Reader comment on Stephen Levine's passage ...

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    On Feb 5, 2010 Somik Raha wrote:

    Profound. Each line of this passage can be experienced. "As long as there are two, there is unfinished business." I think this extends also to one, for one is also a distinction we make in our mind. To get beyond one's and two's, we have to get to zero. I have often wondered at the brilliance of whoever came up with the symbol for zero - no beginning, no end - a circle, the idea of a whole. This notion breaks all the distinctions in our mind, and takes us toward the "no mind," where there is nothing to forgive, no one to be angry with, no one who will be angry. Indeed, that is because there is no "one" anymore.

    Reflecting back on moments that can be termed "the dark night of the soul," I find that intense guilt arises out of a great misunderstanding, a great confusion, a strong self-deception. Experienced constructively, guilt is a stepping stone, which takes us from a bigger confusion to a smaller one, provided we step out of it, and realize it is not a useful emotion. Its big trap is to make us believe the stories we spin about how terrible our actions have been, or worse, how terrible we are. Before we saw multiplicity, and didn't feel the pain of others. Now, we have connected at an awkward level, where the guilt and the associated pain comes like a gushing tsunami. But stare at it some more - and the tsunami becomes a mere wave, and soon crashes innocuously under its own weight, for it is not being fed anymore. Then, the zone of the zero begins - who is to ask for forgiveness and from whom? The futility of the multiplicity was long obvious. The trap of the one becomes clearer, as the one quickly leads back to the two.

    There are times (in fact, many times), when we are hopelessly mired in the two, and that is when the author's suggestion of using forgiveness as a tool becomes invaluable. With practice, forgiveness becomes the stepping stone toward the zero. Forgiveness is what makes us human for we can only forgive when we realize there is no need to hold on to a past memory. The word "forgive" comes from "for+gifan", where gifan means to "give." I can only give when I have - which means, forgiveness is a quality that springs from abundance, not from scarcity. Therefore, one has to be truly poor and suffering when one is unable to forgive.

    This week, a situation came up from the past, where my forgiveness was tested. A colleague in a professional venture had broken up with our team on a very sour note. After a year, there was an opportunity where our team was asked if we wanted to give what we had created together some years past. While all of us loved the idea, this colleague vetoed our plan. Immediately, negative memories came up, and I could see a dark cloud passing over me. It was a little while before I loosened up and smiled at myself - how silly that all of the thoughts that were in the past, that I had officially "moved on" from, had to come rushing back. I hadn't truly forgiven and loved. Or perhaps, if I had, I must have forgotten. Better late than never - I blessed this colleague, and felt immediately transformed.

    I find the Wednesday pieces so practical and scientific that it is beyond belief. The trap in these lovely well-written pieces is to think that they are philosophical and leave them aside from our daily lives. Very grateful for the opportunity to reflect. Very grateful for the opportunity to forgive and to ask for forgiveness.

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