When it comes to pain in human experience, no one is excused.  There is a spectrum of pain and healing in life that runs the gamut from annoyance, to heartbreak, to atrocity. Each path to forgiveness is unique.  Your path will likely be framed by several variables:

Scope of Loss


Bic Pen    Ice Cream    Money   Time   Life Opportunity    Identity   A Partner   A Child   A Race or Culture




Immediately Replaceable         Some Substitute Eventually Available           Forever and Completely Irreplaceable


Our Choice/Control in the matter


Accidental                                     An assigned task in a chosen job                      Purposeful & Directed                           


Sense of Responsibility/Ownership


Nothing to do with you                              Mutually Responsible                    Your choice led to this                               

(Rear-end car crash)                               (We both forgot to lock             (Made a bad business decision)

                                                               the door and got robbed)   


Amount of Information


All understandings     Both party’s sides of the story      Understand ‘What happened’                Confusion



Perceived Intent of Offender


To serve your life directly     to serve others        to serve only him/herself        to harm intentionally


Exercise in Tonglen

To begin this practice, sit in a meditative posture, whether sitting on a floor comfortably, in a chair, or even lying down. Any position in which you can relax and focus on your thoughts will do.

  1. Close your eyes and begin to settle in. Feel your openness to the coming practice, and notice your thoughts peacefully as a distant stream, without attachment.

2.Begin to focus on your breath. Notice the little sensations that come with it: the rising of your chest, the tickling around your nose, the ebb and flow.

3. With your inhalations, imagine taking in heavy, hot air. With your exhalations, see if you feel cool, light air.

4. Breath in what negative feelings you have experienced as of late. Again, doing this without attachment, only notice the feelings as experiences and imagine them as you inhale.

5. On the exhales, breathe out a sense of well-being.

6. Again on the inhalations, take in negative emotions and suffering, recognizing them fully and authentically, welcoming them with willingness and non-attachment.

7. Breathe out healing, love, and wellness. Envision a pouring out of material well-being with your exhalations.

8. Now on your inhales, open your heart to the suffering of the world. Your friends and loved ones…all of the pain and hardships they have faced, you take it all into your chest as you breathe in, letting it dissolve into your being.

9. Breathe out cool light, envisioning a spring gushing with radiant healing air from a plentiful source. You are pouring your feelings of care, love, and compassion out into the world.