Author Topic: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness  (Read 4930 times)

Jessie Fong

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HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« on: December 02, 2012, 07:39:56 AM »
From the Huffington Post :
Judith Shaw's boyfriend and father of her daughter sat her down some years ago and gave her the news that would change her life:

"He said, 'I need to talk to you. I just want you to know, I have what Magic Johnson has.'

I said, 'What does Magic Johnson have?'

He replied: 'He has AIDS.'"


The article went on to say how she was so furious she took a gun, went to his house and wanted to kill him.
Luckily she did not but she went on to abuse herself with drugs and neglect.  She was wise enough to start on therapy and learned to forgive - not only herself but those who had hurt her.

Read more about forgiveness in this article by a Mayo Clinic staff :

Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness
When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2012, 09:17:27 AM »
It's very easy to say, yes, i have forgive you but deep down inside only you yourself will know if you have really forgive that particular person who hurt you badly or not. We won't be here still in samsara if we master our emotion by conquering it with compassion and emptiness. Any way i thought of sharing a story with you all about the power of forgiveness.

Forgiveness and Buddhism
By Anh-Huong
My family escaped from Vietnam in a very small boat in 1979. We spent 10 months in a refugee camp in Southeast Asia before coming to the United States. It was said that half us boat people died at sea. The other half arrived to the shores in Southeast Asia, but even then we were still not safe.

There were many young girls among the boat people who were raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many individual countries tried to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, the pirates continued to inflict much suffering on us refugees. When I was staying at an island, the biggest refugee camp in that country at that time, I saw so many teen age girls and young women being carried from their boats into the camp upon their arrival. They were weeping, sometimes screaming with tremors. They had been raped by sea pirates. There was a story about a 12 year-old girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate who jumped into the ocean and drowned herself. There was another story of a father who was thrown into the ocean in the middle of the night because he was trying to stop the pirates from taking his teen-age daughter away from their fishing boat. There were so many heart-breaking stories like these.

When we first learned of this, we became angry at the pirates. We naturally took the side of the girls and of the father who failed to save his daughter. It was easy for us to take the side of the little girls. But in the practice of meditation, of looking deeply, we saw that if we had been born into the family and the village of the pirates and raised under the same conditions as they were, there was a great likelihood that we would have become pirates. Many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam every day, and if we who are educators, social workers, or politicians do not do something to change the situation, in 20 years a number of these babies will become sea pirates. If you or I were born today in those poor fishing villages, we might become sea pirates in 20 years. All of us are responsible for this situation. With the practice of meditation, we can look at the 12 year-old girl and the
sea pirates and recognize ourselves in each of them and them in each of us. In Buddhist teaching, happiness can only be recognized against the background of suffering. To be really happy, we should cultivate understanding and compassion. It is by
getting in touch with the suffering that understanding comes and compassion arises. 

But sometimes when we suffer so much, we just can’t forgive. Or we don’t want to forgive. We are afraid that if we forgive someone for his cruel act, our suffering won’t be adequately heard. So we let these acts of cruelty continue. In the midst of our pain and ear, we remember everything except that the other person caused us to suffer because he has so much suffering in his heart. Like garbage and flowers, anger and love - as well as suffering and happiness - have an organic nature. A good organic gardener doesn’t see the garbage as his enemy. He knows that he can use the garbage to make compost to enrich the soil, and the garbage can be transformed into flowers. He doesn’t have a dualistic viewpoint. That is why he is at peace with the flowers and at peace with the garbage. Without the garbage, he can’t have beautiful flowers and fresh vegetables.

Without understanding and compassion, which are the fruits of the practice of calming and deep looking, the endless cycle of resentment, anger, fear, despair and suffering will continue to turn; and we will continue to suffer, one generation after another. 
The question is not “to forgive” or “not to forgive.” This question will not help us find a breakthrough in our habit of dualistic thinking: oneself vs. the others, good vs, evil, right vs. wrong. A more helpful question would be, “How can I better understand myself and the other person?” Dualistic thinking is misleading. It can encourage a belief that good and evil are enemies and that good needs always to be fighting evil. This kind of theology causes a lot of suffering and destruction. 

