Meditations on Forgiveness
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh
Fair warning: for those who are used to reading about Sikh-related stories, this is more of a rambling, inter-faith, Piscean-Aquarian kind of piece. But my prayer is that the Guru always guides what I write – no matter what it's about. So I hope you enjoy it.
Meditations on Forgiveness
Today, I was at Ralph's Locksmith getting duplicates for the keys of my (finally-oh-my-god-I’ve-purchased at age 37) home. Like many family-owned businesses in Espanola – in a small case tucked into the side of the store were some Catholic paintings and statues. I grew up Catholic. It's home base for my spiritual searching. When I was 7 years old, I used to get up early and go listen to mass at the chapel next to the school yard before going to school in the morning. Some people thought I was crazy. Other people thought I would grow up to be a saint. None of them were right- I think my soul just had a longing – even at that young age – for a connection to something deeper. Something more real than the life I saw around me.
God and Jesus were cool. It was the nuns that I had problems with. Especially the ones who told me that Jesus was the only way to God. I never believed them. Finally, in the sixth grade, one nun got so mad at me for not believing that she told me I was going to hell. There's nothing that'll put you off following a religion faster than being told that you're going to hell. So in the sixth grade, I started studying other paths. When all of my feminine peers were beginning to notice boys, I was noticing the Dao de Jing and the Kabbalah.
Still – for my college entrance essay – when I was asked who my hero was, my reply was a very firm, "Jesus." Son of God or not- I couldn't say. But I sure admired the way he lived his life – with conviction, passion and compassion.
I haven't had much reason to think about Jesus for almost 20 years. But the 2000 year old savior/teacher has been on my mind a lot the last few days. Today, while I waited for the duplicate keys to get made, there was one particular painting that caught my eye. It was a painting of Jesus with a crown of thorns on his head – blood streaming down his face – part of the crucifixion.
All the stories I was told about the crucifixion played through my mind. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas with a kiss for a bunch of gold coins. The way that Jesus was nailed to a cross in retribution for crimes he didn't commit. And that eternal phrase which has echoed every single Good Friday in every Christian Church in the world for century upon century, "Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do."
Forgive them. Forgive them.
If you're open to looking at spirituality from an astrological perspective, you could say that Jesus Christ was the teacher who ushered in the Age of Pisces. And he brought a powerful lesson with him – the lesson of forgiveness in the face of the worst pain, of the most abhorrent betrayal. Maybe it's because I’m caught in my own perspective as a half-Italian, half-Irish former Catholic, but I look back over the last 2000 years and see that we have had ample opportunity to practice that lesson as a species. There has been so much betrayal – so many times when we have suffered injustice at the hands of those who are closest to us – at the hands of those we loved and who loved us, as well. Even in the face of love, the betrayal happens.
Judas's kiss. Gold coins. A man crucified. And for what? Just so Jesus could bleed to death on a cross in the blistering sun and say, "Father forgive them. They know not what they do"?
It has never made sense to me.
Many who study the teachings of Yogi Bhajan believe that the human race is going through another major change. The ages are shifting – from the Piscean to the Aquarian. We’ve been in the cusp period between these two ages for the last 14 years and still have another 7 years to go before the transition of ages is complete. In the Age of Aquarius, it is not the belief that matters – but the experience. God will become more than thought or belief or theology. In the Age of Aquarius, God will become a reality lived within the human body, within the human life.
This promise of the Age of Aquarius – that we can live our Divinity on the earth instead of longing to experience it in a heaven somewhere else is a powerful and compelling notion to me. But lately, and the last few days especially, what has occurred to me is simply this. Until we have mastered the lesson of the Piscean Age – how can we possibly enter into the lesson of the Aquarian?
Until we have learned how to forgive – even in the face of the worst betrayal – how can we expect to find the Divine in ourselves on earth?
So I find myself at age 37 revisiting the most basic spiritual instruction of my youth. I look at the death of Jesus and ask – how is it possible? How is it possible to forgive a betrayal? Especially when that betrayal leads to torture and death? How is it possible to become
Nirbhao – beyond fear
Nirvair – beyond vengeance
in the face of the shadows of the human experience?
To hold no grudges. To place no blame. To simply...forgive...
It seems that the Sikh Gurus were masters of this lesson. Guru Arjun on the hot plate. Guru Teg Bahadur giving his head. Guru Gobind Singh who held Arungzeb accountable for his actions yet never lost his compassionate hope that truth and grace could touch Arungzeb’s heart – no matter how awful the Emperor had behaved. There is a fundamental lesson about human life, about human communication in the lives of the Gurus. Who had no hate – though they sacrificed everything. Who continued to use their breath, their prayer, the power of their word to try to awaken those who tortured them to truth.
They set a powerful and demanding example to understand and to follow. To respond not with hate - even in the face of betrayal - but to respond with love and with truth.
I've been sitting here at my computer writing for more than an hour - and it seems the thing I am trying to say...for some reason...I can't really say it. It's not about knowing what forgiveness means and telling all these stories. It's about whether we have the capacity and the courage to live it ourselves or not. To let that crown of thorns be on our heads and not hate. Maybe we have to fight back - OK - that's understood. But to not hate - to constantly see that the person on the other side of that experience can be touched by grace anytime...can be changed by truth at any moment...and what we're fighting for is not to conquer the other person. We're fighting so that moment can happen for them...we're fighting so that in the midst of this madness we call human existence...grace has a chance to prevail.
Watching the news, seeing what's happening in the world, I get this feeling that in the times ahead...the human race is going to be tested. It's our tolerance and our ability to forgive each other that will define what we create in this life. Not what religion we belong to, but whether that lesson which comes up in every religion, has yet been learned.
Please forgive me if anything I have said offended any of you. It was not meant to.
Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh.
All love in the Divine,
Ek Ong Kaar Kaur
Meditations on Forgiveness