STEP SEVEN CONTINUED: Choose to forgive those who hurt us in the name of religion.
Instruction: Remember the boat.
There is a story in the Taoist tradition that can help us forgive. Imagine an empty boat that bumps into your boat on a river or stream. We probably wouldn’t be angry at the boat, because it had no control over where it was going and had no way of preventing the collision. If someone were inside the boat; however, we might become angry or enraged at such a careless act. In life, we often go about as empty boats not paying attention to where we are going or what we are doing. When we accidentally crash into someone, we might be surprised by their reaction, because we meant them no harm. We would probably feel a simple apology and perhaps an offer to pay for the damage should be all that is required, yet for some reason, the other person may rage at us and seem unwilling to forgive.
If we can give ourselves grace for mistakes and accidents when we acted like an empty boat, perhaps that knowledge can help us to forgive others when they act like an empty boat. Many people live unexamined lives and go about as empty, rudderless boats. They seem to float through life without the knowledge or the ability to connect to the power of the current or stream that would move them into deeper waters of truth, love, understanding, and purpose. When someone cuts us off in traffic, is cruel to us, makes fun of us, or dismisses our opinions as unimportant, let’s try to see them as rudderless, empty boats that need our understanding and love. If we can shift our perspective, we can more easily forgive and let go of the minor, day-to-day annoyances that would keep us empty and rudderless, too.
Today, try to see a situation from the perspective of the empty boat. It meant no harm. When someone crashes into your world unannounced, try to understand and forgive from a different perspective, namely that of the rudderless, unintended or unattended boat.
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