When we see that our suffering, our hatred and our fear are organic, we don’t try to run away from them. Through the practice of calming, resting and deep looking taught by the Buddha, we can transform our loneliness, hate, fear and despair into elements of understanding which can nourish our compassion, happiness and well-being. We don’t feel the need to fight against our fear or anger anymore, because we see that our anger and fear are a genuine part of ourselves. So we try to handle them in the most tender, non-violent way. We take care of our anger and fear in the way that best gives them the chance to turn into understanding, love and compassion.

It’s so important to train ourselves to look in a non-dualistic way. We know from our own experience that if the other person is not happy, it’s very difficult for us to be happy. The other person may be our daughter, our partner, our friend, our mother, our son, our father, or our neighbor. The other person may be the Christian community, the Jewish community, the Buddhist community, or the Islamic community. Because we know that safety and peace aren’t individual matters, we will naturally act for the collective good. The practice of forgiveness is the practice of understanding and compassion. Understanding is the substance of true love and true compassion. If love is in our heart, every thought, word, and action can bring about a miracle.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2012, 09:44:03 AM »
It becomes a taboo when it comes to infectious deseases. HIV/AIDS is a death sentence. There is no cure. Most people will react in rage when they found out that their spouse, loved ones got infected by these deseases. They shunned ridicule and cut ties with them after that.They act are out of selfishness and ignorance. We should care for them, support these infected people and help them by not treating them as some monster. Educating ourself about HIV/AIDS will help us understand and deal with these people. Do we want to be shunned too? If we do not then we should educated ourself and learn to understand them.

DS Star

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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2012, 11:48:25 AM »
Like sonamdhargey said,  "HIV/AIDS is a death sentence". To forgive someone who supposedly infected us with this deadly disease is definitely 'impossible' for most of us...

However, for highly attained minds, this is not uncommon... not only in Buddhism we talk about forgiveness and compassion, in other mainstream religions as well... here are two of the amazing stories:

1. Venerable Palden Gyatso

The Venerable Palden Gyatso spent 33 years in Chinese prison and labor camps, where he was extensively tortured. After his release in 1993, he fled to Dharamsala in northern India, the Tibetan exile capitol. Since then he has traveled the world speaking against violence and for the cause of human rights in Tibet.

Instead of speaking about hatred, Ven Palden Gyatso is speaking about compassion for his abusers actually... His story was so inspiring that it was made into a movie. Here is a glimpse of the movie:

Small | Large

More links on Ven Palden Gyatso:

2. Pope John Paul II

The very charismatic and famous Pope was shot at by Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca on 13 May 1981, in St. Peter's Square at Vatican City.

The Pope was struck four times, and  critically wounded with severe blood loss. A?ca was apprehended immediately, and later sentenced to life in prison by an Italian court.

However, the Pope, unmistakably a living Bodhisattva full of compassion, had later forgave A?ca for the assassination attempt. On top of that, the Pope had also requested Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi to pardon the would-be assassin and Mehmet Ali Agca was deported to Turkey in June 2000.

A new book revealed that the Pope actually had already forgiven his shooter while he was rushed to hospital after he was wounded. How remarkable...


1st photo showed Pope John Paul II meets with his would-be assassin, Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca, in Agca's prison cell in Rome; 2nd photo showed the Pope embraces Muzeyen Agca, mother of Mehmet Ali Agca in another occasion.

Positive Change

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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2012, 12:53:57 PM »
It becomes a taboo when it comes to infectious deseases. HIV/AIDS is a death sentence. There is no cure. Most people will react in rage when they found out that their spouse, loved ones got infected by these deseases. They shunned ridicule and cut ties with them after that.They act are out of selfishness and ignorance. We should care for them, support these infected people and help them by not treating them as some monster. Educating ourself about HIV/AIDS will help us understand and deal with these people. Do we want to be shunned too? If we do not then we should educated ourself and learn to understand them.

