Why is it important to forgive? Emotional wounds and stress, inflicted by various insults, take a long and painful healing. However, it is in our power to forever part with them. We often spend our emotional strength for anger and hatred, resentment and envy. At the same time, you could live happily, joyfully and healthy - when you know how to forgive. Forgiveness - is a spiritual cleansing.

 

 

“That blooms what we cherish. This is the eternal law of nature.” Johann Goethe

Perception of forgiveness in philosophy and religion

This article contains excerpts from various publications, recollections of personal experiences and emotions. Its purpose - to analyze different points of view regarding the issue of forgiveness. Philosophers and theologians have long ago discussed the topic of forgiveness, and only recently, it became the research field of psychologists. Publications, devoted to the psychology of forgiveness have received widespread attention only in the last 15 years. Thinkers at different times tried to identify the conditions and motives for forgiveness, to clarify what prevents forgiveness and what constitutes and what does not constitute this phenomenon.

In ancient Chinese (for example, Lao Tzu) and Greek (Epictetus) philosophy there are references to forgiveness and revenge, which assert that forgiveness should be given on the basis of kindness and love, while vengeance is a fate of angry and immature individuals. Russian Orthodox teaching also emphasizes that forgiveness is most easily granted to those, who are simple-hearted. Thus, in the Christian understanding, the interpersonal forgiveness is usually accepted as divine forgiveness. Here, the forgiveness is defined as an act of will, assuming a reluctance and unwillingness of the hurt to punish and condemn their offenders, i.e. a manifestation of mercy and the rejection of revenge. Russian philosophers in the discussion of topic of forgiveness relied, as a rule, onto the Christian traditions: on the general forgiveness principles, teaching non-resistance to evil, universal love and humility.

Western philosophers emphasize the importance of recognizing the moral principles that give rise to forgiveness and compassion, based on an understanding of the offender by reason. For example, a French philosopher of the Renaissance Michel de Montaigne defines two types of forgiveness: the one that requires mental effort to forgive and one that is given without effort, "out of good heart". Attempts to understand what a forgiveness is, was undertaken by German thinkers of the XIX century. For example, Arthur Schopenhauer believed that forgiveness is equal to forgetting, while Friedrich Nietzsche has defined forgiveness primarily as a non-revenge.

Perception of forgiveness in contemporary psychology 

Along with philosophical discussions about the nature of forgiveness during the twentieth century, there appeared the initial references regarding this phenomenon in the works of foreign psychologists. For example, Viktor Frankl (an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist) was convinced that in the suffering and forgiveness an individual could find certain personal meaning. It is this position, on which many various psychologists and psychotherapists (R. Walsh, B. Jacobsen, R. Enright, E. Gassin) base their findings in relation to resentment overcoming solutions. Erich Fromm understood forgiveness as healing, where love, rather than the adoption of reprimand, can help. K. Izard drew attention to the role of the offender in the process of forgiveness. He emphasized the role of awareness and experience of guilt, which initiates the process of repentance as well as the necessity of request for forgiveness. According to D. Mabo, forgiveness from the perspective of the psychology of an individual - is a personal attribute. According to George Patton, forgiveness is not just any action, but it is a process of realization, during which an individual understands that there is very little difference between him and the offender. In other words, a person is trying to place himself in the offender’s shoes, understanding, that he can commit the exact same mistakes.

Forgiveness is an example of the moral act; therefore, there is a link between forgiveness and personal spiritual growth.

The scientific novelty of this study is the research of this topic through the satisfaction of moral principles. It was discovered that psychological content of forgiveness, as a condition for personal growth, includes the interaction between the two subjects, one of which is experiencing resentment, while the other – blame, emotionality, empathy, as well as targeted actions. Resentment is most often not worked out, but is suppressed. Insults are usually hidden in the depths of the subconscious and power of forgiveness is required in order to be free from suffering. The primary task of the offended party – is to realize the fact of the offence, which in turn leads to the appearance of anger, and then to the emotional upheaval. We experience pain and soften up. The abuser may also regret the offense and that feeling can change his or her life. Targeted action is an apology, expression of compassion for the wrongdoing, the desire to part away from guilt, i.e. the desire to be forgiven. Additionally, a number of psychological factors, affecting the moral satisfaction effect in forgiveness, as a condition of personal growth, such as contrition, tolerance, morality and self-development, were found.

