I've been thinking a lot lately about forgiveness. No matter which religion you were raised in there's a good chance that forgiveness was figured prominently. We also run across it countless times in quotes from famous thinkers and our literature is strewn with themes of forgiveness. It makes you wonder...what really gives?
Once again, we find science and spirituality coming together in a powerful and profound way to teach us that by changing our own lives we impact the world in which we live. Author and lecturer, Marianne Williamson calls it the evolution of the consciousness of the species by way of the evolution and maturity of our own thinking. Quantum physics tells us that on a subatomic level atoms and particles constantly communicate through a field of energy. We constantly affect that field by our thoughts, which more importantly affect our emotions, which send a waive of chemicals into our bodies and beyond. Quantum physics, the study of subatomic elements, builds upon Newtonian physics by teaching us that there is so much more that happens when that apple falls from that tree. Spirituality chimes in to remind us that we are all one, that we don't stop at our skin. We're all made from the same stuff, that essence of life from which we came - call it God, or love or the universe - it is creative, responsive and ubiquitous. A Course In Miracles tells us that, "Ideas never leave their source." We constantly create our lives through our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
Great, but what does it all mean? It makes me think about author Malachy McCourt, who said, "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die." When we hold anger and resentment in our hearts, we not only hurt ourselves, we impact our environment and how it responds back to us. We might feel good in the short run by letting off steam and bitching about another person; we might even feel justified in our complaints (it's that right vs. happy thing) but we are never served by it. In the long run it is more devastating to our lives than we even know - as those quantum physicists are learning. Of course, our spiritual masters have known these truths all along. They just didn't need scientists to corroborate it for them. They got their information from a higher, more trusted source. But now our minds are getting the evidence that we so often seek beyond faith.
I had the opportunity this week to bring two old friends together again. They had left each other, years ago, on bad terms. When we sat down together, it became instantly clear that one person didn't even remember the circumstances that the other person had held as a source of their pain for so long. When all was said and done, it was evident that all that was left, the most important thing, was the love that still remained between them. Think of how many years of pain could have been avoided. While we are holding on to that grudge, the other person has forgotten the whole episode. They've moved on in their lives, but we haven't. We've drunk the poison with no ill effect on the other person and we stand holding the heavy burden. And when we hold on to that pain, our thoughts about it create feelings, which produce chemicals that adversely affect our physical bodies. Take that one step further - thanks to our wise philosophers, spiritual teachers and quantum physicists - and now we know that those chemicals impact particles that change our world and quality of life. We cause illness in our bodies when we hold on to pain, anger and resentment. Those emotions incite stress hormones and other deleterious chemicals and those chemicals don't stop at our skin. They begin a ripple effect in our world that bring more pain and upset. In an ever expanding circle of interconnectedness, we even contribute to that pool of hatred and war. That's a lot to sacrifice for not forgiving someone.
On the upside, we are always at choice and can, at any given moment, change everything. Let's be inspired by the example of Immacule Ilabegeza who forgave the brutal murder of her family in the Rwandan genocide. We're always at choice. And remember, forgiveness does not invalidate your pain. You are not condoning what they did to you. This is not about them. This is about you. You are setting yourself free. As A Course In Miracles says, "We are spiritually generous out of self interest." It is our world and our lives we are seeking to change for the better, and yet we can't help but do it for another since science and sages tell us that we are all connected. As the Talmud so brilliantly states it, “A light for one is light for a hundred.”
If we are really taking full responsibility for everything that happens in our lives, good and bad, then we understand that people and situations are brought to us by our own making in order to learn something. Usually the lesson involves learning how to have more compassion and more love; not only for the person that hurt us but for ourselves, as well. Forgiveness then becomes another mental habit in our arsenal for happiness. It is not difficult, it is just different. This world teaches us to blame the cause for our unhappiness on someone else - on something outside of ourselves. But we're learning a new way of being that gives us all the power in the world to create happy, peaceful lives.
I would encourage you this week to bring to mind people who have hurt you; people who you have not yet forgiven. Those who you might quickly push out of your mind as quickly as you think of them because it is too painful. Begin to make peace with them in your mind. Write a list of their positive aspects so that you can remember a better side of them. Begin to forgive them and forgive yourself for your own complicity. Then pray, in whichever way you choose, for their highest good and happiness. You don't have to do anything more than that for miracles to occur. You don't have to call, write or see them unless you want to. Chances are, like my friend, they might not even remember the incident. Besides, that divine field will elegantly carry your message. Remember, this exercise of forgiveness is for you. It will ease your burden and set you free. By virtue of that, your world will change. You will get proof in ways that you can't even imagine - that quantum field and spiritual truth will delight you in subtle ways. Keep an eye out for them. I commend you. This is not an easy exercise, but it is one of the most important contributions that we can make for inner peace, which will in turn beautifully contribute to the world's peace.
I leave you this week with some wise words from Marianne Williamson when she was expounding on a lesson from A Course In Miracles that states 'Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want.' "When I say forgiveness offers you everything you want, I meant everything, because forgiveness means you will then return to your most loving self. Your most loving self is your Christ self, your Buddha self, your true self...When you are that, when you become that, then you will attract to yourself everything that reflects that. Give love, get love. Simple as that."