The Buddha said, "in a battle, the winners and losers both lose". When we're engaged in conflict with a difficult person, our minds become very narrow and our hearts close. Polish statesman Vaclav Havel aptly described this dynamic when he said that it is "the fixation on others, the dependence on them, and in fact the delegation of a piece of ones own identity to them.. The hater longs for the object of his hatred."
When we feel anger and hatred toward someone else, it becomes very hard to let go. Every action breeds a reaction, and negative feelings only escalate. Our inner light becomes obscured in a vicious cycle of negativity. How can we let go under such circumstances? How can we cultivate equanimity?
Examining Your Anger
Negative emotions are fluid and contagious. Next time you feel angry, examine your feeling closely. What are you angry at? Are you angry at another person, or their feelings and behavior toward you? Why? Do you feel insulted, unfairly judged, belittled, or demeaned? Does this person somehow challenge your most dearly held views of yourself? How?
When you feel hatred toward another person, it is you who are most harmed, not them, because your hatred is closing your heart. Following is a forgiveness exercise that allows you to open your heart and disperse the clouds that accumulate when you are in a relationship colored by negativity. You can use it when you're having difficulty with someone specific. You can also use it as a daily letting-go exercise.
Activating the Intention of Forgiveness
Activating the intention of forgiveness is a powerful way to break up self-deception and closely held views of who you are.
This exercise has three stages.
First, ask to be forgiven for any time you may have harmed others. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and relax your breath and mind. Then, say aloud or silently, "For all beings whom I have harmed purposely or out of ignorance, I ask forgiveness." Now go a step further and visualize your enemy or anyone else whom you may have caused harm. Let go of any guilt you may be feeling and say, "I beg your forgiveness." Visualize them forgiving you.
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Second, you are going to forgive others. Take a breath and as you exhale, imagine that you are offering forgiveness in the form of golden rays of light, which connect you to everyone in your life by whom you feel hurt or betrayed. Say, "If anyone has hurt or harmed me, on purpose or unknowingly, I now forgive them." If someone specific comes to mind, visualize a golden thread connecting your hearts as you say, " I forgive you."
Third, you are going to forgive any harm you may have caused yourself. You can let go of any false expectations and unkindness to yourself at this moment. Release from your heart any lingering anger or resentment you have toward your enemy, and any guilt you might feel for still having it. Say aloud or silently, "For every way I have been unkind to myself, intentionally or not, I offer forgiveness."
You can now visualize specific ways you may have harmed yourself and offer forgiveness. Spend as long as you like sharing the beautiful feeling of forgiveness.
Published by Hay House Inc.
Copyright 2000. www.hayhouse.com.
Pathways to the Soul: 101 Ways to Open Your Heart
by Carlos Warter.
About the Author
Carlos Warter M.D., Ph.D. is a medical doctor, transpersonal spiritual psychiatrist, lecturer, and pioneer in the field of consciousness raising and alternative healing. He is the author of Soul Remembers and Who Do You Think You Are? The Healing Power of Your Sacred Self. Born in Chile, Dr. Warter has been awarded the United Nations Peace Messenger and the Pax Mundi awards for his humanitarian efforts. He presents keynote speeches, workshops, and seminars both in the U.S. and throughout the world. His website is at www.drwarter.com/