Common Material 1
Chapters 1 - 2 & 3
This can be answered in several ways. One way is to become aware of the value of love and experiences of love, in contrast to experiences of lack of love, both personally and on a global level. Then we can decide - do we want more love in our lives or not?
Another way is to observe the effects of un-forgiveness and forgiveness upon the health of the human body. This will be illustrated by a short story and article on this subject. Then we can decide - do we want more health in our lives or not?
It is usually good to start with your own experience. The following activity can help you to review your own experiences of love and bring it into greater awareness for you. Set aside enough time to explore the following inner experience. Read the description of the activity through and then take your time to go through it again slowly and as deeply as you can.
First of all, cast your mind back to a time when you felt unconditionally loved, or if you have never been unconditionally loved, to an experience you can recall when you felt you were more loved than at any other time in your life. Remember where you were, what you were wearing, who it was who loved you, and what happened. (Even if you experienced the loss of this love later, focus for this period of time on the actual experience of being loved, and deliberately set aside any experiences which may have detracted from it later). Find out how much of this love you can recall and even re-experience now. Re-experience being with this person. How do you feel as you do that? Enter again the physical and emotional feelings and thoughts you had at that time.
What was it like for you to be loved like that? What are some of the qualities of this person? Are any of them qualities you would like to emulate in your own life? How does it feel to know that this person already shared that quality with you, and that your memories of this person can help you to increase that quality in your own character? Perhaps you can find a symbol for this quality?
Write about your experience of the activity you have just done, any decisions you may have made, and sketch the symbol if you found one.
Share this experience with two other people and if you like, invite them to do it too and to share their experience.
(Some people have no memories of being loved, and I want to acknowledge them. If you are one please imagine what such an experience could be like for you, as fully as you can.)
Now cast your mind back and recall a time when you yourself showed unconditional love to another person or persons. Remember where you were, what you were wearing, who it was you showed this love to, and what happened. (Even if you experienced the loss of this love later, focus for this period of time on the actual experience of being unconditionally loving, and deliberately set aside any experiences which may have detracted from it later). Find out how much of this love you can recall and even re-experience now. Re-experience being there with this person or persons and loving them. How do you feel as you do that? Enter again the physical and emotional feelings and thoughts you had at that time.
What was it like for you to give love like that? What are some of the qualities you showed as you did it? Are any of them qualities you would like to strengthen further in your own life now? How does it feel to know that this person already helped you to develop and express that quality which was within you, and that your memories of this person and occasion can help you to further increase that quality in your own character? Perhaps you can find a symbol for this quality?
Write about your experience of the activity you have just done, any decisions you may have made, and sketch the symbol if you found one.
Share this experience with two other people
and invite them to do it too and to share their experience.
This can be a very challenging exercise. Are we willing to let ourselves become aware of all the pain caused by lack of love, at least for a brief moment? The reason to do this is to help us to focus our minds and wills upon the importance of increasing the love-flow in the world. This can motivate us to want to learn about the process of forgiveness, to heal this. Make sure you are prepared to make enough time to do this activity thoroughly.
Think for a moment of areas of the world where you are aware there is lack of love, where instead of love there is resentment, hate, envy, jealousy, fear, grief, guilt, false guilt....
You could also explore this in a purely personal way at first. What have been the effects of resentment, lack of love and lack of forgiveness in your own life? In the lives of people you know?
Is it easier for you to do this for places further away, or for you own self and close associates?
Let images come to you for the following: What have been the effects of hatred, of lack of love and forgiveness on the history of the world in this century alone? In previous centuries? In your own land? In other lands? What kind of harm has been the outcome? How has this hate and resentment polluted the emotional atmosphere of this planet? Most of us are now increasingly aware of the physical pollution of the Earth. If you could find a symbol for the emotional pollution of the Earth - what would that be like? What is the future if it continues unchanged, for 10, 25, 50, 100, 500 years? Or longer?
Allow yourself to become aware of the vast cost of this emotional pollution, which pervades the "atmosphere" in which we live like a big dark poisonous cloud. What would it look like if it was collected together in one place? How big a pile would it make?
