Thursday, 1 January 2015
WORKSHOP PACK 03 FORGIVENESS
We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, 'This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.’’ We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn’t treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one. Referring to our list again.
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 67
If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned our lesson.
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 70
Nevertheless, with a person we dislike, we take the bit in our teeth. It is harder to go to an enemy than to a friend, but we find it much more beneficial to us. We go to him in a helpful and forgiving spirit, confessing our former ill feeling and expressing our regret.
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 77
A man we know had remarried. Because of resentment and drinking, he had not paid alimony to his first wife. She was furious. She went to court and got an order for his arrest. He had commenced our way of life, had secured a position, and was getting his head above water. It would have been impressive heroics if he had walked up to the judge and said, 'Here I am.’’ We thought he ought to be willing to do that if necessary, but if he were in jail he could provide nothing for either family. We suggested he write his first wife admitting his faults and asking forgiveness.
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 79
When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 86
If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free. Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free. Even when you don’t really want it for them and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks, and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.
Alcoholics Anonymous, page 552
This vital Step was also the means by which we began to get the feeling that we could be forgiven, no matter what we had thought or done. Often it was while working on this Step with our sponsors or spiritual advisers that we first felt truly able to forgive others, no matter how deeply we felt they had wronged us. Our moral inventory had persuaded us that all-round forgiveness was desirable, but it was only when we resolutely tackled Step Five that we inwardly knew we’d be able to receive forgiveness and give it, too.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Five
If we ask, God will certainly forgive our derelictions. But in no case does He render us white as snow and keep us that way without our cooperation. That is something we are supposed to be willing to work toward ourselves. He asks only that we try as best we know how to make progress in the building of character.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Six
These obstacles, however, are very real. The first, and one of the most difficult, has to do with forgiveness. The moment we ponder a twisted or broken relationship with another person, our emotions go on the defensive. To escape looking at the wrongs we have done another, we resentfully focus on the wrong he has done us. This is especially true if he has, in fact, behaved badly at all. Triumphantly we seize upon his misbehaviour as the perfect excuse for minimizing or forgetting our own.
Right here we need to fetch ourselves up sharply. It doesn't make much sense when a real tosspot calls a kettle black. Let's remember that alcoholics are not the only ones bedevilled by sick emotions. Moreover, it is usually a fact that our behaviour when drinking has aggravated the defects of others. We've repeatedly strained the patience of our best friends to a snapping point, and have brought out the very worst in those who didn't think much of us to begin with. In many instances we are really dealing with fellow sufferers, people whose woes we have increased. If we are now about to ask forgiveness for ourselves, why shouldn't we start out by forgiving them, one and all?
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Eight
In all these situations we need self-restraint, honest analysis of what is involved, a willingness to admit when the fault is ours, and an equal willingness to forgive when the fault is elsewhere. We need not be discouraged when we fall into the error of our old ways, for these disciplines are not easy. We shall look for progress, not for perfection.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Ten
'Lord, make me a channel of thy peace—that where there is hatred, I may bring love—that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness—that where there is discord, I may bring harmony—that where there is error, I may bring truth—that where there is doubt, I may bring faith—that where there is despair, I may bring hope—that where there are shadows, I may bring light—that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted—to understand, than to be understood—to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life. Amen.'
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step Eleven
Central to New Thought philosophy was the perspective which saw that love and personal forgiveness were the keys to fundamental transformation: 'Love is by far the most important thing of all. It is the Golden Gate of Paradise. Pray for the understanding of love, and meditate upon it daily. It casts out fear. It is the fulfilling of the Law. It covers a multitude of sins. Love is absolutely invincible.'
Fox went on to say that forgiveness was an integral part of the Pathway of Love, 'which is open to everyone in all circumstances, and upon which you may step at any moment—at this moment if you like—requires no formal introduction, has no conditions whatever. It calls for no expensive laboratory in which to work, because your own daily life, and your ordinary daily surroundings are your laboratory. It needs no reference library, no professional training, no external apparatus of any kind. All it does need is that you should begin steadfastly to expel from your mentality every thought of personal condemnation (you must condemn a wrong action, but not the actor), of resentment for old injuries, and of everything which is contrary to the law of Love. You must not allow yourself to hate either person, or group, or nation, or anything whatever.'
