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What I have written about nonviolence can be interpreted as forgiveness. I have already referred to forgiveness as a valid and not decisive action, now we can examine other details.
Throughout the blog I have distinguished between human and universal spirituality, also interpreted as good and evil, but both in reciprocal contamination, suggested by the fact that both of them are called here “spirituality”. This distinction-union allows us to realize that what may require forgiveness is not only the evil committed by someone, but, fundamentally, all universal evil, including, therefore, even an earthquake or a hammer that I accidentally slam on a finger of mine. Since the concepts of guilt and freedom are unprovable, though this may be a reason to forgive people, it comes to be a reason for a need to forgive the entire universe: the evil committed by people is just one of the many manifestations of global evil. This way forgiveness is a way of understanding this world that, because of the existence of evil, would otherwise be totally incomprehensible, unacceptable and unthinkable.
The universe might appear to us as a kind of impersonal character, a zombie, a face without eyes, guiltless, that proceeds while administering, without justice, good and evil, sweetnesses and torments, and can fall within the scope of our awarenesses only as long as we practice towards it some kind of forgiveness.
This forgiving of ours is, however, nothing but part of this universe that needs to be forgiven; as a consequence, if the whole universe is bad, we cannot avoid the conclusion that our forgiveness toward it as well cannot be itself anything but an evil that is part of it. It follows that even our forgiving needs to be forgiven, there is no forgiveness that is not polluted by evil. This meta-chain of forgiving, however, far from weakening this philosophy of forgiveness, confirms it, the same way as doubting about doubt does not eliminate the need to doubt, but reinforces it. In this context, it becomes obvious that even silence needs to be forgiven; on the other hand, when I talked about it, I did not hide its limitations.
This discussion on the universal need for forgiveness is a chance to point out something about our enjoyment of art. We can refer to any work universally acknowledged as a masterpiece, for example the Mona Lisa, or the Divine Comedy or a Beethoven symphony. These works, as well as communicating us some kind of greatness, cannot hide their limits to a critical mindset, their being soiled by the human physiognomy of those who created them, the fact that they do not take away evil from the world and, on the contrary, they are themselves accomplices of evils and exploitations; to say this in a language that tries to communicate the contradiction that they contain, we can say that these masterpieces, along with being sublime, cannot hide all the stink of shit of their authors, a stench that is all the more odious to the extent that they cannot hide also a dazzling light of high and deep spirituality. They are works that at times seem to give everything to our spirit, but in other moments reveal their whole being empty, trivial, even silly. In a more philosophical language, we can say that even art cannot claim a minimum of metaphysical, objective validity; on the contrary, nothing is easier than aknowledging its defects and dirt.
In the context of our discussion on forgiveness, the way how we can benefit from the value of works of art becomes more understandable: we don’t hide from ourselves their human condition, but we forgive it; it is a clearly stated forgiveness, opposite to overlooking and forgetting, so as not to fall into an unproductive self privating of what the value they can transmit. On the other hand, art criticism has always been outspoken about this, we need only to approach it not as tourists listening to the guide, but as people who seek its knowledge with a minimum of depth and seriousness.
Despite what we have said about the need of forgiveness for being itself forgiven, all of that would only be just nice words, very politically correct, if we don’t consider that it cannot entrust its existence on our strength and energy to practice it: a kind of forgiveness practiced in this spirit would be killed by our tiredness already before its birth. It is easy to deduce from here that the spirit of that must necessarily be the opposite; that is, a forgiveness that will not be extinguished before its birth should be itself a nourishment to those who practice it. I think that this can happen by intending forgiving as an act of walking, growing. This comes up as the fundamental meaning of forgiving: we forgive to try to live an experience of growth.
We can see that this perspective comes to be different from Jesus or from Christianity in general: they did not forgive to death its blam for existing; at least Christianity, if not Jesus, felt necessary to think about Jesus as risen; this scapegoating of death was a shot in the foot, creating to itself the problem of theodicy. I believe instead that a spirituality that wants to adhere as much as possible to the human experience of existence cannot avoid practicing continuously a way of forgiving death the fact of existing. About this we can think of Saint Francis, who called death “sister”, something that Jesus would have never accepted.
This could open the way to a forgiveness that becomes an accomplice of evil, perhaps in view of justifying in advance our future dishonesty, but Jesus already exposed himself to the charge of being an accomplice to delinquents because of his too much forgiving and this can to show that forgiving death and evil does not mean being on their side.
Once forgiveness is exercised towards the universe, it does not only mean “There was no fault”, but, rather, “There is a path, there is a continuous reinterpretation of what happened”. There is no definitive, satisfactory attitude towards the universe, or towards death. It’s an activity of continuously exploring new attitudes, on a path that does just this. Therefore forgiveness is based not on judging guilty or not guilty, but on walking, progress, saying “I forgive you because I want to explore new ways of relationship with you”, whether it be with people or with the entire universe.
Who will give us the strength for doing this? Forgiveness is like a blow that we receive. Strength comes from the experience of walking itself and, in particular, from the positive experiences that we can trace, by remembering our past. Positive experiences come to be life, what gives us life and allows us to give life to the experience of forgiving. This is a kind of pride, but also a satisfaction and pleasure in living. I do it because I live, because there are positive experiences within me that allow me to have this interest, pleasure, pride in life.
This walking, which is the pleasure of living, can be further specified, even better, by noticing that it is a walking in sensitivities. This is almost like a butterfly, which goes from flower to flower; in itself it would be a negative image, as of someone who never stops in something, but actually spirituality, as a journey between various experiences, involves lingering in something, in silence, in walking, in appreciation of what spirituality is, among the various spiritualities, and therefore it is an experience of life, it is an experience of sensitivity itself.