"Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either". (Mt 6:15)
This is a simple karmic equation that is only too obvious in our experience at the psychological level. The connection between the two parts is not a threat however, merely descriptive. The Father does not refuse to forgive: it is that we cannot feel the Father’s forgiveness that enfolds us continuously unless we forgive. So we need to understand what forgiveness means.
If I cannot let go of the ways people have hurt me, intentionally, unconsciously or even in my fantasy, I remain frozen in time. I react to the present from the unchanging script and repeated memories of the past. Victims of abuse or persecution suffer this traumatically. What we call healing is really prizing open the tight clam of the past and allowing the medicine of forgiveness to touch the place of pain.
Beyond and within the psychological level, however, is the spiritual realm. Here powerful mysterious forces move around like galaxies in the cosmos. But though they are vast and cosmic they are friendly and they know us better than we know ourselves – though they do not force that knowledge on us for that would crush us.
Each of these forces is an emission of the ground of being (the ‘Father’). They are essentially therefore only variations of the primal energy of love. The purpose of meditation is to live as fully as possible in the presence of and open to this energy.
Learning to meditate is learning to allow the awareness of this energy to be a continuous reality informing every thought, words and action. To learn anything we have to have the humility to listen and then begin with the simple tasks of the skill we are acquiring. We have to be content with this process just as we learn to be deeply content to say the mantra.
The consequence of this learning is transformation. Energised by love we find we can forgive because forgiveness is only another term for love when it meets the resistance of pain and rupture and restores to wholeness.
Laurence Freeman OSB