Heart Opening Moments

BLOG of a Spiritual Stripper

A Follow-up on Forgiveness

The Little Soul and the Sun

The Little Soul and the Sun (A Children's Parable by Neale Donald Walsch) illustrates the purpose of experiencing darkness in order to find the light.

A few days ago I got an email from a reader of my blog. Seemingly confused, he wanted to clarify what he had read in the post A Forgive-ful Christmas. At first I laughed to myself because forgiveness is such a simply yet difficult concept that most of us spend our lifetime digging away the rough carbon to find the real diamond. Like formation of a diamond, we too can find our inner diamond by not shying away from heat and pressure but instead using them to find our true glow.

His request was simple: “Question please… In your writings you mention that during your martial arts, you are aggressive, attacking, and defending, yet at the end you BOW to your opponent as a means to say [thank you] for what has happened, could you please help [me] understand this logic? I am [in] sales and I go hard for the deals and sometimes, I don’t have a closure. I love your writing around this, I just don’t fully understand the complete meaning. Thanks, J.”

My answer might be slightly complex so I will do my best to stay true to my heart by sharing the heat and pressure of my own experience.

My first conscious experience of forgiveness was during a personal-development seminar with Christopher Howard. On stage, Christ illustrated a beautiful children’s parable called The Little Soul and The Sun. This story began with the Little Soul found that he is the Light. But he also wanted to experience himself being the Light. The only problem was there were no easy ways to experience himself when “there is nothing but the Light.” God had a wonderful idea to allow the Little Soul to experience being the Light by the use of darkness. “Then God explained that, in order to experience anything at all, the exact opposite of it will appear … You could not know Warm without Cold, Up without Down, Fast without Slow.” Little Soul then selected a special part of the Light to experience called Forgiveness but didn’t know how the simulation would take place. So the Friendly Soul jumped up to volunteer as darkness and do something really bad to the Little Soul on earth so the Little Soul can experience himself as Forgiveness. Initially the Little Soul couldn’t understand why the Friendly Soul would become dark to do something against his true nature as the Light to help the Little Soul. ” ‘Simple,’ the Friendly Soul said. ‘I would do it because I love you.’ “

With no conscious understanding of what had hit me, I bursted into tears before Christ can finish the whole story.

The next conscious experience of forgiveness I can remember took place during a conversation with a friend named Sandra. She confessed to me she had so much stored up anger and sometimes she can feel her chest caving in. She was dealing with a divorce where her husband left her for a younger woman. The anger was consuming her and whenever a younger beautiful woman walked by she would switch to her devil eyes glared with judgment. At the same time I was feeling guilty because my loving nature had caused some people to believe that the love I gave was more than platonic and I didn’t understand love enough to communicate it otherwise. And that became the catalyst that drove one couple to the edge of divorce where I was perceived as the angel who helped them to face therapy turned into the devil who nearly broke their marriage. The circumstance was the husband contemplated getting a divorce and he conversed with me intimately about his life-long feelings whereas the wife believed his emotional intimacy with me was an affair she cannot forgive and it broke her heart.

As Sandra and I opened up to each other played the parts of the wife and the other woman, we were able to see the hidden suffering in each other’s story. For Sandra her marriage was who she was. When she got married in her early 20s she had quit her job to take care of the house and a new baby. When the child grew up and left for college she no longer remembered who she was before her marriage. She spent her time cooking and cleaning while feeling more and more empty. The passion between her and her husband was gone and she projected onto him the anger she felt for herself. Secretly she wished she had done something more with her life. She was not satisfied being only the mother and the house-wife. She was mad at herself for giving up her career for the family. She eventually opened up to me and spoke responsibly, “in a way I’ve always dreamt escaping this jail I built for myself, now after the divorce I am finally free!” A year later after our conversation she had stopped blaming her ex for her dissatisfaction in life and re-entered the nursing program and became a nurse at the age of 50.

As for me, I saw the pain Sandra had to go though and I felt an intense sympathy for the wife who accused me of an affair and I forgave her for attacking me. In the past few years I’m slowing forgiving myself for being the Love that I am as I’m learning to communicate the difference between romantic love and platonic love. Because of the wife’s upset to my emotional intimacy with her husband, I am now protecting myself by my certifications in the art of psychological therapy occasionally working as a life-skills coach.