'You must build up by faithful daily exercise the true Love-consciousness, and then all the rest of spiritual development will follow upon that. Love will heal you. Love will illumine you.'
Emmet Fox and Alcoholics Anonymous, By Igor S., Hartford, Connecticut, February 1996 AA Grapevine
The Shulchan Aruch, or Code of Jewish Law, states that all the atonement possible is ineffective if an individual has harmed another, unless forgiveness from the victim has been sought. If the wrong action resulted in financial loss, then adequate restitution is required. If the offended party refuses to grant forgiveness, he is to be approached three times. If he remains obstinate in refusing forgiveness, and the offender sincerely regrets his behaviour, Divine forgiveness is assured. If the victim has died, the Shulchan Aruch requires that one take a minyan (a quorum of ten people) and visit the burial place to publicly ask forgiveness.
Spirituality, Prayer, the Twelve Steps and Judaism, by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D., 1993
But if romantic attraction is the basis for love among courting couples, it is no long-term basis on which to build a marriage. The illusion of perfection in the other will not last. And that is why the essence of marital love is not romance but forgiveness.
Let me be very clear as to what I mean by that. To define love as forgiveness does not mean that a man can inform his wife about his extramarital affairs and when she becomes upset, say, 'The fact that she can't forgive me proves that she doesn't love me and that justifies my doing what I did.' Defining love as forgiveness does not require a battered wife to continue to suffer physical abuse at the hands of an abusive husband. Neither does it require you to let yourself be exploited and walked over without a protest. Forgiveness as the truest form of love means accepting without bitterness the flaws and imperfections of our partner, and praying that our partner accepts our flaws as well. Romantic love overlooks faults ('love is blind') in an effort to persuade ourselves that we deserve a perfect partner. Mature marital love sees faults clearly and forgives them, understanding that there are no perfect people, that we don't have to pretend perfection, and that an imperfect spouse is all that an imperfect person like us can aspire to. ('For years, I was looking for the perfect man, and when I finally found him, it turned out he was looking for the perfect woman and that wasn't me.')
How Good Do We Have To Be? Rabbi Harold Kushner
An inability to love another person often expresses itself as an inability to forgive them for their all-too-human flaws. 'I'm so good I don't have to put up with a flawed person like you.'
How Good Do We Have To Be? Rabbi Harold Kushner
The embarrassing secret is that many of us are reluctant to forgive. We nurture grievances because that makes us feel morally superior. Withholding forgiveness gives us a sense of power, often power over someone who otherwise leaves us feeling powerless. The only power we have over them is the power to remain angry at them. At some level, we enjoy the role of being the long-suffering, aggrieved party.
How Good Do We Have To Be? Rabbi Harold Kushner
Pastoral counsellor David Norris puts it this way: 'Forgiveness involves a letting go not only of the negative energy connected with an injury but also of the meanings which we learned as a result of that and similar injuries throughout one's life.' By 'negative energy', Norris means the sense of bitterness and resentment we carry with us when we remember how someone has hurt us. When I would counsel a divorcée still seething about her husband's having left her for another woman years ago and having fallen behind on child support payments, and she would ask me, 'How can you expect me to forgive him after what he's done to me and the children?' I would answer, 'I'm not asking you to forgive him because what he did wasn't so terrible; it was terrible. I'm suggesting that you forgive him because he doesn't deserve to have this power to turn you into a bitter, resentful woman. When he left, he gave up the right to inhabit your life and mind to the degree that you're letting him. Your being angry at him doesn't harm him, but it hurts you. It's turning you into someone you don't really want to be. Release that anger, not for his sake—he probably doesn't deserve it—but for your sake, so that the real you can re-emerge.' And when the negative energy distances us from someone we want to be connected with—a husband or wife, a brother or sister, a close friend who has disappointed us—it is that much more important that we learn to discharge it.
