The Healing Power of Forgiveness

Background of friends hugging, black text, The Healing Power of Forgiveness

May all beings be at peace. May all beings be free of suffering, and may all beings remember who they are. It's nice to hear some voices coming back.

As we get started with this particular message, I'm going to ask you to set an intention for yourself. Set an intention for yourself so that when you walk out of here this morning, you will be lighter than when you came in. In other words, there's going to be less stuff that you're holding onto, whatever that might be for you. We all came in here with a knapsack full of stuff from yesterday or the day before, the day, before 50 years ago or 70 years ago. Whatever it might happen to be, I'm going to suggest that you make an intention to open yourself up to the possibility that when you walk out of here this morning, you are going to be lighter than the way you came in.

I will guarantee you that will work. If you set that intention for yourself, you might not even know what it is that you're letting go of. That doesn't matter. It's not an intellectual trip. It's not sitting down deciding why you need to do this and that. Let the spirit take over. If your intention is there, if your openness is there, let go of whatever it is that you need to let go of to heal, transform whatever it is I need to transform. If the intention is there, if the openness is there, then it will happen. I guarantee you that's true.

The theme for this morning is forgiveness. I am so full of judgment. My mind is judging every moment of every day. Can you imagine what it would be like if we just actually took a moment just to listen to the judgment channel? No wonder I'm exhausted. No wonder I get depressed. No wonder why little things in life can totally upset me or throw me off balance, because it's constantly going on all the time. Whether you're conscious of it or not, it's going on all the time. I don't think I'm the only one.

Judgement comes from fear. My need to control and judge constantly turns out that message of separation. You're different from me. I'm different from you. Imagine if we just took a minute to look at what judgment does to us. The fear, the separation, the anger, the resentment makes everything about somebody or something else. And nothing about me. I have no responsibility at all. How easy it is for me to get lost in my judgments.

What's really interesting here is that even if you get a little bit more in tune with the New Testament, you'll find out there's a lot of talk about love and loving your neighbor. There's a whole bunch of stuff, probably a secondary category that's almost filled up with the whole idea of non-judgement. The Holy Spirit has created a way of relieving us of the burden of judgment. That is called forgiveness.

That's one of the many things forgiveness does. When I am in forgiveness, I cannot be in judgment. When I am in forgiveness, I release all of the judgments that I've made in the past. I am free of that, because essentially what forgiveness is is the freedom to love, to relate without judgment, without carrying all this baggage, all these labels that I put on you and put on myself. Can you imagine what it'd be like just to be free of that for a minute?

How else can I live in the present? I can't, if I'm carrying the past around with me, it just doesn't work.

Rather than defining what forgiveness is. I'd like to in a minute, just to get a sense of what it's not. It's not just words. It's not just saying, "I forgive you because I'm supposed to, because I need to." If it was just words then it would be a lot easier, but it's not. It's more than that. It's also not being a doormat. "Well, I'll forgive you for beating me up." All right, but you don't have to stay there.

If you're in an abusive relationship, at home or someplace else, you might really need to work on forgiveness, but that doesn't mean you have to stay there and get in another fight. Forgiveness and victimhood don't go together. Forgiveness is empowerment. I can't control your behavior, but I can control whether I stay here or whether I leave. I can control whether I forgive you, whether I let go of the burden of my own anger, fear, and resentment against you. Whatever you did to me, I can let go of that. I can release that, but doesn't mean you have to go back and do it again.

Victimhood, freedom, and forgiveness do not exist in the same category. It's not a feeling all the time. Sometimes I can forgive you and I'm still holding onto some anger or fear resentment. I might have to work on that some more. It's not just an emotion. You don't do forgiveness out of your little personality self. You do forgiveness out of the divine consciousness of the truth of who you are. In some ways, you also see the other person in the truth of who they are, even if they can't see that themselves. That's where real forgiveness takes over.

