Forgiveness – Part 1
Dear Spiritual Explorer: Last year I was very hurt by a cousin of mine who said and did some very unconsciously hurtful things. I say unconscious because I do not think he deliberately chose to hurt me. However, even though it was not deliberate, it hurt. Can you give me some insight on the process of forgiveness? Megan P., San Francisco, CA
Waking up with clarity
Dear Megan: In making my own steps towards forgiveness, I have to say it’s not an easy thing to do. One of the best reasons for not forgiving is that you think you are right and that the person is wrong or has truly wronged you. That is not an easy place to journey from. I use the word “journey” because I feel that forgiveness is truly a spiritual quest and is consistent and can cohabitate with spiritual enlightenment. It also requires that you begin to disidentify with your pain body as clarified by Eckart Tolle in The Power of Now and expanded by me later on in this response.
“Being right” is a very difficult step to overcome when attempting to being forgiving. You need only to have taken those popular EST courses in the 70’s given by Werner Erhardt, later called Landmark, to realize how being right can be so wrong. Yes, you may be “right,” but in terms of forgiveness, it backs you into and keeps you standing in a corner of self-righteousness, alone and solitary. Being right also means that you are not cognizant of the suffering that has forever created similar situations between not only you and that somebody else whom you are currently struggling with, but other like situations where both of you consider yourselves to be right. You both are stuck and eventually are standing like statues on a pedestal of being right. It is an immovable, fixed place where no peace or joy resides. You have not realized the joy of “letting go,” and consequent forgiveness, which is about surrendering the ego eventually. I term “ego” the personality and conditioning you have suffered from through your whole life.
What is spiritual enlightenment?
And what is spiritual enlightenment? In a very specific way, the word “enlightenment” means we lighten up as we traverse our path. It simply means we get lighter. How do we get lighter? We give up that baggage we have been carrying for a lifetime. The next question is what does that baggage consist of? For me it is about blaming somebody for something in my past. I am sure many people are going to say, “Well my so and so raped me and it sent me on a path to drugs and promiscuity. How can you say I can’t blame him?” You’re quite right; it might have sent you on that path; however, the fact that you continue down that path becomes your responsibiltiy. In this day and age, especially, when we have so many self-help books and groups dealing with various kinds of abuse, there is almost no reason for somebody to continue what they call the “blame game.” I also understand that not everybody, no matter what is available, has all the requisite knowledge or ability to be able to come into an enlightened stance of forgiveness. For some it might take a lifetime; for others, it is truly a process of gathering together all the psychological, mental and physical steps necessary for forgiveness. I cannot of course say how long one might achieve that place.
The power of intention
I do believe however in the power of intention, and if one has come to believe that it is a necessary step up to spirituality, I believe that there is magic in the universe that will enable us to receive the necessary lessons and teachers we need to help us along the path. Again, I rely upon the prayer of Jesus, if one has the eyes to see and ears to hear, one will receive the truth no matter how it appears. For me, this has meant that unexpected words of wisdom have come my way in times of suffering for which I have been most grateful.
Aligning with spiritual self rather than psychological self
Now of course we know people who are still suffering from what I would also call an alignment with their psychological suffering. So long as you align yourself with your psychological suffering and feel that your life is controlled from what you have suffered, you will never reach the other shore towards that which you wish to reach. F. Scott Peck, the best-selling author of The Road Less Traveled, felt that true salvation or mental health comes to persons as they set aside prejudices of the past and strive toward fulfilling their own potential to save themselves. F. Scott Peck also speaks of traveling to the other shore, which is the place of spiritual empowerment. Spiritual empowerment comes from alignment with one’s spiritual self, not identification with one’s injured psychological self.
Taking responsibility a large step towards forgiveness
How does one not identify with the ‘injured” self? One of the ways is to intend to take responsibility for one’s life in a really big way. We know many people who have taken responsibility for their families, their physical self, perhaps even their mental self but still hold onto the pain of a painful past. In fact, their identification with this painful past has created what Eckhart Tolle in the Power of Now talks about the pain body. When a situation occurs that perhaps is neutral in some way, but one reacts in a totally reactive way, it emanates from that pain body that has been allowed to exist as a formidable block within one’s consciousness. Unfortunately, no matter how realistic or rational one becomes, unless one begins to disidentify with that pain body, and see it’s existence clearly, one will always react.
All of what I have written above is a precursor to taking the next step. It is my belief that these are necessary “aha” moments you may have received through this discourse,but one of the next steps is to begin to solidify your awareness in order to make that quantum leap into the necessary forgiveness that is part of the spiritual journey.
Our next post will give ten steps on how to forgive.
If you have a question about “forgiveness,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer