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An Act of the Heart

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Forgiveness is simply and act of the heart. It is one of the greatest gifts of the spiritual life. For most people forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts of the spiritual life. It enables us to be released from the sorrows of the past. Forgiveness does not in any way justify or condone harmful actions. While you forgive, you may also say, “Never again will I knowingly allow this to happen.” You can resolve to sacrifice your own life to prevent further harm. Forgiveness does not mean you have to seek out or speak to those who cause you harm. You may choose never to see them again. Forgiveness is simply an act of the heart, a movement to let go of the pain, the resentment, the outrage that you have carried as a burden for so long. It is an easing of your own heart and an acknowledgement that, no matter how strongly you may condemn and have suffered from the evil deeds of another, you will not put another human being out of your heart. We have all been harmed, just as we have all at times harmed ourselves and others.For most people forgiveness is a process. When you have been deeply wounded, the work of forgiveness can take years. It will go through many stages — grief, rage, sorrow, fear, and confusion — …

Jack Kornfield is an author and teacher of Buddhist practice. Reprinted from A Path With Heart (Bantam).


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