Imagine the amount of tablets and medicines which is produced and consumed daily throughout the world in an attempt to limit the damage done to human bodies by the illnesses that are related to or aggravated by blocked love. Imagine all the medicines for blocking the effects of adrenaline, muscle tension, depression, anxiety, fears, chronic pain, bad digestion, constricted circulation, allergies, and more. What would that all look like if it was gathered together in one place for everyone to see? How big would the pile be? How much does it cost, and not only in economic terms?
Imagine the amount of alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and unnecessary food that is consumed daily to numb the pain of unhealed resentments. What would that look like if it was gathered together in one place for everyone to see?
Imagine all the violence, accidents and crime that happen in part at least because there was not enough love. What is the cost of that, and not only in economic terms?
What else could be done with all that money - how many children fed and educated?
What are your own thoughts and feelings as you contemplate what your inner search has revealed to you? What have you learned about yourself? What have your learned about others?
Write about your experience of the activity you have just done, your feelings and thoughts, any decisions you may have made, and sketch the symbol if you found one.
Share this experience with two other people and invite them to do it too and to share their experience.
Return to your experience of Love in Exercise1a. Compare with the experience of Blocked Love, in 1b. What thoughts, feelings and decisions come to you?
What most needs to be done? What is your next
I wonder if you can see the connections between forgiveness and health in yourself or those around you? This composite teaching story has helped others to understand this principle.
Tom and Gerry
Tom and Gerry were colleagues and very good friends. Over many years, at work and socially, they enjoyed each other's company and their compatibility showed itself in many creative projects. One or two evenings a week the pair would get together, usually at Tom's home, to continue sharing their ideas and ideals. The closeness of the two men created an atmosphere that was enjoyed by their wives and families.
One extra dark night Gerry was backing his car out of Tom's drive after a particularly enjoyable evening. He felt a bump and got out to discover, to his horror, that he had run over the family cat Min.
As he looked at the lifeless form on the drive memories of his friend's deep love for the animal raced through his mind. He panicked. He felt sick. He knew how much Tom and his family loved Min. He remembered Min curled up on the children's beds, or on Tom's lap as they chatted. He was paralyzed with a strange cold fear and felt quite unable to go in and tell Tom what had happened.
Robot-like, he put Min in the rubbish bag he carried in his car and drove away. He passed a refuse bin and put the bag into it with a cold sweating, shaky hand.
When he got home his wife, sensing he wasn't his usual self, asked if something was wrong. "Nothing," he said quickly, but did not give her his usual warm kiss of greeting. Instead he went to the toilet and sat there, trying to overcome his nausea.
The next day at work, Tom told him that Min had gone missing. "She has never done that before." he said as he wrote a "Lost cat" advertisement for the newspaper. Gerry found himself saying, "I'm sure she'll turn up soon. Don't worry about her." But he could not stop himself looking away . He couldn't bear to see how upset his friend was.
Work did not go well that day. Both men were distracted. The following week, when Gerry made his usual visit to Tom's house he did not stay long. Their discussions were punctuated by glum, uneasy silences. Their former creativity was already starting to fade away. Gerry felt increasingly uncomfortable. When he arrived home early his wife asked him if anything unusual had happened, and he said "Nothing, we just decided to finish early."
In the lunchroom at work Gerry found himself avoiding sitting with Tom.. Gradually their creative evenings became less frequent. The quality of their design work began to fall off further. Each one wondered what had happened to his friend but did not feel able to ask him after the first tentative enquiries were brushed aside.
Gerry began to ruminate further about what had happened that night. "It was really Tom's fault." he said to himself. "If he had kept the cat in it would never have happened." He began to be irritated by Tom at work and found fault with many things he did.
One day the managing director invited Gerry into his office, mentioned that there was a new appointment to be made in the company, and that he thought Tom would be very suitable. "What do you think, Gerry?" he asked, "You have worked a lot with Tom and know his work. I would value your opinion." Gerry found himself saying, "His work has not been so good lately." The episode of Min's death did not even cross Gerry's mind at this time. By now, he had repressed it. It was "forgotten". Tom was passed over for the job.
