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.