancient Heart of Forgiveness