Forgiveness Itself


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marthaislucy's picture

Thank you. I really connected to the concept regarding reconciliation. I recognize this is where I am stuck. Placing an expectation that in order to fully forgive there must be a reconciliation. This has opened a space for me to explore on a deeper level forgiveness. Thank you.

Hadra's picture

I am so grateful to be able to still listen to a retreat, after it has finished. I just joined Tricycle, and this was a perfect retreat for me to start with. Thank you for the given freely, wisdom.

toonteo's picture

Hello Gina
Thank you so much for deign of this retreat,unfortunately I' ve joined this retreat very late ,but I am grateful both to you & Tricycle for this opportunity .
As I am joining the retreat a little late I would like ask if we should do all practices for one week & then join the next retreat or I watching all parts then start to practice.please tell me which one is better.,as I can not stop myself from jumping to next session.
thanks teo

Gina Sharpe's picture


Welcome. I think it is helpful to do the practices week to week rather than jumping ahead. Nin your process, you can also notice what it feels like internally to have the impulse to jump ahead arise--look in the body, the mind and the heart. We can gain insight with the very material of our lives, seeing what is arising and how, if we let the impulse be, it passes.

May these practices be of deep support to you.

With metta, Gina

beckstein's picture

I joined this retreat late, but the teachings are timeless. Thank you. For many years, I was numb to the hatred I had in my heart, and recently, in a very safe space, I have been able to open up to these negative emotions and start to examine them slowly. The emphasis on patience and friendliness in this retreat is so kindly and helpful. I do this work as and when I can, but I see benefits already. I am committed to doing the reflections and thank you for the guided meditations and your own calm gentleness which makes me feel safe as I explore difficulties and emotions that were too dangerous to examine in the past. I felt great peace with the metta meditation, and can use that on a daily basis. My deep gratefulness, thank you so much.

Gina Sharpe's picture

Hi Beckstein,

Thank you for taking the time to write. I see that you have a very deep and yet illuminating journey. I am glad that you are taking to heart the the benefits of patience and friendliness. May these qualities deepen in you and spread throughout our whole world.

With metta,

eldoneh's picture

Dear Gina,
I came across this teaching at the end of a difficult week. I appreciate the gift of your teaching.
Thank you, Eldon

Gina Sharpe's picture

Dear Eldon,

Thank you for taking the time to write. I appreciate you and each being who is willing to at least consider the possibility that forgiveness is possible and consider also the possibility of beginning the journey of the practice.

May your reflections and practice nurture you and be a blessing to all around you.

With metta,

shokolah's picture

Thank you for expressing the Buddha's teaching so beautifully. I will look forward to hearing the next instalments even though I am a bit late joining in. I think the internet is amazing. 40 years ago, it would have been unimaginable to think that one person could reach out so many people with one single talk. I am French but live in beautiful England so your words are travelling far and wide. Many great blessings on you for doing such noble work and all those willing to listen.

Fabien :)

Gina Sharpe's picture

Dear Fabien,
Welcome to the retreat. I am glad you are finding some support in it and I deeply appreciate your kind words.

With metta,

manatee's picture

4/21/13 Very late getting to this. Opened it believing I didn't 'have time' for it. Now . . . bowing deeply . . . full of gratitude . . . May you, Gina, and all of us continue to allow ourselves to grow in this life-long practice. Bowing in all directions, manatee

Gina Sharpe's picture

Thank you Manatee.


montajane's picture

My mother passed away over a year ago at the age of 89 and, even though I intellectually see that I was a great source of support for her throughout her life and a beloved daughter, I have been unable to forgive myself for not being with her during her final weeks. Thank you for this opportunity to reflect on forgiveness.

Gina Sharpe's picture


I am sorry to read of your Mom's passing and am glad you are able to reflect wisely on the wisdom of forgiving yourself for perceived wrongs you may have done. I am sure that your being a beloved daughter, your Mom benefitted greatly from your support.

May you be well,
With metta,

James Mullaney's picture

Thank you. It's so helpful to make a conceptual distinction between forgiveness for the person we've felt wronged by, and reconciliation with them, and condoning the wrong that was done.

I find the Buddha's 'poison' metaphor most apt, because my tendency is to take my anger out against myself when forgiving a wrongdoer seems too great a task.

Gina Sharpe's picture

Dear James,

A beautiful insight. May it nourish you.

With metta,

ranjit's picture

Dear Gina
Thank you for Krishnamurti's take on observing hatred(and yours on observing resistance)
Thank you for the teaching ,it's transformational
With deep respect and love ,
Ranjit from India

Gina Sharpe's picture

Dear Ranjit,

Thank you for your kind words and attention.


S0journer's picture

Thank you Gina! I especially appreciated the instructions to reflect on whether I focus on others' faults and on whether the harms are real or imagined. I recognize that in trying to protect myself from harm, I keep a sharp awareness of whether or not other people seem "safe" to me--and if they do not, then I am sure I focus on harms that I think they *may* do. So there is in a way a whole scenario in my head in which I assign a person particular characteristics that provoke aversion in me. That takes energy and keeps me from seeing the other person fully (who may indeed not be a good person for me to be with, but that is a different thing from creating an idea of someone as dangerous and to be avoided). I will think on this and notice it!

