Resentment and Forgiveness – September 6 2017

It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while… For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit.
Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 66
Resentment is like taking poison and hoping the other person will die.
Recently I was told by someone whose input I value that perhaps it is time to forgive a certain someone from my past. He said,
“It certainly isn’t bothering her. She’s not around anymore. She doesn’t care what you do with yourself.”
Of course he’s right.
“All that energy going out into the universe. What could you do with it if you directed it elsewhere?”
The amazing thing is how this sort of long-standing resentment can be a part of one’s makeup without one being aware of it, to any great degree. It’s not unconsciousness. The Vedic world view does not really speak of unconsciousness; for if consciousness is all there is, there is no space for its opposite. The Veda does, however, speak of ignorance. And the act of ignoring implies that one knows that which is being ignored. So we have a conscientious choice to be ignorant of something we know. Why would we do this?
“What did she do, anyway, that’s so bad? She was a human, right? Maybe we can just give her space to be a human.”
The word resentment actually means “to feel pain or distress,” yet we hold onto certain resentments like they’re some sort of precious metal. There must be quite a payoff for us if we’re willing to feel pain and distress simply to hold onto a point of view about someone else.
When we begin to examine our resentments, often times we find that the very qualities we resent in another are qualities we find within ourselves. By holding another to a standard of perfection and damning them in our mind for failing to achieve it, inevitably we are holding ourselves to the same standard and in the dark recesses of our mind, damning ourselves right along with the other.
The only real payoff in this scheme is that we don’t have to change. I can continue to blame my shortcomings on someone else. I can continue to be a victim. If I resent you for being cold and imperious and arrogant, then I can continue to be cold and imperious and arrogant, myself. At least to you.
Since there only is one consciousness, if I’m not willing to forgive you, by definition I’m not willing to forgive myself. So now I have the pain of the resentment doubled. And if there is only one consciousness, then the unwillingness to forgive anyone really means the unwillingness to forgive everyone.
The word forgive, according to the Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, comes from the Old English for = completely + giefan (GIVE).
To forgive is to give completely.
The Veda tells us that we are fulfillment itself. When we know ourselves as this fulfillment, we know that nothing in the relative world can add to, nor take away from, the fulfillment that we are. If I am fulfillment, there is nothing I need from anyone. To the extent I continue to ignore the truth of this for myself, to that precise extent I will demand something from you. I will need you to give to me. And when I do not get whatever this is that I need, I will have a resentment. Hence the need for forgiveness. The need to give completely.
Forgiveness is not some superhuman spiritually enlightened approach to the world available only to those who have seen the face of God. It’s merely a re-alignment of ourselves with the universe. By giving, we are confirming the truth of our fulfillment. We are telling the universe there is nothing we need. We are letting everyone off the hook, including ourselves. We are reaffirming to the universe that we want to be a part of it, that we want to share in the joy the Veda tells us is available in life. That we want to be a source of that joy in the world. That we want to give.
Today I will search my mind for a resentment, and if I find one, I will take the steps to let it go. If I don’t know what those steps are, I will ask a friend who is in a 12 Step program. And when I have done the work they suggest, then in my imagination, I will send this person love.
Crow and Moon, Studio City, CA
All original material copyright © 2017 Jeff Kober