“Man learns through experience, and the spiritual path is full of different kinds of experiences. He will encounter many difficulties and obstacles, and they are the very experiences he needs to encourage and complete the cleansing process,” Sai Baba.
The virtue of forgiveness is the act and art of cleansing the mind and the soul. After negative experiences, the mind leaves a trail of neural pathways in the brain that form the negative feelings and emotions of fear, grief, guilt, blame, and shame. The mind is always of the alert through this subconscious anxiety, watching for triggers that can lead it back to these feelings so they can be resolved. The key is to resolve them by linking them back to the positive emotions of acceptance and forgiveness. Forgiveness is an act of love, mainly for the self but also for others.
Forgiveness is the beginning of change. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent,” Martin Luther King, Jr. The goal of forgiveness is freedom from anxiety, freedom to live joyfully in the present, freedom to accept that we are a beautiful bisexual soul in peace with ourselves and the other important people in our lives. So how do we actually and completely forgive? How do we rid our minds of these thoughts and feelings that may have haunted us for decades? We do not ignore and suppress the mind; we use its main function, judgement or free will, but we do it with our heart or spirit in support of the mind.
The first step in developing the virtue of forgiveness is to forgive the self. In reality there is no past or future; there is only the present. The past only exists in our mind, so we have to use the mind to heal the mind. We simply recognize the feeling, seek the root of the feeling, and then employ judgement with compassion and understanding for our self. We accept what happened, recognize that we did our best under the circumstances, look at the positive things we have learned from the experience, and forgive ourselves. Here is where the heart comes in. Forgiveness is not a rational process but an act of love. We allow our heart or spirit to embrace the experience and then give our self a warm hug until the feeling becomes warm and peaceful. We have now established a new link to that pathway that we can choose to follow whenever a trigger has activated it. We can use our heart-based judgement in a positive sense to judge the memory and the trigger for what it is and choose to follow the positive pathway back to love of self. By repeating this process over and over again we eventually establish a strong neural pathway to self-love.
The next step is to forgive others and to allow others to forgive us. Once we have forgiven ourselves for the situation, we are free, but this important relationship is still fractured. We take the initiative and approach the other person for cleansing of the relationship. This can be difficult because of the negative bond that has been established and strengthened by powerful negative feelings from both parties. Within this negative bond there is a need for blame. Blame is an extremely powerful negative feeling that can turn from sadness to anger. In reality there is no blame. There was only a situation in which each individual did what they had to do because they felt that was the only alternative given the situation.
We can go to the person and describe our experience of self-forgiveness, thereby opening the doorway to letting them approach the situation positively. We do not accept any blame; we do not apologize, and we do not defend ourselves. We are not responsible for their feelings, and we are really no longer responsible for the events that happened. That is all in the past. We merely acknowledge that these things have happened and that we wish to forget the past and live in the present. If they wish to play the name, blame and shame game, we simply take the role of an active listener. We acknowledge and affirm their feelings but we do not share in owning them. When they have expressed their thoughts and hurts, we can reassure them of our love for them, and our desire to have a good relationship. If they choose to stay in anger and fear of the past, we can choose to walk away and let them resolve their own issues. We are now both free of the negative bond and can live in the present free of the chains of the past. We also free them from the bond and our complicity in it.
So what does this have to do with bisexuality? Here are my five points on the virtue of forgiveness:
- As bisexuals, we are major players in the name, blame, and shame game. I do not remember the number of times I said it is all my fault and was too ashamed to look myself in the mirror. These feeling are rooted deeply in our childhood and hold strong feelings of disappointing our parents because of our desires and behaviors. It is time to go back in the child within and give him or her a great big hug and say how proud we are of their courage to be who they were and do what they did.
- As bisexuals we have often started off in a heterosexual relationship and been unable to control our same-sex impulses and desires. This is natural. This is who we are. There is no need to have shame over these desires. We recognize the shame for what it is and forgive ourselves.
- These desires have often led to having sexual experiences outside the relationship. This may cause us to feel extreme guilt and shame. We have to be compassionate with ourselves and recognize the powerful sources of these desires and feelings. We have to also realize that we will continue to have these desires for the rest of our lives. The key is truth and honesty. We first forgive ourselves for having these desires. They are what they are. There is no need for guilt. We have to forgive ourselves.
- At some point we will have to disclose our desires and actions to our heterosexual partners. We do not apologize for them or ask for forgiveness. We simply acknowledge them and the subsequent confusion and grief that may come from the partner. We become active listeners letting them ask their questions and confirming their feelings. We then focus on the relationship and see if both parties still want to maintain it and what changes that may involve. If we or the partner choose to leave the relationship, we do so expressing our love for them, wishing them the best and offering to support them in any way we can.
- We move on without guilt or shame. We may seek new relationships but we are always honest with potential new partners about our bisexuality showing no remorse or guilt. It is who we are and we ask the new partner to accept us just the way we are.
We remember that we are spiritual human beings, and we act and make decisions from the heart. Our sexuality is the desire of the heart to connect with people who can accept and love us just the way we are without shame, blame or guilt.