This word contains millions of stories we have heard, told, and lived.  It can represent years of misery when withheld from ourselves or others.  Words such as: “I will never forgive you,” can spew quickly and have long-lasting impacts.  Our relationship with forgiveness can alter depending on which side of it we stand.  It can be easier to rationalize why we should be forgiven, but often more challenging when we are the ones who have been impacted.

Forgiveness of ourselves and others is essential for inner peace. Without it, our hearts harden, and we feel the burden of hanging on to unhappiness from the past. We are love.  If we hold ourselves outside of love, we cut ourselves off from our true nature and are miserable. Fortunately, we can free ourselves by accepting what has happened, not necessarily liking it, but accepting it, and thereby freeing ourselves to move into the present without the burden of a heavy heart.

Here's an inspiring example of how forgiveness can nurture a more loving, peaceful community.  In his book, The Art of Forgiveness, Loving kindness, and Peace, Jack Kornfield speaks of the Babemba tribe of South Africa.  In that community,

“… when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered.  All work ceases, and every man, woman, and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his lifetime…The tribal ceremony often lasts for several days.  At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.”    

Can you imagine living in such a community where everyone is encouraged to focus on the good of others, especially when someone does not remember his/her basic goodness?   It’s simple and transformative.  I hope you will join me in choosing to focus on the good within us all and pointing it out when it is least apparent.  If such a process of forgiveness with the addition of reflection on positive actions had a name, what might we call it?  Rehabilitative forgiveness?  Love?

Tonight before going to sleep, let’s spend a minute or two forgiving ourselves and others for anything during this day or the past that we are ready to release, to heal, to let go.

Reflections:  My beloved Grandma Gladys was a wise woman.  She always told us: “Never go to bed angry with your mate or anyone else.  Always forgive before going to sleep.”  Simple and wise words from an amazing soul who also taught me forgiveness through the way she lived her life.  She turned a tragic childhood of being orphaned and then abused by the step-uncle who “took her in” and expected her to work as a domestic servant. She freed herself and all of us of this miserable past in two ways:

  • First, she did not pass on the abuse or cruelty.
  • Second, she lived her life as a most loving, generous, and kind soul.

I learned from Grandma that forgiveness is complete when we vow never to pass on the injustice we have experienced.

I remember when my study of ACIM[1] spoke of forgiveness as being essential to peace, to happiness and I read these words: “forgiveness literally transforms vision and lets you see the real world…”[2]  When I first read them such a possibility seemed remote, if not fanciful.  However, I loved the message of love presented by the Course and so began the practice of healing myself of a heavy heart in a couple of very difficult situations, one at work and one in my family. 

The remedy was simple:  See the other person in light and think of one positive trait of this person.  At first, progress was miniscule, but having a heavy had become intolerable so I preserved.  In time I recognized more and more good things about these “difficult” people.  Once I let go of my judgments and saw the others as the Divine beings that they were/are, I discovered my heart was no longer heavy and all was forgiven. I was actually grateful for the experiences because they taught me that by simply being willing to focus on and see the good in others, I could return home to peace.

Your turn to reflect – Is there a situation in your life or our world in which you can practice forgiveness of yourself and/or other(s)?  Can you imagine a world in which we all help one another to be and do our best?  How might you be part of making that vision come alive?

Thank you for being a vital part of Peace on Earth by nurturing peace in your heart, in your life.  The more that you embody peace, the more peace there is.

[1] A Course in Miracles

[2] Chapter 17, Section II, Paragraph 6, Sentence 2

Jean Victor Balin Dove

“To forgive is the highest,

most beautiful form of love.

In return, you will receive untold

peace and happiness.”

― Robert Muller French citizen, born in Belgium who worked at the UN for 40 years, eventually as the Assistant Secretary General.

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Used Forgiveness 10.8.23
Photo is of a White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) at Carlton Reserve. I chose this photo because looking at this beautiful being, all I see is innocence. She reminds me of the joy of choosing to live in a forgiven world.