Yesterday I wrote that the path to enlightenment was often abandoned by well-intended seekers who were simply not willing to pay the price demanded for a realization of union with Source. The truth is we are never not “One” with this Power in which everything, which exists, dwells. To reach full realization of our true identity does require the loss of self-identity, but along the way there are many things we can do to improve our day-to-day awareness of peace.
It is my intention over the next one hundred blog posts to explore some of the choices we can make which, once implemented, result in a life that is more peaceful. I began my spiritual quest nearly thirty years ago, at a time when my life had become really broken. I was at my rock bottom and was compelled to find a way to live a life that worked.
When I stumbled into Unity on the Plaza (The founder Charles Fillmore’s Church) in October of 1984 I was amazed to discover that the female minister (the first one I had ever seen) was speaking directly to me, despite the fact that I was trying to hide in the very back of the upper balcony. I have no idea what she said that day and unfortunately I do not even know her name (she was a temporary interim minister between permanent pastors,) but what I do know is that Spirit opened my ears and heart to embrace her words, in a way I never had before, and I immediately knew I was embarking on a new chapter in my life.
So, over the next twenty weeks I am going to be sharing things I have learned on my quest. I am not going to place these lessons in any particular order. I will simply say “Yes” and share what is in my heart on each day. Some lessons will require multiple writings as I am trying to make my blog posts a little shorter so that they are quicker to read.
Today I feel urged to speak to forgiveness. Aside from meditation, the benefits of forgiveness are the most important revelations I have received. When we choose to forgive ourselves and others we lighten the burden created by resentment. If you have ever truly forgiven anyone you know exactly what I am talking about.
So what keeps us from forgiving others?
- We feel so hurt that forgiveness is out of the question
- The offender does not deserve forgiveness
- Forgiving them means I condone their behavior
- I am simply not ready to let go of the hurt
- If I forgive it opens me up to be hurt again
Of course the list can go on with as many reasons for rejecting forgiveness as there are individuals.
I am not going to try and dispel each of these reasons for withholding forgiveness. Let’s instead just accept the premise that anyone you are unwilling to forgive deserves your anger, bitterness, and resentment.
The real question is “Do you deserve to be continually injured by the person who hurt you in the first place?” The only thing we gain by holding on to our hurt is more pain. I know it seems counter-intuitive: it would seem that by refusing to forgive or forget another’s actions we are keeping ourselves safe, but the exact opposite is true. By not forgiving we think we are constructing walls that keep offenders out, but in truth our refusal builds barriers which hold our pain and suffering in. Instead of this choice keeping us from experiencing more sorrow, we create a cesspool where the vitriolic emotions rot, inevitably creating more of what we were trying to avoid.
If you have never successfully forgiven anyone then you are probably skeptical about the advantages to be found in forgiveness. I will promise you that in addition to being happier, you will experience a lighter, healthier body and a less cluttered mind when you are able to let go of past hatred.
I cannot promise that forgiving is easy. It becomes easier with practice, but sometimes when the hurt is deep enough there can be strong emotions attached which make letting go harder. Monday I will go through more of the advantages and discuss methods I have utilized in my own forgiveness exercises.
Until then, entertain the possibility that forgiveness can actually set you free emotionally, help you to experience less stress, and allow you to live a more peaceful, happy life.