Also, I struggle all the time wiht numbness. Feeling hate or love seems equally hard at times. I suspect that by making my heart a kinder place for myself, I will allow more emotion through, but if you have any tips I'd love to hear them.

Thank you again!

Gina Sharpe's picture

Dear Sojourner,

It seems to me your reflection is already beautifully wise. Recognition of what is true is the beginning of the journey to healing. And sometimes the recognition is itself, the healing.

On the issue of numbness, you are right that opening the heart and cultivating kindness will be a great support. The mindfulness practice, knowing in the present moment what is true, without judgment, analysis or commentary, can strengthen our ability to be with what we are feeling and help us to embrace all that arises, pleasant or unpleasant or neutral. And doing so with care and tenderness is important.

Mindfulness and metta practices can be of great support.

May you be very well.

With metta,

Reinand Ortiz Feliciano's picture

Wonderful teaching! Focusing on faults...that hit home. Carrying resentments for 35 years it does get heavy. Thanks for provoking reflection and now I feel I have to watch it again. I think I get the self-benefit of forgiveness, now who assumes the responsibility for justice?

Gina Sharpe's picture

Hello Reinand,

Thank you for raising the issue of social justice. As we are not separate beings, but all together in this human life, we don't have to assume responsibility for each other. That responsibility is already naturally there. Yet, we always have choices as to where to put our energy. For some, it is enough to work personally to be the best being we can be, to wisely and compassionately see what is needed in every moment, whether it is forgiveness or just acknowledgement of what is true. We do what we can do right now.

And of course our society is the larger field in which we work, with all of its beauty, and all of its injustice, historical and conditioned. We're all in it together. If we are called to do that difficult work, who will we bring to it? Someone who does the work out of anger, resentment and hatred, or someone who does the work out of love and care for our humanity and our planet? Which of those will burn out faster? Which of those would you want to be? These are questions we all can address individually and personally, and in so doing we will know what we need to do and how to do it. It's a beautiful work, isn't it?


Reinand Ortiz Feliciano's picture

Hello Gina (If I may call you Gina)
Thank you for taking the time to answer. Although the indignation is sometimes unbearable, deep down in my heart I understand that working out of love seems to achieve better results for everyone, including those we believe to be the transgressors.

jdladeur's picture

Thank you so much for this teaching. As someone who has a very hard time forgiving myself, I look forward to deeply looking into the possibility of healing and truly appreciate all your effort to facilitate further well being among this community.


baldfrog's picture

Thank you for this teaching.I am impressed as a person who has lived a lot of life in anger and have looked at this in the past and the resentments bred around it.I have yet to discover how to walk on water?Yet I look forward to learning some tools to deal with forgiveness of resentments even that I have written and talked about yet carry bits and pieces of hidden still.I guess that would make me a liar if I hide them.

Gina Sharpe's picture


The beauty of the work of wisdom, kindness, compassion and forgiveness is that they are all possible to cultivate in this very human body and life. Walking on the earth is difficult enough!!!!! Learning to walk on it in dignity, love and care is a lifetime endeavor. So doing the archaeological digs of those deep remnants of resentments is a noble work. Please hold yourself in love and care as you do it, with kindness and tenderness. I bow to your work and wish you great success with it.


librasigui's picture

Thank you very much for this teachings. I would like to ask you. Is the resentment as much harmed as hatred? I think I don't feel hate in my heart but a lot of resentment is there.

Gina Sharpe's picture


There are different manifestations of aversion (or hatred), resentment being one. As examples, other forms are fear, which is more internally directed, and outright anger, which is usually more externally directed and explosive. Yet, they all have in common that they bind us in struggle against what is true. When aversion (in the case about which we are speaking, in the form of resentment) arises in the mind stream, what do you notice? Certainly, I notice that this form of aversion creates the desire to push away the one or the situation that is resented, to make it or the person go away, disappear, etc. It's an uncomfortable internal feeling of struggle, is it not? Working with the resentment, at least with the some kindness for ourselves, and the intention to forgive, if outright forgiveness is not accessible right now, can support our determination to bring kindness and compassion into our lives. Can we find ease in the midst of the resentment, not struggle against the resentment, but see if tenderly and kindly we can gradually let it go (while, of course, working with the situation to bring about some peace externally as well as internally). I hope this helps and may your work be fruitful.

shin's picture

speaking of forgiveness... just came across this site from those beautiful bodhisattvas Stephen & Ondrea Levine

very moving

bmw's picture

Very uplifting...thanks. I look forward to the next sessions.

diane lookman's picture

thank-you, i benefited from listening and am grateful to staff who assisted me to get connected to be able to listen.

cherylmurfin's picture

Wonderful considerations for us to ponder this week.

