Monday, September 15, 2008

Forgiveness: An Interior Renovation

I’ve been involved with the work of forgiveness for a very long time. In a way it came very unexpectedly when I began studying different spiritual disciplines, in particular, A Course in Miracles. For those who do not know the Course, which describes a sophisticated psychological thought system based on the dynamics of separation, guilt and fear. These dynamics are laid out in the story of Adam and Eve which can be seen as a mythological account of the birth of consciousness, whose cornerstones are separation, guilt, and fear. Adam and Eve enjoying the Garden of Eden were told not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Then came the serpent tempting Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Eve took the fruit, ate it, and gave it to Adam. At that moment everything changed. Adam and Eve heard the voice of God walking in the garden and became fearful. When asked who had taken the bite of the forbidden fruit, Adam turned to Eve who then blamed the snake. Then Adam and Eve were punished for their sins. In psychological terms we have gotten so wrapped up in our ego that we have turned away from our spiritual essence. There is a part of ourselves which recognizes this, which is where the guilt comes in. Since guilt is so hard to look at we can only see fault in others denying that we have a shadow side to ourselves. Guilt implies punishment and so we are always defending ourselves by attacking others because of our fear of what may be coming our way.

I share this story because when we understand the dynamics of how we think, only then can we understand the importance of what forgiveness is about. For me forgiveness is about undoing the kind of thinking, motivated by our anger, guilt or fear, which cuts us off from our higher nature. If we can recognize that we see the world through the lens of our personal guilt and fear and if we can heal this within ourselves, then we get closer to our spiritual nature and see what has happened to us in a very different light. The process of forgiveness helps us do this. Forgiveness helps us change the way we think so we can see the light within each one of us instead of only the outward behavior which can block that light. When we are committed to the path of forgiveness and are willing to do the deep inner work that is often required, we are given what we need which can transform our lives in ways we cannot even imagine. I have heard so many inspiring stories of people from all walks of life whose lives were profoundly changed because they were able to forgive. This has put the passion in my heart to help others to learn how to forgive. When we experience the power of forgiveness it is as though something new gets created inside of ourselves, an interior renovation written upon our inner self where there is no need of outer instruction. This spiritual transformation is a beautiful gift that only forgiveness can bring.