The third experience I’m sharing is of good humor. Similar to the post A Forgive-ful Christmas I was told to throw a full punch in martial arts training. As you know in martial arts one of us pretends to be the attacker so the other partner can learn the self-defense technique. Only this time I couldn’t throw a punch into the gut of a friend who I love very much. I didn’t want to inflict pain in cause the punch was not blocked. “Stop!” Sensei yelled out, “you must attack like you are really going to hit her.” I told him I didn’t want to as tears filled up my eyes. Sensei took us both aside and spoke in a softer tone, “if you only throw soft punches then she will never be able to learn. If she doesn’t move in time and gets hit, the next time she knows to move faster. Now train!” We ended up training with tears in our eyes. Nowadays I don’t take it easy on her and whenever we do hurt each other we scream out “ouch!” and after that we giggle together.

Looking back, I have learned so much from my past experience. I don’t pretend to be the expert in forgiveness but I have certainly noticed this: whenever I feel the emotions completely from a painful experience without getting stuck in the mode to blame the other, I move forward with a greater understanding beyond circumstances to kick-start my psychological healing. Finally I naturally see the good in the painful experience and always end up thanking the person for giving me the gift of heat and pressure so I can find my true glow. Did you notice the words in “for giving me the gift” contains forgive? Hmm, interesting…

February 16, 2011 - Posted by | Aikido Wisdom, Emotional Freedom, Inner Growth, love, Self Realization, Tears | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Flo,

    Very few people on this earth ever capture the feelings and the emotional realm around an issue better than you. Your connection to the issue, and steps to discover the solutions only found the deepness of your heart helps others find similar outcomes,

    thank you,

    Comment by John Gormally | February 16, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes flo, each time we overcome we grow, each time however we regress back, we need to learn to forgive ourselves and move beyond the pain

      Comment by John gormally | February 17, 2011 | Reply

      • beautifully said. forgiveness of the self is the hardest.

        Comment by Flo Li | February 17, 2011 | Reply

  2. Wow, beautiful yet 很复杂。 Is it enough to say we grow with challenge or that without opposition we do not grow? The intensity of winning also helps us appreciate the dance with the opposition, it brings out the best of both sides, as your Sensei points out. I could use focussing and appreciating on this latter aspect of winning and adversity.

    Very cool though the line “I bursted into tears before *Christ* can finish the whole story.”

    I love this discipline for you. I know your heart is in it to win it and is growing!

    Comment by 崔梦特 | February 17, 2011 | Reply

    • Young one, your energy is strong, do not waste on your ego, instead be pure have a beginners mind you will travel far.

      Comment by salah dublin | February 20, 2011 | Reply

  3. For me it is not about winning, it is about growth, it is about evolution and inner peace. I’ve noticed when we are focused on winning, we tend to do anything to gain power and control. It is more about clarity of reality and the ability to face difficulties to prevail. In sales, I really like the service mentality our MBA school emphasized instead of getting in it for the kill.

    Comment by Flo Li | February 17, 2011 | Reply

  4. I guess we’ll have to disagree. Play to win ring a bell? An attacker is coming to win. Getting a sale is a win. Getting your growth is a win. Overcoming your “self” is a win. Overcoming your limiting beliefs is a win. The clarity of reality is that in the human realm there are limits for a time. Moving beyond those physical limitations, prevailing over them, and embracing for a moment the freedom, peace and abundance of our spiritual core is evolution and peace, but it is never constant. I am not talking about winning over another person, I am talking about winning the inner game of life, and coming into “contact” with others, be it in fighting or in business, where there is a score, is part of the game and part of the growth. Community is a place where people act this out in an intense way, yet with tremendous growth. No community, then no peace, and we can see what “winning” gets us. I say you and and your martial arts friend dealt with this, accepted it and built community so you could laugh it off. Maybe you two don’t keep score but when you give a full punch you mean to take her out.

    Comment by 崔梦特 | February 19, 2011 | Reply

    • I realized that perhaps I didn’t word my comment well enough and have gotten some misunderstandings. So I did change a few words to express more concisely. As you know when it comes to experiences, words fails, only feelings can capture. And I hope I have given you my feelings.

      Comment by Flo Li | February 20, 2011 | Reply

      • Learn to let go and allow each to find their own way.

        Comment by salah dublin | February 20, 2011 | Reply

  5. That’s a fun trick! Can I edit my comment post posting too? 🙂 ha! You win! hehe

    Comment by 崔梦特 | February 20, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, you can edit your comments any time if you feel we can help each other understand better. Thank you for allowing different points of view yet we are all striving for the same thing. Love you.

