It is right and necessary that we should be individuals. If two persons were exactly alike, one would be unnecessary in the scheme of things. Emerson said that imitation is suicide. The Divine Spirit never made any two things alike – no two rosebushes, two snowflakes, two grains of sand, nor two persons. We are all just a little unique, for each wears a different face but behind each is the One Presence – God. Unity does not mean uniformity. Unity means that everything draws its strength, its power, and its ability to live from One source. One Life does flow through everything, but this Life is never monotonous; It is forever doing new things in you and in me.
I affirm that I, too, am of this original Spirit and that It is doing something new through me today. Therefor, everything I do is original; it is a new creation. There is a new enthusiasm, a new zest for life. Even the old songs I sing are different because of renewed influx coming from “the Maker of all music.”
The Divine Spirit is flowing through me in an individual way and I accept the genius of my own being. Since the original Artist is doing something new through me today, I do not imitate others. Each is a king in his own right; each is a Divine Being on the pathway of an eternal unfoldment. Gladly I recognize and unite with the genius in others, but always keep the uniqueness of my own personality. All the Presence there is flowing through me in an original manner. I invite the inspiration, the illumination, and the guidance of God and gladly cooperate with them.
Our religions say that God is the best healer. He heals us by forgiving our failures and shortcomings. We all have this divine power to heal ourselves and others with forgiveness. It is in healing through forgiveness, and by forgiving those who multiply our suffering, we come closest to God. Before we discuss the importance of forgiveness in spiritual practice and the need for cultivating forgiving nature or the attitude of forgiveness, let us contemplate upon some healing truths.
Whether you hurt someone or hurt by someone, you are invariably disturbed. Therefore, whether you forgive yourself or others, forgiveness is always an act of letting go and finding peace. Forgiving others is a good karma. It is an opportunity to heal yourself. If you do not forgive them, you will carry that burden until the end, and perhaps into your future lives until it is resolved.
When you seek forgiveness from others, you help them do good karma, which is also a good karma in itself. However, you know that you cannot control others, but you can control yourself and your attitude. Therefore, when it comes to seeking forgiveness, it is better to keep your expectations low and practice humility. It may be assuring to know that if you seek forgiveness with sincerity and right attitude, you are forgiven, whether others forgive you or not, since God is the witness to all our actions and he knows a good deed when he sees one. Some sins are unforgivable. Only time and retribution will heal them. From the wisdom of our scriptures and spiritual masters we know that through suffering all sins are forgiven.
It is difficult to forgive others when you feel you are wronged, and your anger is perfectly justified. It is where you have an opportunity to rise above yourself and show your compassion. Whether you forgive someone, or not, is purely a personal choice. It depends upon your thinking and attitude and your beliefs and values. Sometimes, it is very difficult to forgive, especially when the hurt is deep and cannot easily be forgotten. Sometimes, it may last for a lifetime. Past life regression suggest that it may even last for several lifetimes and become a source of suffering. It shows how difficult it is for people to practice forgiveness.
However, we also know the consequences of unforgiving nature. People who are unforgiving and hold on to their grudges and grievances experience a lot of suffering and negativity. It shows up in their behavior and attitude, as they carry their distrust, anger and bitterness for long and become self-defensive. Consumed by their feelings of negativity, which effects their judgment, reason and discernment, they may also suffer from social alienation, monetary losses, depression and ill-health,
In some cultures, certain offenses can never be forgiven, since God himself does not condone them. In some, forgiveness is done by retaliation or by seeking an eye for an eye. How and why you forgive others depend upon your beliefs and personal values. It is not even necessary that you have to tell others that you have forgiven them. You can just internally do it and be free from all negativity. It is difficult to generalize and say what motivates a person to forgive others. However, we know that a person is forgiving to the extent he or she is spiritual and enlightened. Knowledge and education also help.
Forgiveness is self-cleansing. It has transformative power. It is a virtue and good karma. The attitude of forgiveness can be cultivated by practice. It is encouraged in almost all religious and spiritual traditions. Forgiveness is a virtue in itself and has its own physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Everyone needs to practice it for their own peace and happiness. By forgiving others you mend your relationships, feel good about yourself, overcome stress and anxiety, improve your physical and mental health and heal yourself.
Factors that contribute to forgiveness
As long as you have a body and depend upon food, you cannot avoid hurting others for your survival. Therefore, you must constantly seek forgiveness from all things that sacrifice themselves to sustain you and nourish you. It is why we have the tradition of offering food to God before eating it. By offering it to God, you are passing on all the sinful karma that is associated with it, the pain and suffering of all the beings that went into its making.
One should therefore cultivate forgiveness even if one is nonviolent and leads a dedicated, spiritual life. The attitude of forgiveness is a culmination of your spiritual practice and inner growth. By cultivating it, you can cultivate all other related virtues. The following factors facilitate the attitude of forgiveness. You can practice forgiveness by cultivating them. At the same time, by practicing forgiveness, you can cultivate all of them as they reinforce each other, just as the branches of a banynan tree. As you learn to forgive others, you will become more virtuous and spiritual. You will become God like and develop a healing personality. By that, you will heal your relationships, your past, others and yourself.
Attention: Pay attention to the world around you. It helps you see the deeper aspects of life, which we usually miss, and connect with your own deeper thoughts and feelings.
Connection: Find yourself in others. See the similarities. By that you will connect with the people around you, establish affinity and share their thoughts and feelings from deep inside.