Gerry began to get irritable with his wife. Their relationship gradually went from bad to worse. There were arguments, over trivial things. Each began to find fault with the other. Their sexual life became tiresome. She began to wonder if he was having an affair. Each of them sought solace, briefly, with other partners, but without joy. Gerry denied to himself and others that there was anything wrong. Yet he was becoming depressed, and he began to think from time to time that if life was like this, it was not really worth living.
The stresses between Gerry and his wife began to tell on their three children. One tended to take Gerry's side, the other two, his wife's. The children reacted to the underlying tension in very different ways. One became withdrawn and began to do less well at school. The second become rebellious and got into minor trouble with the police. The third became ill more often, and needed more frequent visits to the doctor.
Gerry began to get symptoms in his belly - stomach pains. He went to his doctor. At first his tests showed nothing much, and he was advised to rest. His colleagues recognized that he had been strained recently, and agreed.
His wife did not enjoy having him "resting" at home when it meant having a grumpy partner nagging at her. A holiday together did little to improve things.
The symptoms persisted, and repeated tests showed that Gerry had developed a stomach ulcer, possibly cancer. At last an official medical diagnosis had been found, and Gerry felt some kind of relief that he "had not been imagining it". The doctor had done several very thorough physical examinations, and felt justly proud he had diagnosed Gerry's disease before it got too advanced.
Surgery followed, then drug therapy. In all the time that followed the medical reports began in the same kind of way: "This man with cancer of the...."
Nowhere in his medical records were the additional words that would describe his condition more completely: "This man with blocked love........."
In due course Gerry began a search for meaning, and further understanding of his illness. Among other things he came across a book about forgiveness. As he read it he realized he not only harbored in himself a physical disease, but emotional and mental negativity as well. He could no longer deny the larger truth. He felt drawn to doing a self-forgiveness process and sought out a guide to help him.
During the process it emerged that the first time he had felt a sensation of panic and nausea had not been when he ran over Min. It had been when he had owned up for doing something wrong at school. The teacher had hit him and reported him to his father. Gerry had hated this teacher for treating him so unfairly. His father had told him how sinful he was, beaten him with a cane, and told him that he "would come to no good." From then on his relationship with his father deteriorated. He came to fear and hate him too, and to believe that he himself was indeed "guilty", that there was no good in him, that one day he would indeed "come to no good", and be punished for it. He also "learned" that it might be advisable to hide the truth at times. After his father died, he experienced a period of depression, loss of creativity and low self-esteem. When the tragedy with Min occurred, the negative feelings and beliefs stored for so long in his unconscious mind were reactivated, but he had not been aware of this .
Specialists could take care of his body, but he realized to become fully healthy again he would need to heal his negative emotions and belief systems.
Working through the forgiveness process helped him acknowledge his blocked love and, bluntly, self hatred. His love was blocked towards his friend Tom, his own self, his father and his childhood teacher. Later, love had become blocked towards his wife and family. All this had affected his work, relationships with his colleagues, his marriage, home life, and diminished his creativity.
What is needed for Gerry here? Skilled medical and surgical help - certainly. Is that enough?
Medical researchers are beginning to discover how negative emotions reduce the body's resistance to disease through altering the way the immune and autonomic nervous systems function.
In this crisis only he can be responsible for re-establishing the love-flow. No one else can do for this for him. He will need to learn how to do it. He will need forgiveness coaching.
Any process by which a person successfully removes the conditions in themselves that block the flow of love can be called a Forgiveness Process.
The purpose of such a process is to heal the memories, the patterns of physical and emotional dysfunction, and the negative belief systems that were conceived at times of disappointment, criticism, hurt, abuse, loss, rejection, humiliation, abandonment and so on.... It is to set the forgiver free to move on from the effects of these.
How many of us do not have some equivalent to a "run-over-cat" story - residual bad feelings or negative beliefs we need to heal?
The forgiveness process is not difficult to
learn or to do, but in the early stages it may need effort and persistence.
Later it becomes easy, and in fact a joy to do. It can become a natural skill.
(from an article developed over time and published in various journals concerned with health)
Disappointment, criticism, hurt, abuse, loss,
rejection, humiliation, abandonment, guilt, false guilt (feeling bad about
yourself when you are in fact innocent - most often found in those who have
suffered abuse as children), hate, anger, or envy etc., profoundly affect the
way your body functions. The flow of love through you is at risk of becoming
blocked, and your health is at stake. It has been said: "One who hates another
(blocks love) digs two graves".