Do allow me to correct a misconception. Being HIV+ is no longer a death sentence in so far as it is imminent death. If that is the case, we are all HIV+ because we all suffer from imminent death. With the proper medication, HIV+ can and is a disease one can live with and carry on a fruitful and meaningful life. It is not like when it was first discovered whereby HIV medication was not available or perfected yet.

With proper vigilance in taking the medication, some HIV+ people can even outlive people without the disease. It is therefore NOT a death sentence per se. Yes, HIV+ people can be more susceptible to ailments if they allow their immunity to be compromised (HIV medication helps in keeping the immunity in check).

Yes the medications do not cure but they can delay or even in some cases put the virus in hibernation where it can cause no harm for the time being.

The segregation and shunning of HIV+ people is still happening and will continue to happen as long as we hold on to a fear of the unknown (which education and compassion can eradicate). This "phenomenon" is not unique to HIV+ people, it is prevalent to any notion whereby society deems it to be "not the norm"or  "different"... There is still sexism, racism and homophobia in this day and age.

The other point I would like to highlight is the fact that HIV/AIDS is put together in the same context as FORGIVENESS... Is there something to forgive when a person is HIV+? It is through  their own karma that such illness has manifested. The person does not need your forgiveness but your compassion!

Happy World AIDS day everyone and do lend a hand to those in need, HIV+ or not... We do not need more labels in this material age.... :)


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2012, 03:15:09 PM »
Buddhist teachings address forgiveness by encouraging the development of internal conditions that bring about forgiveness,understanding and compassion.
Forgiveness is seen as a practice to prevent harmful thoughts from causing havoc on one's mental well being.
In contemplating the law of karma,we realize that it is not a matter of seeking revenge but of practicing loving kindness and forgiveness,for the victimizer is,truly,the most unfortunate of all.If we haven't forgive,we keep creating an identity around our pain,and that is what is reborn.That is what suffers.
It is much lighter after letting the trespass go. We can maintain that light quality by refusing to make other people's decision about us.Forgiveness starts as a symbol of that letting go.The more practice we get at refusing to own their actions,we have no reason to forgive,because we didn't make it about us.Their actions might leave us bruise,but no mental strain.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2012, 06:30:17 PM »
Forgiveness is the most liberating experience/feeling one can have. Harboring grudges, anger, revenge, hatred towards someone, or people, is more difficult than just forgiving. Holding on to those feelings sometimes drags on and stays with you for a long time, whilst forgiving will only take a shorter time. Besides, every moment spent holding a grudge, is a moment lost with that person. Life is too short to hold on to grudges, and seriously, I don't think we have the time to as well.

Personally speaking, I used to hold on to alot of anger and bitterness, and that in turn affected me, my energy, how I lived my days, the people I was with, the aura I gave, and my life. Everything about me was just so..angry and negative and bitter. And upon deeper contemplation, understanding and really letting go and forgiving, it felt as if a one tonne burden has been lifted off my shoulders. It was just so liberating, because you realise that there really is no point harbouring anger and hatred towards someone else. You can put your energy to better things, why spend it on something which is totally not worth it, when time is already so short for us. It was way easier to let go.

In this case, I can imagine the immense hatred that Judith went through upon hearing the news, but what could she have done. Even if she killed her boyfriend, it wouldn't have changed the fact. In fact, she would spend it in more misery, having to go to jail! Well, whatever happens to us has been created by a past action that we did, therefore there really is no point in getting angry (well maybe for a short while yes, then let it go). I am glad Judith didn't carry out her actions out of hatred and anger in the end. Maybe she ended her karma there and then.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2012, 07:39:09 PM »
If someone had done something as severe and hurtful as transmitting HIV/AIDS virus to us, it would be extremely hard to forgive that person!  We are talking about losing a precious human life! Chances are that it is not forthcoming!  It is only logical that this reaction is expected because the ego mind is very protective and defensive when it comes to its own survival!  It takes acceptance, letting go, courage, understanding and realisation of Karma, before the HIV/AIDS victim would finally consider forgiving the other person who have brought him or her harm.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2012, 09:54:34 AM »
Jessie Fong, great subject! Thanks for those who shared all the other inspiring stories... I loved reading about Pope John II. There are living Boddhisattva's everywhere...

