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How to Forgive

True forgiveness comes from seeing that you, or the other person, acted out of unconsciousness.

How to get the most out of these Wisdom Quotes:

  1. Put aside everything you think you already know.

  2. Open your mind and heart to receive something new.

  3. Take your time going through each point.

  4. Return to any points that particularly touch you.

  5. In the coming days, listen carefully to the wisdom within you.

* All quotes by Eckhart Tolle

1. See the Unconsciousness

"Traditionally, in spiritual teachings of various traditions, forgiveness is always emphasized. It must be real though.

There are many forms of superficial forgiveness when the mind says, "Okay, I forgive you." It's not deep. It's not real yet. The mind is trying to forgive.

But you can only forgive if you realize that whatever actions have been perpetrated are the effects of human unconsciousness. In other words, what Jesus said on the cross: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

It is a profound statement that can be applied to any act of violence perpetrated against other humans or life forms.

"Forgive them for they know not what they do." Not knowing what they do, of course, means they are unconscious."

~Eckhart Tolle, from the video: The Importance of Forgiveness


Whether it's yourself you want to forgive or another person, the first step is to see the unconsciousness.

  1. Forgiveness must be real. I think most of us have come across people who insist they have forgiven, yet their speaking leaves a bitter taste, exposing a judgmental energy. This is the superficial forgiveness Eckhart is speaking of, when the mind is trying to forgive.

  2. But forgiveness does not come through trying, reasoning, or convincing. True forgiveness comes from seeing that the person acted out of unconsciousness.

  3. When you look at the words in the image quote, you can see very clearly that "Forgive them," is dependent on "for they know not what they do." Perhaps we feel some acts are too terrible to forgive, but seeing the unconsciousness is the first step.

2. See From the Deeper Dimension

"It comes back to that state of connectedness with Being, from the deeper dimension of who you are, because from there it becomes easier to forgive.

It's only from there you can see the relative nature of what was done because you're in touch with a space within you that was never hurt by that. That dimension in you is beyond what can be injured.

Only the form can be injured. Someone may have insulted you deeply. The psychological form of who you are can feel pain. Or the physical form of who you are can feel pain, and someone inflicted that out of unconsciousness.

If you're not in touch with that space [of connectedness to Being], it's hard to forgive. Forgive means not harboring grievance or resentment or any negative feeling about it, and really, that's only possible when you're connected with the formless in yourself.

And then, from there, you can look at anything anybody did to you and it's almost as though it didn't happen."

~Eckhart Tolle, from the video: The Nature of Forgiveness


First, we see the unconsciousness in the act we want to forgive. In order to do this, however, we need to look from a deeper dimension within us.

  1. Eckhart speaks of our connectedness with Being, and describes it as "the space within you that was never hurt." If it seems difficult to get in touch with that part of yourself, relax, and stop your efforts. You don't want to be in the realm of trying to forgive with your mind.

  2. Recognize that only the form can be injured. Of course, the form is what we are familiar with - our body and mind. But there is always a deeper dimension, the truth of who you are.

  3. It doesn't matter what you call this formless space of Being. Whether you use the word God, Spirit, Universal intelligence, or anything else, it doesn't change what it is. It is from here that true forgiveness becomes possible. If doubtful, argumentative thoughts arise about this, you don't need to pay attention to them. Instead, find the stillness in your Being and trust wisdom to reveal what you need to know.

3. See the Conditioning

"I harbored grievances against my father for many years because he suffered from an enormous amount of bottled-up anger. Living with him as a child was like living with a powder keg or an unexploded bomb somewhere in the house. At any moment, with the slightest thing anybody said, this bomb would explode and the entire house would be filled with destructive energy.

For a young child, it's a terrible thing to live in constant anguish. Even as an adult, this resulted in quite a bit of grievance towards him because my childhood was fearful and unpleasant as a result.

