Posted by: Upāsaka | 01/02/2013

Regret and Forgiveness

This morning’s sits were all about what some teachers call purification. During my breath meditation and especially during metta, it was all I could do to remember to keep coming back to the theme as I was continuously being entangled by my memories of the past. Mostly these memories were assemblages of things I had done in the past that I now regret although I can see with the benefit of hindsight that there was also some subtle longing for things long since passed. So what do you do with these things?

Well, according to the Teachings, we really can’t do anything to change the past. At best we can create a present moment that either serves to hasten the fruition of past kamma or to dampen its effects: regardless of what we do, however, we will have to bear the results of our intentional actions. Knowing this we might wonder about the meaning of forgiveness and the utility of regret (at least I know I have often pondered this pair).

With no God to pardon us and save us from ourselves and being unable or unwilling to seek forgiveness from those we have harmed where is there even a place for the idea of forgiveness? Speaking from my own experience, there does seem to be a place for it when we find ourselves assailed by self-reproach and self-hatred. As silly and unbelievable as it can sometimes seem to me, I can’t deny that when I sit and offer myself forgiveness and compassion there can be a real opening and warming of the heart. Very few practices have been as powerful for me so there definitely seems to be something to this stuff.

May I muster the courage to seek forgiveness not only from myself but from all I have harmed. May I seek to undo any harm I have done and endeavor not to repeat it.


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