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The Compassionate Eye

The Voices of Namaste Publishing and Our Guests

If You Can't Forgive Someone, This Is What You Need to Know

Apr 06, 2011

Spiritual Insight from Eckhart Tolle's Stillness Speaks

Sometimes things are said or done between two people and the rift is so great it seems impossible to repair. The person has hurt you so much that you just can’t bring yourself to forgive what they said or did.

Of such a situation Eckhart Tolle writes in Stillness Speaks:

If her past were your past, her pain your pain, her level of consciousness your level of consciousness, you would think and act exactly as she does. With this realization comes forgiveness, compassion, peace.

This isn't an easy realization to arrive at. If you are having difficulty forgiving someone, then The Presence Process may be invaluable to you. In The Presence Process, Michael Brown addresses our anger at being hurt, which is based in the sense that others ought to have acted differently toward us, not hurting us as they did. He says of our refusal to forgive:

Does our arrogance lead us to assume they should behave differently—that they should know better, even though we realize the impact of emotional imprinting on human behavior? Did we do any better?

It’s useful to bring into our awareness those we feel are unforgivable, so that we may examine the felt-resonance that arises when we picture these individuals and allow ourselves to feel this felt-resonance without condition.

These people are the focus of our unintegrated child’s revenge. They are the victims of our arrogance. These people are also the individuals who are assisting us in unlocking our peace of mind. Until we integrate the emotional signature that arises when we bring them into our awareness, we remain imprisoned by unintegrated emotional discomfort and its consequential mental confusion and physical reactivity.

Our ongoing anger toward them is our lack of clarity. It’s the cause of our lack of awareness of the peace already given. By not allowing ourselves to integrate these uncomfortable resonances, an aspect of our felt-perception remains sedated and controlled—and therefore unavailable to feel the peace in which we are always immersed.

There is no awareness of peace without authentic forgiveness, and there is no authentic forgiveness until we integrate the resonance that arises in us when we place our attention on those who still anger us.

Michael's understanding of why we find it hard to forgive is worth dwelling on. Take some time to sit with it, seeing how it speaks to your own situation with regard to those you have hard feelings toward.

Forgiveness isn’t really about the other person, it’s about us. To the degree we realize how deeply we have been emotionally imprinted, we will realize that others have also been imprinted in similar ways. They can't help themselves any more than we have been able to help ourselves, until now when we at last are ready to engage in emotional integration.

By forgiving ourselves, we automatically forgive others. When we can’t forgive, it’s because we haven’t yet truly owned our own emotional imprinting and come to a place of peace with ourselves. This is why The Presence Process is simply one of the most powerful resources available to us in our journey into a more conscious way of living.


*Editor's note: The Compassionate Eye appears Monday through Friday. Eckhart Tolle's second book, Stillness Speaks, which followed The Power of Now and preceded A New Earth, is available in hardback and also on CD. To go more deeply into living in the present moment in an ongoing state of consciousness, especially as it relates to being true to ourselves in our relationships with others, join us in the daily blog Consciousness Rising.

Luc's picture

You say we should be kind towards others, understanding that we would do the same in their specific situations, and so forgive them.... Not judge others..... But you judge us yourself "does our arrogance lead us" etc.... Can you please not judge us yourself, and follow what you preach? So we are not entitled to talk about arrogance of people who hurt us, but be kind and forgive them, but you YOURSELF are judgemental towards us who (understandable) struggle to forgive when hurt"? Why you talk about "our arrogance"? This is really not ok.... Tolle would never say something like this..... Follow what you preach, and try to understand us (people struggling to forgive) too.... "in our situation you would do exactly the same thing...." OMG, this article is réally not buddism........ There is no arrogance...... There is only pain.... Stop judging yourself and read about Tolle........... Namaste. And don't delete things that dont fit your ego, its sad you did that....... You have a lot to learn, wow......

David Robert Ord's picture

I suggest you missed the point of my blog altogether. Eckhart Tolle is very clear that there is a vast difference between recognizing something about behavior and being judgmental. A forgiving person doesn't put blinders on. They can see undesirable behavior and recognize it as such. Can I judge that to harm someone is wrong? Absolutely. A person who is present will certainly draw such a conclusion. But if I am unforgiving, then as Michael Brown explains I am locked into arrogance. That isn't to be judgmental; it is simply to recognize a condition. The point of the blog wasn't to be judgmental, but to point the way to how, if we find ourselves trapped in an unforgiving state, we can move beyond it. It consists of recognizing the arrogance of our ego.

devu's picture

I do not know how much i should thank you for these articles.

I have had an extremely bad relationship and i could never decipher what is in the mind of my friend and today again it came as heaps of criticism, mudslinging etc subsequent to which we parted away four years back when i wilted into depression History repeated itself with the same kind of abuses and criticism today and luckily i had become wiser.

I was about to react to the unreasonable almost mad accusations and criticism, but then luckily i cam across this article which i have made it as my homepage whenever i log onto the internet.

I quickly sat back, decided to forgive, was intensely calm and to the point in my responses and had clearly mentioned that i was not ready to take anymore nonsenses and suggested that we part.

All these i could say beautifully, calmly and strongly at the same time i could show my friend the affection and respect for being a friend so to say.

After writing back to him i feel an intense calm, and i really do ot know how to thank you when four years back i had wilted in depression and indulged in self-injurious behaviour when something similar had happened.