It was only when a transformation happened inside me and there was that deep, inner peace, that I realized he did what he did according to the way in which life had conditioned him.

When he was a child he had an enormous amount of resentment against his family. He was the seventh child, his father died when he was 15, and they took him out of boarding school because they said, "We can't afford it anymore." But his sisters were still kept in boarding schools. Then he had to do menial jobs and, every day, his anger was growing and growing. He carried it around for the rest of his life.

There was not enough consciousness in him to disidentify from the anger. The anger was using him. It lived in him as an energy field and it could come up any time.

He was as much a victim as I was, and I saw that.

After I had gone through the transformation and found inner peace, I could see that he was a victim of his own circumstances. There was not enough consciousness in him to see what he was doing.

And, immediately, forgiveness happened. I didn't even have to say, "I have to try to forgive."

It was as if he had never done anything to me because, basically, he hadn't. He wasn't even there. It was only the unconsciousness in him acting up.

And so, forgiveness happened naturally."

~Eckhart Tolle, from the video: The Nature of Forgiveness


There's so much here that is helpful in understanding natural forgiveness.

  1. It was only when a transformation happened inside Eckhart that he realized the truth of the situation. Until you get in touch with that deeper dimension of yourself, you can only see the story of what happened, where there is clearly someone to blame.

  2. From that place of deeper seeing, it became clear that his father was a victim of his own circumstances and conditioning. He saw how "the anger was using him," and that "he wasn't even there. It was only the unconsciousness in him acting up." With such clarity, forgiveness comes naturally in the form of compassion.

  3. Be still and notice what grievances you are still harboring. You don't have to do anything about it. Just notice, and let the wisdom within do its work.

4. See the Story

"When an injury happens, very often, there's a mental judgment of a situation. Actually, beyond that mental judgment, not that much happened.

Let's take a simple example. You arrange to meet somebody, or somebody says, "I'm going to help you move house. I'll be there at five o'clock to help you move, with my car." And he doesn't turn up. That just is as it is.

Now, your mind then comes in and says, "He let me down," or "He betrayed me," whatever the judgment of the mind is. Very often it is the judgment of the situation that creates the feeling of being injured.

If you can just be with, "Oh, he said he would come but he didn't turn up." That's a fact. Whatever your mind wants to add to it gives you the sense of injury, and strengthens the ego.

So just be with the pure facts.

"He betrayed me." "What did he do?" "He went off with another woman. He betrayed me." "Betrayed me" is an interpretation and, the more you have that thought, "He betrayed me," the more you feel the emotion that goes with that thought.

But who is it that feels that emotion? The egoic self feels betrayed, because who you deeply are and who you are in your essence doesn't feel betrayed.

The fact is he went off with another woman. That's what he did. "Is that all?" "Yea, that's what he did." You refrain from adding a story to it.

This comes easily when you're connected to who you truly are, then it's easy to let go of the unnecessary imposition of stories upon events. The event is neutral. The story interpretation of it is what creates the anguish."

~Eckhart Tolle, from the video: The Nature of Forgiveness


"When you're connected to who you truly are, it's easy to let go of the unnecessary imposition of stories upon events."

  1. Have you ever thought of events as being neutral? I remember Byron Katie's description of herself as simply "woman sitting on the bed, reading a book," and I'm reminded of her quote: "We only do three things in life: we sit, we stand, we lie horizontal. The rest is just a story.”

  2. Eckhart points out that any thoughts we have about what happened feed our feeling of being a victim. However, it is the egoic self, our false sense of self, that actually feels betrayed (or whatever emotion is arising concerning the situation).

  3. "So just be with the pure facts." Notice what your mind has added to the facts. What story have you created?

5. See the False Identity

"It could be that, in the past, when you were not conscious, you did things that you now recognize as not right. At the time you didn't know what you were doing because you were not conscious enough to act differently.

Now, you have awakened, and you can see a lot of your past as dysfunctional, unconscious action, inflicting suffering on yourself and others.