When love is blocked the following changes in your body may occur:
The list goes on. Indeed, it becomes a list of
many of the conditions seen by doctors all over the world. And while
Unforgiveness may not be the sole cause of all of them, it is not unreasonable
to say that it increases vulnerability to them. It can "set the scene" for them
and delay, or even prevent recovery.
This list, too, could be extended, and represents dis-ease in the body of a person, family, nation, or indeed, of humanity itself.
An unforgiving person is not free. He or she is controlled by unconscious forces, avoiding certain situations and opportunities, imprisoned in his or her own negativity. One of my patients described this graphically when he spoke of how he had "marinated in his own toxicity" for fifteen years before discovering the forgiveness process.
For any person who does not know how to forgive, there is no lasting peace. Relief and release are urgently needed.
Getting in touch with and releasing bad feelings safely is certainly very important but more important is healing them through a complete process of forgiveness, so they do not recur.
After studying and working with this
forgiveness process since 1980 I strongly believe it is false logic and unwise
therapy to delay applying the forgiveness process to past hurts and
disappointments. I have seen people forgive the "unforgivable" - terrible things
- rapidly and successfully when they understood the true nature of the process.
I have also seen people held back in emotional pain and negativity far longer
than they needed to because someone - often a therapist I regret to say - told
them that they were not "ready" to forgive yet or even actively discouraged them
from doing so. To not forgive is to continue to allow the memories of the
hurtful incidents to your Inner Child, or the Earlier You, to be recycled over
and over again. This can happen either consciously, or more dangerously,
unconsciously, blocking love and draining energy. You and your Inner Child need
the love to flow again. The question is not whether it should be done, but how
to find a way to accomplish it as quickly as possible.
Another source of sabotage to the process can be un-forgiveness to yourself which may show itself in:
The common denominator is a blockage of the flow of love which in turn is reflected in a drop in life energy. There is a close connection between the flow of life energy and the flow of love.
Negative, critical thoughts about ourselves and others affect us much more deeply than many of us are willing to recognize. The word "negative" implies "subtraction". When we are negative, we have subtracted from ourselves the love and life force that is potentially there for all. We delay or even completely prevent healing in our body, emotions, mind and relationships.
If any of this is happening to you or someone
you know, it has to be acknowledged before anything can be done about it. To
deny it is to prevent the possibility of healing. If underneath your physical
condition or any bad relationships (in family or marriage, at school, or in the
industrial, commercial, political arenas) there is blocked love, then no matter
how you treat the effects, the condition may:
We must learn to treat underlying contributory causes. as well as more obvious surface symptoms. Imagine bubbles are coming to the surface of some water from a gas pipe with a leaky hole in it below that water. Trying to squash or catch or smash each bubble as it comes to the surface will not stop the spread of dangerous gas. You have to go underneath and repair the hole in the pipe, do you not?
Most of us have not been taught specifically how to forgive. Because the process was not well enough understood we never learned how to get from a state of Unforgiveness to a sate of unconditional love.
Traditionally it was thought that teaching the
three "Rs" of Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rythmetic was enough preparation for life.
Now the skills of Right choice making (values clarification) and Right human
relationships are increasingly being recognized as essential. Like the 3 "R's"
the 4th and 5th "R's" don't happen by accident. They need to be taught, and the
forgiveness process is a natural part of this curriculum.
We all experience times of hurt or threat to our security. A natural reaction to hurt or threat of hurt, derived from the time of humanity's early existence in the jungles of pre-history, is the flow of adrenaline to mobilize strength, either to fight or flee. In the jungle, and for our ancestors, this was a healthy and useful response. Indeed we are descended from those who developed the best stress responses along these lines. The whole self was undivided in these circumstances - you either fought the attacking animal whole-heartedly or you froze in your tracks whole-heartedly, or you ran away whole heartedly. Fear and anger responses were whole-person survival reactions. In such circumstances this is healthy anger and fear. If they serve their purpose and are discharged in ways that could be called healthy and functional, there is likely to be little "residue" left in the body. The dramas of the hunt or battle could be talked about over the camp fires, and the remaining emotion charge released.
