Kim Eng: In exploring our day to day interactions with people, we can often become blocked…
When, in becoming more aware, we learn how we have made mistakes with others, sometimes an apology is necessary. This month, Kim Eng teaches us about how we can apologize from a place of consciousness.
I have been asked what my opinion is on apology and what its value to spiritual growth can be. With guilt, the emotion implies that there is somehow some disconnect between perhaps the action that is taken and the mind. There is a belief, a thought, that says ‘I shouldn’t be this way. I shouldn’t have done that.’ But sometimes that action was unconscious, and still we need to make amends. Nonetheless, the sort of apology that needs to take place would depend on the level of unconscious action that took place.
I’ll give you an example. Many years ago I belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In this church, you’re vegetarian, and you don’t wear jewelry. When I left the church I felt guilty for at least five years if I ever wore any jewelry. In the church I belonged to you didn’t even have wedding rings; you wear a watch because it’s functional. But maybe there’s a situation that is a lot more serious. Maybe, as an alcoholic, you hurt someone, and then you become sober and you realize, wow, my unconsciousness really hurt this person, and it hurt me. You feel like you have to make amends.
At the same time, what is that other person going to receive? We don’t know; we can only go within. You may need to make amends with yourself internally. Or it may be that you make amends with the other person, but if you make amends with the other person and apologize, you may only be doing it so you could feel better. That might be a little bit of an egoic action. You can sorry to that person and if that person doesn’t accept the apology and says they’ll never forgive you, then you begin to feel awful again because it was done for the wrong reason.
So it’s something that we may need to work out in ourselves internally first. Can we forgive ourselves for that action? And then when we truly forgive ourselves for that action, we may know whether making an external apology is the next step.
If you can make an external apology because that’s ‘the thing to do,’ you may not really feel sorry for your actions. A lot of the actions that we do, the little unconscious actions, do we need to say sorry for every single one? Only you can answer that, but for myself I’d say: probably not; I’d be saying it fifty times a day!
Ultimately, therefore, you have to ask yourself: what is going on inside me? Can I forgive myself for these unconscious behaviors? And the greatest gift is to just return to consciousness in this moment. The return to consciousness in this moment aligns you straight and on that narrow path moving forward, leaving the past behind.