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The Fruits of Forgiveness
The primary beneficiary of forgiveness practice is you. Read the following article and listen to the suggested audio dharma talk, and then deepen your understanding of the teachings by contemplating the reflections provided below.
For Your Reflection:
1. Name two or three instances when you have been pleased that you were able to forgive someone. In reflecting on these situations, how did the forgiveness come about? How did you feel once forgiveness had arisen?
2. Name two or three instances when you haven’t been able to forgive someone. What is preventing you? How does it feel in your body to not forgive? How does it feel in your heart? What about your mind? Is this suffering or non-suffering and who is it that is doing the suffering?
3. Think of a situation in your life when someone has forgiven you when you were really at fault. Do you remember how you felt? Relieved? Grateful for their generosity? Would it not be a pleasure for you to give such a gift to others?
4. Now think of a time when you have not been forgiven. What happened? Were you able to forgive yourself? If so, what does it feel like to forgive yourself? How do you do that? If you have not been able to forgive yourself and they haven’t forgiven you, then what effect has that had on you and in what ways do you suffer? Can you see that the person who is suffering now is not the person who created the transgression?
5. Start to examine the subtle expectations that exist in your mind and in others around forgiveness. Do some people treat you as though you’re obligated to forgive them? Is there a hidden assumption that if you forgive them that you’re supposed to let them back into your life? Or maybe you assume that if you forgive, you lose the right to say “no” to someone. Likewise, when you’re asking for forgiveness, is there a hidden demand?