"Forgiveness: A Gift For Myself" By Maruja Cándano
I wish to share with all of you the path I followed in attitudinal healing in order to give shape to my new perception of forgiveness. Each one of these ideas was like a paint-brush stroke of an impressionistic painting, the painting I never made before. Each stroke had its own beauty, but all of them together brought an effect far superior to their actual sum.
Forgiveness is a huge word… It is a key that opens and closes possibilities, the beginning of inner growth and simultaneously the grand finale of this growth. It is both the point of departure and of arrival… The clue to our wholeness as human beings.
Is forgiveness hard or easy? There is an Eastern story of a man who wished to attain enlightenment. He went to a family known for its wisdom and asked “Is it easy to reach enlightenment?” The elder´s answer was:“ It is as easy as drinking a glass of water”. Quite surprised, he then asked to his wife, who answered:” It is as hard as getting to the moon…” Not knowing what to think, he turned to the daughter who replied smiling:”It is as easy or hard as you think it is…”
I said forgiveness can be both a point of departure and of arrival. This means that sometimes, because I forgive, I discover how real the other affirmations of attitudinal healing are to me; other times I manage to forgive after having lived several principles… This is an ongoing process. Each of us goes at our own pace, accepting us at the stage we are. And we come to learn that we need not do anything until we are ready for it… Gently we shall find the light…
For me, it has been marvelous to discover that I can see absolutely everything that happens to me as an opportunity to know myself better. An opportunity to grow, to learn a lesson I needed to learn, to open my inner door wider in order to extend love, because that is what I am…
I am then able to forgive because I choose to see the person or situation that bothered or hurt me, as my teacher of growth and love.
The first principle of attitudinal healing is, “The essence of my being is love”. Since love is our reality, our natural state is to give love, to extend it, just as the natural state of a light bulb is to give light, that of a seed is to germinate and that of a bird is to sing…
When a bulb gives no light, we don’t judge it. We simply realize that its filaments are broken… When a seed doesn´t bloom or a bird doesn´t sing, we don’t judge them nor take it personally. We just realize that they are damaged, or sick, or blocked…
And so it is with any example in nature or with other objects created by man. When a bulb gives no light I don´t ask it, “How can you do this to me? What have you against me? What have I done to deserve this?”
As human beings we were created to give love, to construct, to create beauty and technology, to live in peace and harmony and to enjoy, along with our fellow brothers, our common heritage.
However, often human beings attack instead of giving love. Destroy instead of constructing. Live in distress and confusion instead of in harmony. Treasure money and power instead of being happy. Look in the outside world for an answer that he can only find within themselves...
When we find a human being in these conditions, instead of seeing him as non-functional, sick or blocked, impeded for some reason or other from giving love, we judge and blame him. We feel separate from him, regretting he is against us when we have done him no harm, or perhaps have only done good things for him. We fail to see that what he needs is not our judgment, but our love.
On the other hand, what happens when we love? Let´s think of a baby. How it inspires us with unconditional love! We lavish him with tenderness and generosity without expecting anything in return, simply enjoying his loving presence!
We don´t feel attacked when he cries or kicks, not even when he gets us… It´s a baby! We love and accept him as he is… Our hearts go out to him, not our judgment… And that is so because love understands and accepts. It is fear that makes us judge and separates us one from another.
So if I decide to see that person with the eyes of love, what do I see?
- I see his human condition, just as it is.
- I see his pain, his insecurity, his fear…
- I see someone who wishes to be happy, like me, but believes that what he needs in order to be so is outside of himself, and therefore he acts accordingly.
- I see someone who, unable to realize that he is love, cannot extend it.
- I see someone full of fear, envy and frustration, so that is what he projects.
When loving, I see the whole human being. I accept him as he is and where he is. I learn to recognize the light within him, in spite of the layers that have been covering it, and I manage to focus on that light and to join with it.
The truth is that a human being either gives love or asks for love and help, because something in him needs to be healed.
However, sometimes I´m not capable of seeing the real situation. My perception is distorted by thoughts of fear, insecurity or lack of self acceptance. Grievances from the past, and fears of the future often cover and block my vision.
Besides, sometimes I do not even see through my own eyes, but through those of my parents, my culture, or my social prejudices.
When I don´t see through the eyes of love, which is my true essence, I make judgments, and they are the seeds of separation guilt and distress.
That is why it is so wise to choose not to judge anything . Because when I judge. I only see a fragment of reality, and even worst, I take that part for the whole.
Would it make sense to try to do a jigsaw-puzzle with pieces missing and say it is finished even though it has so many empty spaces?
Well that´s exactly what I do when I judge someone: I ignore those empty spaces, because I really don´t know all of his story: his educational, religious and social back ground, his deep motivations… his impediments (real and imaginary).
Furthermore, what I see is determined by the point of view from which I see it. For instance, in order to judge who are “good” and who are “bad” in a cowboy movie it makes all the difference in the world if I see Kevin Costner in “Dancing With Wolves”, or John Wayne´s classics.
It is also different when I look at a situation as a parent or as a child, as an employer or as an employee , and so on.
Since judgment generates victims and guilt, it produces separation.
But paradoxically, to that “evil” person or situation that I think is causing my distress, I give the power to determine how I am going to feel and act. I give that person or situation the keys to my inner peace and harmony, and allow them to turn me into a whirlwind of fury and dismay, or at least to leave me feeling upset and unhappy.
