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The 52: Lesson Forty Three — Tapas: The Flame of Change

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butterflyblueskyTapas.  Ah!  Spanish food!  But no, this is not the kind you eat at a Spanish restaurant — all those delicious “small” plates of food. But, in another way,  this kind of tapas is food too.  It is food for your soul and your eternal being.  In tapas, one might say we are “cooked” into something new.  We are “cracked open” so a greater understanding can emerge.

Tapas is a Sanskrit word that describes yet another of the niyamas, the ethical practices as set out in classic yoga philosophy.  It is a guideline to help us live in the world while still embracing the spiritual essence of our own being.  Most of us are not monks or hermits, living apart from everyday life.  We need systems of support along the way.  Thus, we have the eight limbs of yoga.  And, thus, we have tapas.

LESSON FORTY THREE

TAPAS —  THE FLAME OF CHANGE AND ENTHUSIASM

The word, tapas, has been described in a variety of ways.  Some say it is a fire that burns within and fosters wisdom, integrity, simplicity, and focus. Others laud its ability to trigger enthusiasm and excitement pushing us ever more to release all distractions and bring us through the flames to a place of deep balance and tranquility.  Others explain tapas as that which kindles the flame of the divine within us and burns away all impurities.  All of these describe the richness that is tapas.  

It is useful to think of the practice of tapas when we are in the midst of crisis, change, and pain.  When it seems that some sort of catharsis is occurring and pressing us into a sometimes dramatic change.  When something within us is being burned away so that a new version of ourselves may appear. For myself personally, a few years ago my path took me into a place of deep loss and fear, It was a falling away from what I thought I had been.  Something new was struggling to make itself known — a new “me” in effect.  It felt like being burned up until I could see the debris was melted away, and I was glad to see it go.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.

Khalil Gibran

Pain and loss are not uncommon in the physical world and while we are residing there, even in it as a dream, our feathers get ruffled.  Staying steadfast in our beliefs is a powerful means of unearthing the “pearl” within the shell.  Sometimes we become so immersed in this play of grief, self-pity, anger, and other emotions, that it is hard to catch the spiritual drift.  Swami Muktananda wrote:

The secret to success in sadhana (spiritual practices) is to use everything to our advantage.

There are legions of stories about those who have turned tragedy into enlightened experiences.  Take, for example St. John of the Cross in his writings in The Dark Night of the Soul. His suffering carried him into the arms of the Divine.  Or consider the response of Ram Dass, a contemporary teacher on the spiritual path who, much to his surprise, “suffered” a stroke some years ago, leaving him quite debilitated physically.  Yet this experience of “fierce grace,” as he called it, resulted in his naming his experience as “being stroked” by God.

Don’t be mistaken, it is my wish that none of us are so “blessed” as to reach deep levels of pain, but perhaps we can begin to see that the fire that consumes the forest makes way for new shoots to spring from the soil.  It is a form of re-birth that allows the Divine within each of us to shine in the light of day.

These ideas may help you better understand tapas:

  • When you are confronted with levels of fear, pain, or loss, what might you do to “ground” yourself?  Would it help for you to take a walk, listen to some music, do yoga poses, watch your breath, meditate, read a book that makes you laugh?  What about praying, asking for guidance and strength?  Or reading some passages that help you remember who you are?
  • Using affirmations can bring a lift.  Saying “I love myself completely NOW,” can be helpful in giving something positive for the mind to give focus, and breaking a pattern of negative thinking.
  • Can you remember times when you felt lost and afraid?  Do you remember how long this lasted?  Did something else arise to replace that experience?  Can you recall in any way that those feelings and emotions were constantly changing, yet you, the real you, was still there, unchanging.  Are you able to see that you made it through and came out stronger?
  • Try thinking of ways that sustain you and keep you steady, when you are not in the eye of the storm.  If you devote more to those habits, like eating good, healthy food, caring for your body, finding coping mechanisms for stress, taking time to go inward, laughing, giving love and forgiveness to yourself and others, they will be “set” in your everyday life.  All of these build up strength for times of duress and flame the fires of joy and happiness within us.