So, guilt can come up as you awaken and suddenly you see how unconscious you were. The guilt says, "I did that." But what does that mean when you say "I"? What is that "I"? "Who is "I"?

When you think that your mental, emotional conditioning is "I" then you are deluded. Your mental, emotional conditioning is not "I," it is the mental, emotional conditioning in you. It's a false identity. There is no real "I" there.

The only true "I" is the "I am." The essence of who you are is consciousness. That is the "I."

It's not that "I" did that. Human unconsciousness did that.

If you construct an "I" out of the human unconsciousness that you represented, that is an ego attempt to manufacture another mind-made identity for yourself.

So the ego will cling to the guilt and the associated action in the past with identity. "My identity." And that's how the ego can survive and torture you for years, saying, "I did that."

Find the true "I" and that will free you. Then, you will naturally forgive yourself without needing to take any action."

~Eckhart Tolle, from the video: How to Forgive Yourself of the Past


If you have been struggling with self-forgiveness, today's quote can give you the shift in perspective you need.

  1. What is it that you regret or feel guilty about that happened in the past? Take a moment to look at the event honestly, without the story interpretation you have added to it. Shake the shadow of guilt and find the pure facts.

  2. Eckhart enlightens us to the fact that it is unconsciousness itself - the mental, emotional conditioning within humanity as a whole - that is responsible. Not the confused, fearful, guilty self which you have been believing yourself to be.

  3. The way of forgiveness, ultimately, is to find the true "I." In fact, this discovery of who we truly are is at the core of all these wisdom quotes. It is the one thing that all these wise souls are pointing us to. And it is the solution to all the world's problems.

6. See the Real Forgiveness

"It's human unconsciousness playing itself out. There is no ultimate identity there, but the mind likes to manufacture a conceptual identity, not only for yourself but also for others.

And sometimes you do it to a whole group of people. This particular group of people, this is what they did and this is who they are. The mind loves to get in there and say, "These are the evil ones."

No, it's human unconsciousness, that's all.

And then you cannot forgive them because you've made an identity for them out of their unconsciousness. You're saying they are their unconsciousness.

Then forgiveness will be very hard. Okay, I have to try and forgive because I'm supposed to do that. They said such terrible things but I have to forgive them. It's not easy.

Real forgiveness happens when you realize that, ultimately, there's nothing to forgive. That's true forgiveness. There's nothing to forgive. And forgiveness happens naturally in this way, not as a conscious thing that you do, but a thing that happens by itself.

The false identity that you inflicted on yourself or another human being, or a group of human beings, that false conceptual identity falls away.

That is an essential part of being here as a conscious human being. A conscious human being does not have resentments anymore because what could you resent?

So all those things just fall away and there is the flowering of consciousness."

~Eckhart Tolle, from the video: How to Forgive Yourself of the Past


"To forgive is to overlook, or rather to look through. You look through the ego to the sanity that is in every human being as his or her essence.”

~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


"It's human unconsciousness playing itself out."

  1. What does this statement mean to you? Does it gloss over unforgivable acts, failing to assign blame where it's due? Does it negate holding people accountable for what they have done? Or is there a liberation, a relief, and a way to make sense of the insanity we hear about on a daily basis?

  2. Eckhart says that we can't forgive people because we create an identity for them out of their unconsciousness. In other words, if I believe that you are nothing more than your deluded thoughts and actions, I will judge and blame you, seeing only the conditioning. And all the while, I would be innocently adding more of that judgmental energy to the world, separating myself from Love.

  3. As the ego (the false sense of self) is exposed, and you discover yourself to be conscious awareness, you will begin to see yourself in everyone. Resentment then no longer has a leg to stand on, so there is no need for forgiveness. Or you could say that you are in a constant state of forgiveness, allowing all the energies of life to pass through you, no longer getting caught up in the play of human unconsciousness.

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