The single most important work we will ever do is to heal anything which keeps us from Loving as the Universe Loves. Life has shown me that we are absolutely Loved without any conditions, Loved beyond anything we can imagine we deserve. When we work to approach learning to Love that way, the process itself is very cathartic, very healing, even if we never actually reach that goal.
1) The first and most important tool to becoming the greatest expression of Love you are capable of becoming is forgiveness. We cannot be a full and complete expression of Love as long as there is any hurt we hold as “unforgivable.”
In Truth, there is no hurt so hideous that it is intrinsically unforgivable. There is only that which we refuse to forgive. When we discover the truth that we are not incapable of forgiving but merely unwilling to do so, we find ourselves poised for significant growth previously unimagined in our wounded state.
I used to teach at a Federal Correctional Institution as part of The Life Connections program. It was a curriculum based system which separated individuals by their professed faith traditions.
During my years of teaching here, I had the joy of listening to Azim Khamisa a man who lost his twenty year old son, a college student working part-time as pizza delivery boy, to a gang-banger’s initiation rite. Azim and the perpetrator’s grandfather had created The Forgiveness Project which travelled the world teaching young people and adults the importance of self-esteem and of forgiveness.
At one of Mr. Khamisa’s presentations an inmate asked a very profound question of Azim: “How do you know when you have forgiven someone?” to which Azim answered, “I know I have forgiven someone when they have safe passage through my mind.” In other words, when he could think of someone and find no resentment remained in his mind, he knew he had completely forgiven that person.
While the tools for forgiveness are many and varied, the bottom line is that we must reach a point where we are able to think of that person and allow them to pass through our minds without any resentment or pain still attached to their image. The methods for accomplishing this are individual in nature, but I have always found that some degree of forgetfulness comes in handy as well as taking personal responsibility for the event. While I may have not played any part in the original injury, I have been the one who has clung to the memory of the incident. In this, I have complete responsibility. Wayne Dyer used to say that what happened yesterday was as ancient as the Peloponnesian War. In other words, let the past own the past and let your awareness be in the present. Hanging on to anything, any memory of the past only creates pain that need not be a part of our current day consciousness. Let it go and set both yourself and the alleged injurer free.
While I know that sometimes acts, which have injured us, seem so heinous that we feel completely justified in refusing to forgive, nonetheless, clinging to the hurt just allows pain to continue where peace could reside instead. Let it go, whatever it is. Allow the chains which bind you under the guise of these memories to fall away. Enjoy the new lightness, which accompanies such a release, to be your experience. Forgive today, tomorrow, and each day, until no trace, indeed no memory, of the hurt remains.
Not only will this free you of the heartache your anger has perpetuated, but it heals the whole world in the process. Even if you believe you are unable to do this for yourself, I would urge you to attempt it for the sake of all humanity. No greater work will you ever pursue.
2) The second most important work you can begin today follows the same line of reasoning. We must learn to Love ourselves just as we are so that we have an abundance of Love which overflows from our hearts to pass on to the world.
I believe that we cannot fully love another until we can fully love ourselves. Loving myself always begins with forgiving all the parts of me that I find hard or impossible to love.
Paul Ferrini, in his excellent book, The Twelve Steps of Forgiveness writes: “Every one of us has condemned ourselves. And every one of us has tried to work out of our self-hatred by projecting the responsibility for our problems upon others.
But it just doesn’t work. Self-hatred remains self-hatred, even when other people become involved. Attacking others or defending against their attack does not lessen our deep-seated judgment of ourselves. Deep down inside every single one of us is a wounded child who needs to heal.
The process of forgiveness offers this child the opportunity to heal. It is a life-long process that continues as long as we continue to judge ourselves and others.”
Ferrini is spot-on, in my humble opinion. As we forgive ourselves we find ourselves to be worthy of our love. This fills our heart to overflowing and we, in turn, find it easy to share this love with the world.
3) The third step we must master if we are to become full expressions of Love, is to stop judging. We learn to judge others from our earliest days of infancy, in part for our survival and in part because most of our parents were not examples of highly evolved humans.
We watch the news and we shake our heads wondering how people could be so screwed up, but we do not understand that everything we see is contained within us. There is only ONE power and ONE presence in the Universe and we dwell within that Oneness as IT. When we see actions, we judge as evil, we demonstrate a lack of understanding of the Truth. This Truth is that we see evil because we have evil within us. If it did not reside within us, we could not see it. When we judge some things as good and others as bad we are creating more and more separation, more increments of right and wrong, truth and untruth, when in fact all such judgment is illusion. Everything simply IS. Any other definition is judgment and judgment always leads to suffering.
When we learn to stop resisting what we see, start to tune in to the beauty which surrounds us, and learn to fully love “what is” we set ourselves and our world free of the pain that judgment creates. Everything we believe is “wrong” or “evil” only demonstrates areas where we need healing, areas where we are withholding Love. Such judgment never speaks to what is; it always only points to what resides within our own consciousness.
Judging is an habitual behavior. Consequently, it is not easy to stop. The best we can do is to begin to notice where we judge and instead immediately cancel that line of thinking and replace it with love. Loving what is instead of judging it as erroneous or bad can become the new habit. In replacing the separation-creating-judgment with a loving-inclusive-choice we begin opening to the possibility of becoming more loving individuals.
All three steps which I suggest as necessary to learning to Love as Love Itself loves are so intertwined it is virtually impossible to pull them apart for separate analysis.
To become the greatest expression of Love I am capable of becoming I must learn to love and forgive myself completely. In so doing I have the possibility of loving and forgiving everyone else. When I am successful in accomplishing these, lifelong pursuits, perhaps I can learn to stop judging others so that I find I have nothing new to forgive.
Once I become a clean and open vessel of the LOVE which is the Universe Expressing as Me, I can transcend the pain and drama that the unexamined life has always offered. These three steps create a life that is unimagined by most of humanity yet remains possible to each and every one of us.
Having glimpsed moments of pure, unadulterated Loving Openness I promise you that the work spent becoming such a vessel of Love pays greater rewards than can be dreamed. It must be experienced to be believed.
*Note: I first published, pieces of this article, in 2006 on my Love Expressing Blog which no longer exists. I reworked it and published it on WikiNut recently, and tweaked it, just a little, to post here. Hopefully, I have improved it enough that it sounds like a brand new writing.