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As I am working A Course in Miracles through Chris Cade, I’ve found this intriguing idea: “Forgiveness is our only function.”  This is a powerful notion and something that could change a person’s life forever.  The Course is saying that we all hold the power of salvation in us through our forgiveness.  Is this really all we have to do?  To find out, I thought it would pay to take a deeper look at forgiveness.  What is it anyway?

There are a lot of ways to look at it.  One way is to see it as letting go of the past. Marianne Williamson called it, “a discernment between what is real and what is not real.” In legal terms it means releasing, giving up rights.  Yes, I can see that: releasing the right to hold onto this thing that happened in the past.  Forgiveness is about: healing, renouncing, and setting free – both you and the person or circumstance that harmed you.

It is most assuredly tied to surrender and faith. Forgiveness is a surrendering and acceptance of what happened.  It asks you to surrender, or give up of all the stories you’ve been telling about it over and over.  Releasing your need to be right or justified in your actions.

Forgiveness asks you to have faith that the other is far more than all the things she thinks she is.  Because you know she is more than she thinks she was capable of being when she hurt you.  It’s a leap of faith to say I believe there is innocence in all people.  No matter what they’ve done. To be willing to see through what is apparent to what all of us are at our core: innocent. In many cases it takes faith to see beyond all a person’s stuff to who he really is. To see beyond the offence.

I like thinking of forgiveness as seeing through misunderstanding to innocence or at least understanding. I’ve been tossing around this notion of doubt around forgiveness.  That if you understood that you never need doubt the other’s completeness, worthiness, and innocence, you wouldn’t need to forgive. So it becomes a matter of seeing more clearly, the innocent person beyond, who is just scared, hurt or unknowing.  Just another soul – made of the same stuff as me and the entire Universe.

Neale Donald Walsch warned us that God will never forgive us for anything.  No matter what we’ve done, how we plead and cry and moan.  Because in God’s eyes we have never done anything to forgive.  We, on the other hand, have plenty of work to do in forgiving ourselves and others.  A Course in Miracles talks of  “grievances.”  Our unforgivens are loaded with them.

Maybe this is how God wants to use us: As instruments of forgiveness. What amazing things that can do us and the rest of the world!

Forgiveness lightens our burdens.  Whenever we forgive, ourselves or others, we lose some weight off our shoulders. Life becomes easier.  We can feel safer, more at ease.  Protected.

Forgiveness is extremely healing to the body.  There are those in the healing profession  who say that all illness, of all kinds, is linked to an unforgiven. It’s damaging to our physical bodies to hold onto stuff that should long ago have been released.  There are science-backed reports of those who have been cured by forgiving. Forgiveness is powerful stuff. Anyone who has let go of a big one will testify how healing it can be to forgive.  Perhaps forgiveness is our best medicine.

What a concept that forgiveness is our only function! Something the Dalai Llama expresses so beautifully in everything His Holiness does, no matter what has happened.

I have always fancied the notion that our function is to expand our capacity to love.  I liked that idea.  But isn’t that what forgiving is all about?  Expanding our capacity to love and accept?  And in the process, gaining more clarity.  I feel the best thing you can do for someone else, the way to give them the most love is to accept them for exactly who they are, at this moment. That feeling of being accepted for who you are, not judged for anything, is a pretty groovy way to feel.  Forgiveness does that.  It’s a perfect vehicle for spreading love.

Many people bristle at the notion of forgiveness.  As if it means to condone actions that are hurtful and are otherwise inappropriate behavior.  Maybe they could see it simply as a release of something from your own heart. It is something that happened in the past.  It comes nowhere near saying that it was okay.  (There is a wide gap between forgiveness and trust.)  Just that you are choosing to put it down. To stop telling stories about it.  To stop letting it affect your present moment. Refusing to forgive is all about the other person or thing and what it did or didn’t do to you.  (Or the horrible thing you did or didn’t do.)

Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. (Save for the incident that triggered it.)  The person need not be in front of you, on this planet, or by all means even “worthy” of it. You are simply releasing the guilt, ceasing to tell about how you were wronged.  Giving it up. You can’t change what’s happened.  And no amount of clinging to your hurt feelings will erase it.  In the case of a loved one, it’s likely that whatever they’ve done, you’ve probably done yourself.

Forgiveness is seeing through to the person who did the best they could with what they had to work with – what they knew, how they felt about themselves, what fears or wounds they carried.  (That doesn’t mean you have to let the person back in your life or your house.) It merely clears the way between you. It allows you to release the burden you’ve been carrying in that unforgiven. It’s a heavy load. You realize that if that person had been connected to his or her true self, neither of them would’ve done that hurtful thing.