The forgiveness issue originates in theology (H. Küng, Alexander Men, BV Nichiporov etc.), philosophy (Publius Syrus, Cicero, La Rochefoucauld, Spinoza, Nietzsche, and VS Solovyov, etc.), has been actively studied in ethics (A. Huseynov and others) and widely represented in the classical literature (Leo Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, etc.).

In Russian psychology there is a standpoint regarding forgiveness as an acceptance of another individual. In addition, the role of a mutual dialogue is noted, as well as empathy and altruistic motivation for forgiveness (N.Grishina, F. Vasilyuk, V. Krys'ko, E. Ilyini etc.).

It is worth mentioning, that the radical elimination of an insult requires an unconditional forgiveness, which is based on love and acceptance of others per se.

Understanding forgiveness as a process

In general, many psychologists define forgiveness as the process. The number of its constituent stages may be different, but the essence of description is similar.

At the first stage the hurt party passes through the realization of the fact of the offense; psychologists agree that at this stage, he or she is experiencing range of emotions, such as anger, pain, irritation ad confusion, where the relation to the offender undergoes substantial changes.

At the second stage, the offended understands that painful emotions and the situation in general have to be dealt with, and finally chooses to forgive following the inner debate of various motivations.

Empathy to the offender, according to some authors (R. Enright, J. Patton and others), facilitates the forgiveness process. For example, B. Cunningham talks about humility that opposes the vengeance and allows the acceptance of being imperfect. Reconciliation and restoration of positive balanced relations is possible following the granting of forgiveness (R. Murray, R. Enright etc.). Therefore P. Enright, as a separate step, determines the locating of sense in the emotional turmoil and granting forgiveness, as well as setting up new objectives, and realization of not only psychological and spiritual, but also physical benefits.

According to E. Gassin, in psychological research forgiveness is understood as active overcoming of negative emotions with respect to the offender, and development of positive orientation in relation to him or her. Robert Enright and his colleagues, adhering to this definition, noted that forgiveness is not a denial of self-righteousness in judgment, but an attempt to look at the offender with mercy, compassion and love, while it would seem that he should be deprived of the expression of these feelings towards him. According to works of Robert Enright and his colleagues, the definition of forgiveness becomes more complete if we recognize that it involves the affective, cognitive and behavioral spheres.

Affective sphere of an individual - a fast-paced and rapidly flowing emotional process of an explosive nature, which can provide active discharge, not subordinate to the conscious volitional control, therefore, emotions such as anger, hatred, resentment, sadness or contempt should be abandoned. In cognitive terms – forgiveness occurs upon the positive emotional experience, when the person ceases to condemn the offender and rejects the very idea of revenge. In addition, the behavioral aspect is shown as an immediate renouncing of revenge.

The offended party must have a sense of justice for the assessment of the fact of possible offense. Some philosophers adhere to a standpoint, that the abuser always acts deliberately, however this point of view seems to be rather limited. If a person has caused damage to another through negligence, it is the victim, who nevertheless decides whether a pardon should be granted. At that, it is not always entirely clear who is the offender and who the victim, since often the relationships between people are such, that they are mutually hurt one another.

Most philosophers and psychologists believe that the basis of forgiveness is a moral act, it therefore can not be based on immoral motives, and, besides the benefit of granting of forgiveness, they consider the other side of the coin: seeking and receiving forgiveness. Search for forgiveness is defined as motivation to take moral responsibility, while attempting to reach the restoration of interpersonal relationships following the fact of the mutual resentment, in which one party deserves the moral censure. In other words, a unified model of the forgiveness process is created, where both party’s standpoints – the offended, as well as the offender, are considered.

At first stage, there is a phase of understanding of the situation or the offense committed is allocated, possibly along with its negation. Then the offender is experiencing strong emotions and feelings, mostly guilt, shame and remorse, perhaps anger and rage in relation to his own actions or words. The abuser tries to put himself in the place of another, understands how much the hurt party may be suffering, feels compassion and empathy towards the offended, and, in the end, the offender decides to ask for forgiveness, following which forgiveness and reconciliation become possible (R. Enright, P. Murray and others.).

Interpersonal forgiveness 

In the context of interpersonal communication during the process of forgiveness, the mutual feedback principle is important, as well as understanding of an inner psychological status of the other partner and self-comprehension. The process of forgiveness on the part of both participants suggests a kind of "interpenetration" into the inner world of each other, and in connection with these changes - changing of relationship quality, emotions and guidelines.

