Monday, May 10, 2010

Self-Forgiveness: Crossing Boundaries

"Self-forgiveness is a stance of hope, of freedom." Forgiving Yourself by Beverly Flannigan

Continuing consideration of the value and practice of self-forgiveness, author Beverly Flannigan writes about a topic few even think about, understand or practice. It is an important topic in most all spiritual traditions, certainly those who engage in actions for salvation, such as in Buddhism. She writes that "mistakes are harmful, rash, impulsive, foolish acts... a mistake is morally neutral... mistakes are errors." However she distinguishes mistakes or errors from transgressions, crossing boundaries as quite different. Unlike mistakes in which no harmful intention is made, transgressions often include malicious intent and are then not neutral. Most would think of those actions to be just wrong.

Transgressions typically cross over a number of boundaries such as moral, legal, interpersonal, or social. They are not morally neutral because the intent is to deprive, to harm, to impair or injure, usually for a self-centered reason on the part of the perpetrator. Many communities observe specific prohibitions regarding transgressions; these prohibitions may be called different things, such as precepts, commandments, rules, values, but their intent is similar or the same: to observe and regard commitments, and the resulting responsibilities made by groups and individuals to one another.
They may also observe the consequences.  For example, a legal transgression may be stealing, assault, battery or throwing your junk out on an isolated country road. Communities set forth moral rules regulating the conduct of persons for the benefit of the common good, and the good of individuals; we expect to abide by them, even if we don't agree with their premise.

On the other hand, perhaps the most common boundary crossed besides legal boundaries are moral. Moral transgressions "between people are special kinds of wrong doings; they are special because when two [or more] persons form a relationship [or community], their separate ideas of right and wrong combine to form a new construct of right and wrong, unique to those two people." All manner of constructs may be forged; the net result is a working blueprint of the social relationship between the individuals. For this reason, breaking or violating these agreements typically results in a strong sense of grief for the other party[parties]."When people transgress moral agreements with friends, spouses, beloveds, they cross the barriers of their own ideas about right and wrong by lying, withholding, taking resources, so as to typically deprive the other[s] of truth, or other goods and benefits." Violations are often ultimately of a spiritual nature.

"The pain of non-forgiveness is rooted in your mistakes, transgressions, evil intentions, your own shortcomings and limitations." To forgive yourself and others is a stance of hope; it is a newness of self which results from the freedom to start again.

No comments: