Forgiveness and Grace
As a dam blocks the flow of a river, anger blocks connection to grace. Forgiveness removes the dam of anger, restoring the flow of grace.
One of the most moving and inspirational illustrations of the power of forgiveness is the story Jesus' life and death. For some people, the most painful part of this story was not the crucifixion, but that his friends and devoted disciples abandoned him, leaving him to suffer alone. Even, Peter, his best friend and his "Rock" denied him three times. Although they abandoned him, Jesus forgave them, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) The power of grace through forgiveness assuages pain and suffering.
"They know not what they do." Jesus understood people. He realized that each person is shaped and fashioned by their upbringing and their history. Were Jesus alive today, he might also been informed of their evolutionary past.
One of the most powerful ways to cultivate forgiveness is to learn about our deep past through The Great Story, the cosmic story of our journey from stardust to single cells to reptiles to mammals to humans. The awareness of our essential, evolving human nature can help you be more forgiving. When you see another person's lizard brain causing them to act in a hurtful way, forgiveness becomes easy.
An evolutionary worldview may not be necessary for you to find forgiveness, it just makes it a WHOLE LOT EASIER.
For some people, their most painful wounds have been healed by the forgiveness made possible through understanding of evolutionary psychology. No drugs, no prayer, no talk therapy, no friend's solace, no nothing else was as healing as the pure white light of awareness.
Grace is AWARENESS. It is the flowering of this awareness that quenches anger, fear, and loneliness, transforming them into forgiveness, courage, and communion.
This awareness allows us to be more loving.
"Love makes us ready to pay for the sins of others," writes to Archimandrite Dionysios, a Greek Orthodox spiritual leader. One definition of sin is to miss the mark, to be ignorant, or to lack understanding. This means that to love someone, occasionally you must pay for their lack of understanding. For example, if someone you love screams at you in rage, you may occasionally pay for their rage, even as you know that you are not the source of their rage. Instead, acknowledge that the source of their rage stems from false understanding which leads to emotions gone awry. This false understanding is their sin. And by loving this person, despite their lack of understanding, you allow this person to experience divine love.
To pay for the sins of others does not mean that you condone offensive behaviors. It only means that you understand their origin and so help the other person understand. Paradoxically, the more you accept others, the more they will understand and flow into grace.