There’s a French expression that reads, “Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner.” To understand all is to forgive all.
What does it mean to forgive?
We generally think of forgiveness as something we do for another person. I forgive you for what you did to me. While you may have hurt me, I am willing to overlook your attack and move on with our relationship.
But the actual definition of “forgive” has nothing to do with another person. The word literally means to stop feeling angry or resentful. In other words, it’s all about the aggrieved and no one else.
A few weeks ago, I wrote an essay called No Harm, No Foul in which this sentence appeared:
We forgive one another for what has not been done to us, not for what has.
That’s a very challenging concept to accept. It implies that nothing was done to us, and hence there is no need for anyone to be forgiven.
But how can we possibly believe that nothing was done to us when we feel the pain of attack?
The answer lies in perception.
While you may have been unkind in some way toward me, I still choose my reaction. And my choice is based on how I perceive you, which is nothing more than a projection of how I see myself.
If you attack me – and I perceive myself as deserving of attack – then I will react to your offense in some way. I may attack back. Or I might attempt to stuff it down inside and hope you feel guilty. But I’m clearly making the attack real, giving it power over me, and hoping that you will eventually see the error of your ways and beg for my forgiveness.
But if you attack me, and in that moment I am connected to the oneness that unites us all, then I won’t see your attack as anything but a crying out for love. Similar to the way a parent feels when a small child doesn’t get his way and cries out, “I hate you … you’re the worst parent ever.” Very few parents in their right mind would react to that in any way other than a gentle, compassionate smile.
And yet, how often do we fail to see the little children crying out for love – albeit dressed in adult bodies?
Answer: Anytime we are not at total, complete peace. Anytime we are with our ego.
From such a perspective, we will always perceive attack as something that has been done to us, justifying some form of response, whether that be a counter-attack and/or the need to extend forgiveness.
But when we are in that state of unity – joined with oneness and not ego – we are no longer associating with our body (or any other body). We feel a state of connectedness that transcends our everyday ego perceptions of separate bodies and separate interests. In such a state we feel absolute joy.
From this perspective, we understand everyone, see the crying out all around us, and respond in whatever form is most helpful and most loving for the particular situation. In a sense, we forgive everyone – not a forgiveness that says “I am willing to forget what you did to me”, but one that says “You didn’t do anything to me … you are just calling out for love in the only way you know how in this moment … and I hear your call … and I will respond to your call by serving as a channel for love.”
Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner. To understand all is to forgive all.
Join us in Monday’s class where we will discuss how to truly understand others and the challenging nature of forgiveness in which no one ever needs to be forgiven. I look forward to seeing you then.