I was asked recently about forgiveness, both forgiveness of others and of the self. What might the Andean mystical tradition say about that? I had never thought about this topic before in relation to the tradition, and I had never received a teaching from a paqo about it. But as I contemplated this question, I came to see a possible Andean mystical approach to forgiveness.
Of course, we start with our energy practices. Our core practice is saminchakuy: working on the self to release any hucha, including the heaviness of feeling betrayed, wronged, hurt, rejected, or whatever emotion you carry about the situation that has caused you to discern the need for forgiveness. No matter how culpable the other person may be, as paqos we always start with ourselves. So you would seek to master your own energy body and diffuse the heaviness of your own emotions.
Another go-to practice is hucha miqhuy. This is the deep cleaning not only of your own hucha, but of the relational hucha you are feeling between yourself and the other person. You can clean that person’s poq’po using hucha miqhuy, but I see the power of hucha miqhuy more about relational energy—the flow of energy between yourself and the other—so you would focus on digesting the flow going from yourself to the other: the hurt, disruption, shutting down or cutting off in your ayni flow with the other. It is your own perception of the relationship that is imprinted in this betwixt and between energy, so take responsibility for it by cleansing it of its heaviness.
Understanding is always a plus, so there is a place for the analytic, especially since contemplation and understanding can help shift your emotions. They can help transform how you are looking at the situation and your expectations of what needs to happen for you to either feel forgiven or to sincerely forgive someone else.
First, focus on the ayni. Although you can only take responsibility for your half of the relationship, by keeping your focus on ayni you will come to realize that forgiveness is not chhalay: it is not transactional. It is not so much about you and the other as it is about yourself, especially if you are being transactional. If you have expectations of what must happen—a tit for tat—before forgiveness occurs, then you are restricting the possibilities of what can occur. You might be keeping these possibilities limited and small. As so many psychologists tell us, forgiveness is not dependent on atonement by the person whom you feel has harmed you. It’s not even about that person making amends. No matter how wronged you feel, you are not judge and jury in relation to the other person. Well, perhaps you are if you are operating only at the level of the material world. But in terms of the spiritual or metaphysical realms, forgiveness is a change in yourself, not any kind of compensatory action by the other person. Why is this so? Because, according to so many philosophers, forgiveness is an act of grace—for the self and the other. Grace is not something that is earned or deserved. It is not something you bestow on the other, some kind of absolution. It is a state of being you cultivate within yourself that creates space for release and completion. It is a choice about your preference for the condition of your own inner landscape. Grace is the condition through which you will discover your own power of munay: that your love—or forgiveness—is an energy subject to your will.
By cultivating your munay, you will be able to move to the inner state of being that is forgiveness as defined by so many modern health experts and ancient widsom-keepers: “Forgiveness is a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” So forgiveness starts with making a choice. But you can’t fool yourself. You cannot pretend, through actions or words, that you have forgiven when you are really still harboring resentment. Qaway is the capacity to see reality as it really is. The reality may be that you have not yet reached the point of genuine forgiveness. No problem. Use your tools to continue working on your energy, because it’s healthier at all levels to keep your heaviness conscious and work on it then to drive it underground or hide it from yourself.
Forgiveness also is the restoration of a sense of inner peace. You can’t change the past, and surely not the reality of the pain that caused you to reject the other person or be rejected by him or her, but the universe provides you a clean slate in every moment. The word forgiveness means “to give,” not “to get.” It is something you give yourself. Like munay, it is a choice. Although reaching a state of genuine forgiveness may take time, you only have to practice in this moment, and the next moment, and the one after that. In your progression, you likely will experience a lessening of emotional intensity and a gradual lifting of heaviness. You may move from loathing to resentment, then to regret, and to disappointment, and to sadness. Eventually you may feel an acceptance of the reality of the situation that is stripped of the cloak of emotion: what happened happened.
Every small step, every slight shift in your energy will eventually result in the release of your heaviness and the restoration of your equilibrium. As Confucius said, “To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.” You may always have the memory, but you can—through your energy work and conscious choice-making—reframe that memory. By doing both, you deflate the heavy power of the memory of the past wrong and re-inflate it with life-affirming sami. Sami, among its many meanings, refers to the essence of a thing. Feeling wronged and holding a grudge restricts your energy and dims your essence. Forgiveness opens you back up, allowing your full essence to flow freely again.