Remember that tapas builds enthusiasm, and “fires us up” for confronting whatever may arrive in our lives.  So let the multiple meanings of tapas enrich your life in new and surprising ways.  We are all in this together, walking hand in hand, on the path that guides us to Eternal Love.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more information, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

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The52: Lesson Forty Two — Do You Include Yourself in Compassionate Thinking?

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If your compassion doesn’t include yourself,

it is incomplete.

                                   Jack Kornfield

What about you?  Can you be sensitive, caring, and extend kindnesses to others while ignoring yourself completely?  Are you able to look with understanding on the “failings” and sad situations of others in their struggles, yet hold back the same level of compassion for yourself?  It seems that some of us “buy into” the notion that expressing compassion for our selves is egotistical and inappropriate.  How dare we make the same allowances for ourselves as we might convey to others in pain!

Compassion must begin at home, in ourselves.  If we do not consider ourselves worthy and deserving of this self-care, then how can we legitimately pass it on to others?  Compassion must grow from a sense of self-love and from our own open hearts.

LESSON FORTY TWO

COMPASSION

Compassion!  I have written on many subjects that relate to this issue of compassion — kindness, forgiveness, gratitude, and love — but not directly focusing on compassion.  Yet compassion, for others and for ourselves, offers us spiritual insights that the other topics do not.  It engages a sense of empathy that allows us to enter into a special place with another.  We “walk in their shoes.”

Can you, on a constant level, use the practice of compassion to alter how you see yourself and others in the world?  Can you bring compassion into your awareness even at times when your anger has been activated and your impatience has risen too high?  I have often found this to be a challenge.  I can easily site chapter and verse when I lacked compassion for myself and for others.  Until I learned to practice forgiveness in all ways, (which may not happen instantaneously but is a process), I allowed myself to be tortured in this unhealthy state.

Maybe some of these suggestions will be helpful to you:

  • Engage the silent witness practice, which I have written about previously.  Stand aside from yourself and look with compassion and great kindness on yourself no matter what you have done in the present or past.  See yourself through the eyes of one who is all forgiving and loving.  It could be represented by a deity, an angel, a loving parent, a spirit guide, God, but, ultimately, it is YOU.  It is always the heart connection within yourself.
  • Look all around you – in the present and into the past.  Are there other fellow human beings you have cut out of your circle of acceptance due to disagreements, political persuasion, class lines, or anything else.  You can take a try at engaging acceptance and compassion by seeing them through impartial eyes or as they may see the world.  Aren’t you doing more damage to yourself than to them by seeing yourself as superior or self-righteous in your attitude?  Maybe those assessments are covers for your own damaged self that could use some healing.
  • Now take a moment to think about other co-habitants in the world – the animals, plants, the whole of ecology.  We humans have so often wantonly destroyed our own home, decimating animal populations and forests, for example.  Everything is part of the same energy system.  Just maybe that tree you just chopped down and that deer you just shot is related to your own soul – especially if these acts were for personal gain and not necessity.
  • Remember, as is the philosophy in The 52, that you use none of these lessons in such a way that you feel less loving to yourself.  Everything unfolds with Divine Consciousness in this play of the world.  Every practice you use is meant to increase the Love you feel for yourself.

As the Dalai Lama has observed:

It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion towards others.  

If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.

Whenever there is a choice, choose Love, for yourself and others.  It is an easy choice and always the right one.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Forty One — You Travel but in Dreams while Safe at HOMe

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There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

                     William Shakespeare

Do you remember the last time you had a vivid dream and, when you awakened from it, you said this to yourself –” Oh, thank God that was just a dream.”  You were relieved that what had seemed so completely real, so true, while you were dreaming, what troubled or frightened you was not real  at all. You were dreaming it and now, no longer sleeping, you can take solace in knowing that it was all illusion.  How many times has this happened to you?  For me, it is more times than I could ever count.

