Back and Neck Pain

Learning to Forgive and Let Go, Part VI

Author| Barry Kerzin, MD

From the Dalai Lama's personal physician

Forgiveness fosters resilience. It gives us permission to let go of hurt. It liberates grudges against others that have been buried often for a lifetime. When feelings of hurt are suppressed, they darken our mood, weakening our resilience. Forgiveness is the solvent that dissolves the glue of self-righteousness, bypassing the issue of who is right and who is wrong.

Forgiveness allows us to recognize the humanity in all of us.

Recognizing pain and unhappiness in the perpetrator opens our heart to forgiveness as she or he is out of control stuck in habitual-addictive socially conditioned responses. We understand that we can do the same thing. Thinking this way moistens our heart for understanding. Our chest opens as we breathe easier allowing our fear to leave. This is a process that takes time and continued practice. Old habits don’t die easily.

The Dalai Lama relates a wonderful example of the power of forgiveness [7].  This is a true story about someone he calls his personal hero. Richard Moore was 10 years old in 1972 and living in Northern Ireland when a British soldier shot him in the eyes. Richard became totally blind. The tragedy could have turned the boy into an angry and bitter man. But Richard never bore ill will. Instead, he devoted his life to helping and protecting other vulnerable children around the world. He was intent on finding the man who caused his blindness. When they finally met after Richard had grown up, in an intense moment, Richard forgave the British soldier. The two men are now friends. This is a moving example of the power of forgiveness.

Forgiveness and tolerance share much in common. Both build respect for others as well as respect for our self, which gives us a sense of safety.

When we feel safe we are less prone to anger. When we feel safe, we feel like we have a safety net. A safety net is resilience - the ability to bounce back.

7. H.H. Dalai Lama, & Norman, A. (2011). Beyond Religion: Ethics for the Whole World. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Continue to Part VII