Forgiving the past

Question: The biggest thing I have been struggling with during my journey is forgiveness. I’ve had a horrible relationship with my biological parents. It is something that I keep coming back to that I can not get over. I understand it is in the past. Is there anything I can do? I need to work past this. I need to forgive and forget.

Forgiveness is not for other people. Telling someone you forgive them may give them peace of mind, but in your mind you only said for their sake. Hence, true forgiveness is for yourself. Sometimes it’s hard to forgive. Depending on the situation and circumstances, forgiveness may feel like something that could never be achieved or reached.

But as you said, it is in the past. In Buddhism, failing to forgive has all three poisons of the mind: ignorance, greed, and anger. Ignorance because we can’t or ignore the fact that what happened was in the past and it cannot be changed, yet we hold onto that anger of the situation because it might make us feel somehow empowered or that somehow we might be able to use that “information” to benefit us in the future and that is greed.

No one can change what happened. Unless you have a time machine to take you back, you’re stuck with it. So then why hold onto it? Why feel the anger? Who is it benefiting? Does the situation and the anger you feel make you a better person? Is it making the way you feel or act toward others helping them? Probably not.

So true forgiveness might not happen right away or overnight. But you can meditate on it. The best way of forgiveness for yourself is to acknowledge what happened, accept it, accept that no changes can be made in the past, vow to not let it affect things now and in the future, and move on. That way you and others can continue with your lives and loving relationships.

The Buddha taught us that our number one gratitude in life should always be to our parents, because they are the ones that provided us with this precious life. Not everyone of course has the best relationship with their parents or family, but we should at least try. Because no matter what, our parents will always love their children no matter what. Yes, some may kick their kids out or even go as far as disowning them, but deep down, every parent has the intrinsic need to protect their children.

Smile and be well!

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