Reflection: By reflecting upon things, people and life, we gain insight in the nature of our existence, and our behavior, which in turn help us become more understanding and forgiving.
Self-acceptance: We all make mistakes. When we realize that just as we are, others too are vulnerable to certain weaknesses and errors in judgment, we become more tolerant and forgiving.
Egolessness: Egoistic people rarely forgive or forget. The ego is responsible for conflicts, aggression and selfish behavior. By controlling it, one can cultivate tolerance and understanding.
Humility: When you practice humility, you will set aside your egoistic pride, vanity and self-importance, recognizing others as your equals and their right to self-expression and self-esteem.
Compassion: Forgiveness is an offshoot of many virtues. Compassion is one of them. If you have compassion for others for their suffering, you will naturally forgive others and let them go
Nonviolence: The essence of nonviolence is you do not disturb anyone and you are not disturbed by anyone. It means, you will not give any cause to forgive others or seek forgiveness from them.
Friendliness: By cultivating universal friendliness or agreeableness, you will seek harmony rather than rancor, and willingly forgive others with compassion for their weakness and wrong actions.
Empathy: By feelings the feelings and emotions of others, you develop an understanding of others, as you observe their actions and suffering. It will help you cultivate the attitude of forgiveness.
Understanding: Problems in relationships mainly arise due to misunderstandings as each side fails to understand the other. With understanding you become more tolerant and forgiving.
Open-mindedness: If you are open-minded, you listen to others and understand their viewpoints. You will also have greater tolerance for your mistakes and shortcomings and those of others.
Flexibility: It is difficult to forgive if you stick to your point of view. By being flexible and changing your thinking or your perspective, you will see the same problem in a different light and feel differently.
Minimize expectations: If you have expectations, you may not easily change your thinking or attitude towards others, nor can you think and act objectively. Therefore, lower your expectations.
Spirituality and forgiveness
Forgiveness means letting go of the negativity or the feelings of resentment, anger, animosity, etc., which you may hold in your mind towards others. Even if you are fully justified in having such feelings, you must be willing to let go of them for your own good, so that you are not oppressed by your own thoughts or your resistance to let the wrong doers go unpunished. To be able to forgive the most unforgivable actions, the injustices, wickedness and cruelty of the world, it requires a large heart, which only a few can possess. If you can repeatedly do that, it means you have made the attitude of forgiveness an integral part of your consciousness and essential nature.
The attitude of forgiveness is a direct outcome of the attitude of spirituality. Spiritual practice essentially involves the cultivation of all the virtues which we are mentioned here. They arise as one focuses upon cleansing the mind and body by restraining the mind and the senses, overcoming egoism, desires and attachments and cultivating the higher virtues such as detachment, equanimity and sameness.
As someone said, forgiveness is not for the weak. It requires strength and a large heart to forgive others and let go of the hard feelings that settle in the mind. Since all virtues are interrelated and work in tandem, and since the cultivation of one leads to the cultivation of others, by practicing forgiveness, you can also simultaneously cultivate all others that contribute to it. In other words, you can transform your nature and life by practicing just one virtue, the virtue of forgiving yourself and others.
“It is a metaphysical fact that for each minute of time we spend in thoughts of unfavorable impressions, unkind criticism, or hate toward any person, there will be hours of physical and mental suffering as a reaction. The first thing to do, then, in considering the relief of any mental or physical condition is to analyze your mental self over a period of time preceding the condition and discover what thoughts, attitudes, and conditions of mind you have held or expressed, and immediately eliminate this attitude by reversing your opinions, thoughts, and holding thoughts of love and kindness instead. In other words, the poison from the mind that has been eating at the very heart of every cell in your body must be eliminated before any treatment can be given to relieve the ultimate and outer manifestations. Any other process is merely treating the outer manifestations as though giving them a drug to nullify the senses without removing the actual cause.”
There are no obstructions to life’s path; no hindrance to life’s endeavors. My word is the law of elimination to all thought of hindrance or delay. The thing that I speak comes forth into manifestation at once. I behold it and see that it is even now done, complete and perfect. I receive now.
When Jesus spoke of being “lifted up from the earth” he meant that that which is human about us must consciously become united with the Divine. In ancient writings the earth stood for the lowest form of life, while heaven represented the highest. Therefore, being lifted up from the earth means uniting earth with heaven. This daily lifting up of our thought is necessary if we wish to so unite ourselves and everything we are doing with the Divine spiritual Power that flows through us and into all our acts.
I now turn to the Spirit within me. I know that It is close to me, It is what I am, and It governs my life in harmony and in peace. And I know that through me It brings joy and happiness to everyone I meet. Through the Power of this indwelling Spirit I am a blessing to myself and others.
I lift up my whole mind to the realization that the Spirit of God is within me and that this perfect Spirit is my real self. I invite the Spirit to direct my thoughts and acts, and I believe that It is doing so. I expect new ideas to stimulate my imagination and direct me into new ways of doing things. I invite and expect new circumstances and situations, and I know that as they present themselves, the Intelligence within me will accept them and act upon them. I know that the Divine Presence within me makes Itself known to every person I meet, to every situation I encounter. I know that It brings life and joy and happiness to everything and everyone.
Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks. I’ve been having some computer problems. It seems that my computer wouldn’t let me open my WordPress site. I’ve finally figured out how to open it a different way. Sorry, I’m somewhat computer illiterate.
Anyway, I believe I have resolved the issue, so I’ll be posting again starting today. Thanks for sticking with me. I look forward to hearing your wonderful comments and finally reading your great blogs again.