Jason’s September Message
We have just completed a miraculous one month long retreat at the fabulous Best Western Resort on the stunningly beautiful Bang Tao Beach, Phuket, Thailand. One of the core themes of this year’s advanced retreat was about understanding and practising true forgiveness.
I read about the importance of forgiveness in A Course in Miracles many years ago, but I did not really understand what the Course meant by forgiveness for a very long time. A Course in Miracles uses the term forgiveness very differently from the way most people use it. According to the Course, true forgiveness is never about virtuously letting some nasty person off the hook for the real harm they have done to you. True forgiveness means releasing or undoing all the pain from your past so that there is nothing left to ‘forgive’.
In other words, you commit to a life-long process of cutting through all of your old emotional pain and grievances until nothing but love remains in your mind and heart. For example, you cut through all the terrible pain of living with an alcoholic parent throughout your childhood, until you feel nothing but love and compassion for both your wounded parent and your own wounded child who became trapped in childhood trauma and pain like a fossil trapped in rock and therefore still exists in your present day consciousness.
The world still does not understand this radical type of forgiveness. The world tends to think that forgiveness means letting others off for their bad/hurtful behaviour. No! True forgiveness is about setting yourself free from your own self-hatred which you instinctively tend to project outwards and then insist, ‘They are the guilty, nasty ones, not me!’
Your feelings do not tell lies and so they can really help you to practise the radical spiritual practice of forgiveness. Unless you feel nothing but love and compassion towards anyone from your past or anyone you meet today or even think about today, you still have some letting go or forgiving of old grievances to do.
We may not yet be ready to let go of all of our stored past pain, particularly if we suffered any kind of traumatic abuse as a child, but we can always prepare ourselves for forgiving the big stuff by practising on the small stuff. We can notice when someone has irritated us in our daily life and then instead of telling ourselves stories that simply reinforce our anger such as ‘That person has no manners whatsoever’ or ‘That child is seriously spoilt’, we simply pause, breathe consciously for a few moments, and then ‘make friends’ with the uncomfortable or even painful feelings in our system by simply holding them in love and compassion until they naturally begin to fade away.
If we practise doing this day I and day out, we are actually taking small, but extremely significant steps towards total forgiveness because we are learning bravely to face our emotional pain head on until it dissolves away, rather than trying to suppress it, or project it outwards by insisting, ‘My pain is all your fault’.
Please understand that true forgiveness is never an intellectual process. It is a ‘felt’ process. In fact, you will probably find practising true forgiveness pretty painful at times, as you sit and face your deepest inner hurt, terror and rage. You will also have to rise above your ego’s very strong resistance to overlooking others’ ‘crimes’. But whenever we focus on others’ bad behaviour, or insist that we are the victim of their wickedness, we cannot be at peace and we cannot dwell in true love.
We can all find endless fault with others. Just look at someone’s body, and you will notice something wrong with it – let alone someone else’s personality-self! We even find endless faults in our dearest friend and loved ones. What is really going on? Is it them, or is it you? Most people will continue to insist, ‘It’s definitely their fault’. But when we insist on finding fault with others like this, we cannot be free because we cannot dwell in nothing but love and peace.
Of course, I do know how difficult it can be to overlook other peoples’ apparent faults and unskilled behaviour. Radical forgiveness takes an awful lot of practice before we will really get the hang of it. But we need to keep reminding ourselves that unforgiveness is hell, whereas true forgiveness is heaven.
A Course in Miracles is so poetic about the benefits of forgiveness, but even if we are uplifted by the language, we are not home and dry yet. We are work in progress, because we all still harbour a lot of unforgiving thoughts and grievances on a very regular basis. It is so incredibly easy to find fault with others and sometimes almost impossible to let go of all our grievances against someone. But according to A Course in Miracles ‘Forgiveness is the key to happiness’ (lesson 121)
Here is the answer to your search for peace. Here is the key to meaning in a world that seems to make no sense. Here is the way to safety in apparent dangers that appear to threaten you at every turn, and bring uncertainty to all your hopes of ever finding quietness and peace….
Do you know that some very pure souls leave an angelic energy trail wherever they walk on this earth, but sadly, we do not yet have many souls like this on our planet. However, each time you commit to letting go of a grievance or hurt so that you can fill your mind and heart with true love and light, you are taking another step towards becoming a Saint or Bodhisattva whose pure, powerful peaceful, compassionate, radiant presence can balance out a whole heap of human darkness and aggressiveness. Wow!