by Friends of Godwin
It is sometimes difficult to forgive others because the wounds we carry are normally created by those who are close to us. It is very interesting to reflect on that. People who are distant don’t create wounds: pen friends never fall out! Only friends do who are close to us. This is an important aspect of close relationships.
A way of developing this forgiveness is by realising that you are human and others are human also. We sometimes put ourselves on a pedestal and this can be very unrealistic, it may be too idealistic. In Western culture the model you use is often the model of perfection. What happens is that you fall down from this pedestal of perfection, and consequently you suffer from guilt and self-hatred. You give yourself a minus because you have fallen from this pedestal, because you couldn’t live up to your own expectations. This is what we do in relation to other people also: we put them on pedestals. In Buddhist terms it means that you want to behave like an enlightened person and you expect that also from other people. And when others don’t behave like enlightened people you give them a minus and start hating them. This is how you create so much suffering for yourself.
I sometimes say that if you make a mistake, you should remember: “Don’t be surprised, you are still not enlightened”. And when you see someone else make a mistake: “Don’t be surprised, they are not enlightened either”. This is a very simple, direct way of accepting ourselves, our humanness, our imperfection and accepting the imperfection and humanness of others.