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The Technology of Forgiveness

Suffering is a road that leads to salvation. It may be that suffering is the only way to salvation. On the surface this statement sounds extreme, but it is because it is conditioned on our individual definition of suffering. Like everything, it is subjective. We can’t compare our pain to others because we each feel it our own way. But we must somehow accept and feel our suffering, feel our pain, and then make one of two decisions. We either decide to travel the road of resentment or we choose to travel the road of forgiveness. The road of resentment leads to vengeance, anger, self-harm and ultimately harming others. The road to forgiveness leads to Grace. Everyone experiences suffering and hence everyone has the opportunity for salvation, but salvation itself arises from the decision to take the road less travelled. In our culture, one road is presented as well-travelled and a comfortable-looking expressway that is paved with gold. The other road appears dangerous and menacing. It forces us to face all our fears and limiting beliefs. It is the road that is paved only with Faith. This is the road of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the only thing that leads to salvation.

We live in a world where almost all cultures and religions believe, in one way or another, that “sin and wrongs'' are to be punished, and retribution is demanded of the wrongdoer. This system of retributive justice has controlled the storyline of history and drives our instinct to travel the road of resentment in search of retribution from all those who we believe have wronged us including ourselves. It is a storyline driven by unconscious patterns of anger and fear where we hold onto our pain until we see justice, in hopes that someone else’s pain and punishment will take ours away. It is drinking a bit of poison each day to kill our offender. It is insanity. But there is another way called restorative justice and it is fueled by unconditional love and forgiveness, and I believe it will be the storyline that moves us to the next level of human evolution.

“The revelations from the cross and the Twelve Steps, however, show that sin and failure are, in fact, the setting and opportunity for the transformation and enlightenment of the offender – and then the future will take care of itself. It is a mystery that makes sense to the soul and is entirely an economy of grace, which makes sense only to those who have experienced it” – Richard Rohr

The notion of restorative justice is, at the foremost, about restoring the relationship with us, restoring integrity with ourselves, and restoring a sense of communion with whatever it is that holds a spiritual position in our own lives. It is about self-forgiveness, but we have absolutely no chance of being able to forgive ourselves if we can’t forgive others. Our transgressions are needed to expose the fears and limiting beliefs that were programmed into us in childhood. Our defects of character and broken ways of thinking are exposed when we are pressured by life and act in ways that we are deeply ashamed of. This is true for everyone, and only by forgiveness and mutual apology can we heal and transform ourselves and others.

Forgiveness is letting go of all hope for a different past and allowing for the potential of a better future. Forgiveness, when accompanied by accountability, is the technology of transformation for those being forgiven. Forgiveness in any form, for those doing the forgiving, is the road to grace. Two thirds of Jesus’s teachings were about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a divine technology to transform the world.

The Way

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