Unconditional forgiveness can be defined an ideal model. However, in ordinary life, people often decide on the individual, situation, circumstances and type of offence they can forgive. Based on the mutual feedback principle, as well as the studies of Dr. T. Skripkina within the framework of psychology of confidence issues, psychologists have identified dynamic characteristics of forgiveness as an independent socio-psychological phenomenon. These characteristics include the measure, selectiveness, fractionality (by analogy with the phenomenon of trust) and activity. Activity of forgiveness is manifested in a complex process that requires understanding of the situation, the experience of different range of emotions, willpower decision-making, certain choices and actions. A measure of forgiveness suggests that it may be complete or partial (incomplete) and can be granted based on a moral evaluation of such act by the offended and his relationship to the offender. Total remission seems to us as indisputable while partial remission is given with certain conditions. Such conditions of the offended may form because of certain relationship to the offender (for example, forgiveness is granted on the basis that the offender experiences remorse for his guilt), or, based on motivations of the offended (for example, he or she understands that granting forgiveness is important in order to retain health and tranquility).

The same act of pardon can be performed by various number of actions, taking into account multiple circumstances. In it, the other attribute of forgiveness is manifested – partiality.

Such characteristic of forgiveness as selectivity, can be determined by an attitude toward the abuser and depend on the age, gender and social status. Since the process of forgiveness is reviewed from both – the side of someone, who expresses forgiveness, as well as the side of someone, who is seeking forgiveness, it can be asserted, that all of the features will be fully manifested when considering the side of the perpetrator. Activity of forgiveness search for the offender manifests in the same way as for the offended, in a complex process that involves understanding of the situation, experiencing range of emotions, changing attitude towards self and the hurt party, adoption of certain decisions and commission of certain actions. The measure of search for forgiveness is stipulated by conditions and motivations the offender chooses in order to gain forgiveness: will this measure be complete, when the offender, regardless of the circumstances, wishes to be forgiven, or incomplete, when the search for forgiveness is shaped by certain conditions. These conditions can be formed by the offender, who constructs them based on own point of view regarding the offence (for example, the offender seeks forgiveness from the offended with hope not to be blamed in return). Partiality and selectiveness of forgiveness search suggest that the offender seeks forgiveness from the offended, depending on the reference, that is, the subjective importance of the offended party’s opinion, as well as moral evaluation of the act. Scientific analysis portrait these characteristics as independent, however in real life, these features can only manifest in unity.

New method of conscious transformation 

Someone once said with the reference to forgiveness – “Forgiveness - is like an aroma that a flower gives when it is being tramped ...”.  In order to understand the process of forgiveness more subtly, sensually and intellectually, I suggest to be acquainted with a new spiritual and cosmological knowledge – Iissiidiology, which is based on an intuitive cognition method through the analysis of own psyche-mental states throughout the multidimensional structure of own Self-Consciousness. Iissiidiology author offers to aspire to superior levels of your Self-Consciousness through a process of assimilation of the proposed highly intelligent information in combination with highly sensuous sensibility.

This consciousness transformation methodology gradually leads individual from the primitive obsession with consumeristic survival problems over to inner aspirations for forgiveness, humility and cultivation of love, compassion, profound mental comprehension and sensual experience of personal responsibility. “Responsibility - is the ability to understand, that it is only you, who is solely responsible for all aspects of your own life, including any of its circumstances, development of some of various abilities and inclinations or lack thereof, any failures or victories that structure the scenarios, that you voluntarily chosen from a range of possible solutions” (Oris, “Immortality is accessible to anyone” book series, Volume 1, paragraph 1.0320). The absence of this understanding is the primary source for all possible interpersonal misunderstandings and conflicts. After all, any psycho-mental suppression (unresolved internal conflict, tensions) generates in Self-Consciousness the resistance and the new state of tensions, which in turn stimulates the manifestation of additional adverse reactions.

Therefore, the response to any existential circumstances should include deep and convincing argumentation within our own consciousness; argumentation, which can become the basis of positive motivation, naturally neutralizing rather than suppressing the tension factor, which in the first place arose due to the subjectively perceived issue or unfavorably unfolding situation. Then, following the verification of the validity and regularity of any ongoing events, you will not shift the responsibility over onto someone else, but rather, after profoundly determining of your own errors, will take all measures possible to ensure that all negativity and conflicts are resolved with minimal, or better yet, – no external harm. It is important not to get offended, but try to reestablish a relationship in any accessible way persistently up until the conflict situation is completely neutralized. It is also important, regardless of anything, to apologize for things you have possibly not even committed. Usually, people learn much easier and quicker how to deftly shift personal responsibility for their negative or destructive circumstances onto other people or some extenuating circumstances, blaming them for discomfort, miscalculations, errors, shortcomings, laziness, etc. Because it is much easier to live in any destructive circumstances (illness, fear or poverty), knowing that it is someone else’s fault (a neighbor, an official or an entire humankind), someone, on whom you can vent your anger and resentment. Someone, whom you could blame for all this, and, while exposing yourself as a victim of his or her irresponsibility, force them to experience heavy sense of guilt, from which you then will attempt to squeeze out everything possible for yourself.