I, personally, find it easier to forgive others than myself. Being my constant companion, I have borne witness to all my misdeeds, missteps and betrayals.  Often times judging myself harsher in the situation than the wronged party. There’s a lot more on my ledger sheet!  It boggles the mind what I could do if I let go of all those grievances!

Maybe something this Big could be our only function.

Please let me know your thoughts on forgiveness.

“There are two ways to complete a task: 1. Do more.  2. Let go.” – Alan Cohen

This makes a lot of sense.  It may be that you have to get busy, get off your duff and do more to forge toward completion.  Sometimes you can’t see that the end is just around the next bend.  There may well be times when you’ve just not done what was needed. Perseverance is key to completing anything you undertake.

But there are other times when you’ve done all you can do and it’s just not coming to an end.  It’s important to know when it’s time to give up.  At this point, if you want completion, in order to keep the books clear, you must let go.  It may be time to decide that you’re not going to finish it.  Have done with it, move it aside and get to the next thing.

However, letting go does not always mean giving up.  It may mean letting go of your heavy hand in the mix. Letting go of the need to complete the task.  Or letting go of your need to be the one to finish it.  Sometimes you  have to trust and allow the Universe (or someone else) to see it through. The world may be asking you to release and let the flow of life take it from there.

1)  The first thing I think of is an open Mind.  I do talk a lot about it.  It’s an important thing to have. With an open mind many things are possible.  With your mind open you see other ways, new options.  Acceptance is a repercussion of the open mind.  If everything is possible, that opens the way for more acceptance. Anything that helps you accept more is always a good idea.  When you accept people you create a more loving attitude.  Understanding is the key to peace.  And it comes from that openness.

2)  The love flowing from your open mind, opens your heart. People with open hearts are delightful to be around. They always seem to be happy.  With an open heart you not only give more love, you also let more love in. A wide open exchange of love!  Can it get better than that?

3)  Open hands offer help, a lift,  a hand.  You use an open hand to high five or shake hands.  With your hands open, you can also receive.

4)  What about opening your eyes?  Greeting a new day.  Also seeing things more clearly.  Opening your inner eye to see more.  Open eyes are more likely to see what is going on around them. Being grateful entails opening your eyes and seeing all you do have.  Open and loving eyes see so much more than closed eyes!

5)  Having your arms open means you are ready for an embrace. I am of the belief that embracing life has plenty of benefits. Many teachers talk of saying yes.  This takes it a step further to say, oh yes, come on in!  Open arms are welcoming and beckoning.

6)  There may be something about opening your legs, but I probably shouldn’t go there.  In some cases, however, that can be a very good thing.

7)  We must not forget about having an open attitude.  A release if you will.  Alan Cohen’s quote today said, “The more you let go, the faster you will move ahead. ”  When I’m tense and feeling desperate, I’m definitely not open.  I have been feeling stuck lately.  Things I’ve tried haven’t panned out.  Releasing the need to have things work out a certain way or letting go of old notions of how it always is with me can certainly help me open more.  And allow the energy to move me forward.

8)  Is there another piece of opening about making space? Sometimes my head feels too packed to put anything else in. There is so much to learn and too much to do!  If I open to something new, make space in my mind and my life, maybe I can welcome whatever is asking to come in.

Open the windows and let the fresh air in!

As we approach Thanksgiving, everyone is talking about being grateful.  Anyone who reads this Blog knows I am a strong proponent of Gratitude. Forgiveness is a marvelous key to open the gates of appreciation.

I have had many discussions with those who say complete forgiveness is impossible.  There are just some things which are unforgivable.  How can I forgive someone who is so clearly in the wrong, or has hurt me so deeply? Fiddle faddle!  I don’t know if I can convince the doubters, but maybe my humble treatise on forgiveness may help change the minds of one or two.

When something happens which creates one of those difficult things to forgive, your heart is filled with anger, hurt or disappointment.  And those feelings grip you tightly.  They crowd your mind with thoughts of the incident over and over.

Forgiveness could be another word for release.  What it does is release your heart and mind from its constant churning. That’s all.  It might have some residual benefits for the other person, but only if that person loves or cares for you.  The big and important change is in you.  It is all about bringing more peace to you.

I had an experience recently with someone who hurt me deeply and left a trail of destruction in her wake. She is out of my life now; I made my peace with her.  But I still think of the situation too often, wanting some kind of vindication. Only total forgiveness will free me from this. That forgiveness will not offer her anything and it will never erase what she’s done.  It will, though, lighten my heart and my mind.

