sangyey wrote:How do I forgive myself? Of course, you would start with compassion and love for yourself. With compassion for yourself you would see the suffering that your actions have caused you and from there acknowledge and then discard with those actions which produced so much harm for yourself and others. With love for yourself you naturally want to be happy and then that will cause you to adopt those positive actions that will lead to your future welfare and happiness.
One time I was staying in a monastery, karuna and maitri (compassion/lovingkindness) was my primary mediation method.
One day, it suddenly occurred to me that I was sort of skidding the whole 'dedicating compassion and lovingkindness to myself'. I mean, I did it because it is part of the method, but I kind of saw it as a precursor to the part that really mattered: Dedicating it to everyone else. That day, this struck me as a very odd discrepancy. Why would I place myself less worthy? There was some kind of reason for me not wanting to do this that deserved further exploration.
So I decided to dedicate the rest of my stay at the monastery to only practising karuna and maitri for myself. If there were others more deserving they would just have to get in line for later. The reactions that my mind threw up to this decision were quite remarkable really. There was definitely a part of me that did not want to to this, that saw it as egoistic and I strongly suspected those reactions were just fronts for deeper lying negative perceptions. My karuna/maitri meditation became a kind of vipashyana as I was not just applying this method, but was simultaneously paying attention to all the counter reactions my mind could throw up at this. The co-arising of the feeling 'may I have be happy and free' and 'what a selfish idiot you are' is a curious experience.
Eventually, I found that there was a lot to learn by compartmentalising 'me' along similar lines as the meditation instructions for this method suggests for others. I would start out by dedicating matri and karuna to the likeable parts of myself. The 'Anders' who cares about others, tries to do good for himself, is meditating, and so forth. This is easy and it feels great to give time to acknowledge all the good qualities you actually have (this is something the Buddha recommended too. It can be very skilful) then move on to the more neutral or trivial aspects, The Anders who likes football and thinks Linux is ace, and then to the negative aspects: The Anders who likes to think of himself as way grander and charismatic than he is, the Anders who doesn't get stuff done, the Anders who decides he doesn't want to deal with that shit, being sensitive to the reactions the mind engenders by visualising these sides of me whilst nevertheless dedicating maitri and karuna. Acceptance was an important part of the process. Just as you don't generate karuna and maitri to other dislikeable people with the qualification "you really should improve on yourself", it was important to generate this love for these aspects simply being what they are.
To the point where I'd be reflecting on the Anders that is simply a contemptuous asshole no one would like if they really saw him and yet, I was willing to say "you are a frak asshole and you may well never change, but I want to you be a happy and peaceful contemptuous asshole. And you are as deserving of such happiness as anyone in this world." And mean it. I was even playing around with some make-believe scenarios. What if I killed someone? Or raped someone and liked it? A real monster. It's not that hard to imagine how one becomes such a person if you aren't scared to think of it. How does generating maitri and karuna towards that work?
It was some time around this point that I was no longer able to confine my meditation to just me anymore. Being capable of dedicating love to the most disagreeable and dark parts of myself in spite of, yet acknowledging, all those negative reactions that come with them, somehow burst the dam and I found myself spontaneously overflowing with compassion and love for everyone else, with a kind of.... fearless attitude, I guess you could say, from knowing that they could do or be anything without shaking this intention I had for them. I guess it showed me that if you really love yourself deeply enough, extending this equally to others eventually becomes hard to avoid.