I'm willing to hold you in the light, even though you can't even see that yourself. "Am I willing to do that? Am I willing to see you beyond even the way you see yourself? Am I willing to see you beyond your anger, beyond your egotism, beyond your fear, beyond your self-righteousness. Am I willing to do that?" That's forgiveness. If you get a sense of that, you get a sense of how powerful that is, because it frees me up from the burden that I've been carrying around about you.

It's a whole different sense of consciousness to be able to do that. My personality is continually going to be clinging to right and wrong. Justified resentment is a luxury we could ill afford. Even though you might be justified in being angry or being resentful, can you really afford to do that? When you find yourself getting into anger or fear, resentment or separateness, get into forgiveness. Don't try to analyze whether or not you're justified in feeling the way you're feeling. It's not about the person out there someplace, it's about your forgiveness.

I know I can forgive you or forgive your actions towards me. I don't know what that's going to do for or to you. It might do something or might not. It's like that story of the two Buddhist monks who got away from a Chinese communist prison camp. And one of them said, "Have you forgiven your captors?" The other said, "Oh, no, I could never forgive them." His brother looked at him compassionately and sadly and said, "Well, they're still holding you hostage." As long as I am not forgiving I am being held hostage by my all my fear, my resentment, my anger, my attachment to being right.

I love this particular piece. He said, "The arrow, which I shoot my enemy has to pass through my own heart for first." There's no other way that can happen." The arrow, which I shoot my enemy has to pass through my own heart first.

Here's a couple of questions to ask yourself. What's holding me hostage today? What am I railing against? Why am I angry? What am I angry about? What grievances am I holding? What fear of the future am I feeding? All of those are reflections of my need for forgiveness. Am I willing to do that? Am I willing to open myself up to that as being the truth? Forgiveness is not running away from my woundedness because I don't want to pretend that I'm not wounded. Sometimes forgiveness is having the energy to heal my woundedness.

What do I need to heal today within myself and find some ways of being able to do that?Suppose I'm working on healing some childhood wounds that's still maybe unfinished. Maybe finding a charity that serves little children, educating children may help. Maybe by contributing to that, doing some volunteer work may help me release that stuff that I'm holding on to. Find what works for you.

What frees you up? We already know what keeps you in chains. What frees me? What allows me to look at myself and look at the world differently than when I might have before? It's about me, not about you. Once I'm willing to own my own humanity, my own screw-ups, it makes it so much easier for me to accept you where you are. I've been in pain. So have you. I've been lost. I've been angry. I've been hurtful. I've been all of the things that I'm accusing you of.

Once I realize my own humanity and work on forgiving myself, it is going to be much easier for me to let you go as well. I'd like to keep our focus on forgiving ourselves first. If we can just focus on forgiving ourselves, all of the other stuff will be taken care. Don't worry about forgiving somebody else, that might be too difficult for now. It might be too strange. It might feel too weird. Start with you.

What would it be like to live with your own grievances against yourself, to recognize the ones that you've piled up years after years after years after years? I don't know about you, but the grievances I've created myself just in the past couple of weeks or so are pretty heavy. What about the ones that I piled up for myself the past 77 years? No wonder I'm depressed. No wonder I'm angry. No wonder I'm hurtful. No wonder I'm wrapped up in my own self pity. No wonder something minor can throw me off. Self-forgiveness is simply a reflection of not buying into all of that negative stuff that we feed ourselves. Maybe for a lifetime forgiveness I need to remind myself that I am a divine child of God. Forgiveness allows me to create an atmosphere of being compassionate, being loving of being, of being peaceful, of being strong.

In your life, the people you love to be around are people who are living in forgiveness as a lifestyle. They don't have any baggage or least a lot less than most people do. People who are carrying a whole bunch of stuff around, you see them walking down the street and you know exactly what's going to happen. You're going to say, "How are you you?" And they're going to start to tell you, and it's not what you want to hear. You're going to be walking to the other side, where the people we love to be around are. Those people you are free.

We might get a certain amount of vicarious enjoyment about playing 'ain't it awful' with somebody, but after a while, that becomes tiresome for them as well as for you. We're asking you right now to stop playing that with yourself, because it works both ways. Peter asked Jesus, "How many times should I forgive my brother, 17 times?" Jesus said,"No. I tell you 70 times seven." You keep forgiving until you don't need to forgive anymore. You keep letting go until you don't need to let go anymore. You keep healing until you don't need to heal anymore.