With that lightness comes more energy.  Anyone who has not forgiven knows the amount of energy (and time) given when you are in that state. When you can’t get it out of your head. (I’ve also been known to spend a lot of ink on the subject.)  There’s so much you can regain simply by releasing all your angst around the situation.

Acceptance is part of the process of forgiveness.  I am of the belief that Acceptance is a truly powerful gift we have.  The simple act of acceptance can profoundly effect every aspect of your life.  Just think how easy life would be if you accepted everything that happened to you!  Far from making you weak, it keeps you from getting bogged down in trying to change things you can’t and empowers you to change what you can.  The first step to releasing is accepting what happened.

When you get really good at accepting, you negate the need for forgiveness.  You forgive in the next breath and keep moving. Like magic, the need for forgiveness evaporates right before your eyes.  This doesn’t mean you won’t be careful next time. In fact, without the cloud of unforgiveness you are likely to be more aware and avoid the kinds of situation which can cause you to need to forgive.

This acceptance and release gives you much more space for gratitude.

Forgiveness NEVER says it’s okay to harm another.  Nor does it eliminate the possibility of punishment for the other. It has nothing to do with any of that.  Forgiveness offers the forgiver calm, happiness, lightness, clarity and flowing gratitude. Pretty good stuff!

Judgments are a different animal than evaluating and assessing.  Judgments put you in a state of resistance. You are putting a label on it.  Judging it good or bad instead of just allowing it to be whatever it is.  These judgments come from your thoughts. You tell a particular story, creating a rigid definition, which doesn’t allow it to be any other way.

This is a different process from taking a reading on how something is making you feel, noticing how you’re reacting to it.  It doesn’t restrict or limit the thing, event, happening, person, to be any different from what it is.  You’re just assessing how you feel it about it, evaluating what you’re telling yourself about it.

Judgment keeps you in a state of denial, wrought up in emotion.  Even if it’s a “good” emotion, you can still become stuck and unable to see what’s really going on around you.

Judgments keep you out of the present moment, as they generally come from the past.  It was like this then, it must surely be like this now.  It doesn’t leave room for the inevitable change and the acceptance of how things are at the moment.

I’m judging that the only “good” thing about judgments is that they can alert you to places where you are being too rigid.  They paint a picture of where you need to release.

Sometimes I think it extremely important to listen to what I’m telling myself, what I’m fearful of.  What am I afraid of in this situation, seems to be the question to ponder.

As I do that, I address each one with the wise voice. And tell them why they needn’t be so afraid.  “The truth is this,” I say.

But is that a waste of time?  Or worse, am I feeding the fears by listening to them?

It’s quite possible I have been over this before.  Debunked the fears before and they still managed to come back.

Maybe it’s better to just release them. That has been my practice these days. Every time I feel tension of any kind – whether it’s physical or emotional – I’m releasing it.

Chances are I don’t have to face the fear (let’s say 9 times out of 10) right away. It is more likely I’m anticipating something, not standing ready to do it.  So much of the fear is spent that way.  So I am free to release it right here, right now.  I don’t have to face that fear. I can let it go.  Release it.

It may be a different story if now is the time to face it. But I can still release what I can. Release what I’m feeling, ease the tension in my body, let go of what I’m thinking.  In calming any of those, I loosen the others.

The fear can be eased by talking to it, but maybe only for the moment. In continuing to release, I tell myself I don’t need them, I’m breaking the habit of chasing after them.

Release. Release. Release.  Remind myself all is well. There’s no need to be afraid. Breathe. Next.

Some say God’s Will is our will. Will is not effort, but desire or choice.  It is that Real Desire of the Soul.  What you truly want.  If you will it, you choose it. 

God/The Universe will bring you what you choose. It’s not about leaning on Him to make your choices, but allowing the call of your soul to be “heard,” so to speak.  God already knows what it is, but He can only come in to help and guide if you allow Him.  You need to move your will aside so He can do His thing.

The only way to find this Will, this Choice, this Desire of the Soul, is to relax.  The Soul speaks softly and if you’re cranking around, stressed and obsessed, you won’t hear it.  It is not found, nor ignited through effort, but through release.

You always have a choice how you wish to feel.  You can be negative – depressed, resentful, angry, frustrated, confused, afraid, ashamed, guilty.  Or you can be happy, at peace, excited, engaged, relaxed.  What is your will?

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