I heard a teaching last week on how the karma to contract a life-threatening diseases is actually from being deceptive (HIV/AIDS) and holding onto anger (cancer).

Deception leaves people feeling insecure about what you have to say. Despite modern medicine being available to stabilise the HIV virus, a HIV carrier will always be on their toes as to when their disease will flare up, causing them to be constantly living on the edge.

Not speaking straight-forward, and causing people to always doubt your integrity and honesty, and the unsettling confusion left in people's minds. This reflects in the insecurity that you have with your health - when will the disease flare up and be full-blown AIDS, and take away your life?

For cancer, I heard that it is from holding onto anger. The bad wind and energy that circulates within the body. Not being able to let go. Meditation like tonglen can help.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2012, 04:35:26 PM »
I've always forgiven people who has hurt me badly. My logic of  letting go and forgive  before learning dharma is that it takes more energy and effort to hold a grudge. Letting go is actually easier. I feel lighter when Ive let go and forgiven.

After studying some dharma, I realised that on a deeper level, there is no reason not to forgive.. It is our karma to be hurt by the person. So there is no one to blame but ourselves. We must have hurt the person in our previous lives. So we deserve it.

Furthermore, when we die, it doesn't matter anymore. After we reincarnate, we would have forgotten about it anyway. So why torture ourselves and hold on a grudge?

Whenever I remind myself of the above, it makes it even easier to let go and forgive.

Jessie Fong

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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2012, 07:56:12 AM »
Another grieving family forgives ...

The family and friends of former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown had stayed out of the public eye for the most part since the Saturday morning car accident that took Brown's life and put the driver, Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent, in jail on intoxication manslaughter charges. That changed Monday, and the results were captivating. On Tuesday, Brent attended Brown's funeral at Dallas' Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, where team chaplain Tony Evans serves as pastor. He did so with Brown's family because Brown's family is capable of stunning gestures of love and forgiveness.

.... Stacey Jackson, Brown's mother, accelerated that generosity of spirit to an entirely new level. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sent his own plane so that Brown's family could arrive in Dallas for the service, and Jackson asked that Brent meet the family at the airport, ride with her to the service, and sit with the family while Brown was remembered.
"I was upset, but I realized that our youth today are young and stupid, and we were all once that age, and we've all done things we're not proud of," Jackson said on Monday's "Piers Morgan Tonight" show on CNN. "I realized that everyone thinks they're invincible, and everyone thinks, 'it's not going to happen to me.' I know Josh Brent, and he's been part of our family since Jerry went to the University of Illinois -- all I can do is to pray for him and his family. I know [Brent] is hurting just as much as we are, because [he] and Jerry were like brothers."

... What is remarkable about the story so far is how willing those closest to Jerry Brown are to forgive, and to open their hearts to Josh Brent when many others would not. From a human perspective, and leaving everything else out of the picture for the moment, it's fairly amazing.

Would you be able to forgive him if it was your son who died?

extracted from :


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2012, 12:36:59 PM »
Mahayana ( “Great Vehicle”) Buddhism, with its plethora of savior figures, makes place for a warmer, more positive conception of forgiveness than we find in early Buddhism. But even there salvation centers not on forgiveness but on release from delusion and suffering through meditative insight into the nature of reality. Buddhism queries the reality of the passions that make forgiveness necessary and also queries the reality of the objects of those passions. My anger, resentment, and hatred are delusions, and so is the crime or offense the other is thought to have committed against me. Indeed, my very concept of “myself” and of “other” is pervaded by delusion and fixation. Even if these Buddhist ideas were totally untrue, it would still be very wholesome to meditate on them at a time when national, ethnic, and religious identity has so often shown a murderous face.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2012, 06:09:46 PM »
I would like to share Buddha story about forgiveness...

