Editor’s Note: Below is a guest post by Joe Lapaglia about forgiveness. I thought this article could remind us how important forgiveness is for the individual’s personal spiritual development. As an introduction I would like to throw a little esoteric light on the topic of forgiveness from the Bible using Jesus’ words:
“For if you forgive men of their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you forgive men not their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15).
At first glance, these verses could imply that God is like the spoiled child who will only do this if you first do that, but an esoteric understanding of the above scriptures shows us that forgiving isn’t really about God or others—it’s about ourselves. This is because on a level beyond the ego you and God are already one, so Jesus’ words let us know that forgiveness naturally brings healing back to you! Enjoy.
Learning to Forgive With or Without an Apology
Mary Johnson’s story is one of ultimate forgiveness. In 1993, her only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd, was shot and killed by Oshea Israel at a party in Minneapolis. Israel was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in jail. According to People.com, the story didn’t end there. In 2003, Israel and Johnson met while he was in Stillwater Prison. As a Christian, Johnson had decided that she had to extend the hand of forgiveness to this man who had murdered her son, and in order to do so, she would have to meet and talk with him.
As she spoke with Israel, Johnson realized that the young man in front of her had a lot in common with her son. She also realized that by forgiving him, much of the anger and bitterness that had been eating away at her for years had suddenly been released from her body. While Johnson’s story is an extreme example of forgiving, it is an excellent illustration of why it is so important to forgive.
Poison From Within
In her book “Traveling Mercies,” author Ann Lamott compared not forgiving to swallowing rat poison and then waiting for the varmint to die. Why? Because, in the end, all that bitterness and rage that you feel towards another person is bad for your health and well-being. Even worse, the person you are angry with probably isn’t even aware that you are harboring ill will towards them.
According to many health experts, including the Mayo Clinic, the person who benefits the most when you decide to forgive is you. You will have less anxiety and will be able to enjoy healthier relationships with others. Often when we are angry with a person, that bitterness seeps over and poisons the other relationships in our lives.
Forgiveness is Hard
Pastor Ed Young wrote on a blog, “Forgiveness is the Real F Word.” He goes on to say “for our future to flourish, we’ve got to make peace with our past.” In other words, while forgiving those who have wronged you may not be easy, it needs to be done. If you never forgive those who you believe have hurt you, chances are great that you will be mired in the past, dwelling on your painful and hurtful experiences, instead of creating a new and better future.
Beginning the Process
Some people mistake forgiving for condoning, but that is completely off base. Mary Johnson did not condone Oshea Israel’s murder of her son, nor was she forgetting what he had done. Instead, she was freeing herself from the anger and bitterness that had built up in her system.
The first step in the forgiving process is to acknowledge that you’ve been hurt and then seriously think about your anger and resentment and what, if any, good carrying it around in your heart has done for you. Once you realize that holding onto this rage is not accomplishing anything for you, it is time to let it go and to forgive the other person. Some people can do this mentally. Others prefer to use a symbolic gesture to release their pent-up anger, such as writing down the person’s name and crime on a piece of paper and then setting it afire. Do whatever works best for you, but it is important for your well-being to learn how to forgive.
Conclusion: In the above article, the author pointed out that not forgiving can be compared to rat poison because it builds anxiety and bitterness in the individual. Esoterically, we understand that this is true because negative emotions like anxiety and bitterness have a low vibrational frequency which reinforces the lower ego and personality, supporting death. Emotions which give off a higher vibrational frequency support cellular life more than it harms it, extending the physical life-span of the individual. But more importantly, forgiveness is a function of love that adds to the causal body a lasting soul quality that is intrinsic to our higher natures.
Do you have a story that reflects the above truths?
In the next post we’re going to look at what the “great and terrible day of the Lord” really means for us as individuals and what we can do esoterically to prepare. We’ll also address the issue of whether or not the personality really dies at death.