But here is another thought.  What if this happens?  You are at your moment of death, perhaps on your “death-bed,” you breathe the last breath of your life, and now, according to the measurements we use to designate when someone has officially died, you are technically “dead.”  That’s how it appears to the world, but something else happens to you.  Something you might not have expected.  maybe even something outside of whatever  belief system you may have embraced in life.  Instead of dropping into nothingness, into a dark blankness, a void, you actually “wake up.”  This time you really wake up, into a reality bigger and better than anything you could have conceived.  You wake up to Eternal Life and Love.  You have never felt more alive and joyous.  You say to yourself, “Oh my, all of that stuff before this was only a dream. ”  Maybe what you took to be your life all those years was only a dream.

You have just been introduced to maya, the Sanskrit word that denotes illusion or “that which is not.”

It is not surprising that I have waited until the last months of lessons to introduce this idea.  It is for most of us too radical, too crazy, too impossible to consider.  We are taught to believe that the only “reality” is the one we think of as the material, left brain, Newtonian universe.  We often cling to this belief, yet there is much to the contrary.  There is much that is not explainable by science and the experiences of the five senses. I believe this to the core of my being.  the world, as we experience it, is nothing more than maya, an illusion, beyond time and space.  And yet,, ironically, this allows us to love without conditions and to witness ourselves with acceptance in this play, this life on the stage of maya.

LESSON FORTY ONE

MAYA — THE ILLUSION

i am fully aware that this topic, this lesson, will feel totally implausible to many of you.  It surely did to me when i first heard of it.  Illusion?  More like  delusion, I thought.  If you already discount near death experiences, after death communications, communication with other realms, and the credible information shared by many hospice workers, then this will be a stretch.  And if you believe that all the spiritual writings of antiquity and today, as well as belief systems in many religions, are all bunk, then you have probably already stopped reading this.  I get it!  I used to share your incredulity, but I don’t anymore.

If you happen to be steeped in science, it might interest you to know that great physicists like Einstein, Niels Bohr, Steven Hawking, and David Bohm have weighed in with the findings of quantum physics.  Who would have thought that science is coming around, at last, to the ideas that were conveyed thousands of years ago in spiritual texts.  How about this?  The physical world that most people take to be real and solid is nothing more than illusion. Or this? Space and time and causality are purely mental bonds.  We created all this ourselves.

It was not, by the way,  a typo in the title of this lesson.  I meant to write hOMe.  The sound “om” from which we derive Shalom, Salaam, Amen, and home is thought to have infinite power within it.  Some say it is the sound of all creation that resonates in each of us, as a memory somewhere in our consciousness.  When my mother was near death, she, who was not overtly a particularly religious person, exclaimed out loud and to no one I could see, “home soon.”  I was stunned at her words.  she knew she was going “home.”  She looked radiant when she said it.

You dwell not here but in eternity.

You travel but in dreams, while safe at home.

A Course in Miracles

While I will write more on this subject in this future, I hope you will consider this:

  • What if you felt safe and at “home” even in the midst of world events, problems, illness? In the midst of the illusion.
  • Could you take a few moments to be quiet and consider that all is “unfolding” in your “play” in a way that you may not understand right now, but that it means something?
  • Can you entertain the notion or even consider the potential that the material world is not all there is?  That there is a place and thinking that is reachable and that transcends this often petty environment?
  • Could you stand aside, even for moments, to become a “witness” to yourself and everything around you?  Would it all still be there without any sensory acknowledgement of it?
  • Could you learn to view the “illusion” in all it grandness and beauty and awesomeness as something to be enjoyed even while knowing it is a play?
  • Maybe “consciousness” is all there is.  How about that?

I wish you bon voyage on your journey beyond the dream and into Truth.  There is nothing more exciting and it is all in your own loving heart.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com.

The 52: Lesson Forty — Can You Rest in Contentment?

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Once you have tasted contentment and start to live in its beauty, you actually want this river to overflow its banks.

And that gives you the courage to move forward and make the most of this gift of life.

