Here’s one more thing about forgiveness — I don’t really believe in it.
If you’ve been reading these notes for a very long time, you may remember a previous discussion of forgiveness in which I said that forgiveness is a religious concept, one that I’m not particularly interested in. Let me see if I can explain.
Imagine a web to which every living being — past, present, and future, this universe and others — is connected. Maybe call it the Web of Life, or the Web of Being, or the Web of Becoming. Maybe it’s the Web of Enlightenment. Maybe even it’s the Web of Unconditional Love. It’s an interconnected and active Web. And it’s a sensitive Web — a disturbance on the Web in one place can ripple out and cause jostling in seemingly entirely disparate parts of the Web.
Let’s say I’m jostled by someone. Someone, either intentionally or unintentionally, disturbs me. Given the nature of the Web of Being, there’s really no way to know the origins of the jostling. There’s no way for me to know the antecedents of the jostling I experience. But I can know this — the chances of the disturbance originating with the person/thing who jostled me are so slim as to be impossible. And if there is no way to know the origin of the jostling, how can I possibly take it personally? How can I possibly blame the jostler? What, then, is there to forgive?
I am a resident of the Great Web — the Web of constant movement, of expanding and contracting energy. The Web of wild fluctuations, from smooth and calm to hugely eruptive. All of my experiences on the Great Web offer instruction for the fulfillment of my becoming. What, then, is the role of forgiveness? If I look to assign blame, I only remove my awareness from my own becoming. If I take another’s actions personally, I turn my back on all the possibilities available on Great Web of Change and Becoming.
So arises a question — if movement on the Great Web has origins in the deep past or even in the distant future, what about holding people accountable? More to the point, does the nature of the Web absolve me of responsibility for my actions?
No. Holding myself accountable for my own actions (thoughts, intentions, beliefs, desires, expectations, etc.) is a way I can strengthen my equilibrium on the ever moving Web of Creation. Accountability is paramount. With accountability, and the awareness it requires and the equilibrium it results in, it is conceivable that I can learn to navigate my way around the web. Imagine where I might go! Imagine what I might learn! What I might do! Who I might become!
To me, forgiveness personalizes experiences that are essentially mysterious. Rather than forgive, I choose to accept all jostling, no matter how egregious, as new lessons in my learning to dance along the Great Web.
It is also clear to me that this idea of the Great Web requires unconditional acceptance, which might be kin to unconditional love, the discussion of which started this peroration.
But what if I’m way off base? What if forgiveness is everything religions say it is? What if it is more? Well, I have surrendered to Willingness. As I learn to dance along the Web, I will no doubt discover many things.
I want to thank my friend Jeff Nygaard for his correspondence about forgiveness. He nudged me to find language that has long eluded me.