As humans we all realize that forgiveness is difficult. Am I simply stating the obvious with this lesson? Probably, but let’s dig a little deeper.
Thailand is a Buddhist country. Buddhist teachings encourage us to walk the middle path, let go of that which causes suffering, practice loving-kindness and compassion towards others, and live a life of conscious awareness. At the heart of these teachings lies forgiveness—forgiveness of oneself and others.
I have experienced my share of heartache—before, during and after my time in Thailand. But gradually, over the nine years I spent in Bangkok, the Buddhist culture taught me that I must first practice forgiveness of and compassion towards myself. Then, maybe, I could start forgiving others.
I worked with some difficult people in Thailand. One or two of them resorted to very shoddy tactics that were designed to crush me. For a while I felt victimized and vengeful but I soon learned that these feelings were destroying me. I had to find a way out of that dark labyrinth.
Through a good friend I found my way to a silent meditation retreat and embarked on an arduous journey—one that involved looking deep inside. I gained some insight and I was gradually able to develop compassion—for myself and then for others I felt had wronged me. This ‘letting-go’ of negative, angry thinking freed me and allowed me to go forward in happiness.
That said, forgiveness is hard and always will be. Even though I know that forgiving others will release me from a downward spiral, I still face challenges when the world appears to be conspiring against me. This is especially true when it comes to family or close friends.
Letting go and finding forgiveness in your heart is an ‘inside’ job and an ongoing challenge. I’m grateful that my time in Thailand gave me the tools to work on myself from day to day and moment to moment.