This week, The Anacortes Mindfulness Community held our ancestors in love. We practiced the 5 Earth Touchings to bring to honor those related to us by birth, spiritual tradition, and location, whether they have loved and supported us or harmed and burdened us. Jonathan Prescott offered a Dharma talk that explored who our ancestors are and what they have done. Physical ancestors seem easy to identify as ‘mine’ or ‘yours,’ but when we look closely, it isn’t so simple. Humans inter-are not only with each other, but with everything.  A more profound set of ancestors are our continuation ancestors, whose actions continue by rippling out long after their bodies have died. Many of our ancestors rippling actions were wholesome, but as we learn more about social justice, we see that some of their actions caused suffering. It can be hard to forgive them for what they’ve done. Jonathan laid out a 4-step practice for forgiving our ancestors shortcomings:

  1. Understand forgiveness: To forgive doesn’t mean to allow bad behavior. True forgiveness is the art of transforming the present moment consequences of past actions. This allows us to drop resentment, resistance, and blame.

  2. See clearly: We may not know exactly what happened in the past, but we can know how the past manifests now in our bodies and minds. We must see our suffering clearly before taking the next step.

  3. Allow the pain: Seeing isn’t enough: We have to have the courage to allow our pain's presence. This isn’t easy. Pain suppressed is pain amplified. Therefore, we acknowledge and allow our pain.

  4. Respond with compassion: Knowing how our ancestors’ pain has continued in us gives us the fierce compassion to say, ‘It stops with me.’ We respond strongly and compassionately to transform the pain in ourselves here and how so that we don’t pass it along to future generations.

Our ancestors are everyone and everything; no exceptions; no matter how wholesome or harmful. Our compassionate response is to honor all, forgive all, care for all.

Listen to the full Dharma Talk on our Podcast page.

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