We only forgive when there is nothing to forgive; when we let go of the hurts and resentment and receive the gifts in the painful experiences of our lives. When we forgive, we break the fetters that have not allowed us to enjoy the fullness of life, affected our self-worth or blocked our vision of our true essence. It opens a window that offers a glimpse of the Divine Essence and Power within us.
One of the words for forgiveness in Hebrew is nasa; it means to carry away. Just as NASA develops shuttles that carry people and cargo to outer space, when we forgive we surrender our resentments, hurts and pains to the Universe.
Forgiving others is easier than receiving forgiveness or forgiving ourselves. But forgiving ourselves for those things that we were not responsible for is something we seldom think about.
Imagine the movie of your life from the time you were born and forgive (nasa) yourself at every stage from the trauma of being born, family dysfunctions that affected you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually; the experiences of the first six years of our lives that seem to have had an impactful influence of how we lived our lives; those teenage years when we felt lost trying to find ourselves; relationships that were hurtful through no fault of ours or the times when we fell sick. Lovingly nasa yourself at every stage, away to the Cosmic world where we break up into stardust and experience healing and wholeness once again.
It is good to forgive and not to forget! As long as we remember the people and life experiences we have forgiven, we will protect ourselves from not getting hurt in similar situations, secondly, we will not hurt others because we remember the pain it will cause them and above all, as long as we remember, we will continue to empower ourselves and others.
Carl Jung believed that anything that affects us becomes our reality. Dreams, imagination and fantasies, cultural and religious myths are a manifestation of our inner reality. Self-talk creates our reality and influences the way we respond to it. This self-talk is the expression of our personal unconsciousness that is formed by our life experiences, especially those of the first six years of our lives. Collective unconsciousness also affects our world view and the way we respond to people and situations. Our ethnic heritage, allegiance to a religious group and nationality determines our collective unconsciousness.
This is My Reality which is very subjective and personal. A reality that I guard with strong emotions. Then there is Objective Reality which belongs to science. This one is based on proven facts and universal principles. While we know a lot about this reality and how it works, My Reality often blinds us to it and we see the world not as it is but as we are.
At the first Parliament of World Religions in 1893, Swami Vivekananda invited people to leave their personal wells and come to the ocean where we experience oneness in the Divine Essence. He believed that, “All differences in this world are of degree and not of kind because oneness is the secret of everything.” He shared a hymn that he and millions have been praying for centuries, “As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.”
Swami Vivekananda’s clarion call is so relevant for us today, “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.”
The way to end all fanaticism, especially that which is driven by religion and politics is to awaken to Mystical Reality. When we experience Oneness in the Divine Essence that overflows into every part of Creation, we realize that whatever happens to one part affects the whole. This state of being does not come from chasing after gurus, socio-political ideologies or Sacred Scriptures. The source of the Mystical Life springs forth from the depth of being.
Is my life steered by my personal convictions or am I bound by the dictates of another? Am I an echo living someone else’s truth or a wave that flows with the ocean of life and whose essence is Spiritual and Divine?
Socrates chose death over blindly following the decrees of his religious elders. At the end of his life he left us this legacy, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” reminding us that a healthy critical mind is indispensable to live an authentic and meaningful life.
We continually develop our personal convictions but are always open to a greater reality. The Buddha’s last words before he died were, “Be lamps unto yourselves. Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help.” Humans are ultimately responsible for their own destiny and inner bliss.
Every human being has an inner voice, the voice of the Great Spirit. It gives power, inner freedom and an experience of the interconnectedness of life. Through his experiments with the Truth, Mahatma Gandhi believed that “Everyone who wills can hear the inner voice. It is within everyone. . . There come to us moments in life when about some things we need no proof from without.”
The Prophet Jeremiah recognized this inner voice in God’s new covenant, “I will put my law within them, I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor … for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest” (Jer 31: 33-34).
The inner voice and the Truth we experience deep within us will always find a spontaneous and irrepressible expression. In the words of W.H. Auden,
All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
This was the inspirational quote from the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley that expressed Nelson Mandela’s foundational life experience. He discovered this poem while he was serving a life sentence on Robben Island, a former Leprosy Colony. This quote became the meaning and mission of his life; it served as an anchor that kept him grounded when his natural response would have been one of fear, anger or hatred. Mandela used it as a mantra that inspired him to deal with the hard times when he wanted to give up; it helped him answer the existential questions: Who am I? What is life all about?
