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Forgiving On Neutral Territory

I forgive you for being human

And everything else…

This being human is hard. To be human is to struggle, a struggle no one can avoid. But there are ways to escape the pains that we inflict on ourselves in life. So much of our struggle stems from our prejudices, our conscious and unconscious judgments of others. When we learn to see, really see the other as not “other”, but as the same, we can forgive them for anything, enabling us to love them unconditionally.

The world’s great spiritual traditions all teach forgiveness as the key to inner peace.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean condoning behavior or words that are hurtful. Forgiveness frees the individual from pain, the pain of resentment, anger, thoughts of revenge, hatred, biases, and so many other thoughts and feelings that separate us from our fellow humans.

The Fundamental Spiritual Truths

· You are worthy of Love and Belonging

· You are worthy of Respect and Acceptance

· Your true nature is fundamentally Good and Beautiful

· You are needed in helping to heal the world

These truths are the basis of forgiving on neutral territory because if you believe these truths about yourself, you must believe they are inherent in every human.

I first encountered the phrase “forgiving on neutral territory” when I read Houses of Healing by Robin Casarjian. It is a book used mainly in correctional facilities, but its perspectives on emotional healing and wellness are for the entire human race, whether imprisoned behind physical bars or self-imposed emotional ones.

Forgiving on neutral territory enables us to embrace all of humanity because we see all humans as inherently good and worthy of love and belonging.

We all have what many call the True Self, the self that is inherently good, loving, peaceful, and wise. When we see and acknowledge our own worthiness, and see that same worthiness in the other, we can stop judging them. We can have compassion for their unique struggles, just as we want compassion from others for our own struggles.

Why do we imprison ourselves?

We all also have a personality or ego. Part of the nature of the ego is that it is always judging. When we see someone, the ego goes into action, often without consciousness or awareness. We judge others by the way they look or act, or we judge them based on something we’ve heard about them, or their “kind”. Do you ever notice yourself judging people you don’t even know as you walk down the street, down the hallway at work, at the coffee shop? Of course you do; we all do.

When we meet someone, or merely encounter them in some way, within moments the ego has categorized this person as good or bad, safe or a threat, desirable or undesirable. Because the ego is always judging and comparing, it sets up a hierarchy that leaves us feeling either inferior or superior to others.

If you are always looking up at people or down at people, you are never looking anyone in the eye.

A common greeting among tribes of northern Natal in South Africa is “sawabona”. It literally means, “I see You”. It’s saying I respect and acknowledge you for who you are. Not just that I see your body or skin color, or clothes, or status in life, but I see You, with a capital “Y”. I see your True Self, your fundamental goodness and innocence.

If we all believed the fundamental truths about ourselves and about others, and reacted to each other according to these basic truths, we would have a joy-filled world indeed.

Having trouble forgiving on neutral territory? Try this refrain:

I forgive you for how you are dealing with this struggle of being human.

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