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Thread: Can we forgive the unforgivable?

  1. #1

    Can we forgive the unforgivable?

    From the blog of western Tibetan Buddhist monk Karma Yeshe Rabgye:



    Can we forgive the unforgivable?

    When you have lost a loved one through a terrorist act, a drunken driver or an act of violence, how do you forgive the unforgivable? Does forgiveness mean we just accept what has happened and we surrender to defeat? No, forgiveness is not about helplessly accepting, giving up, surrendering to defeat, being weak or avoiding justice. It is about how you respond to the terrible wrong and how you can let go of the past and move forward with your life.

    You practice forgiveness for your own sake, so you are not locked in bitterness, sadness and resentment. These just harden your emotions, narrow your options in responding to life, cloud your judgment and shift your attention from those who matter to you to those whom you dislike. Why would you choose to live like this? You are just playing into the hands of the people who have harmed you. You spend all your waking hours consumed by hatred. This will eventually destroy you both mentally and physically.

    Continues below:

    http://buddhismguide.org/can-we-forg...-unforgivable/


    Any thoughts in connection with the whole article at the link ?



  2. #2
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Hi, Aloka.

    Page was unavailable.

    As for the topic. It was interesting to me that Buddha asked only that one committing harm of some sort to others (example, Angulimala) simply stop causing harm. He required no forgiveness, nor any form of punishment. In the sutta concerning the Arahant, which was attacked and beaten by a villager, who mistook the Arahant for a thief, which had taken some of the villager's belongings, the Arahant clearly understood this principle as well. When the Arahant was approached by the villager the following day begging the Arahant for forgiveness after being informed of his mistake, the Arahant turned to the villager and said, "No need for forgiveness as the man who struck me yesterday no longer exists."

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon View Post
    Hi, Aloka.

    Page was unavailable.
    Hi Ron,

    The URL for the article works ok for me, here it is again:

    http://buddhismguide.org/can-we-forg...-unforgivable/

    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon

    As for the topic. It was interesting to me that Buddha asked only that one committing harm of some sort to others (example, Angulimala) simply stop causing harm. He required no forgiveness, nor any form of punishment. In the sutta concerning the Arahant, which was attacked and beaten by a villager, who mistook the Arahant for a thief, which had taken some of the villager's belongings, the Arahant clearly understood this principle as well. When the Arahant was approached by the villager the following day begging the Arahant for forgiveness after being informed of his mistake, the Arahant turned to the villager and said, "No need for forgiveness as the man who struck me yesterday no longer exists."

    Can you provide links to the suttas you mentioned, please?

    I'm quite puzzled by your comment "he required no forgiveness" ....because Bhikkhu Thanissaro says:


    The Buddha succeeded in establishing a religion that has been a genuine force for peace and harmony, not only because of the high value he placed on these qualities but also because of the precise instructions he gave on how to achieve them through forgiveness and reconciliation.

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/...ciliation.html

    Also, in his introduction to the Dhammapada, Bhikkhu Bodhi observes:

    A large number of verses pertaining to this first level are concerned with the resolution of conflict and hostility. Quarrels are to be avoided by patience and forgiveness

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi...ntro.budd.html
    ...and to quote Karma Yeshe Rabgye from the article #1:


    if we want to be free, we must forgive. The alternative to forgiveness, is walking around with rage in your heart, because life has not been fair and just.

    But life isn’t always going to be fair and just, and that is something we need to face up to. All experiences, good and bad, arise out of causes and conditions that are interdependent. Just as good things happen in life, so bad things happen too. Life is impersonal and therefore not to be identified with in such a way that you are imprisoned by the actions of others, no matter how awful they may seem.

    http://buddhismguide.org/can-we-forg...-unforgivable/



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    Forums Member KathyLauren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olderon View Post
    Hi, Aloka.

    Page was unavailable.

