There’s a Chinese theory of connection which says that our lives are connected to the people we are intended to cross paths with by a red thread, this is alternatively referred to as the red thread of fate or destiny and is the basis of the TV show, Touch starring Keifer Sutherland. The proverb on which this theory is based goes like this: “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.”
This idea is both charming and mind-blowing. It also does not discriminate regarding the type or amount of connections or relationships. Isn’t it interesting to consider the possibility that our connections are not only pre-determined but that we are constantly and forever connected? It really puts your relationships into perspective doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t have a friend or family member who they haven’t spoken to in months or even years for whatever reason? We block and ‘un-friend’ people on Facebook and ‘cut’ people out of photos and out of our lives. If this theory is correct, it makes me smile that we cannot sever our connections as easily as we may think.
Now, I am not in any way condoning acceptance of poor or destructive behavior on someone’s part. It is healthy and necessary to have clear boundaries in your social interactions. I am suggesting that if you believe in the proverb that you then also must accept the fact that your connection “may stretch or tangle but will never break.” Funny how a blog sometimes writes itself, as I now realize that I am writing about forgiveness.
The Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn says :
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
So here he is talking about compassion, and the understanding it brings which leads naturally to forgiveness.
For most of us, understanding needs to come before compassion, that is, if we know someone’s story and struggles, we are more inclined to look upon them with compassion and eventually be inclined to forgive them certain transgressions. It is more difficult to have compassion for people we don’t know or don’t know well and whose behavior we don’t understand.
I’ve been lucky enough to recently take part in an activity where I was in a group with strangers and was privileged to hear and share in their stories as well as share my own. The activity was an autobiographical writing workshop. All of the other participants were women, and it was interesting to see how pre-conceptions were blown wide open as we shared bits of our stories with each other through our writings and discussions.
The Dutch language is very pragmatic and there is a lovely term ‘iets een plek geven’ which literally means to give something it’s (proper) place. It is used by people who have experienced something unpleasant and is a linguistic acknowledgement of what Louise Hay says about forgiveness:
‘The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person”.
So, the next time someone pisses you off, be it friend, foe or stranger, consider this theory of connectedness and take the following steps:
1) Give the event a cognitive place, keeping in mind your knowledge of this other person’s story.
2) Get that heart of yours in gear by practicing some compassion.
Let the cord stretch, let the cord tangle but don’t let it break.
For more on forgiveness and connectedness follow this link to an interview between Oprah and Marianne Williamson http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4tl_AAxQao