Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Power of Forgiveness

With the turbulent times that we are all experiencing, how do we comfort ourselves? Outer worlds are falling apart and for many a new journey begins as we look elsewhere, within ourselves, to find the comfort the outer world has taken away. Where this inner searching takes us is different for each one of us but the catalyst for its beginning is usually very similar.

How do we tap into this inner peace and is there something that resides deep within ourselves that is available 24/7 and can always bring us comfort? The mystics talk about this spiritual essence and now scientists are beginning to explore and gain an understanding of this too. There may be many paths to the core of our being and changing our consciousness is a key factor. One of the greatest healing mechanisms to help us along the way is the path of forgiveness.

I am reading a very interesting book "Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality" by Barbara Bradley Hagerty. Within the book Bradley Hagerty shares her the story of her spiritual evolution. What caught my attention was how Bradley Hagerty was interweaving science with the search for a communion to a higher power. I couldn’t help but to think about all of this in relationship to forgiveness. Are we hard wired to forgive? What do you think? More on this later.


Beth Terry said...

Hi Eileen - I think we are hard-wired to forgive. Fear hides that ability, and Love reveals it. It isn't easy. But forgiveness is the only way to be alive. I'm still working on it. It gets easier with practice. My soul is worth that much.

Looking forward to blogging with you!
Happy New Year,

Gwyn Nichols said...

You've asked “How do we tap into this inner peace and is there something that resides deep within ourselves that is available 24/7 and can always bring us comfort?” Also, “Are we hardwired to forgive? What do you think?”

I was inspired to respond in my own blog:

Well, what I believe from my own experience is that yes, we are hardwired to forgive, and yes, only if we are connected to that divine source of inner peace and healing and forgiveness. I believe we are the children of God, who is merciful and forgiving, so we have it in us to let something go, to hand over the sharp sword of judgment to One who knows the whole story, instead of impaling ourselves upon it.

I don’t know how anyone manages to forgive without knowing there is someone else in charge, without finding the source of all comfort, without believing in a God who suffers when we do, who loves us enough to let us choose our actions, even though we harm each other, and who compensates for every injury and every loss with gifts of strength and compassion and wisdom and beautiful opportunities if we choose to accept them. I believe (and I think this was Jung), “Only the wounded can heal.”

And I believe the old adage, “Living well is the best revenge.” It has been my motto that no one gets to ruin my life. I choose to be whole, to be happy, and to be all the better for anything I have suffered.

Writing has been a powerful tool for me in every situation where forgiveness has been called for. Journaling about feelings gives them their proper validation, and then allows me to turn a new leaf and close a chapter, and write a new story.

Writing a letter never to be sent, sharing it with a trusted friend, and then shredding or burning it, powerfully dissipates the anger.

Writing poetry helps me wrestle feelings and concerns into concrete imagery and divine communion and words. Ah, to find the words! Children have no words for the worst things that happen to them. My novel Liberty Rains, and my poetry collection Species Yet to Be chronicles years of a process of healing and forgiveness, all written privately, and until now, I’ve shared them only with those on a similar journey. Now I have the feeling that it’s about time to let those words wander out into the world, as companions to smooth and soften the journey for those who walk that steep and stony path.

I can’t imagine how anyone manages to forgive who doesn’t write, or create in some way. I’d love to hear about others’ forgiveness practices.

BIKE LADY said...

Are we hardwired to forgive? Good question, Eileen, that I hope you'll explore more this month. One might not think so because we resist it so easily. Yet, Beth makes a good point about love. We are certainly hardwired for love, and the two work hand in hand. So it seems it should come naturally, which begs the question: then why is it so difficult? No easy answer here. I suppose that's why you were able to write a book about the topic.

Gwyn makes a good point, too, about how writing can help in the process. It does for me. But that also shows that it's not necessarily an easy process, that it takes tools. So, doesn't that bring us back to the original question. I do hope you'll explore it further here.

Dr. Eileen Borris said...

Beth, research has shown that we are hard wired for revenge and it is also true that we can hard wire ourselves for forgiveness as well. Your words are beautiful - fear hides our ability to forgive and love reveals it. Forgiveness is the highest form of love. Thank-you so much for your comments, and Happy New Year to you as well!

Dr. Eileen Borris said...

Gwen, what you describe is what I call grace. So often when I work with people who want to forgive, especially when they struggle with forgiveness but in their hearts they really want to forgive something happens. For each person, what then follows speaks so clearly to them and is usually described as feeling this inexplicable love which transforms them. It is as though they experience this interior renovation which has no need for out instruction. Divine intervention has clearly intervened.

Writing is such a beautiful way of getting in touch with feelings and releasing them. I wrote a book called "Finding Forgiveness" (McGraw-Hill 2006)where for every step in the forgiveness process I ask people to do some journal exercises and ask themselves some questions. People find these kinds of exercises very powerful.

Dr. Eileen Borris said...

Jackie, I will definitely talk about are we hard wired further because it is very interesting to understand how our brains work and how we can use this knowledge to help create societies which support the forces of forgiveness. We are hard wired for revenge and Beth is right, when we can harness the forces of love and understanding we can transform not only ourselves, but also society.