Ya devi sarva bhooteshu kshanti roopena sansthita
Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namaha

Tritiyai: Forgiveness

Life is a dark grey smouldering forest where the mists are smog and the puddles are acid. The light seeping through is lightning that will electrocute you and the wind that blows is nothing but an emission of poison gas. Each little stirring in the trees (really, stockpiled grievances) is merely a spark in the sizzling embers of revenge.

I stand in the middle of the forest. Ignorance, carelessness and lack of discipline have conspired to bring me here. I cannot find my way out although I now believe it is possible to leave these woods without further damage, either to myself or to life, as it is, around me.

In the middle of the forest
winds a small path.
I must find it.
I must find it.

But to find it, I must learn to bear the discomforts of my present moment.

So I play a little game.

The forest is dark. I tell myself, “At least, I do not have to cope with the burning sun.”
The forest is bleak. I tell myself, “At least, there are no temptations in my path.”
The smog chokes me, and I think, “Ah, a sign that I breathe.”
The acid-puddles burn my feet and I think, “Well, this way the nettles cannot hurt my soles.”

I can now move one step forward.

In the middle of the forest
winds a small path.
I must find it.
I must find it.

But to find it, I must learn to ignore the temptations my present moment does proffer.

So I steel myself.

The insects hum, “Did you hear what she said last time?”
I tell my ears to take a holiday.

The stirring leaves taunt, “How can he get away with that?”
I open my hands and let him get away.

The prickly underbrush bristles, “Who do they think they are?”
My acid-stung feet can feel nothing.

The fetid smell of anger gone worse assails my nostrils
and we choose to have a cold.

The putrid recesses of the forest of life approach me but I can no longer be reached.

In the middle of the forest
winds a small path.
I must find it.
I must find it.

But to find it, I must be mindful in every moment that I do not remain mired here.

So I bear witness to my thoughts and observe how little my body hates to be in this place of resentment and anger. My muscles tense and then weaken like a fortress whose ramparts stand firm but whose people have perished. My heart races then slows to a dull throbbing. My eyes hurt from not wanting to see, my ears are blocked with not wanting to hear and my mouth will speak nothing I care to be associated with.

I bear witness.

And then, my resolve crumbles. I cannot ever find my way out of this place.

In every fibre of my being, there is the seed of the life-force that has created this horrible forest. I cannot ever be rid of it.

In the middle of the forest
winds a small path.

I cannot find it.
I cannot look for it any more.

I cannot stay. I cannot leave.

I wail. I moan. I complain. I lament.
I thrash about looking for a way to escape.

And then, exhausted, I accept where I am, who I am and what I feel.
From the quiet of that acceptance, comes an unexpected gift: I forgive myself.
After all, this is what is and I cannot blame myself or anyone else for it.
Not to any useful purpose.

I forgive myself.

And then, the miracle occurs. The forest clears. Light comes through. The smog dissolves. A clear breeze sweeps through the putrid air and leaves it smelling of sea and roses. The rain comes down, puts out the fires and washes out the acid.

The forest of my life is transformed by a simple act of forgiveness.

Namastasyai namastasyai namastasyai namo namaha.

September 29, 2003

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Go to Chaturti.