Forgiveness for the Non-religious
People sometimes automatically assume that the practice of forgiveness has something to do with religion. Yet, this is not the true at all about The Four Steps to Forgiveness. Yes some religious people use it, but it is a neutral, generic technique that can be used by anyone. In fact many people are attracted to the The Four Steps to Forgiveness becomes it has no religious overtones and not connected to any religion.
If you think about it you will realize that the need to forgive pre-dates everything we would consider as a religion. People have needed to learn to forgive each other – or suffer the consequences of not forgiving each other – since we emerged as a species. This has been the case since well before any of the current established religions emerged.
Forgiveness is something basic and fundamental within human nature. We could think of it as a basic requirement for psychological health and wellbeing. Forgiveness allows individuals, families, tribes. and even nations, possibilities for moving beyond the past – and especially to not keep repeating the mistakes of the past. Therefore, forgiveness is a basic requirement for sociological wellbeing too. It allows societies and cultures to grow and evolve.
Another point of view is to consider forgiveness as a “spiritual” need rather than a purely “religious” one. A “religion” is a way in which a particular group of people express their spiritual needs. Usually, as the people in that group grow and evolve then the form that the religion takes also grows and evolves. If it does not evolve then the adherents of that religion start to look outside the religion to have their spiritual needs met. For example, many religions do not offer a basic meditation technique to their followers.. Yet, learning to meditate is an important spiritual need for many modern people – whether they are religious or not – hence the growth of the mindfulness movement globally. People are looking outside their religion to get the meditation teaching that they need. And, of course, many people who are averse to the very idea of religion are learning, and benefiting from, mindfulness.
Similarly with forgiveness. People feel the need to be able to forgive. Yet, society in general (and their religion if they have one) usually does not provide any method for them to learn how to do it – therefore, many people do not know how to actually forgive. Society at large assumes that it is the job of religion to teach people how to forgive. Yet, many religions don’t teach people ‘how’ to forgive; the only teach people that they ‘should’ forgive. Teaching people that they ‘should’ do a thing without teaching them ‘how’ to do that thing makes them crazy. This is one of the reasons that I promote The Four Steps to Forgiveness, openly and freely, globally in many languages. The ability to forgive is a basic need for the health of our individuals and societies. Yet, those who ought to be teaching people how to do forgive; tend to “preach” forgiveness (telling people they ‘should’ do it) rather than “teach” forgiveness (showing people ‘how’ to do it).
Forgiveness, like meditation, is a practice which expresses inherent needs within of us. It is a skill which anyone can learn and benefit from. However, it needs to be taught. Most of us do not learn it automatically. We don’t assume we can meditate without being taught how to do it; so there is no reason to assume we can learn to forgive without someone showing us what to do. Once you learn a method of how to forgive you can adapt it to your own preferences.
Forgiveness transcends all religions. It was around long before any of the modern religions emerged and will likely be around even after modern religious have evolved into something very different to what they are now. Forgiveness will necessary for as long as “human beings” are recognizable as such. In other words, until such times as we no longer do things to each other for which we need to be forgiven.
If you want to try a secular, non-religious method for how to forgive, download the free ebook, The Four Steps to Forgiveness, available on this page.
- William Fergus Martin
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Four Steps to Forgiveness
Four Steps to Forgiveness
A powerful way to freedom, happiness and success.
William Fergus Martin