Forgiveness is the key to happiness

This post was written by DoctorJay on March 2, 2010
Posted Under: A Course In Miracles - workbook

Forgiveness is the linchpin  of my hypnotherapy practice and the seminars I give. I always talk about the Zen master who said, “Not forgiving and holding resentments is akin to drinking a bottle of poison and expecting the other person to suffer.”

When talking about forgiveness I also use the metaphor of a child burning hand on a stove. The child learns to avoid the burning stove and will not be psychologically scarred for life. In fact I still have the mark of burning my wrist on an old iron. This was before they had electric irons in my native country of Iran. It was filled with red hot coals. Anyway, I burnt myself before I was two and I don’t remember the event.

The point is that I don’t go around moping that I’m damaged for life or join adults who were burnt by iron groups – actually perhaps I could start such a group and be the president and the only member. Why do we not resent inanimate objects?
Because we don’t ascribe volition to them.

From ACIM workbook for today:

The unforgiving mind is full of fear, and offers love no room to be itself; no place where it can spread its wings in peace and soar above the turmoil of the world. The unforgiving mind is sad, without the hope of respite and release from pain. It suffers and abides in misery, peering about in darkness, seeing not, yet certain of the danger lurking there…

The unforgiving mind sees no mistakes, but only sins (remember original meaning of sdin was missing the mark – JH)…

Forgiveness is acquired. It is not inherent in the mind, which cannot sin. As sin is an idea you taught yourself, forgiveness must be learned by you as well, but from a Teacher other than yourself, Who represents the other Self in you. Through Him you learn how to forgive the self you think you made, and let it disappear. Thus you return your mind as one to Him Who is your Self, and Who can never sin.

Each unforgiving mind presents you with an opportunity to teach your own how to forgive itself. Each one awaits release from hell through you, and turns to you imploringly for Heaven here and now. It has no hope, but you become its hope. And as its hope, do you become your own. The unforgiving mind must learn through your forgiveness that it has been saved from hell. And as you teach salvation, you will learn. Yet all your teaching and your learning will be not of you, but of the Teacher Who was given you to show the way to you.

Today we practice learning to forgive. If you are willing, you can learn today to take the key to happiness, and use it on your own behalf. We will devote ten minutes in the morning, and at night another ten, to learning how to give forgiveness and receive forgiveness, too.

The unforgiving mind does not believe that giving and receiving are the same. Yet we will try to learn today that they are one through practicing forgiveness toward one whom you think of as an enemy, and one whom you consider as a friend. And as you learn to see them both as one, we will extend the lesson to yourself, and see that their escape included yours.

Begin the longer practice periods by thinking of someone you do not like, who seems to irritate you, or to cause regret in you if you should meet him; one you actively despise, or merely try to overlook. It does not matter what the form your anger takes. You probably have chosen him already. He will do.

Now close your eyes and see him in your mind, and look at him a while. Try to perceive some light in him somewhere; a little gleam which you had never noticed. Try to find some little spark of brightness shining through the ugly picture that you hold of him. Look at this picture till you see a light somewhere within it, and then try to let this light extend until it covers him, and makes the picture beautiful and good.

Look at this changed perception for a while, and turn your mind to one you call a friend. Try to transfer the light you learned to see around your former “enemy” to him. Perceive him now as more than friend to you, for in that light his holiness shows you your savior, saved and saving, healed and whole.

Then let him offer you the light you see in him, and let your “enemy” and friend unite in blessing you with what you gave. Now are you one with them, and they with you. Now have you been forgiven by yourself. Do not forget, throughout the day, the role forgiveness plays in bringing happiness to every unforgiving mind, with yours among them. Every hour tell yourself:

Forgiveness is the key to happiness. I will awaken from the
dream that I am mortal, fallible and full of sin, and know
I am the perfect Son of God.

My reaction:

First long exercise period – there is a gentleman (actually he is anything but gentle) at work who irritates me (and most of the other coworkers). However, I do not have any enemies. Minor annoyances, but no enemies. In fact I feel a great compassion for this person as he has many enemies and his worst enemy by far is himself.

I do not think that I, my ego, the personal source of volition has an independent existence. To put it even more plainly I think my free will is illusory. So I cannot ascribe a free will to others. To put it another way, we all do the best we can given the resources available to us. If I were the other (the person who annoys me) I would act in exactly the same manner. I’m not saying that I do not take actions to make my own life easier.

I do mean that I have love and compassion for this person but you can love and have compassion for a scorpion without getting too close.

In the first exercise I saw him surrounded by light and love. I felt his pains and sorrows. I sent him love and received love from him.

As it happened I spent most day outside and did not interact with this person much.

Today, I’ll see what hapopens.


Second long exercise:

I thought about my wonderful loving parents. My extended family has had its share of dysfunction like any other family. All my cousins and many strangers love my parents as exceptional human beings. So when I hero worship my parents it is not because they were my parents but because they were the people that they were.

Even so, they did make mistakes with us their children. They were not major mistakes but there were mistakes. No human being is perfect – in true Islam we are thought that even the Prophet of God was not perfect…

I know the mistakes they made were out of sheer love. The point is that after forgiving my parents, I felt more compassion to every human being. If my parents made mistakes with me and they loved me selflessly and unconditionally, how can I expect any better from others.

The second exercise was even more useful than the first to me.

I always tell people that we are unique individuals and what works for one may not work for another. However, I suggest you think of the person(s) you love the most and see if you have any resentments toward them and forgive them.

If you believe in a totally loving unvengeful God, you could forgive God for all the apparent hurts in the world. Once you realize that there are things in absolute perfection that you do not approve of you’ll find it easier to forgive the sinless (using the ACIM terminology) children of that God.

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