By Rev. David T. Bell
Forgiveness is one of the most important tools in raising one's consciousness. It is a critical necessity in moving out of the past and dwelling in the present moment. Many live outside the present moment, either reliving past woundings, resentments and traumas, or fretting about future problems that have not yet arisen. In truth, there is only the eternal moment of now. If one is reliving the past or fretting about the future, then one cannot be in the present moment. Life literally passes by without notice.
In addition to taking one out of the moment, unforgiveness has the effect of reliving, often in painful detail, all of the previous wounds and losses. This actually creates a negative energy, which directly influences the body's immune system as well as the endocrine system. Harboring old grievances can actually make a body sick. Toxic energy and negative emotions are the direct cause of "dis-ease." That is, the sense of not being at ease, as well as the actual causal vector of disease. The best question to ask at this point is, “Why would you do that do yourself?” If one is skillful and interested in spiritual growth the answer is obvious. You wouldn't!
Many have not learned of the connection between resentment and disease. Many have been taught that there are “unforgivable sins.” Such is not the case. In A Course in Miracles, the modern communication of spirituality and psychology, we are told “forgiveness is our only function.” The Course also says that there is no sin. Hanging on to old wounds is practically the worst idea ever. It takes away your peace, and has the real possibility of causing disease. Forgiveness then, is something you do for yourself. It is never about the other. It is a tool to restore your peace, tranquility, and health.
One source of resistance to forgiveness is the notion that it sends a message that harm is okay. Forgiveness in no way condones what was done. It simply is an acknowledgment that the forgiver is ready to move beyond resentment and to understand that everyone is always doing the best that he or she can in any circumstance. Does this mean that you must like the person forgiven? Not at all. There is no requirement that you should take an abuser to lunch. In fact, it is perfectly reasonable to say “STOP IT.” Allowing further harm to take place is not a loving thing to do. However, anger and resentment only harm the holder of those emotions. Some quotes from wise ones follow. Confucius had this to say: “To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”
“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
― Nelson Mandela
David Bell is an Interfaith Minister at The Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth, which is located at 704 Airport Boulevard, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48108. Sunday services are held from 10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. A full calendar of events and further information can be found at www.interfaithspirit.org.