Gurumayi Chidvilasananda

Someone, in one of my classes, visually blanched when I mentioned the idea of contentment.  “But if we are content,” she exclaimed, “then we won’t strive to improve.  We won’t make an effort.  We won’t grow and learn.  We will just be content.”  Exactly, we will just be content.  But this doesn’t mean we become a bump on a log, that we are inert and lacking in vitality.  It means something far more important.  It means this:  If you start from a place of contentment with what is in the moment, you move forward without a sense of lack.  You are conscious of your value and worth while you move in whatever direction you might go.

How content are you, right now?  Can you rest in the place where you are in this moment?  Or do you feel lacking, desiring, and inadequate without this and that?  As part of this 52 week study, we are moving through the Yoga Sutras.  They contain enormous wisdom and are guides to aid us in everyday life.  One of the Niyamas is called santosha or contentment in English.  These are guide posts for living our lives in ways that direct us toward lightness and happiness and greater self-knowledge and, ultimately, to the great Light and Love that lives in each of us, to the Divine Self.

LESSON FORTY

CONTENTMENT — SANTOSHA

There was a time in my life when the idea of contentment would have been anathema to me.  I had so many lists of goals and plans and desires — from books I wanted to read, to destinations around the world where I wanted to travel, to languages I hoped I might learn to speak, and, well, blah, blah, blah, and on and on ad infinitum.  My tape deck in my car was full of ways to change my life, wasting no time while I drove from one location to another  — listening to lessons on how to improve myself, repeating French phrases or German or Chinese, learning something or other.  I set up the perfect arrangement to never, ever feel content and  finished in this lifetime and, probably, for many to come.  And worst of all, I felt pride in my list making and goal setting, like people who were content were lazy and lacked vision.  In the meantime, I was dancing as fast as I could, and never happy or fulfilled.  There was always more to add to the list.  Now I know better.

The Yoga Vasishtha is an ancient document which contains many of my favorite writings.  It says:

What is contentment?  To renounce all cravings for what is not obtained unsought

and to be satisfied with what comes unsought.

Without being elated or depressed even by them — this is contentment.

Think about it.  Are you always looking outside yourself for something to bring you peace and contentment?  To something you want?  To another person to accept and provide a sense of worth?  Seeking and avoiding — that is no way to feel fulfilled and content.  Ask me!  I have been an expert at this.  And I know what it brought me.  Nothing but pain, sadness, arrogance, and helplessness.

Here are some ideas that might be helpful:

  • Stop.  Right now.  In this moment.  Stop reading.  Are you content just sitting and reading?  Is this possible?  Maybe, in this moment, even if only for a fraction of “time,” you are content.  Don’t ask for more right now. How does this feel to you?
  • Do you really think that once you have that new BMW or that trip to Honolulu or that book published or that retirement fund built up, that this will ensure contentment?  Are you looking outside yourself?
  • Can you begin to imagine that there is already a treasure of wisdom that out ranks everything “out there” residing right there, in you?  Just knowing that you are worthy and loved without all the accoutrements, the add ons from the world is quite a gift.
  • Could you let go of desire and know that everything will unfold perfectly anyway, without your own effort?

Leading from a place of contentment opens up a whole new world.  But first you have to try it and then stay with it.

Through contentment, there is a world within my heart.

Rumi

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com.

The 52: Lesson Thirty Nine — Many Paths to Truth, What is Yours?

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butterflyblueskyHenry David Thoreau wrote:

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.

Over the years, I followed many paths, though I am not sure I always knew what I was seeking.  There was the path of my childhood faith, then the path of rebellion when I disavowed all that was religious or spiritual.  Even so, I was pulled toward discussions about God, either positive or negative.  Then something “happened,” and I was walking another path.  My journey has seen me forge ahead on different paths, but they were now all leading to one place — to Truth, Realization, Eternal Life and Love, the Divine, amd to God.  While yoga and the ancient texts, so resonant with wisdom, opened the first doors and still is the mainstay of my understandings, Buddhism, Christianity, Sufism, and just about any system that is heart-led, is now my passion.