      Comment by Flo Li | February 20, 2011 | Reply

      • Really Teacher? Please tell me. I want to know what we are all striving for…because I want honesty, integrity and transparency in my dealings with others and I have only found it in the most sacred place.

        This post started with talk of forgiveness in the context of Christmas. What is Christmas about? Did Christ not overcome? Is he not reining King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Is Christ not victorious? “Victory (from Latin victoria) is a term, originally in applied to warfare, given to success achieved in personal combat, after military operations in general or, by extension, in any competition.” Although he spoke in parables, which masked the harsh thrusts of his teachings, he still delivered them. Don’t the Christians say win one over to Christ?

        “So I did change a few words to express more concisely.” No, you changed the entire spirit and thrust of your comment. The original comment showed the spirit of fighting and winning. You removed that post-fact. I feel it would serve others more to see how we can address these reactions with forgiveness and come back in a new spirit. Isn’t that what this is all about? Or is it about polishing and modifying so others do not see the reality of what they must go through to better themselves, to get a win, to transform and grow?

        You threw a punch. So what? It may have been a reaction and you may think it wasn’t pretty, maybe it didn’t convey how you want your heart to feel, but it was real. You can blame the words, I often do because they are simply inadequate to convey the totality of being, yet why not say that. You pulled your punch. Love you too.

        Comment by 崔梦特 | February 22, 2011 | Reply

  6. Thank you 崔梦特 for this breakthrough in understanding about myself through our conversations. You are right, the old me was all about winning and that part still resides within me. I apologize for the hurt feelings I’ve caused when I only focused on winning. I am striving to be different – to live more from caring and less about winning. Thank you 崔梦特 for pointing out the part of me that still wants to fight to win instead of walking the path of true understanding. It has been very helpful.

    Here’s something about Aikido that differs from other martial arts:
    Aikido’s founder O Sensei’s teaching of Masakatsu Agatsu means “true victory is victory over oneself.” We (in aikido) are striving for personal mastery. (From the web enumeration of Seidokan Aikido Principles by Rod Kobayashi: One must first learn to control oneself before attempting to harmonize and control others. Without a good balance and control of oneself, one can neither avoid an attack nor apply an effective technique on others. It is through self-control that one can learn to enjoy a harmonious way of life.)

    Here is a little article called Masakatsu Agatsu – The Only True Victory is Self Mastery I read often to keep myself on track
    (it is taken from http://people.tribe.net/paulac/blog/8bd0f4dc-1cc6-462a-a0bd-63e4a07fb7b7)

    Layers and layers of meaning here and each time you uncover another layer, there’s still one waiting underneath.

    I had an instructor once say. “Don’t spend so much time trying to move your opponent, just move yourself.” Synthesized: I am not in control of others, I can less affect others than I can myself. The ego struggle involved in attempting to move others is wasted energy.

    Self mastery is not only about getting better at aikido, or being more fit, but rather it is an opportunity to reveal the shadows by which I might act; to shed light on less functional motives.

    We all have an enemy of sorts in ourselves. Our parents, our peers, our traumatic experiences, all influence our actions and reactions. We have fears, preconceived notions, and prejudices which limit our experience of the world around us and guide us down a path toward self fulfilled prophecy.

    Many of us have a disconnect related to this. We have a ‘firewall’ of sorts which can be constant or triggered by some sort of stimulus. This disconnect can be physical, emotional, or spiritual. What many of us are not conscious of is that our very being is dynamic in its existence. Our body is our mind is our soul. These fears, notions, traumas, and prejudices manifest and have crossovers in the analogy of body-mind-spirit which is one entity. Our physical brain reacts to spirituo-emotional experiences and releases neurotransmitters which send out messages through the tendrils we call nerves which virtually cover the entirety of our body. Our body responds and in turn affects the environment in which we live. This feed forward causes our environment to reciprocate in some fashion. This reciprocation or feedback is a mirror of our affect. This mirror effect is a gift, but it is up to us to take this gift and apply the lesson functionally. We must choose conscious interaction, unconscious reaction, or some facsimile that is our best effort.

    What can we do to reach a more clear state of being which allows us to see beyond these affects? Masakatsu Agastsu is about finding that path; the victory of authenticity in consciousness and action. The victory is of presence and understanding the elements in the moment for what they are and not what we fear or project that they will be.