Life became more complex with the passage of time. Mind evolved and memory became longer. The ability to predict, to think into the future developed. Short term pleasure/pain survival reactions began to come into conflict with long term pleasure/pain goals, and even deeper ethical values. Human beings were beginning to learn to suppress feelings.
In the circumstances of our modern society, we can no longer simply act out all our angers and frustrations or we may end up in court. Nor can we always safely discharge our fears - indeed we may be laughed at or prematurely consoled, or told to snap out of it, by our peers if we share our feelings, and thus not even talk about them.
There develops therefore a division in the psyche. One part of me may want to take violent retributive action, another part wants to suppress that feeling. One part of me wants to run away, another part wants to be brave. This inner conflict leads to a loss of energy, of self-esteem, of ability to love, and of creativity. Not only may I feel bad, I may even come to feel bad for feeling bad! Thus guilt and shame are added to compound the difficulty.
Thus are the so called "negative emotions"
born. Why did they come to be called "negative"? Negative means minus,
subtraction. What is being subtracted? Energy. The common feature of all the
negative emotions like resentment, envy, jealousy, anxiety, obsessional
rumination, remorse, regret, excessive grief, depression, guilt, false guilt or
shame, is a drop in the energy available for creative living.
The Healing Journey Diagram
The unpleasantness of this can for some people at certain times in their lives reach the level where life may begin to seem to no longer be worth living, and a death or illness wish may begin to form in them. They may be conscious of this, leading to suicidal ideation. Awareness of it may come and go. Or they may not be conscious of it at all, and various forms of self-destructive or self-diminishing behaviors begin to emerge, leading to various forms of un-wellness. This can be in the physical, emotional, mental realms, on in relationship, at work, in the courts, in the accident statistics, in society, etc. The scene is set, the ground is prepared, for a "symptom" to emerge, a "wake-up call". If no action is taken, this may go on to present itself as dis-ease in any of those areas and/or premature death of the individual.
Not since sending people to beautiful sanitaria in the mountains with quiet, with fine clear air and good nutrition to assist the cure of tuberculosis has modern western medicine tried to come to grips with the idea that people may need to be "recharged" with energy as an essential part of their healing process. A modern western hospital or doctor's waiting room does little to raise your energy levels. Traditional Chinese medicine, and certain other healing traditions do address this. It is my belief that a lift in life energy is needed, even vital, to make the difference, and turn the corner from the self-destructive to the healing path. This may come from an experience of beauty or goodness, from nature or from an unconditionally loving person. Or it may come in the form of a last wave of desperation from within. Once the decision to get well, to do whatever it takes, has been taken, the person has taken a big step forward in their healing journey. The inner conflict (one part of me wants to get well, but another part wants to be sick or even die) is ended, the self is no longer divided.
In the context of using the forgiveness process, the person has now become willing to learn it and practice it. (There may well be other things they need to include in their healing program, forgiveness is not an alternative to medical treatments of various kinds, it is to be used in parallel with them). They feel an immediate lift in their life energy. They are now willing to take more responsibility for their own healing processes, to participate in them. They become willing to do the forgiveness processes for all the people they have been offended by in their lives, all the people who have hurt, misused or betrayed them. They thus come to do all they can to heal the harmful effects of the physiological patterns of resentment, grudge, envy, hate, fear, grief, guilt, shame, etc. By linking their lower consciousness with their higher consciousness, they become more whole. This is an aspect of psychosynthesis - the soul, or higher Self, uniting all the parts. This is integrative medicine.
We all go through this healing cycle many times in our lives. It is inevitable that we may be disappointed by others' or by our own behavior at times. The forgiveness process offers a method of doing "emotional and mental housecleaning", of cleaning up the residues left by this. At first this may mean cleaning our emotional and mental household of the residue of many years of neglected accumulations of distress. It may seem like a big task to some, at the outset. However it can usually be done within a few months. Looking back once it has been done, it does not seem to large as it did at the outset. The amount of time required is probably less than one thirty thousandth part of your life time. Most of us will spend more time drinking tea or coffee than that, certainly more time sleeping! Just for a while, you will need to give it some priority. Most of us will spend more money on maintaining our motor vehicles that on maintaining our most precious possession - our sacred consciousness, our "hearts". It is always important to review how we have rank-ordered our values, and pain, tension, and disease are alerting signals when it is time to do that.
