By Jonathan Glass
“We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present”. -Marianne Williamson
Forgiveness is a powerful way to detoxify our consciousness. It allows us to reclaim the here and now by releasing the past and freeing the present. Forgiveness helps us best use the element of time and free ourselves of negative karma. Forgiveness helps us strengthen all four legs of dharma:
- Truth: Forgiveness releases resentments and judgments that cloud present perception, allowing for a more accurate vision of reality.
- Purity: Forgiveness releases mental and emotional negativity.
- Discipline: Forgiveness disciplines the mind to stay present and see what is, rather than what our conditioning and resentments encourage us to see. It also takes discipline to practice forgiveness.
- Compassion: Forgiveness allows us to act and live from a place of love and respect. Compassion (nonviolence) supports others in awakening to their natural loving state.
From the perspective of ancient wisdom, we come into the world lacking awareness of our real nature. We tend to view ourselves, others, and the world through the lens of our own projections. These projections often come from emotional wounds and familial or social conditioning. Unfortunately, these projections turn into judgments. Judgments limit perception, as they are preconceived “decisions” about reality. Preconceived decisions about reality interfere with receiving the freedom, beauty, love, and power available in each moment.
Forgiveness means to let go of and look past our judgments of others and to see their essence instead. By doing so, we forgive and perceive them more clearly, opening the doorway to compassion and witnessing their inner self. The interesting thing is that when we forgive others by looking for their essence instead of their faults, we offer the same precious gift to ourselves. Forgiveness is a doorway to the higher consciousness. Forgiveness is a conscious choice we make from moment to moment and situation to situation. It frees us up to let go of toxic, emotional debris that negatively impacts our lives and bodies. Forgiveness offers freedom to us and peace to others. It is perhaps the most healing use of our time, purifying the time element itself. When time is purified, all the other material elements are also healed and cleansed.
Forgiveness and Peace of Mind
“For as we offer freedom, it is given us. . . . What I give my brother is my gift to me.”-A Course in Miracles
“A person is considered still further advanced when he regards honest well-wishers, affectionate benefactors, the neutral, mediators, the envious, friends, relatives and enemies, the pious and the sinners all with an equal mind.” -Bhagavad Gita 6.9
Eating a clean, plant-based diet helps refine our nervous system, balance the mind, support intuition, enhance intelligence, and nourish compassion. When the body and mind are clear, forgiveness comes more easily. While the capacity to forgive is not dependent on a clean diet, it is easier when the mind and body are not disturbed by Tamasic-dulling foods, toxins, and biochemical/blood sugar imbalances caused by poor diet. Forgiveness is an offering of freedom to another, which, through transcendental law, gives freedom back to us. Focusing and judging others for their fault keeps us trapped.
Forgiveness has a mystical quality. When applied in daily life, it leads us to recognize our own essential, loving nature. In so doing, we are able to spontaneously recognize the same in others. We can all hear many voices arising from within. Ancient wisdom traditions acknowledge that, while we do have numerous manifestations of the “false ego voice”, we have one inner voice of wisdom that is accessible to all. This is a voice of wisdom, love, peace, understanding, truth, and forgiveness. In mystic Christian traditions, it is called the voice of the Holy Spirit. In the Eastern yogic traditions, it is known as the Paramatma, Buddhi, or God within. For others, it is the higher self.
Authentic forgiveness is not a form of denial, rather the spiritual practice of deep presence and listening to the inner voice of wisdom and truth. The proof of the voice of forgiveness is that, when we listen to it and act on it, the result will always be peace. If we continue to project and judge reality according to our conditioned fears, our perceptions will continue to be distorted. Judgment is a frozen image stuck in time preventing our personal freedom. Judgment keeps us disconnected from ourselves and from the present moment. It is the clever ploy of the false ego!
Grace can manifest in our lives when we rid the moment of judgment and allow the beauty of love to take over. Forgiveness is the act of consciously bypassing the voice of judgment while listening instead to the voice of wisdom and love within. Forgiveness is a doorway to truth.
A final note:
Many people ask, “What about real evil or serious abuse? How can that be forgiven?” or “How can I forgive someone if that person is still not safe to be around?” or, finally, “What did I do to deserve this?” Forgiveness does not require that we abandon the quality of discernment, nor does it weaken our discriminative powers; it actually strengthens them. Through forgiveness, our perception comes closer to seeing reality. Forgiveness does not negate the necessity of expressing our feelings or speaking our truth. Suppression is not healthy or beneficial. In fact, communicating directly, openly, and honestly ( and nonviolently, without attacking), even if it brings up discomfort in ourselves and in others, often makes greater space for healing and forgiveness to occur. Forgiveness does not suggest that we continue to expose ourselves to abuse. However, focusing on the negative in others is always harmful. If a person is still not safe to be around, like someone who is violent or physically and mentally abusive, we can still forgive him or her—from a distance.
Forgiveness here means to simultaneously see their essence and understand their present sickness while keeping a healthy distance. With a free mind and a healed heart, we can stay physically and emotionally safe at the same time.
“Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned . . .” -St. Francis of Assisi