ASK ABDI: IS UNDERSTANDING ENOUGH IN FORGIVING A VIOLENT ACT?

QUESTION: I want to confirm something that I read in your book, Shadows on the Path: is it true that understanding and even partly being able to forgive overwhelming violent impact doesn’t end the story? That even when things can be seen from a larger perspective, and hence be somehow integrated in the picture from a so-called karmic point of view, there still might be the need for more healing? That one’s relationships mirror their true state of affairs?

ANSWER: You are correct in what you say. We can mentally understand and even forgive the past, but certain issues can still play out in our lives. Most of our healing, including the understanding of karmic issues, are mental exercises. This is not to put such things down, they are all important and can be helpful. But there is a need for deeper examination, healing, and integration of these issues. The areas that have not been healed do play out in the patterns of our relationships, especially intimate ones. For example, if one was raised in a narcissistic environment where one was expected to emotionally caretake the parents, as an adult one would consistently find oneself in the same situation with friends and lovers.

It takes hard work to break these patterns, but they can be broken. Being true to oneself is difficult business: we first have to shed all of the learned falseness, and then have the courage to honor the true being we find beneath the masks.