Demand Nor Offer Forgiveness, Act Compassion


Demand Nor Offer Forgiveness, Act Compassion

Majid Ali, M.D.

Search for happiness brings more unhappiness than anything else. Next to this search, demands for forgiveness brings more unhappiness than anything else. Those who can forgive don’t need to be asked. Those who cannot stop demanding forgiveness cannot accept it. This is the short, true, and complete story of forgiveness.

When I read or hear about forgiveness, I see an image of a large stone. It looks at the tears filling the eyes of the person demanding or expecting forgiveness and yearns to say, Oh dear, how would the water of your tears melt me when centuries of rain water dropping on me could not do that. Why waste your tears. The stone knows that the forgiveness seeker does not know its language. The seeker never learned the language of stones.

Some years ago, a South African priest was my guest at my Science, Health, and Healing program on WBAI radio in New York. The day before, I invited him to join me and Talat, my wife, for lunch. We could not keep our eyes off his iron hands. We knew it was not polite to watch him feed himself with the steel devices attached to his amputated hands, but his deft use of the prosthesis was too natural and his relishing the food too real not to be noticed, again and again. Next day on the air I asked him whether the police ever traced the person who sent him the letter-bomb which took his hands away. He replied that they had not. My followup question was:

“How would you look at that person if ever found?”

“He or she would just be a human,” he replied, just as naturally as he had answered my other questions.

“Could you forgive him?” I asked.

“Or it could be a she.” He grinned.

“Of course, it could be a she.” I stumbled, then continued, “Could you forgive that he or she?”

“I don’t know. It hasn’t happened. But I am not waiting for it. My days are my own and so are my nights. If that ever happens I’ll see what happens e my own.”

Back to my stone. What is its language? What is the language of other stones?What is the language of trees? And of shrubs? Of chipmunks? Of clouds? Of rainwater?

How does anyone learn such languages? Perhaps by making one’s present truth to be one’s present blessing. Talat spoke these words once.

How does one learn languages of stones and mountains? Of clouds and rainwater? Of chipmunks and beetles? Perhaps by recognizing that one’s breath is one’s own. The breath of a stone is its own. The breath of a tree by its side is its own. And so is the breath of weeds at the stone’s feet. And of the sky above it.

Problems of forgiveness—not being able to ask for it or accept it—are problems of head fixation. They are problems deepened by separation from elements that surround us. Torment caused by head-fixation cannot b solved by yet more head-fixation. The “biology of forgiveness demands” is the biology of addiction. Just as an alcoholic cannot overcome alcoholism by taking more drinks and just as an Ativan addict cannot escape Benzo addiction by continuing to take more Ativan, a “forgiveness addict” cannot prevail over his problem by talking about and taking more Ativan.

Back to my stone again. It knows well my what I write about here, perhaps because it never took psychology courses, nor did any psychiatry residency.

My stone also knows that emotions are unsorted thoughts. The problems of unsorted thoughts cannot be sorted out by more unsorted thoughts. To break through head-fixation, one needs to escape to one’s elements. The stone ca be the healer if only onc learns its language.

One last thing: my stone has much to teach about the language of silence and commerce of compassion.

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