Such standpoint is peculiar to our inferior levels of Self-Consciousness. Shifting the entire responsibility for your mistakes and discomfort onto others, you also automatically reset onto them the entire stock of your negativity, anger and inner emotional tension, which partly stem from the unconscious irritability and impotent anger, directed at own self for committing gaffes and errors. Such destructive relationships can lead to neither harmony, altruism, nor intellect, while directly orient and provoke Self-Consciousness for states that are even more negative. Hence, commence various diseases and failures, for which you curse your destiny, including everything and everyone around you, instead of noticing your own errors and recognizing your own mistakes.

It is well known that mental stress and negative reactions, occurring due to ignorance, lack of understanding and inability to forgive and logically explain the crisis situation, can greatly damage the telomeres - specific part of the human DNA, which are located on the edges of chromosomes and perform the protective functions. These impairments in cells lead to a reduction of cell’s lifetime, which in turn is reflected on the life expectancy of a human being, whose body becomes exposed to many destructive effects. We must deeply understand the responsibility not only for our own actions, but also for our words, thoughts and emotions that we relay to others. If certain ideas have already been verbally announced, you should clearly understand and foresee the reactions of others, and any unintended consequences this announcement can deliver. A thorough understanding of the iissiidiological knowledge cultivates in consciousness the discipline of thoughts and emotions, awareness of karma individual responsibility (cause-and-effect relationships) for every spoken word and for every negative thought. That is because throughout your eternal manifestation, all possible variations of your life’s development scenarios always exist, where everything you state with certainty or proclaim emotionally, is implemented in various forms not only with others, but with you as well.

Thus, gradually acquiring the missing experience and understanding that it is important to forgive or ask for forgiveness, an increasing degree of altruism and intellect within Self-Consciousness is cultivated, when you can refocus into scenarios, where other people exhibit the same higher level of responsibility towards you, as you manifest towards them. Altruism encourages people to remember the time in life when they, too, have forgiven, and the emotions they experienced. This profound understanding and aspiration should strengthen and deepen your positive self-esteem, harmonize relations with the outside world, and thus establish you in more qualitative levels of your mental and physical health. The true forgiveness - is the state of mind, when you have harmonized your relationship with someone to such an extent, that you can easily communicate, talk, embrace and think about him or her.

Forgiveness helps us to maintain such qualities as love, friendship, sociability and mutual understanding. Of course, it is possible to imagine a world without forgiveness and any of the related concepts. However, then, I suppose, it would constitute two completely different worlds: one with higher quality, where there would be no malice, despair or suffering (and where forgiveness would not be necessary per se), and the other, where anger and revenge would play a major role. If we did not forgive, we would cling to anger and hatred, and these emotions would drag us to additional suffering and incessant temptations of resentment and revenge. Without forgiveness, hatred, desire for revenge, and, in the worst case, vicious circles of mutual retaliation, would have no end. Everyone chooses their own future, attracting relevant circumstances of Life with their inner states of Self-Consciousness. The life of the human being - is the utilization of any opportunity to develop loving kindness, unconditional love and compassion, as well as the awareness of an individual responsibility for every word, every choice and every human life.

In any conflict situation, ask yourself - how would Love act now? The implication here is not a sexual, rather selfish love, and not an attachment of parents to their children. It is Love, which does not divide anyone into good or bad, equally manifesting not only to all people,  but also to all other forms of Self-Consciousness, in its strive to selflessly serving them. It is this Love, which never doubts or demands anything in return; this is Love, which is free from the manifestation of selfishness, hypocrisy, jealousy, and envy.

However, we, on the other hand, cling to and cherish these inferior manifestations, failing to comprehend that our very ambitions and egoism do not allow us to understand the true cause of all our misfortunes. It would seem that these manifestations pertain to very different areas of our lives; however, they are like the branches of a large tree, all of which have the same root.

