Forgiveness - Another Way
True forgiveness accepts who we are and what we’ve done. Then it allows our bigger, God-self to arise. There is no separation or blame ... simply oneness.
Like all those words like God, spirituality, prayer and so on, forgiveness means different things to different people. So I will talk about it from one point of view – that of A Course in Miracles.
Now, just to be clear, the normal definition of forgiveness is where somebody done somebody wrong, as the song goes, and the victim, being high and mighty, bestows their gracious blessings on the evil-doer. Immediately, we have put one person below another and we have created a debt – the naughty person is now beholden to the gracious one and guilt is compounded for the naughty one. That’s the old style of forgiveness and it simply creates separation and guilt. Not oneness.
I don’t know how many of you have experienced A Course in Miracles but is a psychological course to achieve peace in every moment of our lives. There are 365 readings and 365 exercises – one each for every day of the year. That sounds nice and cosy but it’s not. It’s a tough, unrelenting course and many start and don’t finish it. I did it every day for eleven years and they were not always nice and cosy years! It does, however, work – peace is delivered when the work is done.
I have a friend, John Michael, who lives in Howe in the south of England. The book is 1,380 pages long and John has been through 3 of them. He was so annoyed with the course, one day, that he threw it out the window of his car, quite oblivious to oncoming traffic! Another time, he was so incensed with it that he ripped out every one of the 1,380 pages, one by one, and tore each one up. Anyway, he persevered and, now, cannot hold a negative thought for more than two seconds. He has had long-term health problems and needs help with walking and other functions. But, despite being in constant pain and the restrictions in his life, he continually beams acceptance and love wherever he goes … or doesn’t go. He’s just a joy to be around.
The evidence doesn’t lie.
Spiritual growth doesn’t mean our problems go away. It does mean, however, that our reaction to the world’s insanity softens, as John’s experience shows.
Now, I won’t talk of forgiveness directly from the course for it would take too long in the time we have here. What I will do is sidle up to it from behind, so to speak, and talk of a process it recommends – a process that David Hawkins recommends in his book, Letting Go and a process that many others recommend.
One thing the course says is that we can never be upset at a fact. We can only be upset at what we think of a fact.
Let me give you a simple example:
I came across the Brahma Kumari group when I lived in Oxford, England. It is an organisation with over 2,500 centres around the world and millions of followers. In one of their workshops we were asked to imagine three different scenarios:
1. We walk into a room and discover there are some people over there, talking about us. They don’t notice us come in. What do we think and feel, knowing others are talking about us?
2. We walk into a room and discover there are some people over there, talking about us negatively. They don’t notice us come in. What do we think and feel, knowing others are talking badly about us?
3. We walk into a room and discover there are some people over there, praising us. They don’t notice us come in. What do we think and feel, knowing others are talking nicely about us?
See, the fact is that they are just saying words. How can they hurt? And those words wouldn’t hurt if they’d been about someone else or about their pet dog. But, because they’re about us, we choose to feel sad, bad, good, happy or whatever.
We can never be upset at a fact – only what we make of it.
So, back to A Course in Miracles that says our higher self, God-self – or whatever we call it – is always peaceful, happy and contented. It’s only our ego, our surface-self, so to speak, that is ruffled and grieved at the world. The purpose of the course – and all other spiritual practises – is to help bring our ruffled, surface-self back into alignment with our perpetually peaceful selves.
So, rather than theory, I’ll give a practical example:
For 20 years I have had pain in my knees and it has become increasingly difficult to walk. Then, on the 9th of March, I was to have that magic knee replacement operation to end years of pain and restriction. Oh, joy!
However, on the 3rd of March, 6 days before the operation, I was heading out on my daily cycle ride and a dog rushed up and savaged my leg. I was upset. I was in pain and was shaking from the shock. I stumbled home to clean it up, stop the bleeding and to gather my wits. When the wound was cleaned, disinfected and under control, relatively, I lost control. I cried and cried. I was angry. I was so angry and shaking from the pain, the shock. I knew I would have to delay the operation for several months, when the wound and the inflammation had died down. Probably another 3 months of knee pain.
As the course, David Hawkins and many others recommend, I let the tears flow and stayed with the anger, disappointment, frustration and every other emotion that passed through me. The anger flowed through me in waves and I did nothing to stop it. I just let it flow. I didn’t embrace the emotions as that, to me, implies some kind of attachment. Rather, I just opened myself and allowed in what wanted to come in.
The course (and others) suggests that everything that happens to us is actually happened BY us. We are the cause of everything the world throws at us and I allowed that possibility to be.
Eventually, as my shock and anger died down, I started tracking my anger.
I realised I wasn’t angry at the dog. It was just doing what dogs do.
Surprisingly, I wasn’t angry at missing out on the operation in a week’s time.
As my awareness closed in, I realised I wasn’t angry at the woman but I was angry at her lack of action. When it attacked me, she just stood there, at a distance, telling the dog it was a naughty dog and that it shouldn’t do it. I was angry at her impotence, at her choice to take no action, at her lack of support.
So I took that anger back to myself and asked where I had been impotent and inactive in my own life … where I had not taken affirmative action to protect and support myself in my life and where I had not supported others.
The connection with my knee came alive, for the first time. My knees weren’t fully supporting me because I wasn’t fully supporting myself from an emotional, physical, financial and/or soul level.
Then I cried tears of relief and, as I did, I felt a support rising from within, as if I had allowed my deeper, God-self to arise through the fog of ego and to support me.
Since then, my knee has been getting better and I’ve even gone on some short bush walks, something I haven’t done for many years. Also, last Friday, I learned to paddle-board, something that’s quite hard on the ankles, knees and thighs. I could not have done those things a month ago. And, today, I have been standing for three hours this morning, at a meeting, and here I am, standing before you. A month ago I couldn’t stand for more than half an hour before the pain made me sit.
The evidence doesn’t lie.
So, as per A Course in Miracles – and other experts – I did not forgive the dog for it did nothing but point me towards my own lack.
I did not forgive the woman. I wasn’t angry at her but at her actions … or lack of actions. John Michael would have transferred that anger to himself and to his God-self within two seconds. I took a little longer!
What I did was to allow the dog and the woman to point me to where alignment was lacking within me. There was no forgiving to do to the outside world – the dog and its owner – and forgiveness meant, in this way, that I was looking fairly and squarely at my own deficiencies and allowing the alignment to arise naturally.
So, this type of forgiveness does not forgive others. It does not cause separation and/or debts. It simply forgives ourselves in the sense of accepting who we are and what we’ve done … and then allowing our bigger, God-self to arise and bring alignment and peace to our ruffled ego-self.
And the evidence doesn’t lie – my knee is improving.
So, for me, John and millions of others who follow this idea, it works. Try it. You’ll love it!
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