The Two Faces of Forgiveness

pointingOn countless occasions, we have heard about the virtues of forgiveness. It is constantly stressed to us the importance of forgiving those who offend us. However, I think there is a very important aspect of forgiveness we constantly ignore: forgiveness has two faces. Yes, because the true act of forgiveness requires, not only forgiving that whom I point at with my index finger as my transgressor, but also that whom I point at with the other three fingers.

In our obsession to see ourselves as victims of circumstances, we forget that in every situation, we have a choice, and thus, a responsibility. We are the architects, the creators of our circumstances, including those in which we have felt offended by someone. In fact, to a large degree, the “offense” takes place when the person who “offends” us does not comply with our expectations of them. Then, doesn’t the “offense” arise from ourselves, from our tendency to give to others expecting something in return, or from our obsession to fit everyone onto our version of the world?

Forgiveness is one of the pillars of unconditional love. It is impossible to love unconditionally and not forgive. But equally, it is impossible to forgive others without forgiving ourselves first. There lies the difference between real forgiveness and forgiveness that arises from ego, and which provides us with a false tranquility because we assume having done what is right by forgiving the other. However, such tranquility is fleeting, and sooner or later, resentments resurge, because we never forgave the other main character in the story: ourselves. Remember as long as we blame others for what happens to us; we yield our power. Once we acknowledge our responsibility within the offense, we get back our power, and we can invest it towards our spiritual growth.

I invite you to reflect upon all those situations in your life in which you felt offended by others, even those instances in which you think you already forgave. Observe your true feelings, analyze the facts, not with your mind, but with your heart. I assure you will be able to identify situations in which, up to now, you had not been honest with yourself, and you had yielded your power, by denying your part of the responsibility. Those are the emotions which hold us back and do not allow us to progress on our spiritual path. Work on them. Forgive yourself, reclaim your power, and above all, love yourself just the way you are. Remember that, in the words of Lewis B. Smedes, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Two readings for Saint Valentine’s

Traditionally, we associate the date February 14th with romantic love. But, have we really

analyzed what true love means, be it romantic or any other kind? Or have we created models for ourselves of what love should be, based on mass media, marketing campaigns, and dysfunctional relations around us?

Much is said about unconditional love, pure love, the love of a lifetime. But if we all have these concepts so clear in our minds, why do we constantly fail at the search for love, why do we trip over, get hurt, and even live with a broken heart, or simply disillusioned of our relationships?

Analyze this: do you love yourself? Do you accept yourself as you really are, with your weaknesses and your strengths? If your answer is ambiguous, or if it is clearly a “no”, or even a “yes” with an implied “but”, then you have identified the key piece of your puzzle. Love, in all of its manifestations, begins with self-love. Our happiness cannot be based on someone else, we can share our happiness with someone else once we learn to see it and manifest it inside ourselves. Placing in the hands of your partner (or parents, children, friends, etc.) the responsibility of making you happy, is not only a devastating weight upon them, it is a task that doesn’t correspond to them. Each of us is responsible of our own happiness, and therefore, each of us is responsible of loving ourselves before anything else.

But, how do we come to achieve the realization of that self-love? There are as many paths as there are people in the world. Because this search is a personal one, independent and internal. It is a journey we undertake through the deepest paths of our soul, in which we must face our own fears, and discover by our own means, the divinity within ourselves. To the extent we understand we are one with the Supreme Being, it becomes impossible not to love ourselves. And when we understand that we are all individual manifestations of that Supreme Being, likewise it becomes impossible not to love the rest of humanity. In this realization resides the door to unconditional love.

letrasThis said, I recommend two books that touch this theme from two very different perspectives. I confess I wrote one of them. But let’s talk first about “Letters of a Writer” (Letras de un Escritor), by my great friend Antonio L. Rivera-Rivera (https://twitter.com/antoniolrivera2). Certainly, the process of writing a book may carry with it the act of undressing one’s heart. This is the case of “Letters of a Writer” (https://www.facebook.com/letrasdeunescritor1/). Those who have invested their lives in the search for love, and its meanings, will identify themselves with this work. This introspection of the meaning of love in three times, demonstrates the author’s gradual process of self-discovery, through his interaction with the different manifestations of what we consider “love” in the different stages of our spiritual development. He opens his heart and allows us to explore it at will, and without realizing it, he guides us to explore ours as well. It is an invitation to reflection, and a practical guide for those who appreciate the value of making silence and daring to listen to the language of their intuition.

On the other hand, my first novel, “El Experimento Chicago” (The Chicago Experiment) (https://www.elexperimentochicago.com), challenges the apparent impossibility of finding unconditional love in the most compromising circumstances of the human being. Through the creation of a tridimensional world that comes to life in the mind of the reader, the story presents a couple of kindred spirits that face a morally questionable situation together, and end up undertaking a journey through the most intimate spots of their souls, which forces them to face their preconceived notions about love. A piece of erotic nature, which at the same time explores sexuality beyond the mere physical act, going from carnal to sublime, from human to sacred, and from the external expression of love, to the internal acknowledgment of our divinity.

In this celebration of Saint Valentine’s, I invite you to look at your reflection in the mirror of your own soul, and to confess your unconditional love to yourself. It is an exercise that will forever change your perspective of love and will open the doors to the incredible power of the most sublime feeling in the universe.

PS. Both books are available at Amazon.com in Spanish, both in paperback format and in digital format. The English versions for both books will be available soon.