There is no over-action or inaction in divine law, for everything moves according to perfect harmony. Every idea of my body functions in accordance with this law of perfect life. I now perceive that the action within me is perfect, complete and harmonious. Peace be to every part of me, and perfect life to every member of my body. I act in accordance with divine law. I am perfect life throughout my whole being.
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.”
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.
This passage contains a great promise. It is not of something that is to transpire in the future, but of a good that is transpiring in the present moment in which we live – right here and right now. We are the center of the divine activity. All things are made of Spirit, and we must know that the Spirit not only can manifest through us, but that It wishes to do so. Struggle belongs to the old order; in the new order peace takes the place of confusion, faith answers the cry of doubt and fear, and the Spirit is supreme.
I now accept the promise of spiritual fulfillment. I do believe that every good thing necessary to my success already belongs to the kingdom of God, which I know is at hand. I am expecting good to happen; I anticipate success. I believe that Divine Intelligence guides me in all my right activities, and, because I know that God always succeeds, He now succeeds in and through my endeavors. I know that right now everything necessary to my success is being brought about. I look through the eyes of Spirit, which sees and knows the complete fulfillment of every worthwhile idea.
I accept that God is active in my affairs. And, knowing that God is in all people, there is joyous cooperation with others. Therefore, I help and I am helped. Knowing that God is the great Giver, I accept His gift and myself become a giver to life. In all I do I seek to be of service and assistance to others. The kingdom of God is at hand today and I enter into it with joy. It contains all that belongs to the life of Good. It encompasses all people and all things. Its abundance flows through me and manifests in increasing good.
This essay is about cultivating self-awareness in spiritual practice by paying attention to one’s thoughts and feelings to know truths about oneself, without cognitive distortions and self-deception.
It is a common human trait to be critical and judgmental about others, but too sensitive when the criticism is directed against oneself. Most people find it easy to pass comments and opinions about others, but become defensive or even aggressive when they are made against them. It is why criticism is mostly viewed in human relationships or social situations as a hostile response rather than a constructive or nurturing tool.
Human beings also have a problem when they have to discern truth about themselves or evaluate their own behavior because they cannot readily and objectively think about themselves. Since people are sensitive to what others may think about them, they also do not pay attention to what goes on in them or know about their truest thoughts and feelings. Most people live in denial about their own failures and shortcomings, as their minds filter information that may likely hurt them or disturb them.
Since people do not like criticism, it is difficult to practice truthfulness or honesty in human relationships. Truth hurts. Therefore, people go around it to avoid rupturing relationships or feel bad about themselves. We not only detest personal criticism, but also any criticisms that are directed at things, which we like or cherish, including beliefs, objects and opinions. Indeed, it is difficult to discern truth about anything in today’s world, as facts become lost in the cacophony of opinions, interpretations and disinformation.
What we get in the process is a huge cloud of disinformation, confusion and distortion, in which nothing appears to be what it is. In a world of conflicting interests and intense competition, truth has become a raw material in the workshops of manufactured opinions and commercial interests, to be sold to people in different packages according to their tastes, beliefs and expectations. Hence, you will not find “the truth” in its pristine purity, but various versions and aspects of it.
From a purely scientific perspective, speaking or not speaking truth is not a moral or behavioral issue, but a survival strategy. Information is supposed to be intelligently used to further one’s progress or interests, or to protect oneself from potential harmers or threats. Even animals, birds and other life forms use deception as a camouflage to hide from predators.
Since truth hurts and truthfulness cannot be practiced in worldly life without suffering from the consequences, and since truthfulness is imperative to cultivate purity and achieve liberation (Moksha), forest life or secluded life is prescribed in the ascetic and monastic traditions of India. In a forest, you are left to mostly to yourself. There, you do not find people who may be hurt by your truthfulness. No one bothers you if you decide to practice silence and refuse to speak to others. Further, you become indifferent to what others think and say.
In worldly life, you may not have the freedom to practice truthfulness in relation to others, without hurting others or the relationships. However, the world will not crumble if you practice truthfulness in relation to yourself. In truth, it is desirable because you will have an opportunity to know the real you, and not be a stranger to yourself or to your deepest thoughts and feelings. If you truthfully acknowledge your true feelings, by paying attention to them to know who you truly are, you will not be deluded by your own ignorance, illusions and delusion.
Most people cannot fathom truths about themselves because they do not bring truth into it. They go by their surface thoughts and feelings to avoid feeling hurt or disturbed by their failures and imperfections. In the process, they fail to discern truths about themselves and become deluded, which in turn makes them vulnerable to many other problems.
One of the best ways to practice truth in relation to yourself is to be honest with yourself and accept your feelings and emotions as they are. Feelings are important. You cannot ignore them because they convey important messages to you about you, and what is going on with your life and in your inner world. Their purpose is to draw your attention to those aspects of your personality or circumstances, which need to be resolved, repaired or improved. Many people lose touch with their own feelings, as they become deeply involved with the world, and thereby their ability to improve themselves or adapt themselves according to the situation. They become victims of their own self-deception.
Therefore, be honest and truthful about yourself and your deepest thoughts and feelings. Your mind is a product of your karma. All your past is stored there. It is the only place where you can find truths about yourself, apart from any information you may receive from others. By knowing both, you can bring the power of truth into your consciousness and free it from ignorance, falsehood and delusion.
Truth in relation to yourself improves your self-awareness. You may also do the same in relation to others, but you do not have to speak the truth of them to them, unless they ask for it. Our scriptures say that nonviolence is more important in spiritual practice than truthfulness. If truth is going to hurt others, it is better to be silent, and not to say anything. In your case, it is a self-cleansing mechanism. Therefore, let truth speak for itself.
“There are many names for the source of knowledge—the Absolute, the Cosmic, God, the Divine Spirit, the Transcendent —yet the concept is one; it is the Universal Manifestation, the Spiritual Essence, that pervades all things. And, it is this entity, this Universal Oneness, that the mystic seeks to know.”
We should daily feel a deeper union with Life, a greater sense of that indwelling God, the God of the everywhere, within us. When we speak into this Mind we have sown the seed of thought in the Absolute and may rest in peace. Nothing in our thought about God should produce sadness or depression; rather, it should be quite the reverse, because our faith in and love of God should give us such confidence and such a sense of security that we should indeed be able to say: Joy to the world, the Lord has come.
Realizing that the Lord is not far off, that God is an inward intimate Presence closer to me than my very breath, I affirm that there is nothing in me that can doubt this Presence or limit the Power of Good. There is nothing in me that can separate me from the Love of God and I accept the joy of living in the very midst of it.
The Divine Presence leads me on the pathway of peace. It directs my thoughts, my words, and my actions into constructive channels of self-expression. It unites me with others in love, in kindness, and in consideration. Today I accept this action gratefully and realize that it brings into my experience everything necessary to my happiness. Knowing there can be no good to myself alone, for God is in all people, I affirm for others that which I accept for myself.