What about you?  Have you seen “take-aways” and “aha” moments in writings that emerge from a source different from some spiritual path you have followed?

LESSON THIRTY NINE

THE PATHS TO TRUTH

Many are stubborn in the pursuit of the path they have chosen,

few in pursuit of the goal.

Friedrich Nietzsche

You’ve met them.  We all have.  People who embrace a belief system, then fight (sometimes to the death) in serving that path, even when they seem clueless about reaching the goal of Truth and what it is.  We might call this blind faith.  And it is, in many ways, a dangerous thing.  It is a sort of fundamentalism that stretches across the spectrum of religions but also may be  planted deeply in non-theistic thought, like atheism, or political correctness.  It hinges on the belief that we (the believer) is superior to others who disagree.  It loses touch with the common and more important themes of forgiveness, love, compassion, and non-duality.

I have had quite a learning curve in understanding what it means to know Truth.  I will never forget being with my friend who introduced me to the Siddha Path of Yoga and the guru system.  I was too naive then to understand that she was there as a teacher and guide for me.  One day, after she had visited me in my home, I drove her to a car rental.  As she got into the car to continue her journey,  she waved to me with a broad smile and said, “I intend to become fully realized in this lifetime.”  I raised my hand to bid her adieu, as her words engulfed me, and a kind of astonishment  began to sink in.  In my child’s mind (spiritually speaking), it never occurred to me that someone would actually become enlightened NOW, in this life.  Didn’t that take lifetimes?  Weren’t we far from the mark?  Weren’t we too imperfect? How could this be?

This was before I understood that we are already “realized” and we just don’t know it a lot of the time, if ever.  That we are already the Light of Love and God.  That we have always been that and always will be that.  That, when we understand and trust that we are in the loving arms of Grace or the guru or Christ or Buddha or God, that we can relax and be guided.  That most of us think this “world,” this material place, with all it sensory input, IS the whole deal.  But that is NOT what we, as eternal beings, believe.  That we are, in fact, already perfect.  Yes, I said PERFECT.

Then I came to see that all the subsequent “paths” I walked, in tandem with my early Christian and yoga studies, pointing to the same thing.  It might have been the writings of Rumi or years of study in A Course in Miracles or The Sedona Method and many others.  The veil was parting, the Truth was emerging, the wonder was abundant, and mystical events were unfolding all around me.  Nothing would ever be the same again!

These are some questions to consider:

  • Does the path you follow lead to forgiveness, love, acceptance, and kindness for ALL beings?
  • Do you believe that, whatever your belief system, that you are unconditionally loved at all times?
  • Do you feel empowered by your path or diminished, not quite good enough, because of it?
  • Are you happy and fulfilled on your journey?
  • Does fear play any part in the belief system you follow?  If so, does this feel comfortable for you?
  • Do you love and accept yourself completely on this path?

It is not my role or my goal to try to persuade you to join a certain path. Everyone has free choice and can make this decision on their own.  I only hope that you will consider the possibility that this world is not all there is in life.  You could find that going within is be far superior to projecting outward.  You might be “looking for love in all the wrong places” when it is already right there, within you!

There are so many paths leading to Love.  I hope you will choose one, open your heart, and experience ecstatic joy.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writing, go to wwwdeannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Thirty-Eight — Well, Just How Pure Are You?

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butterflyblueskyWhat a challenge!  Can we be “pure” in body, mind, spirit, thoughts, and words?  What if you think you have accomplished one of them and then you have a little “slip?”  Say, you eat only raw foods, but you go to a banquet and have something else?  Or you promise yourself you will only have pure thoughts, then anger arises?  What then?  Is it time to go back to the last lesson — on forgiveness?

