QUOTE(crazyoldcatlady @ Sep 22 2009, 06:16 PM)
i was thinking about trying to divorce her from her actions, but her unfavorable actions are too pervasive and consistent to totally separate from the person. if Friend X were to completely stop the cunty behavior, Friend X wouldn't be Friend X anymore, by definition.
i know this thread is more about philosophy than my own personal life, but that's just the situation that got me thinking about forgiveness, and who/what defines the Self. it's like we've been saying, if all our external cues, interactions, and ingrained beliefs are stripped (caster) or proved false (learning of adoption, aliens), would the template still be there? would your Self essence/Truth still prevail?
"Amputated," heh, that's exactly what I did with my dad at one point. It felt great. Good description. I cut him from my life and wrote him a letter explaining that I was doing it because I didn't want his toxic behaviour in my life, and if at some point he wanted to be in my life, he'd have to shape up by going to therapy, and I told him I thought and had faith that he had it in him to face up to the damage he'd done. (That last part was a complete and total lie, but I put it in because I thought if I told him what I really thought, that he was too gutless to do it, then that would just solidify the worthless self-image that was causing his self-centred, thoughtless, hurtful behaviour in the first place.) He didn't mention the letter for about a year and I thought, Yeah, just as I thought, gutless. Then his gf told me that he was still thinking about it and he'd like to talk about it, so I thought, Hmmm, maybe he's too terrified to go to therapy on his own. So when we met, I offered to go with him. He agreed. I actually have a relationship with him now (something that for about 10 years I thought would never, COULD never happen.) He still says thoughtless asshole stuff but now he'll listen and usually apologize when I call him on it.
So the Dalai Lama's remarks resonated with me because I interpret them as "forgiveness" as 1. a letting go of negativity (as much as possible, anyway, and of course it can't happen all at once, but it can happen gradually) towards the other person that we do to nurture our own peace of mind, and 2. an opening of space that explains to them that their actions were or are assholish or thoughtless and hurtful, and that I won't tolerate more actions of that pattern, and 3. an opening of another space that offers to them the possibility that they can really, genuinely change away from doing mostly asshole behaviour to behaving mostly with care, thoughtfulness, consideration, and compassion.
So my own resolution for the Dalai Lama's approach is that, yes, choices and actions do define who a person is, up to the point
that I or someone else points out to them that the larger pattern of their choices and actions = asshole or cunty behaviour, and points out that better ways to behave exist. Then, if they really change themself (yeah, I think English needs a nongenderspecific singular pronoun), to me that suggests that there was a higher self, a template, lurking inside but afraid to come out. I
Someone who keeps carrying on with the asshole cunty behaviour after that, or makes superficial changes and then backslides and makes more superficial changes and backslides again and so on, well, I happily keep them amputated, but when thoughts of them cross my mind, I hope, in a distant kind of way, that there might be some point down the long road where somebody else explains it to them, or they have some profound experience that shakes them up, and this time the lightbulb finally lights up and they let their higher self out of the closet. So...yes, one's negative actions do speak to the inner self. And,? the inner self nevertheless contains the potential to do better? (well, I'm not sure I'd apply that to psychopaths, serial murders, pedophiles etc)
"if Friend X were to completely stop the cunty behavior, Friend X wouldn't be Friend X anymore, by definition." (sorry I haven't figured out how to do the quote thing for more than one instance)
well I think sometimes about people I'm no longer in contact with who I behaved badly towards, and I wish I could run into them so I could apologize for my shitty behaviour back then. I mean, in many ways I feel that I'm the same person I was 10 or 20 years ago, but in just as many ways I'm different, and I think a better person. It's like I'm more the me I was meant to be now, than I was back in my teens or 20s when I was trying to figure out what "me" meant, and often confusing "me" with who my family or certain "friends" or stupid women's magazines or tv/movies etc, expected me to be. Or who I *thought* I wanted to be, but it turned out I was just buying into other people's ideas of what I needed to be happy and fulfilled.
I dunno. I can't tell at this point if I'm making sense. I thought I was, when i started typing! Anyway, thanks, it's interesting talking about these things.