The Act of Choosing Forgiveness: This Peace I Give to You
In this series of essays on the Heart-Felt issues we encounter in life and attempt to understand in psychoanalysis or psychotherapy we have focused thus far on gratitude. Gratitude is a major portal leading to the sense of self that is far greater than your ego’s perception of you. This portal we have seen to be the internal route to where your joy resides inside of you. In the act of appreciation we find a joy that is incomparable with any other. Regardless of what you like or love, joy is the out-come of knowingly and deliberately allowing your self to take the action of love or the action of appreciation.
In the action of love we are delivered to the doorway of Joy. There is simplicity to this formula that does not in any manner translate to the conflict you may bring about as a result of fighting against this fact. Getting to Joy is a simple equation: Love something and you will find your heart lighting up in delight. Appreciate something and the negativity that surrounds you will lessen in direct proportion to you level of appreciation.
But what of forgiveness, what can forgiveness do for the soul. In life our purpose is to love. Without loving we hardly feel human. Loving, giving love to someone or something, is valuable to both the giver and the receiver. The loved one feels appreciated and the lover experiences joy.
In forgiveness the ego is even more aggressive, actively rushing in to defend against forgiving. Forgiveness of self or of others becomes another portal at which we can get a glimpse of the delight that is experienced when the deliberate choice is to forgive rather than hold on to resentments. That is the reason why acknowledging the ego’s resistance is so profoundly important in learning the step of letting go. If nothing else we know, we know this: the universe is created out of darkness and light. This physics of this fact has created metaphors that we live by. God and the devil, good and evil, right and wrong, love and hate, the list goes on. The distinctions between the conflicting aspects of the world illuminate our politics and our diplomacy. This conflict presents itself everywhere and is especially significant in our decision-making processes.
The ego has the desire to be right. This desire, born of earthy concerns, becomes an obsession with rightness and everything in the ego’s sight that is not perfect is not acceptable. This need that the ego has to get an “A” in everything has a role in our development. It teaches us the value of perception, assimilation, and integration, and synthesizing, all very important characteristics of an intelligent and successful person. The problem we encounter with the ego is its obsession with the notion of more. Nothing satisfies the ego. There is no mechanism in the ego for establishing a sense of Joy. The ego cannot stop and appreciate, it does not want to stop and forgive. The ego gets its juice from wanting more and being right. There is no place in the ego where forgiveness or gratitude is experienced.
The conflict that emerges in the ego prevents the wider self, the soul, from experiencing a lightness of being that forgiveness provides. In the long run, it is about letting–go, a phrase our society uses indiscriminately. The act of letting-go of resentments is not an easy task. There is an implication that to forgive is to acknowledge a weakness in us. There is further implication that forgiveness will provide the other person with ammunition to attack us even more deeply. Because the ego sole purpose is to prevent itself from being harmed, it tenaciously holds on to righteousness. Thinking that the righteousness will somehow defend us from harm, we hold on to being right at the expense of forgiving them their trespasses or of forgiving ourselves ours.
The importance of forgiveness lies in the role that forgiving plays in our psyches. The purpose of forgiveness is to bring about a peace—peace of mind, peace in our families, peace in the world. As you can see, we have not taken this maximum of truth very seriously. The reason we cannot reap its benefits is simple. We wrongly think that to forgive is to weaken ourselves. As long as we understand the world only through the eyes of the ego, the soul, the Holy Spirit, the deeper self is starved out of sight. We simply think there is more benefit to remaining angry and in power than there is to being in love and with peace.
Accessing the place within that has the power to manifest the spirit in us, gives us grace. That is, it gives us the love of ourselves, which we rightly inherited by being born into the world, and quickly discarded as not important because the ego had so many other fancy important things on its mind. As we have been discussing about heart-felt matters, the whispering of the heart are over-shadowed by the longings of the ego. Until we desire access to our heart-felt selves there is no chance that we will get there. Deliberate intent, as it was shown to exist in discovering joy, will guide us to discovering the intent of forgiveness. The intent of forgiveness is the discovery of peace within. “This peace I give you,” the bible quotes. It is already here for the asking and the allowing. This is what this ancient writing suggests.
To feel “whole” we must allow our holiness to breath. We have to find the willingness to let go of past transgressions. We have to decide that we want the effects of joy and peace more than we want the effects of righteousness and defense.
One last word about forgiveness…the complete act of forgiveness lies in a two-way conversation. That, or whom we want to forgive has to participate in this journey for the effects of the forgiveness to have its full impact. However, this is not always possible and when this is not possible as in the instance when who we need to forgive is already dead, we have to settle for lesser peace. That is the peace of acceptance. Acceptance will provide enough energy to allow you to become empathic. That is, you will need to be willing to understand the other side of the conflict as if you were the other side of the conflict. You will need to be willing to place yourself in the hands of a merciful God. That you must determine on your own. What and who God is in relation to you is yours and yours alone to work out.
The universe has many ways of leading us to redemption. Redemption after all is the absolute recognition that we are powerless in the face of time and death and pain and sorrow. These concepts of darkness will never go away. It is the work of each of us to establish a peace with the darkness. That is the only way that we can muster up the energy to live with the heart-felt spirit that only guides us with truth.
Truth, love, gratitude these are some the moral beatitudes that live in the shadow of the ego. A deliberate intent, or a profound desire to live in light is the necessary first step of every redemption. And every redemption is born out of desire to feel the completeness that a true acceptance provides. Redemption is not about an after-life it is about making peace with yourself within this life.