Ever since I was first exposed to Taoism, I have loved one parable in particular. It goes like this.
The old Monk is sitting by a stream. A scorpion falls into the water and is going to drown. Every time he reaches down and almost gets the scorpion to shore, it stings him and he drops it. Along comes his student and watches him for a moment. By now, the Monk's hand is swollen almost double but finally he manages to flip the scorpion onto shore and it runs off.
The student asks the old Monk why he kept lifting the scorpion out of the water when it was just going to sting him. The Monk answers that scorpion doesn't know any better but to sting the person helping it. The student ponders that and asks the old Monk if he jumped in the stream, would the old Monk continue trying to save him if he kept biting his hand. The old Monk answered: no.
The student was appalled. His Master would let him drown and he cried out, “Why?”
“Because you know better,” the old Monk answered.
I understood part of that parable for many years but only recently have come to completely understand it. It has to do with forgiveness and apology. People are quick to apologize and the general habit is that you have to accept the apology no matter how insincere. Every 12 step program has people going around apologizing to the people they hurt and if you don't accept that apology, well you are lower than a worm. The problem is that it has become ritual with no meaning.
On one of my many trips to the afterlife, I ran into someone who lived a long life; immature, selfish and just plain mean. They may have directly contributed to their own child's death by just being greedy. So when I ran into this person, they were wringing their hands and running around the hall begging everyone, including me to find out if the child had forgiven them.
I went into the hospital room where the child, now a man, was working. He asked me if his father was still accosting people in the hallway trying to find out if he was forgiven. I just rolled my eyes and he shook his head and went back to writing. It was then I totally understood.
No one can forgive you. No God can forgive what you have done to another. No priest or preacher can absolve your sins against others. No number of apologies are going to win any awards, unless you can truly be sorry for what you have done and have learned never to do it again, you are not forgiven and the scale is tipped against you. You must be sorry for what you did, learned from it and moved on to a higher state of consciousness where this will not happen again. Otherwise, you are on the hamster Karma wheel for eternity and you will be begging for a spit on the roasting fire.....