Later, it is just maintenance on a regular basis, becoming almost second nature. The skills, once learned, become as habitual as was the previous habit of storing resentments in the body or having them explode into your life as illness or as disharmony in relationships.
The skill of forgiveness needs to become as
ORDINARY as brushing teeth or washing up dishes. NOT any kind of big deal. For
everybody, not just in therapy situations. In schools. In families. In
Parliaments. Between races and nations.
This is very important, because for some people the word has been damaged by exposure to religious abuse or double standards in the past. Here are Ten False ideas about the Forgiveness Process often used as reasons for not doing it, and some corresponding truths.
1. Untruth: Forgiveness somehow "allows" the person forgiven to continue their harmful actions, or condones what they did. Therefore I cannot forgive.
Truth: You can apply the forgiveness process (i.e. cancel your demands that another person meet your demands and expectations as a condition for allowing love to flow through) - and also take remedial action to stop or prevent harm, or to confront injustices. Forgiveness, assertiveness, and caring confrontation are very compatible. It is loving to the other person to do whatever is necessary to prevent them continuing upon a destructive path. As a forgiving person you can see that beneath the other person's attacking or destructive behavior is really a cry for love.
2. Untruth: To forgive may make me a "doormat" or "victim", and means I lose being "right". The other person must be shown to be "wrong", punished, and change their ways before I can forgive. Therefore I cannot forgive.
Truth: Doing the forgiveness process has nothing to do with "door-matting" or being a "victim", which is usually done from an unforgiving stance. Doing the forgiveness process helps one to stop being a "doormat". It restores self-determination.
3. Untruth: To be forgiving is a sign of weakness. I do not want to be seen as weak. I must be hard to be strong. Therefore I cannot forgive.
Truth: To use the forgiveness process is an act of will (mental and spiritual). To be unforgiving is to be "willed by" emotions and feelings, and to not really be in charge of your direction in life. Using your higher will strengthens you and your will. Using the forgiveness process makes you stronger. This can be tested.
Genuine unconditional love is and act of will, not a feeling or emotional reaction.
Anger and hostility may make you feel "stronger" or "righteously indignant", but your body or relationships become the victims unless the anger is expressed in a safe way. Being "right" does not means that you must prove the other person "wrong", or make them admit that they were at fault, before you let love flow. Unconditional Love, by definition, does not require prior approval of the other's actions (or of one's own).
4. Untruth: If I forgive I am supposed to forget. I cannot forget the harm done, therefore I cannot forgive.
Truth: You learn from experience, and your memory enables you to do this. Memory is a precious part of your mind. It is wise to remember the lessons learned, and not put temptation in the way of those who do not yet have the capacity to practice right relationship. However, safeguarding need not prevent you from doing the forgiveness process, which is a separate class of behavior. It is found that people who use the forgiveness process become able to access more of their joyful memories, however. They do not need to use the repressive mechanism any longer to repress their pain, and they can recall their good times more easily.
5. Untruth: Doing the Forgiveness Process sometimes brings up painful memories. Surely that means I should not be doing this work. Is it wise to "dredge up" memories like that from my unconscious. Isn't it better to leave it? I cannot forgive because it brings up painful memories I would rather not look at.
Truth: Forgiveness is a healing of memories. Painful memories stored in your unconscious, even from long ago in the past, control you in the present. You are often unaware of just how much they do that. You have to become aware of them if you are to heal them, so you can be truly free. The pain you feel on recalling a painful memory is a signal that you need to use the forgiveness process, not a reason for holding back. Pus in an abscess needs to be drained quickly, and not allowed to fester, scar, or spread. The sooner you do the forgiveness process, the less harm will occur to yourself and your relationships.
6. Untruth: Forgiveness is making everything too "nice" (the word is used in a derogatory sense) and is too sickly. We can't have all this "sweetness and light stuff".
Truth: Forgiveness has nothing to do with this kind of insincere "niceness" - it is an energy dynamic for healing yourself.