Purification is spoken about in many spiritual disciplines.  In yoga, it is called, in Sanskrit, saucha, and refers to purification on many levels — in body, mind and heart, in thought and action.  Saucha is the first of the niyamas or observances that make up a part of the Yoga Sutras, the comprehensive and reliable path as laid out by the yoga sage, Patanjali.  This eight fold or eight limbed guide is thoughtful and as relevent today as it was at the time it was written.  I like to think of sutras as guidelines.  If we are too rigid, we (and the ego) might use them as a means to beat ourselves up , to judge ourselves and others.  That would, from my viewpoint, defeat the whole idea that we are loved unconditionally, right now, just as we are.

LESSON THIRTY-EIGHT

SAUCHA — PURITY

When I was fairly new to yoga and its teachings, I took very seriously the idea of purification of the body.  I was learning to be a teacher of hatha yoga and understood very well how two of the “limbs” of classic yoga  were effective for the body — asana (the postures or poses of yoga), and pranayama (breath work).  Simply expressed, the poses are effective in purifying the physical body as well as the energy system, the nadis and the chakras.  The breathing practices help cleanse and purify by moving oxygen and prana through the body.  Of course, the mind and spirit benefit as well.

In addition to these forms of purification, there were others that I embraced.  They were things like weekly fasting on water and juices, cleansing through daily use (which I still do every morning) by using the neti pot and sending water through both nostrils and out, eye asanas to cleanse the eyes, and various and sundry other cleansings.  I can still hear the gasps from my yoga students when I describe the “string” neti, pulling sterile string through the nose and out the mouth, and, even more loud gasps, fasting then inducing vomiting (we called it purging) to empty the stomach of mucus and old contents.  Well, let’s just say, without going into some even more shocking methods, ,you could spend a lot of time on cleansing the body.  I sure felt clean but I’m not sure I was doing the big time, real purifications I needed — like purifying the mind and thought and heart.

Of course, I tended to want pure and fresh foods, eaten with intention and reverence.  My diet styles shifted and changed.  I had jars of sprouts growing and ground my flax seeds and balanced non animal proteins and felt quite virtuous and a little smug too.  Wasn’t I just being so pure?  In point of fact, wasn’t I just deceiving myself?  Every morning, before I began my formal meditation, my mind wandered through all the yamas and niyamas, giving myself a kind of check list of how I was faring on the spiritual path of yoga. Did I notice that, while I thought I scored high on some measures,  I still lacked forgiveness.  I was harsh in my  judgment of others and myself.  I only understood the baby steps of these concepts.  I had a long way to go…

Only when the purification REALLY began to happen, in my mind and heart, in actions and thoughts, did I know for sure I was actually doing something transformational.

Here are a few ideas to consider.  For some they are baby steps.  For others, they may be old hat.  It never hurts to be a beginner again.

  • Look at your body.  Is there something you can do today to help to purify and nurture your body?  Maybe you will drink some glasses of pure clean water or have a cup of green tea.  Perhaps you will do some yoga stretches or take a walk outside.  How about not eating that hot dog loaded with additives?  You may wish to speak to your body about how much you appreciate it.  Whatever you choose, let it be filled with love and pleasure.
  • Try changing your attitude towards something that is routine, like vacuuming the rug or taking out the trash. Think of it as purifying and cleansing.  Imbue it with positive energy.  Cleaning out a closet could be like this.  Or taking away clothing you no longer wear and giving it to others who would appreciate those garments.
  • Take a moment to see how you are thinking.  Clean up the “closet” of your thoughts? Like getting rid of complaining and negativity, judging and arguing.  You might even consider a little silence, giving your mind a chance to rest and be quiet.  Or you could meditate for a bit of time or extend you meditation.

Ultimately, the following  are the words I like best.  I could not find the attribution, so I am not sure who made this point, but, nonetheless:

The only “dirt” is Avidya, ignorance of the True Self.

When you know who you are and that you are Divine Light and Love, your heart sings, and everything else is window dressing.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writings and on the Yoga Sutras, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

The 52: Lesson Thirty Seven — Forgiveness is Divine

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butterflyblueskyDo you hold grudges?  Do you let resentment and hatred surge through your being?  Do you think that forgiveness implies weakness and steals from you the “right” to be indignant, furious, and angry?  Are you “proud” of your capacity to punish someone by banishing them from your midst or by spreading terrible words about them?  Did it ever occur to you that the one most hurt by all of this is YOU?  That you are “drinking the poison and expecting someone else to die?” Is it possible that lack of forgiveness is really a sign of fear?

