Tuesday, 30 September 2014

About forgiveness

Shambhala sign
Last Sunday I went to the BrightNow festival at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam. It was the last day of this Shambhala festival, which I believe took place for the very first time in Amsterdam. I am not a Shambhalian buddhist, but Miksang contemplative photography has its roots in this tradition so I decided to join them for a day.
lady with bag
I joined the workshop 'The strength of Forgiveness' which was led by lawyer Wikke Monster. She has been a lawyer for about 20 years and lately she has been missing something in jurisdiction: the element of forgiveness. She has been reading a lot about it and working with clients in various cases.
She started to explain that there are two reasons to forgive:

  1. to free yourself from the pain and anger caused by the perpetrator. This is about restoring your own humanity and breaking the spiral of violence or retaliation cycle, independent of what the perpetrator wants (does he/she show remorse or not).
  2. the positive effect it has on your health: it decreases anger, increases hope, strengthens your self confidence and much more.

reflection of people in glass
The retaliation cycle is opposite the forgiveness cycle of Tutu and the latter consists of four steps:

  1. telling the story
  2. embracing the pain
  3. forgiving the other
  4. ending or renewing the relationship

rows of cups
Forgiving is NOT: forgetting, tolerating, a trick, making up excuses. You don't forgive to please somebody else, you don't even need the other person. You don't forgive out of compassion for the other or for sentimental reasons and it also is not a matter of seconds. To actually forgive somebody is a process which make take a while.
people in the audience
So then, what is forgiveness? There are a few definitions or descriptions:
  • Humanization of both the victim and the perpetrator.
  • Everyone is essentially good.
  • We condemn the act but not the person behind the act.
leaf on a red surface
Lawyer Wikke Monster had invited a man over whose daughter was brutally murdered a few years ago. In a few words he told us the horrible story. He was a little bewildered with the word 'forgiveness', he didn't exactly know what that meant. But he could explain to us that he felt no hate towards the murderer and that he felt totally free of him, he lived his own life. So, we guessed in that sense he had forgiven the murderer.
The man also made a distinction between forgiveness towards his daughter or towards himself. He could only forgive the murderer of what he had done to himself (namely robbing him of his daughter), but the actual murder could only be forgiven by the daughter, because that was an act done to her.
orange vase
I thought this was an amazing story and so did all the other participants. Imagine the impact! And there I was just thinking about an ex-boyfriend and letting go of my anger towards him. My story is so insignificant to what I had just heard. But still, I felt that the next step in my process is to forgive my ex of what he done to me.
red vase and its shadow
Question only is: how do I do that? I can see it is not about forgetting, because that would only mean I would push away my emotions and putting them away in a dark corner of my being. As I see it now, forgiving is about going through all the emotions, accepting them for what they are, accepting myself for having them and as time goes by and the emotions fade away seeing the qualities of my ex. Just like the fourfold road of Tutu. And after that comes the ending or renewal of the relationship. To me it has already ended, but maybe a friendship might arise. Time will only tell.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Leafs and raindrops

red and green leafs on the street
red and green leafs on the street
Oh, I love this time of year with all the beautiful colours, textures and scents. I must admit the changing of the leafs started rather early this year, but we don't have any control over nature (yet, I hope it stays that way) so there is nothing we can do about it when the time comes.
leaf with raindrops on hood of black car
leaf and raindrops on the hood of a black car
I went out to do some groceries last Friday and by the looks of it, it had just rained. The raindrops were still on the cars and together with the leafs that had fallen down they were a spectacular sight!
leaf on a black car
leaf on a black car
You can see by the reflection on the cars that the trees are not bare yet, they still have lots of leafs on them. 
leaf on a grey car
leaf on a grey car
I enjoyed watching the raindrops on the hoods of the cars. On some hoods the drops had left tracks or maybe those were from the leafs sliding down? 
red leaf on a black car with reflection of a tree
red leaf on a black car with the reflection of a tree
pink leaf on tiled floor
pink leaf on tiled floor
This stopped me dead in my tracks: this dried up pink leaf on a tiled floor in front of somebodies house. This is just so gorgeous! Something simple like this makes me totally happy.
leaf on frond windshield
leaf on front windshield 
pink leaf on black car with reflection of windows
pink leaf on black car with reflection of windows
row of red leafs on front hood of a black car
row of red leafs on front hood of a black car
two leafs with lots of raindrops
two leafs with lots of raindrops
I hope you enjoy these images too and start to see things like this in your own street!