How Good Do We Have To Be? Rabbi Harold Kushner
When we forgive, when we come to see what someone did to us not as the result of malice or the dismissal of our feelings, but as the result of human weakness, impatience, and imperfection, we not only free the other person from the role of villain; we free ourselves from the role of victim.
How Good Do We Have To Be? Rabbi Harold Kushner
'On the day the Baal Shem Tov was dying, he assigned each of his disciples a task to carry on in his name, to do some of his work. When he finished with all of them, he had one more task. He called the last disciple and gave him this task: to go all over Europe to retell the stories he remembered from the Master. The disciple was very disappointed. This was hardly a prestigious job. But the Baal Shem Tov told him that he would not have to do this forever; he would receive a sign when he should stop and then he could live out the rest of his life in ease.
So off he went, and days and months turned into years and years of telling stories until he felt he had told them in every part of the world. Then he heard of a man in Italy, a nobleman in fact, who would pay a gold ducat for each new story told. So the disciple went to Italy to the nobleman's castle. But to his absolute horror he discovered that he had forgotten all the Baal Shem Tov stories! He couldn't remember a single story. He was mortified. But the nobleman was kind and urged him to stay a few days anyway, in the hope that he would eventually remember something.
But the next day and the next he remembered nothing. Finally, on the third day, the disciple protested that he must go, out of sheer embarrassment. But as he was about to leave, oh, yes, suddenly he remembered one story, and this would prove that he indeed did know the great Baal Shem Tov, for he was the only one there when the story happened. And this is the story he remembered.
Once the Baal Shem Tov told him to harness the horses, for they were about to take a trip to Turkey where at this time of the year the streets were decorated for the Christians' Easter festival. The disciple was upset, for it was well known that Jews were not safe during the Christian Holy Week and Easter. They were fair game for the Christians shouting 'God-killers!' And, in fact, it was the custom during the Easter festival to kill one Jew in reparation.
Still, they went. They went into the city and then into the Jewish quarter, where the Jews were all huddled behind their shutters out of fear. They were secluded, waiting till the festival was over and they could go on out into the streets again in safety. So imagine how startled and surprised they were when the Baal Shem Tov stood up and opened all the windows of the house where they were staying. And furthermore he stood there in full view!
And looking through the window he saw the bishop leading the procession. He was arrayed like a prince with gold vestments, silver mitre, and a diamond-studded staff. The Baal Shem Tov told his disciple, 'Go tell the bishop I want to see him.' Was he out of his mind? Did he want to die? But nothing could deter this order, so the disciple went out and went up to the bishop to tell him that the Baal Shem Tov wanted to see him. The bishop seemed frightened and agitated. But he went. He went and was secluded for three hours with the Baal Shem Tov. Then the Master came out and, without saying anything else, told his disciples they were ready to go back home.
As the disciple finished the story, he was about to apologise to the nobleman for the insignificance of the story, when he suddenly noticed the enormous impact the story had on the nobleman. He had dissolved into tears, and, finally, when he could speak, he said, 'Oh, disciple, your story has just saved my soul! You see, I was there that day. I was that bishop. I had descended from a long line of distinguished rabbis, but, one day, during a period of great persecution, I had abandoned the faith and converted to Christianity. The Christians, of course, were so pleased that, in time, they even made me a bishop. And I had accepted everything, even went along with the killing of the Jews each year, until that one year. The night before the festival, I had a terrible dream of the Day of Judgement, and the danger to my soul. So, until you came, the very next day, with a message from the Baal Shem Tov, I knew that I had to go with you.
For three hours, he and I talked. He told me that there still might be hope for my soul. He told me to sell my goods and retire on what was left and live a life of good deeds and holiness. There might still be hope. And his last words to me were these: 'when a man comes to you and tells you your own story, you will know that your sins are forgiven.'
'So I have been asking everyone I knew for stories from the Baal Shem Tov. And I recognised you immediately when you came, and I was happy. But when I saw that all the stories had been taken from you, I recognised God's judgement. Yet now you have remembered one story, my story, and I know now that the Baal Shem Tov has interceded on my behalf, and that God has forgiven me.'
