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Meditation to Foster Forgiveness

VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
edited March 2017 in Mindfulness

Two monks are walking down the road. They arrive at a muddy stream crossing, and a well dressed woman declares without introduction, “Don’t just stand there. Someone carry me across this mess.“

Without pause, the older monk lifts her across. She says nothing, not even a thank you.

The two monks walk all day. The whole time, the younger one stews in his mind—How could he pick her up? We’re not supposed to touch women, or even talk to them. And she was so rude, someone should say something to her, she didn’t deserve our help.

Finally, arriving at the inn for dinner, he can’t hold himself back. “What were you thinking? She was nasty, and you broke the rules, and she didn’t even say thank you.”

The older monk smiles gently and replies. “Wow, I put that woman down hours ago, but you’ve been carrying her all this time!”

So what does that mean in real life? We make mistakes. Other people make mistakes. We do things to others. Others do things to us. There’s an actual experience that can be trivial or even traumatic. We add to the suffering with judgment, anger, and blame. It’s sometimes referred to as adding a second arrow after being struck by a first. Something unpleasant happens, but then we add more to the experience.

Forgiveness isn’t the same as condoning ourselves or anyone else for misbehavior. But we so easily hold ourselves infinitely responsible, often for experiences utterly out of our control or from decades past. With forgiveness, we make amends when needed but let go of the extra baggage. We give ourselves the same benefit of the doubt we’d offer a close friend.

On the other hand, we sometimes allow someone else to influence our lives long after they’ve gone in a similar fashion. Another driver cuts us off in traffic, putting us in danger, and then speeds off. The driver arrives at brunch and relaxes, but we make our own coffee break bitter dwelling in our own anger. It’s a concept that holds across larger situations too. Anger and resentment simmer and grow, while compassionate resolve allows us to address what needs addressing without slinging additional arrows.


link has a 10 min guided meditation.



  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    It's so hard for me to deal with people are who major grudge holders. My teenage son made a big mistake several weeks ago involving the mom of one of his friends (she saw something inappropriate he said on snapchat and kicked him out of her house over it). I've spoken at him at length and her. But she will not even allow him to speak to her to apologize and explain what was a bit of a miscommunication. So as it stands, my son will spend all summer being unable to spend time with his group of friends because they all hang out together at this mom's house. Does he deserve consequences? Absolutely. And he has them, both from her reaction and from home. Does he deserve a life sentence for being an occasionally smart ass/dumb teen? I don't think so. But she does. She thinks he'll learn a better lesson if she completely stonewalls him and refuses to allow him to make amends so it eats at him. I guess I don't understand that mentality. If the goal is to have him recognize his mistake and why it was wrong and why she reacted how she did, I don't think she is going about it the best way. To me, consequences are different than punishment which often come handed down from angry people trying to get whatever revenge they can to make someone feel as badly as they feel. I don't find that to be a good way to deal with anyone, nevermind kids. Sigh.

    thank you for the story, and the comments. I am going to share them with him later. I think right now for him it's killing him to not be able to apologize and work towards improving things and he needs to forgive himself more than anything. <3

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    I have to say I am 100% guilty of holding grudges because of things people have done and this is something I am very focused on working on right now. Thanks for the story @Vastmind, it is so very, very true. I especially like the line when the older Monk says "Wow, I put her down hours ago and you have been carrying her all this time".

    I've mentioned this before on this forum and there is a reason for it (it's something I am very focused working on). I always think someone is being rude or doing something to me on purpose. I never give them the benefit of the doubt as I do myself. I have often done the same things to people that piss me off when they do it to me and it's mostly by accident so I need to learn that when people do things like that to me, it may be an accident and maybe they didn't realise it right away so they could apologise or maybe they didn't notice and would have apologised, had they noticed.

    @karasti, even if your son made a mistake, he is obviously a bigger person than she. To see your mistake, take ownership of it and want to opologise for it, makes him a stand up gentleman, in my opinion. Since all teenagers make mistakes, he is the kind of person I would want to be around my kids (if I had any). It's too bad that your son and his friend will be the only ones that suffer by her choice. I'm a trainer at my work and I always tell my new hires that it does not matter what mistakes you make but what matters is what you do with them.


  • Great thread. Wonderful example of guided meditation/advice/practice.

    We are all 100% guilty @Tigger AND worthy/deserving of compassionate forgiving. We don't take the forgiving too beyond our realistic capacity.

    We can forgive Christians:
    Philippians 1:9

    ... or whatever is our personal extra weight ...

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