The challenge with forgiveness is that people tend to accept a superficial view of the energies they are working with. The transgression being forgiven started a thread of energy that is destructive if allowed to survive. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher and author, Thich Nhat Hanh, said that "Forgiveness is a constructive energy." To completely clear the harmful energy and replace it with a new, creative force, you must dive into deeper levels of forgiveness.
"I Forgive You"
This is the first level that most people think of, and stop at. What it implies is that you recognize that the person did something to hurt you and you will overlook that. This doesn't remove the energy. It just says that you are willing to forget the transgression.
To replace the hurtful energy with a more creative force, reframe what it is that you are forgiving. A more positive approach to this level of forgiveness is to think "I forgive the fact that you found yourself in a situation where this action was the best one you could choose in the moment." Once your forgiveness acknowledges that the person did the best they could in that moment, you can move into the next level of healing energy.
"I Forgive Myself"
This acknowledges your part as the catalyst in the transgression. You likely are thinking "I didn't do anything!" but the event would not have happened if you weren't involved. An unconscious energy in you participated in the event. While you didn't intend to provoke anything, this energy set up the situation to happen. A creative way to handle this part of the forgiveness is to say "I forgive myself for whatever part I played in this transgression."
"I Forgive the Human Condition"
As a species, humans have developed a variety of social behaviors that aren't always kind to other human beings. First and foremost, you and the other person are members of the human race and subject to the faults in social evolution. Selfishness, jealousy, and greed are all examples of behaviors that you must deal with, none of which are for a higher good. "I forgive that we both are faced with less than loving choices when we interact with other people" is the next level of forgiveness.
"I Forgive My Lack of Understanding"
If a friend hurts you, you're tempted to think "How could this happen?" Next is "How could this happen to me?" The ultimate thought as you take on the victim role is "How could God/the Oneness/the Universe allow this to happen if it is a good and just Supreme energy?" The pain and frustration you cause yourself out of this type of thinking is because of our inability to comprehend the workings of the Universe.
Perhaps the transgression has a higher purpose. You may not discover what it is in this lifetime. A way to transform this into creative energy is to think "I forgive myself and my frustrations at not being able to understand the purpose behind this action, but I believe that there is an element of the highest good in it."
Meditating on Forgiveness
Don't stop at saying "I forgive you" to your friend who has hurt you. Meditate on all of the depths of forgiveness and generate a creative energy in the world from the event. In meditation, picture yourself in front of your friend saying:
- I understand and forgive you.
- I understand and forgive myself.
- I understand and forgive our human nature.
- I forgive myself for not understanding the Higher Purpose completely.
This clears the air of the energy of the transgression and replaces it with the energy of humility and unconditional love.