Remind me I am good.
To remember the liberating power of forgiveness and lovingkindness.
To remember that no matter where you are and what you face, within your heart, peace is always possible.
In “The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace“, internationally renowned Buddhist teacher and meditation master Jack Kornfield has collected age-old teachings, modern stories, and time-honored practices for bringing healing, peace, and compassion into our daily lives. Just to read these pages offers calm and comfort.
Check out this beautiful, graceful little tale:
“In the Babemba tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.”
The tribe believes that every human being comes into the world as *good*, each of us desiring safety, love, peace, and happiness.
But sometimes, in the pursuit of those things, people make mistakes.
The community sees misdeeds as a cry for help. They band together for the sake of their fellow man to hold him up, to reconnect him with his true nature, to remind him who he really is, until he fully remembers the truth from which he’d temporarily been disconnected:
“I AM GOOD”.
How different is that tribal ritual from our culture’s tendency to think in terms of crime and punishment?
When we focus on the negative, we lock ourselves into a vicious cycle of blame, shame, and diminished self-esteem.
What can we do to get out of this painful rut?
- We can question our beliefs.
Beliefs are simply habits of thought.
And habits can be changed when we find sufficient reason to do so.
What if, instead of crime and punishment, we consciously reminded ourselves and others, even or especially at times when mistakes are made, of our own/others’ good, generous, or courageous acts?
- The next time someone in your life (your relationship, child, friend, colleague) does something that upsets you, what if you stop to think about their attributes and your many good experiences with them instead of adding up how many times they’ve done this same offensive behavior?
What if you said, “Even though I’m hurt/angry about (the behavior), I still remember and think about how you … (something good)”?
What if, the next time you do something you are not proud of, you make amends but also choose to remember and list all your good points?
How important it is to consciously choose what we focus on!
(And remember, you are not the only one who will believe what you choose to see. Others’ self-perceptions are formed by our mirroring back to them who they are in our eyes. If you want loving, respectful relationships, mirror back positive messages about others’ capacities to be the people you wish them to perceive themselves to be.)
When we choose our beliefs consciously and lovingly, we begin to see more of the good in others and in ourselves – creating a world that is more extraordinary…one thought at a time.
Further links & sources:
“Loving Yourself Happy” by Dr. Susan Gregg (another version of the tribe tale)
“The Babemba Chair” by Roy Exum (another version of the tribe tale)
“Maasai + Bemba / African = the same” by Jeremy Smith (culturally critical perception analysis)
“Bonobos Are Better at Conflict Resolution than Humans” (Err – are humans *any* good at conflict resolution at all…? ;))