The biggest principle surrounding any faith or spiritual practice is the idea of forgiveness. No matter what religion you may practice, they all stress the importance of forgiving others. The interesting thing about that is the fact that forgiveness is not so much about absolving others of their guilt but rather it’s about removing the seeds of anger and resentment from the heart. In other words, forgiveness does more good for you than the person you are forgiving.
Even before I started practicing Buddhism I was the type of person to forgive others easily. I’ve been hurt many times and pretty deeply by those who claim to love me. Each time it has happened I’ve been very willing to not only forgive but to offer a second chance to the person who has hurt me. There are some who have not repeated the mistakes they had made and there are others who continuously do.
As I get older I realize that there is a difference between forgiving and offering a second chance. You can forgive someone without giving them another opportunity at a relationship with you. And this goes for anyone, friends, family, or significant others. Not everyone deserves to be offered a second chance-or a third chance, or fourth chance. It doesn’t mean you don’t forgive them or that you wish them ill. It simply means you’re protecting yourself. This especially applies to someone who has caused irreparable damage to the relationship you had with them or someone who continues to hurt you in the same way. Those who cannot change their behavior in order to build a healthy relationship with you are not the type of people who deserve a second chance.
This lesson kind of sucks for me because it forces me to change how I deal with certain people. I almost feel like I have to be a different person, all hard and distant. My first reaction is always to reach out to others and be compassionate towards them but now I have this warning signal in the back of my mind buzzing like crazy, telling me not to do it. I know that being compassionate is going to get me hurt and taken advantage of in the end. Which is pretty unfortunate. A very sad lesson indeed but one I needed to learn.