May Focus of the Month: Devotional Warrior & Forgiveness

Alexandra Moga, who has dedicated much thought and heart to the topic and practice of forgiveness, is our guest writer this month. 

Forgiveness. How, when the heart is broken and the mind racked with anxiety, can we find the strength to consider its value, apply its soothing potency? Just as nature takes weeks to set trees and flowers into bloom, in our lives, forgiveness is a gradual process - a dance that asks us to lead as much as follow, to pull up our bootstraps and initiate at one step and turn around to bow in surrender at the next.

Usually, forgiveness implies betrayal- a perceived reality which did not conform to either explicit or tacit agreements made between two or more people. This betrayal is often experienced through blame - as the 'other's' shortcoming, an attack against the reality we have decided should or must be. The ego reacts strongly to this, forgetting its own potential to err, believing the shift in reality to be a threat to its identity instead of an opportunity for communion.

This begs the question: who am I? The process of forgiveness will eventually bring us to reevaluate our identity. The fall from grace provides an opening - the proverbial crack that lets the light in. When we choose to embark on the process of forgiveness, we take a step towards self-realization. To continue the process requires deep humility, removing ourselves from the self-centered position of enjoyer and controller in order to place a higher motive in the center: Love. 

As an asana, devotional warrior encourages strength through humility - a delicate balance between the fortitude to hold our piece, and the courage to relinquish the illusion that we have ultimate control. When we can let go of that need to control, we are better prepared to experience the unity that we are so earnestly seeking. Forgiveness affords us the space to give what we are looking for, and in so doing, experience it. When we forgive, we stop holding love over each other's heads and we place our hearts on the altar to be cleansed. 

500 years ago, the Bengali saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left us with only 8 verses on the quality of this state of being:
"Thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others."