7. Untruth: There are some people who are so evil that they can never be forgiven. Some atrocities are "unforgivable". Therefore the whole idea of unconditional love is idealistic rubbish and a waste of time.
Truth: Some actions are indeed very evil and wicked, and do a great deal of harm - true. Society needs to be protected - true. Part of this process may include the capture and fair legal trial of, and inflicting punishment or isolation on, wrongdoers - true. Some people are what is called "evil" because they do not experience any kind of conscience, and so they cannot self-correct their errors. Imagine what it would be like if you were like that yourself, how devastating you would find the effect of that on your life.
Some people cannot learn from experience as well as you or I - for example, children of severely alcoholic or drug-dependent mothers, born with the so-called "fetal alcohol syndrome". Maternal malnutrition, childhood emotional deprivation, other kinds of genetic or acquired mental disability may also damage a person's capacity to make wise choices. We must remain aware of the effects of certain industrial, household chemicals and drugs upon human behavior also. Many people who take drugs are using them to repress their pain - of having being sexually abused, for example. Remembering these possibilities enables you to be more compassionate to those who do terrible things at the same time as protecting society from their actions. We could all look deeper before condemning them as unforgivable.
To hold back on your love-flow and to continue to hate the wrongdoers has a number of effects that are harmful to your own self, and which therefore act as a kind of punishment to you , for what the other person did. This can harm your body and contribute to disease. It limits your own freedom of choice inside yourself. It can poison your emotions, limiting your capacity to express goodwill. It can cause you to harbor harmful thoughts and beliefs, and limit your positive creativity. It can damage your relationships if you project and generalize your bitterness; and can lead to national, racial, and religious prejudice and war. These effects can be cumulative. With respect to the so-called "enemies of society", society itself suffers when prisoners do not grow and mature into responsible citizens during the time spent in prison, and are released back into a prejudiced world with their bitterness still unhealed. Remaining unforgiving also holds back and limits your own growth as a spiritual being . The forgiveness process is an act of will which you consciously choose to undertake to heal yourself and your own memories. An enlightened response to any imperfections you discover in your world is to act to heal them, rather than criticize.
Doing the forgiveness process is not a
repression or forgetting of harm done. It is a decision to heal oneself and no
longer be controlled or diminished by the memory of it. It is neutralizing the
hostility and grudge we built up in reaction to the harm.
Truth: Not doing the forgiveness process does not control the behavior of the other person as much as you would like to believe, if at all. It damages your own well-being however. In fact, doing the forgiveness process often frees the other to behave in a more acceptable way. Unconditional love is, by definition, unconditional!
9. Untruth: It is unfair that I should "have to" forgive the other.
Truth: It is fair to ourselves to practice forgiveness. You must remain aware that feelings of "righteousness" and un-forgivingness, even hatred, can coexist in you, can cause much harm, and are very different from the practice of right relationship, the active work of expression of goodwill, the holding of a loving attitude, and the fostering of the best qualities latent in the offending one and yourself. You do not "have to" do the forgiveness process - it is entirely your choice whether to proceed at each step. You do it only because you want to learn how to take charge of your life and to love, independently of the behavior of other people.
10. Untruth: Forgiveness requires telling the other person that you have forgiven them.
Truth: The forgiveness process is something that happens inside you. You do not tell them you have forgiven them, which may even make them feel badly, unless they have specifically asked you for your "forgiveness". It also depends upon what they and you mean by "forgiveness". They may want your pardon. Pardoning is letting a person off their punishment. They may want your love. Forgiveness is letting the love flow again. But pardoning can happen without forgiveness and the restoration of love. It may even not be in their best interest unless they are determined to follow a wiser path. Conversely, a person can be punished and yet know that they are still loved, by their firm parent, for example. Forgiveness and pardoning are quite separate behaviors. You need to be very clear about this.
Only you can decide what is appropriate in
reestablishing communication and right relationship with the other person. The
forgiveness process is canceling the conditions in your own mind that are
blocking the flow of love, joy, and life energy. If you decide to reach out to
the other person, your having done the forgiveness process first will make your
chances of restoring harmony far greater.
Continue to next section: Part I - Introductory Section - Maps & Tools - Common 2
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