In the past, my attitude towards forgiving someone meant that I was simply overlooking some deficiency of decorum or default of character in another. In essence, I felt it was my duty to pity the poor fool and ignore my feelings of resentment and desire to get even for some perceived slight. I thought I would find much of the same in the third chapter of The Way of Mastery. Not so, again my past learning was dashed to pieces against a new idea of forgiveness. The definition of forgiveness in the text is as follows:
“For to forgive means to choose to release another from the perceptions you have been projecting upon them. It is, therefore, an act of forgiving one’s self of one’s projections.”
I gathered that any upset in my life is because what I made the upset to mean. I am projecting how I feel on others in order to feel bad or good. It was shocking the amount of power I was giving away just to play the victim. I could really choose to never feel bad ever again because meaning is determined by me, events are neutral and hold no meaning themselves. Then the text goes on to teach that the opposite of forgiveness is judgment. Judgment is to make the other party feel guilty enough that they bend to what I think is correct action. I was not alarmed by this because I have been taught all my life that it is through the sense of guilt that I correct myself. I was shocked when I read that guilt is never helpful and judgment is never warranted, unless I see someone as innocent. Anything I see that seems to be the foul actions of others is something with which to forgive myself.
Instantly, my mind went to mass murderers, thieves, and molesters. I could not see where I could possibly need to forgive myself for any of those actions. I read on to see if the exercise provided would give any insight. When I come across someone who I feel I want to forgive I am to silently ask my higher self: What would you have me say? What is the most appropriate for this other soul in this moment? Then I am to be silent until words of love come.
My purpose is to heal my own heart and according to The Way of Mastery, I find it by healing the hearts of those around me. The next section promised to explain how that would happen: Forgiveness, The Bridge To The Soul Of Your Brother And Sister.
In this section, the idea is that the murderer and I are one and the same. If I see hostility, then I know hostility resides in my own awareness. But how could I be like a murderer? The text explains that thoughts of murder that pass through mine are the same which pass through the mind of someone who commits murder. The only difference is that I have the belief my peace comes from not murdering while the other has the belief murder is the way to peace. I am not different from anyone, and this belief will bring the unlearning and the peace I desire.
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It was still hard to accept that I was the same as someone who could take the life of another. I hoped that the next section would help me understand more clearly: The Veil Of Projection.
Any action I do not want to take responsibility for I mentally project the blame on someone else. This is my attempt to make it appear, I am a victim of the world I see rather than seeing myself as responsible. In essence, I want my anger and hatred for another to be justified. The example of a courtroom is given where at the present moment we are seeing everyone as separate and have no qualms about judging individuals and punishing them. But if we had the viewpoint that everyone is one, how different would we see the call for help from the one who is all? That idea brought a sense of relief because I feel weary of thinking I know what is best for everyone. I am quite happy to let go of judging.
If I want to change the world, I must change myself the text urges. I feel an inward groan at the cliché, However, as it stands I know I cannot change anyone else so it is best to start with me. I continue in the section: Awakening Requires Vigilance And Discipline. This unit has the most fun exercise to develop my thought awareness. As a child, I loved to watch clouds pass by in the sky. In the exercise prescribed, I am to notice when I have a judgmental thought or action. I am to mentally stop and look on what was done in innocence and say to myself, “Oh this is just a cloud passing by in my awareness, and I can choose again differently.” This is followed by the third axiom:
“I do not live any ordinary moments. With each breath, my experiences are the stepping stones laid before me of God to guide me home.
I am encouraged to find each time I feel disturbed by circumstances, which appear to come from outside of me, I am to bless them for giving me another opportunity to forgive the discord in them and myself. The next segment promises to explain exactly what forgiveness feels like: How Forgiveness Heals. Imagine a pipe that has water running through it. When I choose to judge I clog the pipe and little water may pass through, but when I forgive and release anyone from my projections, the pipes are open and water passes freely. The thought came to me that there are many in my life I would like to forgive, but I do not have the opportunity to forgive them in person. With the flourish of a magician, I was left off the hook in the next paragraph. All I need to do is picture the individual and release them and thereby release myself.
I read the next unit: Reactivity Indicates The Need For Self-Forgiveness. I am invited to become highly aware when I feel disturbed. I am to notice the breathing, tenseness of muscles, and speech patterns, which are an alarm to recognize the need for forgiveness. I am given a healing exercise to release the symptoms of disturbance:
“I am the source of my experience. I am feeling disturbed. What is it in me that needs to be healed?”
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The steps include remembering a time when I have acted in a way similar to the one who seems to be disturbing me. In my case, I thought of how many bugs I have “murdered” in my life. I have acted the same way as a murderer, and now I forgive that part of myself, the judgment of myself, and now I choose to teach only love.
The final is called section: Ending your Day. In this segment, I am taught to forgive and release each day. I am warned that if I do not I will carry the past with me until it weighs heavily on me. The exercise is very simple, as I lay down to sleep, I say in my head,” I release and forgive this day. It has been perfect. And it is done.” Then I let it go. I must be in earnestness or my dreams will let me know that I am still conflicted about something or other, but I have only to recall it forgive it and release it.
The last paragraph assures me it is my only purpose to bring light into the world. What changes have you seen in your life as you have been reading this book? I would love to hear about it in a comment.