Mandela used the power of his mantra to empower not only those who were in prison with him but also those in charge of that prison. His mantra inspired him to work for reconciliation rather than petty revenge; it helped him to stand alone against some of the powerful nations of the world.
Mandela believed that we all need inspiration. Would you care to share your inspirational mantra? I have a tremendous sense of intimacy with the Divine Essence. It gives me the courage to jump over the cliffs of life, knowing fully well that the Divine Energy will keep me flying beyond sacred boundaries always seeking new horizons. Convinced that living with enough is living in abundance helps me enjoy the fullness of life more and more every day. Intimacy with the Divine Essence resonates through every fiber of my being and is expressed by my mantra: You are Mine!
Sojourner Truth lived as a slave from the age of nine. Her slave name was Isabella and she was sold several times until she landed with John Dumont. Like all her other previous owners, Dumont beat Isabella, and his wife Sally sexually abused her. Isabella found solace by building a little shrine in the woods with some twigs and branches, an African tradition she may have learned from her mother. Over the years she developed an intimate relationship with the Divine. After toiling for fourteen years, moved by Divine inspiration Isabella ran away with her daughter, Sophia.
As a runaway slave she joined the Second Great Awakening, a Protestant evangelical movement where people lived a simple life and by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. She soon became an inspirational speaker and challenged people through her unique interpretation of the Bible as a woman and a former slave. Her longing for some structure and family threw her under the spell of the “Prophet Matthias” who intimidated by her charisma often beat her, making her feel like a slave once again.
In 1843, Isabella had a foundational spiritual experience that would change her life forever and give her total inner freedom. On the day of Pentecost she left New York under a new name, Sojourner Truth, free from slavery and the abusive structures of religion. She became an inspirational speaker and fought for the emancipation of slaves, freedom for the Black community and the rights of all women. Her faith and preaching introduced her to abolitionists and women’s rights crusaders. Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist, admired her speaking ability but looked upon her as an uncultured person. But when he called upon Blacks to work for their freedom using force, Sojourner Truth confronted him with the famous words, “Is God gone?” She was the champion of nonviolence and God’s power to overcome injustice and oppression.
Throughout her life she refused to “keep her place.” With her faith anchored in the Divine, she became a force to be reckoned with and was determined not to be intimidated or ignored. When a slave owner sneered at her proclaiming that he did not care for her anti-slavery talk any more than he would for the bite of a flea, Sojourner Truth’s spontaneous response was, “Lord willing I’ll keep you scratching!”
The Divine Flea within each one of us will keep our friends and family, our religious and social groups forever scratching and restless for deep inner freedom and craving the fullness of life. Her assumed name, Sojourner Truth, also reminds us that life is a journey and our quest for truth is relentless. Her relationship with the Divine that began at the shrine she built in the woods, moved through the oppressive structures of religion and came full circle to the Higher Power, the Divine Spirit of the Universe.
Kenric here. Just a small note to say I have been made co-administrator of Paul’s blog and will be helping him manage it.
A major thing to note is the new ‘Subscribe’ feature on the right. If you have an account here you can now easily follow Paul and his writings by clicking the “Follow” button. If you do not have a WordPress Account, enter your email address and then click “Follow” to just get notifications without having to sign up to WordPress. Either way, doing this will give you a notification of any new post right to your email box!
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In Hello Dolly, Dolly Levi is heard to say, “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure, it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.” This is a very succinct way of saying that wealth that is not shared may begin to rot and destroy our lives. And the important thing is not to give our wealth away indiscriminately, but rather it is shared “encouraging young things to grow.” Wealth is not given away to rescue or enable people, keep them co-dependent and give us a feeling that we have done something noble and good.
Living with enough is not limited to material things but extends most especially to the religious and spiritual. As we grow in our relationship with the Divine Essence we realize that more is less and less is more. We appreciate the wisdom of the unknown author who says, “He who buys what he does not need steals from himself.” As we give away material things that are superfluous we begin to give away religious and spiritual practices that we no longer need. We claim once again the wisdom, simplicity and freedom of a child. The life of a little child embodies Leela, the Sanskrit word that is often translated as play. A little child is a reflection of all reality and the cosmos which is the creative Leela of the Divine Essence. As we allow ourselves to participate in the dance of the Divine Leela, our lives become simple and mystical. We experience deep inner peace and freedom in every circumstance of our lives.