    The Aiki-facet of Masakatsu Agatsu relates to our agendas, fears, prejudices, and decisions within the martial/peaceful diapason of our interaction with our fellow Aikidoka, and as individuals in training. To overcome fears, biases and ego is to reach victory. The true challenge lies in the assessment of our intentions to find out which are going to propel us forward and which will hold us back. The potential to send us farther down our own dysfunctional path through the guise of betterment is great. The possibility, for example, for one to continue self abuse or an over exaggerated need for control can cause us to unconsciously misuse the want to be more conscious. How do I know that I am making the right decision, taking the right action? That place where the proverbial rubber hits the road is the question with infinite answers. The process and path to take is made in a vehicle which must be tuned and retuned with each turn by an imperfect pilot.

    As in my aikido, my personal/spiritual path is one of a pendulum. In younger years I swung from extreme misanthrope to philanthrope, from motivated by anger to greatly seeking love. As the years went by I have gotten closer to the origin of x and y, but I am still not there. Masakatsu Agatsu is more a landmark by which I can test my compass, or orient my map.

    I may be forever progressing in ‘half-way-there’s’ without ever actually reaching my goal, but keeping to the path, keeping true is more important.

    Comment by Flo Li | February 22, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the context on Aikido.

      “Masakatsu Agastsu is about finding that path; the victory of authenticity in consciousness and action. The victory is of presence and understanding the elements in the moment for what they are and not what we fear or project that they will be.”

      “To overcome fears, biases and ego is to reach victory. The true challenge lies in the assessment of our intentions to find out which are going to propel us forward and which will hold us back. The potential to send us farther down our own dysfunctional path through the guise of betterment is great.”

      That really helps.

      I originally said “I know your heart is in it to win it and is growing!” and this is the type of win I was referring to and wish to achieve for myself.

      I persisted and I hope I did a good enough job. It wasn’t particularly difficult yet it was not exactly easy for me either. Pointing these things out is somewhat of a gift and a burden and I have not found a firm foundation for belief in them.

      Comment by 崔梦特 | February 23, 2011 | Reply

      • Finding ones self and discovering the truth can be a challenging reality. That journey more often leads us to a road that we choose not acknowledge lends to choices more us away

        Comment by John gormally | February 26, 2011 | Reply

  7. That road is never peaceful until you open your heart and mind in a united front to be at ease with who you are and where you want go

    Comment by John gormally | February 26, 2011 | Reply

  8. Interesting that the post immediately previous to the one I just commented on should be on the subject of forgiveness, as I was putting considerable thought into the concept just yesterday.

    I have long thought that our selves are not entirely contained within our selves, nor are others entirely outside of us. For every person who’s life we touch, we leave a mark, a piece of ourselves, so to speak, and they on us. I have, at times, speculated that perhaps this residual presence is the meaning of “eternal life”, for it is certainly true that those for whom immortality was claimed in the distant past have left marks upon humankind that continue to impact the societies they touched to this very day. But that is not the topic I intend to address.

    Many, if not most, aspects of our personalities are the result of some interaction between ourselves and our environment, probably more often than not some other individual. Personally, I can distinctly identify names and faces associated with many different parts of myself. Some of them are people who have been a part of my life for a very long time, the alpha examples being my mother and father. Others are people who I met for only brief but opportune moments, such as a woman I conversed with on a flight from Yuma to Phoenix at a recent turning point in my life. This is the “residual presence” I identified above.

    Sometimes, a person linked to some part of ourselves hurts us, and sometimes we latch onto that hurt. Whatever our actual action in the physical world, we at least internally alienate ourselves that individual, desiring to restore the balance by hurting them back. While we are in this state, we are also alienated from ourselves, specifically from that part of ourselves indelibly linked with that other individual. We have to feel that hurt every time we call upon that part of us… and so we avoid doing so.

    To forgive is to make peace, not necessarily with the individual himself, since that sort of peace often requires the cooperation of both sides (though in my experience, a sincere effort to do so is required to achieve the sort of peace I’m referring to). The importance of forgiveness is that it enables us to make peace with the memory, the residual presence, that is linked to an important aspect of one’s personality.

    When one harbors a grudge, one is not whole. One is alienated from oneself. To forgive is to regain access to one’s own isolated regions.

    Now. First person to post “tl;dr” gets a genuine laugh. 😉

    Comment by D.A. Sawyer | March 15, 2011 | Reply

    • This is probably the best explanation of forgiveness I’ve heard in a long time. You get it. It is difficult to express forgiveness if someone has not experienced the depth of isolation and wholeness. This is so eloquently put, thank you!

      Comment by Flo Li | March 15, 2011 | Reply

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