Forgiveness by Jack Kornfield



Let your eyes close gently and we’ll do one of the forgiveness trainings in 3 directions.


So first with your eyes closed.

Just bring your attention here to the reality of the present.

Feel your body.

On this morning, spring morning in May, 2010.

Here you are, in this auditorium, Zeller Bach.

Let the shoulders drop.

The eyes and face be soft.

Let the breath breathe easily and trust yourself.

Seated on this earth.

You are seated under your own tree of enlightenment.

You are the Buddha here sitting here learning the great art of forgiveness.


And then the first of these 3 directions — and don’t worry this is also written out so you can  practice this easily afterward. There’s a handout for you with this.


Here’s the reflection — follow along with your eyes closed.

There are many ways in which I have harmed others.

Knowingly and unknowingly.

Betrayed them.

Abandoned them.

Caused them pain.

So many times.

I remember these now.

And feel the sorrows I still carry.

And let yourself remember the ways you betrayed, abandoned, harmed others.

And feel what you still carry.


And in the many ways that have hurt or harmed, you, betrayed others, caused you suffering, out of my own fear and confusion.

Out of my own pain and anger and hurt and misunderstanding.

In this moment, I ask your forgiveness.

I ask your forgiveness.

Please forgive me.

May I be forgiven.


And as you remember and ask — feel the movement of the heart that’s willing to ask forgiveness and perhaps to receive it.

Even as we do this practice, the tears and the regret.

All those things may come.


Now include yourself in the second direction.

Just as I have caused pain and hurt and suffering to others.

So too — I’ve hurt myself.

Betrayed myself.

Abandoned my own deepest values and love.

Just as I’ve hurt or harmed others.

So too I’ve judged and betrayed myself.

So many ways.

I remember these now too.

And let yourself feel all the ways you have caused suffering to yourself.

To your body.

Mind and heart.

As you caused sorrow to others.

I remember these now too.


And feel the sorrows you carry from this.


And now, again, breathing gently the same practice of forgiveness in the second direction.

Just as I have hurt or betrayed or harmed others, so I’ve done so to myself.

Betrayed and harmed myself — caused myself suffering.

In body or mind.

In so many ways, out of my own confusion and fear.

Out of my pain and frustration and hurt.

And in this moment, I offer myself forgiveness.


I hold myself with mercy and tender forgiveness for my own humanity.

For all the ways that I may have hurt and messed up and caused pain.

Breathe gently, just now, I forgive myself.

I forgive myself.

And feel what it’s like — the image from the Buddha is a mother holding her most beloved, only child — to hold yourself with a tender compassion and forgiveness.

All these ways, I hold myself with forgiveness and mercy.

I forgive myself.


And then finally, the third direction:

There are many ways in which others have hurt and harmed me.

We’ve all been betrayed.

We’ve all had suffering and pain visited on us by others.

Every one one us has been hurt.

I remember these now too — the  ways I’ve been abandoned, betrayed, hurt by others.

And feel the sorrows I still carry.

And let yourself feel and sense.


And in the many ways that others have hurt me, betrayed, abandoned me, caused me pain, that I remember now.

To the extent that I”m ready.

And this is a process that can’t be hurried.

To the extent that I’m ready.

I turn my heart in the direction of forgiveness.

To the extent that I am ready, I forgive you.


I offer you forgiveness.

I release you.

I will not carry the pain of hating you in my heart.

To the extent that I’m ready, I forgive you.


And let yourself feel either the lightening of the heart in the forgiveness.

Or the understanding that you’re not yet ready to forgive.

And so you know the work of the heart that is ahead of you.


And keeping in mind these three directions, let yourself come back to this room and your eyes open.