Excerpt from “The Grief Process” by Stephen & Ondrea Levine
If you’d let your eyes close please.
And now just for a moment reflect on what is forgiveness?
What is that quality of letting go of resentment – to give yourself more space to be?
What might it mean to have forgiveness in your life?
Now very gently, just as an experiment in truth, bring to mind someone for whom you have resentment.
Not the heaviest, not the biggest weight, Gently, with mercy, with forgiveness for yourself, choose someone who perhaps you’ve put out of your heart. Someone you have resentment, someone you feel separation from.
Gently now…and invite them, just for the moment, into your heart. This person who you feel has done you wrong; this person you feel you have unfinished business with, just for this moment, invite them into your heart.
Notice too, whatever blocks their entrance – fear, judgment – just notice what limits their entrance into your heart. And then, just for this experiment let them in, just let them in. Let your heart say to them, I forgive you. I forgive you.
I forgive you for whatever you may have done in the past, which caused me pain. Through your words, through your actions, even through your thoughts, however you caused me pain, intentionally or unintentionally, I forgive you.
It’s so painful to put someone out of your heart. We have to deaden so many parts of ourselves. Have mercy on you; forgive them. Forgive them.
I forgive you. For whatever you may have done, intentionally or unintentionally, that caused me pain. Through your words, through your actions, even through your thoughts, however you caused me distress, I forgive you now, in this moment. In this moment I forgive you. I forgive you.
This pain in your chest is grief. Have mercy on yourself; forgive them. Allow them to be touched by the possibility of your forgiveness.
Let them into your heart and touch them with mercy. Forgive them. Forgive them for the moments in which their heart could not yet see. Have mercy; forgive them.
Now let them go. Let them be on their way, perhaps touched with a blessing…perhaps. Let them go now. Bid them farewell for this moment.
Now, bring to mind someone who has resentment for you. Someone who has put you out of their heart. Gently, noting whatever limits their entrance into your heart – guilt, fear, doubt – and gently, noting the qualities that limit their entrance, let them in. Just for this moment, this person who has resentment for you. Bring them into your heart now. In your heart, say to them, I ask for your forgiveness. I ask for your forgiveness.
Allow yourself to be forgiven. Have mercy on your. Allow yourself to be forgiveness. I ask forgiveness for whatever I have done to cause you pain through my words, my actions, my thoughts. However I caused you pain, intentionally or unintentionally, I ask that you forgive me.
Have mercy on you. Feel them in your heart; let them be in mercy. Let them forgive you.
I ask for your forgiveness. For whatever I may have done through my confusion, my fear, my anger; through my distrust, through my greed, through my doubt. However I have caused you pain, I ask now that you forgive me.
Have mercy on yourself. Allow yourself to be forgiven. Let it in. Know this, whatever limits your ability to let yourself be forgiven, let it in. Have mercy on you.
I ask for your forgiveness for whatever I may have done, intentionally or unintentionally, that caused you any suffering at all.
I ask that you forgive me now.
I ask that you forgive me.
Let yourself be touched by the possibility of their forgiveness, in your heart, touching them wit gratitude, receiving their forgiveness. And bid them farewell, for now. Let them go on their way. Let them go now. Perhaps touching them with a blessing as they depart, bid them farewell, for now.
Now, very gently, turn to yourself in your heart and say, “I forgive you,” to you. Gently, turn to yourself. Look into your own eyes and say, “I forgive you,” to you. Have mercy. How long can you stand this pain, this constant accusation and fear? Have mercy on you. Say, “I forgive you,” to you. Have mercy. If the mind in its cruelty says it’s self-indulgent to forgive, just see this merciless mind, this unkind, this unhealed mind, so in grief, so pained. Turning to yourself as if you were your only child, say, “I forgive you,” to you. Let it in. Breathe that forgiveness right into your heart, right through the grief point, right through the touch pint of your heart, let it in. With each breath, draw that forgiveness in for you, that mercy, that kindness towards you, breathe it into your heart. Say, “I forgive you,” to yourself.
In your heart, turn to yourself, calling yourself by your own first name, and say, “I forgive you,” to you. It’s so painful to put yourself out of your heart, How can you stand it? How can you bear the pain of not forgiving you self? Have mercy on you. Say , “I forgive you.” Each breath drawing mercy directly to the heart, the heart of you, who wish so to be free of this suffering, have mercy, forgive yourself.
Let it in, just let it in directly, the mercy, the forgiveness, the compassion for your struggling. Struggling to be free. Struggling to the surface, struggling to stay above. Have mercy on you. Have mercy on you.
Feel your heart filling slowly with mercy, for yourself and all beings. We’re all in the same boat, we’re all in so much pain at times, so frightened, so angry, so distrusting, so judgmental of ourselves and in so much pain.
But just as we wish to be free, so do all beings. Let the mercy in your heart start to radiate out to all the beings in this room who, too, just want to be free of the pain and the confusion of life. In your heart, may you be free of suffering, may you be at peace.
Just as you wish to be free, so do they all, everyone in front of you and behind you, on either side of you. Let your mercy, let your forgiveness touch them, embrace them, filling the room with mercy and loving kindness for all the sentient beings here working so hard.
Let it continue to expand until it includes everyone in the area, they too wish to be free of suffering, touch them with your mercy. May they be free of suffering, may they be at peace. Let it keep expanding, expanding until the whole planet floats like a bubble in the ocean of compassion that is your heart. Let your mercy, your forgiveness, your loving kindness embrace, envelop this whole suffering planet. May all beings be free of suffering, may all beings be healed, may all beings be at peace. The whole planet floating like a bubble in your heart, a heart of compassion, mercy. And let it expand out into every realm of being, every plane of existence, seen and unseen. May all these myriad beings be free of suffering, may they be at peace, may they be healed. All beings everywhere.
May all beings be free of suffering. May all beings be at peace.
(Chimes ring once)
(Chimes ring again)
And let your eyes open…