Posted by: Upāsaka | 02/18/2010

Forgiveness and Compassion

Forgiveness, khama in Pali, is not, in my own experienced, heavily emphasized on the American Buddhist scene (or at least the particular Vipassana/Zen circles I have traveled in here in NYC).  For whatever reason, every time I considered what I was going to write tonght about compassion I kept coming back to the idea of forgiveness. It just seemed that in order to have compassion for oneself it is quite often the case that one must be willing to forgive one’s own trespasses. But, how exactly, is one to practice forgiveness anyhow? I have yet to find a sutta in which forgiveness is specifically discussed although I’m sure there must be one somewhere within the Sutta pitaka. Failing that, we’re still fortunate to have a 2000 year old commentarial tradition from which to draw inspiration and guidance. Below I’ve included some formal instructions for cultivating forgiveness by Sayadaw U Silananda and some Pali verses requesting forgiveness from the Tiratana.

Kâyena vâcâ cittena – Pamâdena mayâ katam
If by deeds, speech or thought heedlessly, I have done anything wrong,
Accayam khama me bhante – Bhûri-paññâ Tathâgata
forgive me O Master! O Teacher, Great Wise!

Kâyena vâcâ cittena – Pamâdena mayâ katam
If by deeds, speech or thought heedlessly, I have done anything wrong,
Accayam khama me Dhamma – Sanditthika akalika
forgive me O Dhamma! Immediately seen and timeless!

Kâyena vâcâ cittena – Pamâdena mayâ katam
If by deeds, speech or thought heedlessly, I have done anything wrong,
Accayam khama me Sangha – Supatipanna anuttara
forgive me O Sangha! Nobles Ones who have taken the right path, unparallel!

Audio File of the Verses Above

FORGIVENESS
Venerable Sayadaw U Silananda
======================================================================

The following is a paraphrase of Sayadaw U Silananda’s talk on
“Forgiveness”.

Let us start the meditation session with “Forgiveness”. There are
three parts to it.

1. Asking Forgiveness
———————

You should repeat the following verse:

If by deed, speech or thought,
Foolishly I have done wrong,
May all forgive me Honored Ones!
Who are in wisdom and compassion strong.

When you practice vipassana meditation, you may at times feel guilty
of the bad things that you have done in the past especially towards
your elders. Often it can be a hindrance to the progress in your
meditation practice. It is therefore desirable to ask forgiveness in
person from your elders before you start your meditation practice. If
not, you should try to ask for forgiveness in front of a Buddha statue.

2. Forgiving Others
——————-

You should say, “I freely forgive anyone who may have hurt or
injured me.”

When you practice vipassana meditation, you may at times feel angry
of the bad things that others have done to you in the past. Often it
can be a hindrance to the progress in your meditation practice. It is
therefore desirable to forgive others from any wrong that they might
have done.

3. Forgiving Oneself
——————–

You should say, “I freely forgive myself.”

There may be some people who cannot forgive themselves. Often, that
could be a hindrance to the progress in their meditation practice. It
is desirable for them to forgive themselves.

Summary
——-

To minimize hindrances to the progress in your meditation practice,
you should begin each session with “Forgiveness”. Free or minimize your
guilt by asking for forgiveness. Free or minimize your anger by
forgiving others. And, if needed, forgive yourself.

Sources:

http://basicbuddhism.org/index.cfm?GPID=66

http://www.tbsa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=55&Itemid=1


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