June 27, 2011

Finding Forgiveness

As we begin the fourth and final week of Zen teacher Ezra Bayda's Tricycle Retreat, "Relationships, Love, and Spritual Practice," Ezra addresses the crucial subject of forgiveness as it relates to finding genuine happiness in relationships,

Perhaps one of the most common places where all of us get stuck, and as a consequence most often prevents genuine happiness in relationships, is when we are caught holding onto resentment. If you think about it, if there is even one person you can't forgive, it closes the heart in bitterness. This will present us from ever fully experiencing the genuine happiness of equanimity. What's interesting is that forgiveness is actually an inherent quality of the awakened heart. The problem is that it does not always come to us naturally. Forgiveness is really hard work. Think about how tenaciously you can hold on to being right when you think someone has done you wrong. Even when we know that holding on to the bitterness is making us unhappy, we hold onto it anyway. It's a perverse wiring.

In the teaching, Ezra continues by offering insights into how one might work with the "perverse wiring" of bitterness and the benefits that will surely follow. As usual, Ezra's teaching is grounded, relatable, and practical. As one retreat participant notes in the Week 3 discussion,

One thing I like about Ezra's approach is that he sees Buddhism in the broadest context. It is not just about "enlightenment" but about making yourself into a fine person.


To take part in this retreat and further explore your own obstructions, open heart, and joy, please become a Tricycle Community Sustaining or Supporting Member.




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bblueskye's picture

Forgiveness to me is a very interesting subject. I've been through a lot of trauma during my childhood given both my mother and father abandoned me with my grandparents. My mom chose alcohol over being a responsible parent, my dad decided to be irresponsible. Even with Buddhism and therapy, I'm no closer to forgiving them than I was 10 years ago.

Monty McKeever's picture

Indeed, forgiveness is tough. I read something recently, and forgive me for not being able to provide a quote or citation at the moment, about forgiveness being a "temporary state." That forgiving is something we do in the moment, consciously, but that is not to say there will not be any lasting scars or memories that run so deep we may never truly forgive. It was an interesting passage. (Frankly, I'm a bit frustrated I can't remember where it was from! It may have been Ezra's book, but it also may have been Noah Levine's, or neither.)

In any case, I just posted another excerpt from Ezra's Book that relates to this idea of forgiveness being an active, in-the-moment process. It is his instructions for Forgiveness Meditation: http://www.tricycle.com/blog/forgiveness-meditation-instruction

Ultimately, what I am pondering is this: Do people attach too much expectation of finality to the concept of forgiveness?