“Who do you love in this world with whom you have little or no conflict?” This is the third question of the Simple Path that I have been writing about for the past five weeks. Please see at least 2 or 3 of the preceeding posts for background.
It is simple. To access the deeper states of peace available in silent meditation one has to learn how to wash away all the resentments, anger, and harsh judgments of others.
For almost all of us this is a very difficult aspect of practice. This is particularly true of those who are the victims of emotional or physical violence or who are victims of political repression, raw greed, and economic violence.
Still, to break free from the endless cycles of the anger, fear, alienation, restless aching hunger, and confusion most of us experience on a regular basis, we need to learn to forgive the unforgiveable and to love the unloveable.
The problem is that many people feel they can’t or do not want to do such a difficult task. They are just too angry at someone in their personal life who has hurt them, or is currently hurting them badly. Or they are just too angry at some group of politicians, or those people they describe as “welfare parasites” or “corporate criminals” or “media scumbags” or whoever is seen as “the enemy” or “the bad hated ones.”
The secret to this practice is this: do not try to forgive those you cannot forgive. Do not try to force yourself to love those you cannot love. Just know that you do not want to forgive or love them. Just be more and more aware of what it feels like, in your body and in your mind, to resent or hate them.
Just know that someday you want to learn how to forgive those who by all ordinary reckoning deserve neither love nor forgiveness.
Come back and heal the relationship with yourself by being more gentle and patient as you try to forgive yourself for any poor choices you have made.
Come back to the relationship you have with those you love the most and with whom you have little or no conflict. See what it feels like to enhance the quality of love you give to them.
If you believe in God or the holy spirit or universal energy of life, come back to that relationship and see what you can do to open your heart and mind to the deepening communion with this mysterious “holy other.” If you do not believe in God, then see how you can deepen your sense of connection with all who live or your appreciation for the mystery of life and existence.
These practices will begin to heal and enrich the core of your personality.
These practices will give you new skills with love, respect, vulnerability, honesty, listening, and generosity. These skills will generate deeper experiences of love and communion.
During times of meditation the breath will slow and become very silken as you breathe in and out. During times of meditation any knots in your neck or stomach will loosen noticeably and then for at least a while be gone completely.
These deeper states of peace will clear your heart and mind by degree. Over time you will gain a more visceral sense of how anger, resentment, violent thoughts, acts, and the harsh judgment of others, are among the chief forces destroying the nations of the world.
You will come to know that love and forgiveness are not just some nice sounding words for Sunday morning. You will come to know the urgency of love in small things and in great things and in all things.
Over time forgiving the unforgiveable, and loving the unloveable, will simply be part of the work you will have learned to do and to teach to others.
Those who believe in God will engage this practice in different ways than will those who do not. But the core practice is very similar.
Very little of this is easy. Very little of this is quick. Be patient with yourself as you will likely experience many setbacks with anger and harsh judgment.
Will Raymond Author of “The Simple Path of Holiness” Host of MeditationPractice.com