What do you think about this?
Notice I said “I give the keys”, because they were not taken from me. Only my thoughts can hurt me or build me up. It is not what happens around me what hurts me, but my thoughts about the situation.
The good news are that I can choose my thoughts, and that is the most powerful tool for transformation.
The source of my inner peace is within me and I can´t find it elsewhere as I once thought. Still more remarkable is that only by giving peace and love can I keep them, and only by accepting them for myself can I share them with others.
Another essential concept of attitudinal healing is that we project what is within ourselves.
Take a volcano for example. When it makes eruption it throws lava. It certainly doesn´t throw it at me though it may hurt me if I happen to be around. However, I don´t judge the volcano nor declare it guilty.
Well, when a person is charged with anger, wrath, fear, frustration, aggression, lack of love and acceptance, he is like a volcano and when he erupts that is what it throws out.
Our mistake is to believe he is throwing it at us. But, what else could it do? If he had love, comprehension and acceptance that is what he would give.
We all use our best behavior. As we use our best suit from the wardrobe. If it is inadequate, it´s because we are unaware of it or have nothing better to wear or do.
Knowing this. Instead of judging I can silently send the person this message: I love you, I accept you and trust you will discover what is best for you. Sometime it helps me to imagine that love forms a protective capsule around me to keep me from getting hurt.
My loving attitude will not only heal my heart but his as well. Since giving and receiving are the same, the love and acceptance I give him, I also give to myself.
But sometimes, because of my present situation and degree of consciousness or inner light, I see no way out of the hurtful situation. It is my boss, and I don´t believe I can find another job, or it is my client which I believe cannot be replaced, or it is my mother and I can´t run away….
In such cases, it´s either our helplessness or guilt that prevent us from resolving the situation creatively. Consequently we believe others have done something to us, and feel resentfull.
The truth is that it´s my response that hurts me. What values were shaken? What beliefs were questioned? Did it alter my self image before others or myself? Did it disclose something I wanted to keep secret: that I feel helpless? that I don’t value myself? that I´m afraid? vulnerable? imperfect?
The paint I feel is caused by my thoughts: my thoughts about the world, about reality, about myself.
However it is convenient to remember I can change my perception of the world, of others and of myself. I can see things differently.
I can see that pain or anger can be an invitation to growth, to know more of myself, to accept and love myself just as I am. I can see things differently.
I can see that pain or anger can be an invitation to growth, to know more of myself, to accept and love myself just as I am. I can discover a new facet of myself and thereby take a step forward.
By expanding my level of consciousness and awareness the person or situation turned into my allies, they become my teachers of internal growth… “Circumstances conspire in my favor”, as Jampolsky says…
Besides, another fact is that people either give love or ask for it, thus aggressive conduct should be considered as a cry for help and a plea for love…
Yes, I have the keys to my inner self and I choose what response I wish to give. This new perception prevents me from feeling I´m a victim of the world. I see and take the reins of my own life.
An apparent attack, as such, helps me focus in on reality correctly: I need not “go outward” to forgive somebody, but rather “go inward” to discover and learn more about myself, and thus grow as a person.
Although human beings are spiritually united, we sometimes forget it, and we permit offenses to be like stones that interrupt the flow of love, which is our essence, and this in turn creates an illusion of separation.
On the other hand, the present moment is the only time that exists: during this moment I can choose peace for myself. This presupposes letting go of the past with its sorrows, offenses and guilt’s. The heavy burden of the past wouldn´t let me live in peace.
Now finally we come to FORGIVENESS, which is the key to happiness, who comes to free me from death, from the separation caused by guilder and guilt. For I feel just as separated from others when I think I´ve been wronged as when I feel I have wronged others.
Forgiveness is marvelous:
- It corrects my mistaken perceptions.
- It restores the flow of love
- It increases my level of consciousness and light.
To forgive then is to realize that:
- I had put up a barrio which I can now remove.
- I had made a judgment which is absurd.
- I was mistaken in believing that something external could hurt me.
- I was wrong in giving the power over my feelings to an adverse situation or person.
- It is recuperating the keys to me inner self.
- It is recognizing that I am the director of my life.
- That it is impossible to separate myself from others because we are like waves in the same sea.
- It is to see any “offensive” situation as an opportunity to learn, grow and increase my level of consciousness.
- It is a gift I give myself, even when I am forgiving someone else.
- It is letting go of and forgetting, since it isn´t worth remembering, because I am living in the present and the offense belongs to the past.
- It is to see clearly that since peace is my goal, to forgive is my function and the way to attain peace.
To forgive helps me realize that anybody is as important as I am. It helps me keep in mind that others are love just as I am. That if they don´t give love it´s because there´s something “broken”, or hurt in them and my love, not my judgment, will help cure it. And what is marvelous, magically so, is that because what I give to others I give to myself, by extending my total unconditional love, without expectations… by offering my peace and understanding, and by accepting others just as they are, without judging, or wanting to change them, by seeing them as my teachers, and in one word, by pardoning them, I become enriched.
Because for love there is no judgment or fear, there is only more love to give.
There is no guilt, only beings for us to love.
There is no separation, only waves of the same sea.
To realize this is to forgive.
And by doing so we go through life Teaching Only Love For That Is What We Are.