It was Alexander Pope who wrote :

To err is human, to forgive divine.

Aren’t we all human?  Don’t we all make mistakes?  Haven’t we all stumbled and failed at some time in our lives?  Isn’t there some dark shadow of guilt or shame lurking in the recesses of our lives?  Is it too radical to consider these possibilities:  From the depth of love that resounds in our hearts, we can — and must — forgive others.  And coupled with that, we can  — and must –forgive ourselves.  What will be the outcome?  Freedom!  True freedom.

Can we be forgiving about our own times of lack of forgiveness?  Are we big enough, strong enough, powerful and loving enough to choose forgiveness? That is the focus of this lesson.

LESSON THIRTY SEVEN

FORGIVING SETS US FREE

 A Course in Miracles is the awe-inspiring book that has the capacity to transform anyone who follows the course.  (Studying it has been one of the most pivotal experiences and best decisions of my life.)  Forgiveness is a key theme.

Fear binds the world.  Forgiveness sets it free.

Lesson 332  A Course in Miracles

Imagine what your life and world would be like if you shed the burdens you have carried by refusing to forgive.  We, as humans, have carried so many foolish notions on this subject.  Not long ago, someone was telling me about a woman who was generally kind and loving, but “if you crossed her once, she never forgave you.”  This was told to me with a hint of admiration for the woman who never forgave, as if she had some stupendous power, like a Mafia Don,  as if it was a sign of merit and strong character.  One mistake with her and — BOOM — banished forever.  I wonder if she would have ever considered these words from George Herbert:

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass.

Forgiveness must go in all directions, passing through all relationships, into what we perceive as the past and the future, from one generation to another and globally as well.  I think of the damage done to families that have held onto angers, like the Hatfields and the McCoys.  This brings to mind political stances (like Democrats never forgiving the Republican politicians for something or other (you can reverse the party title for the same effect) or citizens of one country bearing the blame for “sins” committed long before they were born, such as longstanding anger with anyone from the Mideast or Europe or the United States  or fill in the blank.

If we are to wipe the slate clean, it has to start somewhere.  How about starting it yourself, with you?

Now take a calming few breaths, quiet your mind and try some or all of these ideas:

  • Are you aware of a long-standing anger you have harbored for someone? Or maybe it is a surge of anger that started just yesterday?  Can you actually see that person through a lens of forgiveness, trying to fathom who they are and what it may feel like in their shoes for a minute or so.
  • Can you entertain the possibility that you are harming, not them, but yourself by holding onto these emotions? That actual physical symptoms, like high blood pressure or depression may be a result of lack of forgiveness.
  • If it helps, you can always write a letter, which you will not send, to the person who has “wronged” you.  Get it off your chest (notice what this phrase means with regard to your heart,) whatever has to be said.  Then let it go!
  • Can you dig into your past and find the place where you began to believe your were unworthy, unloveable and unforgivable?  Can you look at it now, see that the past is over, and let light merge into that spot?  You might visualize the “you” from the past and send love, saying “I love myself completely NOW,” to that person that your were then.
  • Try seeing your long perceived “enemy” in the same light.  Aren’t we all just doing the best we can to get through life?  Aren’t we all capable of mistakes?  What if you chose to spread Love instead?  Do you think this is all silly and a waste of time?  Have you ever tried it? How about setting the ego aside for a little while and making a new choice?  You can do it, you know.
  • Be patient and kind with yourself.  This way of forgiveness may not become a habit overnight.  It may take a little practice.  Give it some time and see how you feel.  Remember to keep loving yourself all the time.

Here is a quote attributed to Mark Twain, the legendary American author and humorist.  I think it expresses a profundity beyond measure.

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more writings, go to http://www.deannemincer.com