When a man comes to you and tells you your own story, you know that your sins are forgiven. And when you are forgiven, you are healed.'
Storytelling: Imagination and Faith, William J. Bausch
All that I give is given to myself.
W-pI.126.1. Today's idea, completely alien to the ego and the thinking of the world, is crucial to the thought reversal that this course will bring about. 2 If you believed this statement, there would be no problem in complete forgiveness, certainty of goal, and sure direction. 3 You would understand the means by which salvation comes to you, and would not hesitate to use it now.
W-pI.126.2. Let us consider what you do believe, in place of this idea. 2 It seems to you that other people are apart from you, and able to behave in ways which have no bearing on your thoughts, nor yours on theirs. 3 Therefore, your attitudes have no effect on them, and their appeals for help are not in any way related to your own. 4 You further think that they can sin without affecting your perception of yourself, while you can judge their sin, and yet remain apart from condemnation and at peace.
W-pI.126.3. When you 'forgive' a sin, there is no gain to you directly. 2 You give charity to one unworthy, merely to point out that you are better, on a higher plane than he whom you forgive. 3 He has not earned your charitable tolerance, which you bestow on one unworthy of the gift, because his sins have lowered him beneath a true equality with you. 4 He has no claim on your forgiveness. 5 It holds out a gift to him, but hardly to yourself.
W-pI.126.4. Thus is forgiveness basically unsound; a charitable whim, benevolent yet undeserved, a gift bestowed at times, at other times withheld. 2 Unmerited, withholding it is just, nor is it fair that you should suffer when it is withheld. 3 The sin that you forgive is not your own. 4 Someone apart from you committed it. 5 And if you then are gracious unto him by giving him what he does not deserve, the gift is no more yours than was his sin.
W-pI.126.5. If this be true, forgiveness has no grounds on which to rest dependably and sure. 2 It is an eccentricity, in which you sometimes choose to give indulgently an undeserved reprieve. 3 Yet it remains your right to let the sinner not escape the justified repayment for his sin. 4 Think you the Lord of Heaven would allow the world's salvation to depend on this? 5 Would not His care for you be small indeed, if your salvation rested on a whim?
W-pI.126.6. You do not understand forgiveness. 2 As you see it, it is but a check upon overt attack, without requiring correction in your mind. 3 It cannot give you peace as you perceive it. 4 It is not a means for your release from what you see in someone other than yourself. 5 It has no power to restore your unity with him to your awareness. 6 It is not what God intended it to be for you.
W-pI.126.7. Not having given Him the gift He asks of you, you cannot recognize His gifts, and think He has not given them to you. 2 Yet would He ask you for a gift unless it was for you? 3 Could He be satisfied with empty gestures, and evaluate such petty gifts as worthy of His Son? 4 Salvation is a better gift than this. 5 And true forgiveness, as the means by which it is attained, must heal the mind that gives, for giving is receiving. 6 What remains as unreceived has not been given, but what has been given must have been received.
W-pI.126.8. Today we try to understand the truth that giver and receiver are the same. 2 You will need help to make this meaningful, because it is so alien to the thoughts to which you are accustomed. 3 But the Help you need is there. 4 Give Him your faith today, and ask Him that He share your practicing in truth today. 5 And if you only catch a tiny glimpse of the release that lies in the idea we practice for today, this is a day of glory for the world.
W-pI.126.9. Give fifteen minutes twice today to the attempt to understand today's idea. 2 It is the thought by which forgiveness takes its proper place in your priorities. 3 It is the thought that will release your mind from every bar to what forgiveness means, and let you realize its worth to you.
W-pI.126.10. In silence, close your eyes upon the world that does not understand forgiveness, and seek sanctuary in the quiet place where thoughts are changed and false beliefs laid by. 2 Repeat today's idea, and ask for help in understanding what it really means. 3 Be willing to be taught. 4 Be glad to hear the Voice of truth and healing speak to you, and you will understand the words He speaks, and recognize He speaks your words to you.
