Seven-Story Forgiveness

pearl and gold opera glasses on sheet music

Every word, every thought, changes along the vibrational scale of consciousness, so that its meaning is different depending on the speaker’s intent and the listener’s awareness – creating the sound of different notes and tones with a single word. I wrote about this earlier in relation to ‘gratitude’: in the lowest vibrations, ‘gratitude’ feels like helpless indebtedness; in the highest, it expresses the bliss of existence. ‘Forgiveness’ changes as much or more, a problem that might be solved in the inflections, tones, context, and body language of conversation – but remains murky in writing.

In these internet days, words flicker without context or tone. Billions of mini-wisdoms float across millions of screens every minute. Many writers seem to offer peace and freedom through forgiveness, yet leave completely untouched, for example, distinctions between subtle, inner forgiveness at one level and, at a denser level, the material world – where it might mean releasement from obligation to repay, as in forgiveness of a monetary debt, or it might mean ignoring the possibility of repeated harm, or capitulation to a domineering perpetrator. In higher consciousness, forgiveness can’t be achieved by a human act, if it exists at all: the nothing-to-forgive space clears inner experience of emotional traps generated by crime and punishment. Thus cleared, any external actions for protection and remediation can be made from a transcendently relaxed, effective perspective.

I propose a scale for listening to these mini-wisdoms in an up-spiraling (do-re-mi) way, so that even the heaviest uses of an idea can eventually be liberating: when the vibrational felt-sense beyond the need for forgiveness is part of one’s repertoire, it can be experienced in all occasions. (People familiar with chakras or spiral dynamics will recognize the stair-step structure below. Casting the steps as narratives, or stories, makes them more alive, intimate, and accessible for me.) Without this subtle listening/transforming work, some folks in pain, reading about nirvana, or the ‘right way to behave’ as a forgiving person, can feel tempted to leapfrog, splitting into a repressed state and a superficially transcended state, leaving the pain unresolved and possibly leaving themselves unnecessarily vulnerable and/or unconsciously vengeful toward self or others – in both cases remaining trapped in the pain polarity.

This post is the first experiment with the scale. I confess the probably-obvious: I am still evolving toward unflappability. I still experience flashes of anger (outer-directed sadness), thrumming from old days of believing I was ‘supposed to’ adopt a certain unreal stance in order to be a good person. The command was to stifle and be embarrassed about my then-reality, and I did that. I wanted to be part of the good group. Many phases later, the following scale has emerged. [Note: The scale below is in the old classical better=higher, top-down format. Truth actually proceeds along an inner scale, from the most superficial to the deepest. So both height and depth are included here, maybe a little clumsily. Again, it refers only to inner states of being, not to material obligations or appropriate boundaries.]

Stories in Depths of Forgiveness

(At Eighth and above/deeper, forgiveness is not an issue; all interactions are just pure Nature – in Rumi’s field beyond right-doing and wrong-doing, no matter how “red in tooth and claw” they might be. Thus, the First is the lowest/shallowest level, where cultures impose a pretense of forgiveness with no inner liberation.)


Seventh Story/Depth Forgiveness: I see all of humanity (including me) reacting to impulses, drives, and stimuli active for millions of years, part of our organic and maybe spiritual evolution. I notice the disrupted ripples in my inner energy systems dissolving as my awareness expands to enfold all my experience, and all my encounters, in this infinite scheme of dancing light and shadow.

Sixth Story/Depth Forgiveness: I sense the shared pain of all participants in the human condition. I feel my own bodymind disengaging from polarities where I felt victimized or guilt-ridden. I feel my self becoming dis-identified with the dynamics of an old moment, knowing my self more as an autonomous, untouchable, and beneficial spirit.

Fifth Story/Depth Forgiveness: I can feel my bodymind’s capacities being hampered – in strength, vision, and skill – by an old interpretation of earlier experiences and by self-silencing. As I hear and articulate, from and for my own hearing, the deepest pain from my unconscious, I feel the prison walls, the chains, dissolve. I am delivered into the full liveliness and power of the present moment.

Fourth Story/Depth Forgiveness: I relax more and more into the universality of suffering. As I sense a burgeoning compassion for my own vulnerability and other forms of fear and self-defense, I feel my communion with all life. I allow my heart to resonate for us all.

Third Story/Depth Forgiveness: Anger is a sign of weakness. I choose to act from strength. I decline to accept any interpretation of previous experience that defines me as a victim in any way. I decline to assign power over me to any other individual. And thus I declare I have never been harmed.

Second Story/Depth Forgiveness: My life is bereft without at least the pretense of good relations with those close to me. I know they have faults, and have done bad things – we all do and have – but we need to be kind to each other, no matter what has happened. This is how we become better.

First Story/Depth Forgiveness: I am looked down on for bearing grudges, for being trapped in dead history. I will fare better, in my culture, if I adopt a stance of magnanimity toward the heinous actions of others, and cringe toward my own. Our deeds have said all that needs to be said about our unworthiness, and I am above the need to amplify or justify the crimes.

Life can be lived inside one or more of these levels/depths – with flashes from above or below on the scale. (In transitional states, I experience several levels simultaneously, in stereo – familiar to students of psychosynthesis.) In my universe, the higher flashes are happy signs that consciousness is rising/deepening/opening, becoming freer of the bondage of embodiment. The lower flashes are extremely beneficial (if sharp) little arrows, like the “You Are Here” arrows on maps, indicating a target-rich environment for retrieving old pain-pockets – not for self-condemnation but for allowing the light of awareness to flood into the shadows, so they can dissolve, releasing their wisdom-energy and thus boosting vibrations all around – within the self and toward others pierced by the same arrows.

One last note in the music of this scale: I write this to elevate my own experience. By printing it in the larger sphere, I inspire myself to keep moving higher/deeper. If it helps someone else too, alleluja. I also realize I may have just solved my dilemma about how to write drama when the goal of consciousness is no-drama, the freedom of Rumi’s field.

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