One wise master once said, "If you want to have one rule to follow in your life, forgive yourself again and again and again. Forgive yourself until you don't need to forgive yourself anymore. And when you get to a place where you don't need to forgive yourself anymore, you will be in that place where you are open to and radiating unconditional love, time and time again." I am continually using that tool of forgiveness because it's still something that I need. There will come a day when I don't need it anymore, because we will be living in the truth of who we are.

This is summed up in a story that was told to me by Jack Poole, about a psychiatrist, a medical doctor living in Hawaii. His name was Dr. Lynn. He was hired by the hospital for the criminally insane to be the head therapist. He decided to take the job. After about three years or so, they had to close the hospital down because there were no more inmates.

He didn't psychoanalyze anybody. He didn't see any patients individually. He came in contact in awareness of an ancient form of Hawaiian healing that is sometimes referred to as "ho'oponopono." He created a mantra for himself that said very simply, "I love you. I'm so sorry, please forgive me. Thank you." In other words, "I'm so sorry for judging you, because I realize that me judging you puts you in a place where you don't want to be either."

He made that his mantra. By the way, I use that every night before I go to sleep at night. "I love you. I'm so sorry, please forgive me. Thank you." It doesn't matter if it has a context that I'm consciously aware of. That doesn't matter. The truth is I am releasing whatever I need to release. It brings me a tremendous amount of peace. He walked the hallways of this criminally insane hospital with these violent characters yelling and screaming in their own little padded cells, under his breath saying to himself, "I love you. I'm so sorry, please forgive me. Thank you," again and again and again until one person by the next started getting healthier, starting getting less violent. Some became willing to go to trial for their crimes, or able to move to another facility, which was much more peaceful.

He said, " I did not heal them. I healed the part of myself that created them." We hear that in Unity all the time. If you see conflict out there, guess where it's coming from. Right here. What would it be like if I had no internal conflict? Would I see any external conflict? I might see a lot of people in pain. Would I see war? Would I see hatred? Would I see anger? Not if there's any inside of me. I don't know about you, I find that tremendously challenging, but I do believe that possibility exists. "I didn't heal them. I healed that part of myself that created them." How can I love my neighbor if I'm still judging them?

Forgiveness is a lifestyle. It's loving all beings without exception. Forgiveness heals everything for me. It's releasing what no longer serves me. I can't have gratitude without forgiveness. There's this school in Buddhism that sometimes is called "mahayana," and it's sometimes translated as being the big boat. Instead of focusing on personal enlightenment, it says this, "The boat doesn't leave until everybody's on it." It's about knowing that we are all connected, it's not my enlightenment, or even my forgiveness. It is me embracing the truth of who I am and making room in that awareness for you to embrace the truth of who you are. The boat doesn't leave until everybody's on. I find that so beautiful. I could be sitting here and saying, "Well, it's time to leave now." It's not leaving until we're all on the boat, until we are all in forgiveness, until we are all willing to let go of one another's stuff. I certainly let go of my stuff.

Can we be a little bit lighter today? Can we be a little lighter this morning? Can we be a little bit lighter with the ones we love? Can we easily be a little bit lighter with the ones we don't love? I find out that I really can love them beyond my personality because I can go beyond. I can forgive you for thinking you're just a personality because I need to forgive myself for thinking that I'm just a personality. I know you are a divine child of God, even though I can't see it? Can I forgive you for whatever gets in the way of that? Can I forgive myself for whatever gets in the way of it for me?

I'd like to close with a quote from Dr. David Hawkins. He says this, "Make a gift of your life and lift all mankind, lift everyone, by being kind, considerate, forgiving, and compassionate at all times, in all places, and under all conditions, with everyone, as well as yourself. That is the greatest gift that anyone can give."

May all beings be at peace. May all beings be free of suffering and may all beings remember who they are. God bless.

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