W-pI.126.11. As often as you can, remind yourself you have a goal today; an aim which makes this day of special value to yourself and all your brothers. 2 Do not let your mind forget this goal for long, but tell yourself:
3 All that I give is given to myself. 4 The Help I need to learn that this is true is with me now. 5 And I will trust in Him.
6 Then spend a quiet moment, opening your mind to His correction and His Love. 7 And what you hear of Him you will believe, for what He gives will be received by you.
Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
W-pI.134.1. Let us review the meaning of 'forgive,' for it is apt to be distorted and to be perceived as something that entails an unfair sacrifice of righteous wrath, a gift unjustified and undeserved, and a complete denial of the truth. 2 In such a view, forgiveness must be seen as mere eccentric folly, and this course appear to rest salvation on a whim.
W-pI.134.2. This twisted view of what forgiveness means is easily corrected, when you can accept the fact that pardon is not asked for what is true. 2 It must be limited to what is false. 3 It is irrelevant to everything except illusions. 4 Truth is God's creation, and to pardon that is meaningless. 5 All truth belongs to Him, reflects His laws and radiates His Love. 6 Does this need pardon? 7 How can you forgive the sinless and eternally benign?
W-pI.134.3. The major difficulty that you find in genuine forgiveness on your part is that you still believe you must forgive the truth, and not illusions. 2 You conceive of pardon as a vain attempt to look past what is there; to overlook the truth, in an unfounded effort to deceive yourself by making an illusion true. 3 This twisted viewpoint but reflects the hold that the idea of sin retains as yet upon your mind, as you regard yourself.
W-pI.134.4. Because you think your sins are real, you look on pardon as deception. 2 For it is impossible to think of sin as true and not believe forgiveness is a lie. 3 Thus is forgiveness really but a sin, like all the rest. 4 It says the truth is false, and smiles on the corrupt as if they were as blameless as the grass; as white as snow. 5 It is delusional in what it thinks it can accomplish. 6 It would see as right the plainly wrong; the loathsome as the good.
W-pI.134.5. Pardon is no escape in such a view. 2 It merely is a further sign that sin is unforgivable, at best to be concealed, denied or called another name, for pardon is a treachery to truth. 3 Guilt cannot be forgiven. 4 If you sin, your guilt is everlasting. 5 Those who are forgiven from the view their sins are real are pitifully mocked and twice condemned; first, by themselves for what they think they did, and once again by those who pardon them.
W-pI.134.6. It is sin's unreality that makes forgiveness natural and wholly sane, a deep relief to those who offer it; a quiet blessing where it is received. 2 It does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. 3 And there they disappear entirely.
W-pI.134.7. Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. 2 It sees their nothingness, and looks straight through the thousand forms in which they may appear. 3 It looks on lies, but it is not deceived. 4 It does not heed the self-accusing shrieks of sinners mad with guilt. 5 It looks on them with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, 'My brother, what you think is not the truth.'
W-pI.134.8. The strength of pardon is its honesty, which is so uncorrupted that it sees illusions as illusions, not as truth. 2 It is because of this that it becomes the undeceiver in the face of lies; the great restorer of the simple truth. 3 By its ability to overlook what is not there, it opens up the way to truth, which has been blocked by dreams of guilt. 4 Now are you free to follow in the way your true forgiveness opens up to you. 5 For if one brother has received this gift of you, the door is open to yourself.
W-pI.134.9. There is a very simple way to find the door to true forgiveness, and perceive it open wide in welcome. 2 When you feel that you are tempted to accuse someone of sin in any form, do not allow your mind to dwell on what you think he did, for that is self-deception. 3 Ask instead, 'Would I accuse myself of doing this?'
W-pI.134.10. Thus will you see alternatives for choice in terms that render choosing meaningful, and keep your mind as free of guilt and pain as God Himself intended it to be, and as it is in truth. 2 It is but lies that would condemn. 3 In truth is innocence the only thing there is. 4 Forgiveness stands between illusions and the truth; between the world you see and that which lies beyond; between the hell of guilt and Heaven's gate.