    As for the topic. It was interesting to me that Buddha asked only that one committing harm of some sort to others (example, Angulimala) simply stop causing harm. He required no forgiveness, nor any form of punishment. In the sutta concerning the Arahant, which was attacked and beaten by a villager, who mistook the Arahant for a thief, which had taken some of the villager's belongings, the Arahant clearly understood this principle as well. When the Arahant was approached by the villager the following day begging the Arahant for forgiveness after being informed of his mistake, the Arahant turned to the villager and said, "No need for forgiveness as the man who struck me yesterday no longer exists."
    I take this to mean that the Arahant lived in a permanent state of forgiving. No further forgiveness was necessary, since the villager had already been forgiven by the Arahant's lack of attachment to hurt or anger.

    Om mani padme hum
    Kathy

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    I took this to mean that he didn't forgive the villagers but gave them a teaching instead. Like the difference between giving someone food for today or the wherewithal to feed themselves for the rest of their lives.

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    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Hi, Aloka.

    Here are links to one of the suttas I paraphrased:

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/.../wheel312.html

    https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/.../wheel312.html

    The second is from a story in The Dhammapada, which I cannot currently locate. I will keep looking.

  7. #7
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Hi, Aloka.

    This is from The Vinaya, Rules for monks:

    Different offences are of different seriousness but the most common faults committed by carelessness or mistake can be cleared by 'confession' to another bhikkhu.[29] Admitting to one's mistake and agreeing to do better in the future is the way of growth and progress towards the elimination of all carelessness and absentmindedness.
    This was taken from The Dhammapada:

    A large number of verses pertaining to this first level are concerned with the resolution of conflict and hostility. Quarrels are to be avoided by patience and forgiveness, for responding to hatred by further hatred only maintains the cycle of vengeance and retaliation. The true conquest of hatred is achieved by non-hatred, by forbearance, by love (4-6). One should not respond to bitter speech but maintain silence (134). One should not yield to anger but control it as a driver controls a chariot (222). Instead of keeping watch for the faults of others, the disciple is admonished to examine his own faults, and to make a continual effort to remove his impurities just as a silversmith purifies silver (50, 239). Even if he has committed evil in the past, there is no need for dejection or despair; for a man's ways can be radically changed, and one who abandons the evil for the good illuminates this world like the moon freed from clouds (173).
    source: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipi...ntro.budd.html
    Last edited by Olderon; 24 Oct 18 at 11:13.

  8. #8
    Hi Ron,


    What are your own thoughts about the article by Karma Yeshe Rabgye? ....and about forgiving others?

  9. #9
    Forums Member Olderon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aloka View Post
    Hi Ron,


    What are your own thoughts about the article by Karma Yeshe Rabgye? ....and about forgiving others?
    Hi, Aloka.

    My own thoughts bring me to conflict between my tactical training (defeat the enemy by being superior to them in both intellect and physical strength), which is derived from competitive board game training ( chess, checkers, Risk), and my childhood training in Catholicism as derived from "The Lord's Prayer": "Forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those, who tresspass against us." Then there is Buddha's "Simile of the Saw", whereby loving-kindness and compassion is the answer to all offences, even if villains were to dismember us....because of two reasons: "First, violence leads only to more violence", and secondly, " the karmic consequences of our intentional actions."

    As for Karma Yeshe Rabgye position regarding forgiveness: (delayed response due to inability to connect to the link provided). Thanks for the new link. It seems to work fine now.

    It seems his opinion is in agreement with what is taught in Catholocism with the exception that there is no God to invoke punishment, only karmic consequences. Forgiving is also an act of loving-kindness, which is in agreement with Buddha's teaching, which is to be expected since he is a Buddhist monk.

  10. #10
    Technical Administrator woodscooter's Avatar
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    The article sets out thoughts on forgiveness in what seems to me to be a fairly conventional way. Don't hold on to feelings of anger, hurt, revenge. Let go of these emotions because they can only do more harm to one's self.

    It's an attitude that resonates with me. I know it makes sense, I understand why it's good advice, and it's something I try to follow in my everyday life, not always with complete success.

    One thing that I particularly like is the meditation practice that Karma Yeshe recommends:
    ... then try this three-part forgiveness practice:

    Firstly, you ask forgiveness of all those you may have harmed, through your actions of body, speech and mind.

    Secondly, you then offer forgiveness for any harm others have caused you through their actions of
    body, speech and mind.

    Finally, you offer forgiveness to yourself for any harm you have done to yourself.
    That seems to cover all the angles of forgiveness you need to give closure.

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