David Gould's picture

For victims of clergy sexual abuse, that involves both sexual power and spiritual power, forgiveness can be a very problematic concept to embrace. Maintaining the rage runs out of energy, but scars remain, and facing the need to address forgiveness is an imperative. I am very pleased to be challenging myself in this retreat.

Gina Sharpe's picture

Hello David,

Welcome to this retreat. I'm glad you have decided to at least have an intention for forgiveness, even if it is not possible right now to completely forgive. You very astutely notice that "maintaining the rage runs out of energy" or perhaps, to put it another way, saps so much of the energy we have, it leaves very little for love. We know that forgiveness doesn't mean condoning or even necessarily reconciling, and certainly doesn't require renewing contact with the forgiven one. How are we to love again when the rage takes all the space in the heart? Forgiveness can free the heart to embrace that which nurtures it, rather than sapping its energy. I deeply wish you a journey of wisdom, and most important, compassion for yourself on your investigation into the possibility of forgiveness.

With metta,

David Gould's picture

I am curious to experience the feelings that arise with this level of forgiveness, especially to see if there is space that I can direct to more positive pursuits such as bodhicitta. I am deeply aware that all our experiences have a karmic component, a component that does not necessarily take away choice, that is not necessarily inherently 'pre-ordained'. I have an understanding that those that harm us in life are suffering even when inflicting suffering on others, and that somewhere in their persona was or is someone wanting a different outcome. So I guess I have more than an intention, but a personal commitment to myself to seek to forgive, fully and without condition of repentance, justice or acknowledgment.

How much does the passage of years and time impact on this feeling? Is it easier to arrive at because of the passage of time and harder to achieve for recent hurt or injury?

I think my own 51 years of life has dredged up my own unskillfulness in so many ways - spiritual, emotional and physical, and perhaps this sense of my own failings makes it easier to look at forgiving not just the person who shoved in the store checkout queue, but those who perpetrated significant and long-lasting harm on me.

I have found the initial meditation exercises really valuable to this point.

Thank you for your feedback.


Gina Sharpe's picture

Hi David,

How beautiful that you are deeply working with these practices. And bodhicitta, the intention to benefit all beings is, of course, beautiful ground for the forgiveness practice. Your awareness of the interconnectedness of causes and conditions constantly producing effects (what you refer to as karma) is indeed very helpful. And yet, it is important in the practice of forgiveness to acknowledge the impact--the hurt, the pain of individual actions, ours as well as others. And yes, we know from experiencing our own unskillfulness that we can grant some space for human failings. We are, are we not, all together in our humanity.

Your commitment is certainly to be deeply respected and acknowledged. And yes, the forgiveness practice is a three way street--for ourselves, granting forgiveness in two ways: the harm we have done to ourselves, for harm done by others to us, and asking forgiveness for harm done by us to others.

I am glad this is of benefit to you. May it continue to be so. Thank you for your practice.


shin's picture

I agree David. I find many therapists resistant to forgiveness--especially in the circumstances such as you describe. Certainly we have to be careful of 'spiritual bypass' (trying to skim over the feelings that are present), but eventually full healing only comes with putting down that burden. It's similar to the Buddha's description of anger: holding the hot coal in your hand intended to 'burn' the other but only burning oneself.

David Gould's picture

The burning coal metaphor is just right! There is a sense that these negative feelings have no helpful job to do for us, that their time is past. I have had the benefit of a very skilled and caring therapist, who at best said that forgiveness is our choice and never mandatory to look at. I can't but help think that maybe she should have challenged me a little more.

It is perhaps more helpful to say that we can look deeply and challengingly at the question of forgiveness - while fully believing that social and criminal justice and punishment and the protection of others is still valid.

claire grossetete's picture

Thank you for this session ; the invitation to investigate what forgiveness is NOT and who is harmed when we narrow our minds in resentment and hatred is really meaningful for me. The sound of the voice deeply resonates and have a soothing effect.

19sdb47's picture

Thank you, Gina. I very much appreciate the information and your presentation style.

bonduran's picture

Gina Sharpe is a clear and fearless teacher. LOVE HER!

Gina Sharpe's picture

Thanks Bonnie, happy to have you in the retreats. It's a mutual admiration society.


donnas's picture

A wonderful session. I will ponder...why do I focus on faults of people......a defensive stance ??

Gina Sharpe's picture


This is a beautiful reflection that can be the question that you work with each time it arises in the mind to focus on another's fault. We can realize that whatever "fault" we ponder, it is not all that person is. So it is also with our own faults. See how we tend to see our own faults writ large, while giving short shrift to our positive qualities. And each time we find ourselves contemplating a "fault" of someone else or of ourselves, can we counter it with one of the qualities about them or ourselves that we appreciate? We can make that a practice and see whether it may have an alchemical, transformative effect on the mind? We know that there is "plasticity" in the mind and that whatever we think, that creates neural pathways. Over time, where we place the mind, as the Buddha said, is where it will incline

Thank you for the question.

With metta,

JOYCIE's picture

Thank you. This teaching was very beneficial for me, and I look forward to the following retreat sessions.'s picture

I am very grateful for this opportunity!