W-pI.134.11. Across this bridge, as powerful as love which laid its blessing on it, are all dreams of evil and of hatred and attack brought silently to truth. 2 They are not kept to swell and bluster, and to terrify the foolish dreamer who believes in them. 3 He has been gently wakened from his dream by understanding what he thought he saw was never there. 4 And now he cannot feel that all escape has been denied to him.
W-pI.134.12. He does not have to fight to save himself. 2 He does not have to kill the dragons which he thought pursued him. 3 Nor need he erect the heavy walls of stone and iron doors he thought would make him safe. 4 He can remove the ponderous and useless armour made to chain his mind to fear and misery. 5 His step is light, and as he lifts his foot to stride ahead a star is left behind, to point the way to those who follow him.
W-pI.134.13. Forgiveness must be practiced, for the world cannot perceive its meaning, nor provide a guide to teach you its beneficence. 2 There is no thought in all the world that leads to any understanding of the laws it follows, nor the Thought that it reflects. 3 It is as alien to the world as is your own reality. 4 And yet it joins your mind with the reality in you.
W-pI.134.14. Today we practice true forgiveness, that the time of joining be no more delayed. 2 For we would meet with our reality in freedom and in peace. 3 Our practicing becomes the footsteps lighting up the way for all our brothers, who will follow us to the reality we share with them. 4 That this may be accomplished, let us give a quarter of an hour twice today, and spend it with the Guide Who understands the meaning of forgiveness, and was sent to us to teach it. 5 Let us ask of Him:
6 Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
W-pI.134.15. Then choose one brother as He will direct, and catalogue his 'sins,' as one by one they cross your mind. 2 Be certain not to dwell on any one of them, but realize that you are using his 'offenses' but to save the world from all ideas of sin. 3 Briefly consider all the evil things you thought of him, and each time ask yourself, 'Would I condemn myself for doing this?'
W-pI.134.16. Let him be freed from all the thoughts you had of sin in him. 2 And now you are prepared for freedom. 3 If you have been practicing thus far in willingness and honesty, you will begin to sense a lifting up, a lightening of weight across your chest, a deep and certain feeling of relief. 4 The time remaining should be given to experiencing the escape from all the heavy chains you sought to lay upon your brother, but were laid upon yourself.
W-pI.134.17. Forgiveness should be practiced through the day, for there will still be many times when you forget its meaning and attack yourself. 2 When this occurs, allow your mind to see through this illusion as you tell yourself:
3 Let me perceive forgiveness as it is. 4 Would I accuse myself
of doing this? 5 I will not lay this chain upon myself.
6 In everything you do remember this:
7 No one is crucified alone, and yet no one can enter Heaven by himself.
A Course in Miracles
One Way To Pray
Think of God. Review some of the things that you know to be true about Him—His perfect goodness, infinite intelligence, all presence, limitless power, unbounded love, and so forth. Claim that God who is all those things, is with you—and believe it.
Read a few verses of Scripture or any spiritual book that helps you.
Claim that it is really God who is making this prayer through you—and believe it.
Say silently that you forgive everyone who may seem to need it; without exception or mental reservation— and mean it.
Ask God to forgive You for all mistakes you have ever made; and say you accept His forgiveness—and mean it.
Claim that God is now inspiring you, teaching you, and healing you. Claim that He is giving you the greatest of all gifts—HIMSELF—because, having Him, you will have everything else too. If there is any specific thing, great or small, troubling your life, claim that He will heal that—and believe it.
Give thanks for the privilege of visiting with God. Give thanks in advance for the peace of mind, the harmony, and the spiritual growth that this prayer is going to bring you—and mean it.
Make Your Life Worthwhile, Emmet Fox
'And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.' (Luke 6:31)
The forgiveness of others is the vestibule of Heaven. You have to get rid of all resentment and condemnation of others, and, no least, of self-condemnation and remorse. You have to forgive yourself, but you cannot forgive yourself sincerely until you have forgiven others first.
Of course, nothing in all the world is easier than to forgive people who have not hurt us very much. But what the Law of Being requires of us is that we forgive the very things that are so hard to forgive that at first it seems impossible to do it at all. But the Lord's Prayer makes our own escape from guilt and limitation dependent upon just this very thing.