Source of all problems – is grievances, accumulated over the years, unspoken claims, cherished revenge plans and the inability to forgive. Scientists have proven in the early twentieth century, that if a person remains in the state of despair, rage or anger for more than 5 minutes, his body experiences irreversible consequences. The departure out of these negative conditions is fostered by knowledge, which facilitates the comprehension of cultivating of forgiveness and humility principles, as well as deep understanding of the cause-effect relationships. For instance, within the framework of iissiidiological conception, certain methodology is proposed, which teaches to depart the negative states of Self-Consciousness within two minutes. That is because prolonged presence in these conditions triggers the descent into even less qualitative, thus less favorable existential conditions, resonantly attracting similar quality thoughts and emotions, which usually worsen the situation even farther.

Medical research shows that forgiveness can substantially strengthen the immune system and decrease blood pressure. People, who are more likely to forgive, rarely have headaches, back or stomach pain; moreover, they are less susceptible to problems, associated with depression and stress. People, who know how to forgive, have enhanced positive emotional state of Self-Consciousness, because forgiveness returns them control over their choices. Their reasoning becomes clear and conscious, because their mind is not clouded with emotions of hatred, anger or vengeance. Upon any interpersonal conflict, despite any possible quality opinion or solution you might offer while noticing others are still offended, nevertheless ask for their forgiveness, knowing that it is only your imperfection, which provoked them for such behavior, carefully analyze the manifestation of these adverse conditions, find the most robust motivations not to immense into negative emotions and try to harmonize the conflict situation.

Practically every one of us at some point in life is faced with iniquity, therefore it is important to live in such a way, that possible hatred, envy and condemnation, coming from others, could not disturb your inner balance and provoke vengeance, hatred and maliciousness. Only own self-command, formed with higher intelligence and love based on knowledge, can help to overcome the endless stream of vice, hatred, lies and hypocrisy. More qualitative perceptions regarding love and mercy, forgiveness and acceptance can provide strength and the ability to love those, who, as it may seem sometimes, deserve neither understanding, nor love.

Forgiveness frees us from many negative manifestations; it stops our inner battles (tensions), allows us to cease anger and accusations, and lets us know who we really are. With forgiveness in our hearts we can experience our true nature - love. Forgiveness allows us to feel united with one another and everything that surrounds us. Forgiveness has the power that can heal both - our inner and outer life; it can change our entire worldview and help us end the internal conflict that many of us experience on the daily basis. The world around us is changing, facilitating the growth of human consciousness, when qualitative achievements of a single person, immediately become a heritage of the entire humankind, and where a True Path, discovered by a single groundbreaker, readily opens up for others to follow. Thus, the more people will follow the road of forgiveness and love, the easier and wider it will become. Everything we do for ourselves in regards to our own spiritual growth, will affect everyone else, in turn helping them become better and kinder.

Imagine what a harmonious and joyful Life on our planet will become, if the Earth’s global community will part from the old, unforgiven grievances of selves, parents, neighbors and their destiny. Imagine what would happen if age-old battles for religious and racial differences, as well as past emotional wounds that we have inflicted on each other, will permanently cease!

Conclusion

Modern psychological theories and forgiveness process research suggest that forgiveness – is an important factor in mental and physical health, as well as the spiritual cultivation. The abused and the abuser – both benefit from sincere forgiveness bestowed with love and accepted with appreciation.

Professional psychologists will be able to help specific people and society as a whole, if they contribute to an understanding of what constitutes forgiveness from the standpoint of other branches of knowledge, Iissiidiology in particular.

Forgiveness – is a complex process that requires judgment and undertaking of certain decisions. Traditionally, there are four stages to forgiveness: discovery of the fact of offence, corresponding decision, various actions and results. Perceptions regarding these stages change the realization of forgiveness process, to own self, positive motivation characteristics, own emotional reactions and to each other. Analysis of forgiving mindset – number of qualitative perceptions regarding love and mercy, forgiveness and understanding, showed that the higher a person evaluates the installation for the necessity of forgiveness, the more often he chooses altruistic tendency, without expecting of any gratitude or rewards, by simply providing a joyful opportunity to provide his own life for the benefit of other people. On the other hand, gradual sinking towards the egocentric choices deprives an individual of any altruistic abilities, thus, shattering and destroying countless positive relationships, which are designed to support and sustain, filling life with a sensible meaning. Hence, altruistic objectives replenish us with a True life force, which is necessary for the implementation of our existence, providing kindness, understanding and harmony not only to our own environment and the surrounding world, but also to infinite Life of the entire Cosmos.

 

 

 

Author: Gleymilissiya

 

 

 

Translated by Dmitry Gerasimov

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