“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”
Humanity needs to be more loving and more forgiving if there is ever going to be any kind of global healing. People everywhere seem to struggle with loving one another as much as they struggle internally with everything else. We must learn to love and forgive ourselves first, and only then can we love and forgive others. Forgiveness becomes the love and gratitude we can offer to others.
Our Declaration of Spiritualist Principle #6 says: “We believe that the highest morality is contained in the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Be kind, do good, and others will do likewise. This precept points the way to harmony, peace, and happiness.
We operate on two levels, the human and spiritual. A spiritual being can only act in this world through a human being. On the spiritual level, all beings are pure goodness, striving to help the incarnated part of other spiritual beings to awaken to their true nature. On the human level, we feel justified in being angry or resentful when we have been hurt in some way. This feeling poisons our lives. Unforgiveness is the cause of distress.
There are the selves we think we are, and the selves we are trying to improve – to love. We need to learn to see beyond our own ego. Through this practice, we are then led to the understanding that there is just one energy, one universal consciousness manifested in an endless diversity of forms. We are that energy. And this very energy is expressed through the human heart – and that is love.
The art of connecting with the oneness of life paves the way for opening the heart. Fears are self-created. Once these fears are let go, the heart can then naturally feel the flowering of goodness, kindness, and love.
This is the essence of love and forgiveness – to open our hearts and tap into our true compassion – to feel our energetic openness, our interconnectedness, with every other human being and every living thing.
The more we feel that very flowering in the heart, the more we are able to extend our love and forgiveness outward. The more we extend our love and forgiveness, the further we experience empathy, kindness, affection, tenderness, compassion, generosity, gratitude and courage.
This is where the concept of enlightenment enters our lives – time spent in meditation, contemplation, self-inquiry to discover our true nature – the wisdom, the love, and the freedom inside each one of us.
This is, however, only the first step. Our ability to love reveals our ability to be there for others. It shows the degree to which our hearts are truly open. This is “inner freedom.” Once you are free, you are always free. I call this the mastery of love and forgiveness. In a way, we are all beginners at love. Mastery of your mind brings you to the experience of clarity and detachment, of freedom and openness, of spaciousness and presence. But opening and awakening the heart brings you into intimacy with life and with people.
As your heart opens and fear dissolves, your chest expands and is filled with warmth and love. This feeling of expansion is the sign that consciousness is entering your heart. When you trust and live from your heart, your true passion is liberated. The heart is the true healer.
“Wisdom is knowing I am nothing, love is knowing I am everything, and between the two, my life moves.” This is a beautiful expression of truth, told by Maharaj. As you awaken, you will discover that you are nothing and everything. True freedom arises in knowing, and this is articulated in wisdom and feeling – expressed as love.
Once you can attain this level of freedom, life will then become very rich, because you are connected to the love within you, to the power of the universe. You will still welcome love from other people, but you will no longer need it. The light and love shining in you are strong enough now. You will begin to share your radiant, loving presence with those who are open and receptive to it.
What I’ve just said sounds true. But how do you forgive and love terrorists? How can the grieving mother love and forgive her child’s murderer?
We need to look at love from a practical perspective. Loving and forgiving is not about liking every human being on earth. It is not about condoning harmful or destructive behavior. Love is about respecting the innate humanity of all people and looking for the spark of truth and goodness, and the light residing somewhere deep within everyone’s heart and soul.
The ongoing work of awakening is to bring love and forgiveness from inside your heart out into the world, where you can then make a difference. This requires you to be conscious and aware throughout each day. This requires you to be more compassionate, to reach out and put your arm around someone.
Opening your heart is an endless process. It is a journey of growing into love, of learning to express your true, compassionate nature even more fully. It is about being aware, present, open, and grounded in your body in each moment.
Forgiveness is the letting go of blame or resentment toward anybody who has hurt, offended, or slighted you in the past.
If you live from your ego or image of who you are, you will always be subject to being hurt. However, if you are on a path of personal or spiritual growth, you will realize the hurt and anger you are holding on to are causing more harm to you than they are the other person. While the other person is happily going on with his life, you are suffering miserably because of what he did or said months or years ago.
One of the keys to love and forgiveness is realizing the people who hurt you are acting out of their own belief systems. Coming to the realization that you are suffering and you want to be free from suffering, is the heart and soul of love and forgiveness. Your suffering is the result of the anger, hurt, and blame that you are holding onto. You must realize that by acting out your anger, by dumping it on the person who hurt you, is going to perpetuate the cycle of suffering. Although you might find pleasure in this, as long as you remain attached to your self-righteous story, you will continue to attract people who offend or hurt you.
You have to let your blame and self-righteousness go. Practice kissing or waving it goodbye. Or visualize wrapping the anger and hurt in a silk cloth and tossing it into an imaginary fire. Do whatever works for you.
Breathe deeply, shrug your shoulders and shake off whatever you are holding onto. Become present, relaxed in your body, with your heart open. Be here in the moment – alert, awake, aware. This will help you to reconnect with the true beauty and vastness of life. You will feel the energy of the universe moving through you. You will become one with the universe. You are the universe.
We have to empty ourselves of everything – our ego, our personal histories, our stories of suffering and blame – and only then, can we open to the flowering of love and forgiveness. If you merely observe the stories, beliefs, and images causing you to suffer, you cannot be them.
Be who you are. Dwell in the freedom, the clarity of mind, and the openness of heart that are your true nature. Then the love and forgiveness flowing through you will always be unconditional, for there is no you in it – no ego-self laying down the rules, expectations, conditions or agendas.
The freer you are and the more your heart opens, the more compelled you will feel to reach out and to connect with your fellow human beings. You and the Divine energy, the consciousness behind creation, are one.
Forgiveness is not just a destination, it’s a journey – a way of life. Be gentle and patient with yourself on this journey – and enjoy the ride.
“Love is not how you forget, but how you forgive. Not how you listen, but how you understand. Not what you see, but how you feel. Not how you let go, but how you hold on.”