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Forgiveness, Part 3: On Impermanence

I have been writing about forgiveness, that it is a process involving patience, looking into the core of our own wronging of others, and recognizing that others, like us in similar circumstances, often “know not what they do.”

Another doorway to a deeper understanding of forgiveness is the insight of impermanence. One of the key insights of the Buddha into why we suffer is because everything is impermanent, and we resist this insight. Note that impermanence itself does not harm anything. It’s simply what is. But because we resist impermanence, we struggle and suffer.

If you think of something you regret doing or saying, or just something that you could have done or said more constructively, try this exercise: imagine yourself 100 years from now. What will you be then? What we call you will not be very recognizable. You may be bone fragments, or just dust. You may have become part of the earth, or part of plants and animals. In this light, how do you see your sorrow and regret?

This same exercise can then be done for those whom we perceive to have harmed us in some way. If we can envision them clearly enough as they will be in 100 years, your hurt and anger will vanish, and you will feel only compassion for them. You will see that all of us—our good qualities and bad—are just fleeting manifestations of the Source.

When we see clearly the impermanence of others and ourselves, we see there is no anger worth holding on to.

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