If your prayers are not being answered, search your consciousness and see if there is not some old circumstance about which you are still resentful. Search and see if you are not really holding a grudge against some individual, or some group. If so, then you have an act of forgiveness to perform, and when this is done, you will probably make your demonstration. If you cannot forgive at present, you will have to wait for your demonstration until you can, and you will have to postpone finishing your recital of the Lord's Prayer too.
FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASS
'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.' (Matthew 6:12)
This clause is the turning point of the Prayer. It is the strategic key. Having told us what God is, what man is, how the universe works, how we are to do our own work, what our true nourishment or supply is, and the way in which we can obtain it, he now comes to the forgiveness of sins.
The forgiveness of sins is the central problem of life. Sin is sense of separation from God, and is the major tragedy of human experience. It is, of course, rooted in selfishness. It is essentially an attempt to gain some supposed good to which we are not entitled in justice. It is a sense of isolated, self-regarding, personal existence, whereas the Truth of Being is that all is One. Our true selves are at one with God, undivided from Him, expressing His ideas, witnessing to His nature. Because we are all one with the great Whole of which we are spiritually a part, it follows that we are one with all men.
Evil, sin, the fall of man, in fact, is essentially the attempt to negate this Truth. We try to live apart from God. We act as though we could have plans and purposes and interests separate from Him. All this, if it were true, would mean that existence is not one and harmonious, but a chaos of competition and strife. But, of course, it is not true, and therein lies the joy of life.
AS WE FORGIVE
As we repeat the Great Prayer intelligently, we are suddenly caught up and grasped as though in a vice, so that we must face this problem of separation from God. We must extend forgiveness to everyone.
Notice that Jesus does not say, 'Forgive me my trespasses and I will try to forgive others.' He obliges us to declare that we have actually forgiven, and he makes our claim to our forgiveness to depend upon that. Who could be so insane as to endeavour to seek the Kingdom of God without desiring to be relieved of his own sense of guilt? We are trapped in the inescapable position that we cannot demand our own release before we have released our brother.
'Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.' (Psalm 139:23)
FREEDOM IN FORGIVENESS
'If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you' (Matthew 6:14)
Setting others free means setting yourself free, because resentment is really a form of attachment. It is a cosmic truth that it takes two to make a prisoner; a prisoner and a jailer. There is no such thing as being a prisoner on one's own account. Moreover, the jailer is as much a prisoner as his charge. When you hold resentment against anyone, you are bound to that person by a mental chain. You are tied by a cosmic tie to the thing that you hate. The one person perhaps in the whole world whom you most dislike is the very one to whom you are attaching yourself by a hook that is stronger than steel. Is this what you wish? Is this the condition in which you desire to go on living? Remember, you belong to the thing with which you are linked in thought, and at some time or other, if that tie endures, the object of your resentment will be drawn again into your life, perhaps to work further havoc. No one can afford such a thing; and so you must cut all such ties by a clear act of forgiveness. You must loose him and let him go. By forgiveness you set yourself free; you save your soul. And because the law of love works alike for one and all, you help to save his soul too.
Around the Year With Emmet Fox, Emmet Fox
The method of forgiving is this: Get by yourself and become quiet. Repeat any prayer or treatment that appeals to you, or read a chapter of the Bible. Then quietly say, 'I fully and freely forgive X (mentioning the name of the offender); I loose him and let him go. I completely forgive the whole business in question. As far as I'm concerned, it is finished forever. I cast the burden of resentment upon the Higher Power within me. He is free now, and I am free too. I wish him well in every phase of his life. The incident is finished. The Truth—universal harmony and peace—has set us both free. I thank God.' Then get up and go about your business. On no account repeat this act of forgiveness, because you have done it once and for all, and to do it a second time would be tacitly to repudiate your own work. Afterward, whenever the memory of the offender or the offence happens to come into your mind, bless the delinquent briefly and dismiss the thought. Do this, however many times the thought may come back. After a few days it will return less and less often, until you forget it altogether.
Adapted from Emmet Fox