Once Buddha was in an assembly when a man walked in looking furious. He thought Buddha was doing something wrong. He was a restless businessman and he had found that his children were spending hours with Buddha when they could have engaged themselves in business at that time, making more and more money. He felt that spending four hours of their day seated next to someone whose eyes were always closed was incredulous. This was what had upset the businessman.

So, with furiousness walked straight up to Buddha looked him the eye and spat. He was so angry, he could not find the words to express them that he merely spat at Budha. Buddha simply smiled. He showed no anger, though the disciples around him were angry. They would have liked to react but could not because Buddha was there. So, everybody was holding their lips and fists tight. After the businessman spat at Buddha and realised his action was not drawing a reaction, simply walked away in a huff.

Buddha did not react or say anything. He just smiled. And that was enough to shock the angry man. For the first time in his life, the man had met someone who would just smile when he spat on his face. That man could not sleep all night and his whole body underwent such a transformation. He was shivering, shaking. He felt as if the whole world had turned upside down. The next day he went and fell at Buddha’s feet and said, “Please forgive me. I did not know what I did.” To which Buddha replied, “I cannot excuse you!”

Everyone including the man and Buddha’s disciples were flabbergasted. Buddha then explained the reason for his statement. He said, “Why should I forgive you when you have done nothing wrong”.

The businessman looked a little more surprised and told Buddha that it was he who had wronged him by spitting on him. Buddha simply said, “Oh! That person is not there now. If I ever meet that person whom you spat on, I will tell him to excuse you. To this person who is here, you have done no wrong.” That is real compassion.

Compassion is not saying, “I forgive you.” Your forgiveness should be such that the person who is forgiven, does not even know that you are forgiving them. They should not even feel guilty about their mistake.

Therefore if someone holds on to you for something you did in the past, just laugh at them. This is because you are not the same person now. You see it as though somebody else did it.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2012, 12:45:56 PM »
“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.”

When we regret our past actions, or when we deny responsibility for them, or the outcome of them, we are suffering. When we blame someone else for our woes, like a boomerang the hurt flies back to us. While we are regretting and blaming and denying what has been done, we are trapped in the eternal circle of suffering, or samara, the Buddhist cycle of life and death pervaded by suffering.

So how do we heal ourselves and move on from regret, blame and denial?" Well, the answer is provided by Buddha - to think beyond our self and our own suffering.

We all experience suffering in one way or another, and we all share certain suffering. We are all born, we all grow old or sicken or suffer an accident, and die. We all lose loved ones. We are all trapped in samsara, in suffering and the way to liberate ourselves, and others, from the pain of suffering is to let go of regret, let go of blame, and denial. Realize that everyone feels pain, and take some time to lessen, by however small a portion, the suffering of another.    We may think our action will go unrewarded, or even unnoticed, but if we practice this enough, it will make a difference. Our friend will hopefully recognize our compassion, and may be inspired to commit a similar selfless act to someone else in turn.


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Re: HIV/AIDS And Forgiveness
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2013, 04:14:04 PM »
I think people begin to make HIV/AIDS as such a huge issue because of the route of which the disease is spread ie sexually. Especially when a person is in a relationship, this shows that the partner has not been faithful to their spouse/bf/gf... and therefore the anger that comes from it is mainly due to the infidelity and lost of trust toward the infected. It's not so much as ostracizing the patients, but when someone has already been so hurt from being cheated and then had to face the fact that they need to care for their partner/spouse and at the same time if they have children... they will fear if such a situation will affect the child etc... its complicated.

Take for example, some people get HIV through blood transfusion... they never get much negative reaction from their family/friends, except from the narrow minded people whom are not educated about the disease.

Forgiveness... yes, it will come. After all, when we realize that 'letting go' is actually easier than holding on... people will move on and make the most of it.

BTW, HIV is not a death sentence... geez. Cancer and high cholesterol will kill you faster than HIV