The Logic of Spirituality – Forgiveness and Acceptance

On Sunday I was at a gathering where the speaker talked about forgiveness.  It was a very good speech and there were a number of good points made about the idea of forgiveness.  During the discussion I made a point that connected forgiveness and acceptance – which will be the subject of today’s post.



I have yet to write a post for this site that specifically addresses forgiveness.  However we have touched on it in several posts.  I promise to write a post on forgiveness soon.  For now let’s take a quick look at forgiveness.


There are a few interesting misnomers about forgiveness.  One is that if we forgive someone then they are supposed to do something for us.  When we expect something back because we are forgiving, then we are not being in the moment.  Any action we take where we have an attachment or expectation of a specific outcome will always cause us sadness and pain.


An interesting thing about forgiving is that most of the time we are actually forgiving ourselves.  I have found this to be particularly true.  As I have learned to forgive other people I have also learned to forgive myself.  In forgiving myself I am then much more able to forgive others.  This is a very positive circle of self improvement and empowerment.


Finally, many of us think that if we forgive something that means we agree with it.  This idea came up at Sunday’s discussion.  The specific idea was that one person said they could never forgive Hitler.  The point was made that there is a difference between forgiving and condoning.  We must learn to forgive but not condone.



To me, acceptance is another way of forgiving.  I wrote a bit about this in the earlier post titled “I Accept It – But I Don’t Like It”.  There are similarities here to the previous idea of the difference between forgiving and condoning.


As far as I am concerned, acceptance is the same thing as unconditional love.  We use the word “love” for far too many things.  When I use the word love I usually clarify what I am saying by using the term unconditional love.  By saying this I am making “love” a specific action, not an emotion.


The logic

Here is the spiritual logical link between these two terms.  When I am practicing forgiveness then I am also loving unconditionally.  If am not able to forgive someone then I am also putting conditions on the way I love them.  I am saying that you did something for which I cannot forgive.  I can only love you if you do something to change whatever it is for which I cannot forgive you.


This is actually a very large condition – I cannot love someone when I cannot forgive them.  In order to be forgiving we must love unconditionally.  In order to love unconditionally we must be forgiving.


Extra credit

Today’s extra credit idea is about forgiving ourselves.  When we cannot forgive someone else for something it usually is because we cannot forgive ourselves for the same thing.  Think about it.  Please submit a comment if you want to discuss it further.


Until tomorrow –


Es kava turen hai

We work towards an identical goal.




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4 Responses to The Logic of Spirituality – Forgiveness and Acceptance

  1. Thank-you for writing this blog. I teach about forgiveness and have seen that there are many misperceptions about what forgiveness really means. So often people feel that they are letting someone off the hook if they forgive someone. When i hear comments like that I know people are not understanding the meaning of forgiveness. Forgiveness is about our own inner healing, letting go of our own emotional baggage so we can see a situation differently, not through the eyes of anger, but from a place of understanding. Our outer actions may be the same but our inner motivations about why we are doing what we are doing are different. Forgiveness is a voluntary act in which we choose to see a situation not through the eyes of anger or revenge but through understanding.
    Eileen Borris. Author of “Finding Forgivness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness.

  2. Ruth says:

    I had the “pleasure” of experiencing what you are talking about regarding the extra credit and forgiveness. Yes, a series of helpful suggestions lead to a land mine of hot buttons around the advice my husband was giving me. A ten minute walk around the neighborhood after storming out in a huff and then into an Indian restaurant occurred. When the familiar owner asked how I was doing, instead of masking it I said upset and when both the waiters asked me if the food was too spicy I said it did a great job of hiding the tears that I brought with me. When the offending party called me to find out where I was on my cell phone I had to force myself to talk without crying. An hour and a half later, I’m able to forgive myself for flying off the handle at my beloved who was only trying to be helpful and be aware of what tests my need for forgiveness and be thankful I am in a relationship where these lessons of forgiveness can be learned quickly.

  3. noahnow says:

    Eileen –

    Thanks for the gracious comment. I have had many pitfalls and plenty of mistakes on my road to understanding forgiveness. One of the hardest things has been letting go of my baggage. With perseverance I now have much less than I used to have – but I still am holding on to some things. However, with less baggage it does become much easier to forgive because you recognize that the other person still is holding tight to the baggage that is the root cause of the situation.

    Hope to hear from you again soon.


  4. noahnow says:

    Ruth –

    You win the grand prize for the day! Thanks for the comment.

    Also, pat yourself on the back for making progress today. Many times we get so involved in the “problem” that we do not recognize that we have made progress as we have worked our way through it. I attempt to extend encouragement in case the other person has not seen their progress.

    BTW – your comment has inspired tomorrow’s post. I hope that post is helpful as well.


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