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Forgiveness Is Self-Love
Justine: Sundari and James, do you recommend forgiveness?
~ Yours sincerely, Justine
Sundari: Hello, Justine. Vedanta is the science of consciousness and teaches the vision of non-duality, so from that point of view, there is no one to forgive because there is only you, awareness. When maya is operating it appears as if awareness manifests as a subtle body or person – and that the person is separate from every other person or object, all of whom arise out of awareness. This is the hypnosis of duality, also called ignorance of your true nature, the self under the spell of ignorance. An object is anything other than you, awareness. All thoughts, feelings, your mind and body, other people and all things are objects known to you. Forgiveness or unforgiveness are objects known to you.
So to answer your question on forgiveness: you have to decide from which perspective you choose to live and to see the world. Are you identified with being whole and complete non-dual, unchanging, unaffected, unconditioned, ever-present, limitless awareness – or are you identified with the limited person with a name and a history?
It is not a case of denying the existence of the person or the apparent other – who has harmed Justine in some way. Justine exists, even though she is an object known to you, awareness, as does the one who injured Justine. Wallowing in emotion will not work, because you will drown in it and suffer more. At the same time, denying one’s feelings even though you know they are also objects known to you (awareness) and therefore not real does not work either.
“Real” is defined by “that which is always present and never changes,” which is the definition of awareness, your true nature. Justine, her feelings and the people she interacts with are not real (or only apparently real), meaning not always present and always changing. The apparent person (Justine) lives in the world, which functions a certain way. The field of existence has certain rules or dharmas that operate the same way for everyone. How each individual interprets these dharmas depends on several things: the nature they are born with (their conditioning or vasana load), their karma, or life situation, and their level of self-knowledge. To live a happy life and to have peace of mind, one needs to do what is right or dharmic for you. Non-injury is the highest dharmic value, to yourself primarily, and to others. Non-forgiveness harms Justine.
So what to do about how Justine feels? In order to live free of the person and their stuff, as well as to live free AS the self, you need to recognize everything that happens in Justine’s life as part of her movie, her story. You need to understand Justine’s story in the light of self-knowledge, not in the light of Justine’s conditioning. This is not to say that whatever the other person did to you is right, or dharmic, as we prefer to say. Forgiveness is not about saying that what someone does is right – or wrong. It is about freeing Justine from the burden of carrying the unforgiveness, which will bind her to suffering. Her forgiveness or unforgiveness does not change the nature of whatever happened; whether you forgive or not does not affect the other person. It affects Justine.
Do you want Justine to be free – or to suffer more? If you want to be free then forgive because you love Justine. Remember that people are the way they are for reasons they do not understand or know how to change. When ignorance rules the mind, people do awful things to themselves and others that cause untold suffering. If people under the spell of ignorance could be different, they would be. But they are trapped by their conditioning, by ignorance, and can only operate from their level of understanding and self-ignorance and lack of self-awareness.
It is up to you. Forgiveness is freedom, it is self-love.
~ Om, Sundari