In my recent blog posts, I have been exploring the ways in which we can surrender our attachment to controlling our life experiences and instead open our hearts and let love lead the way. Each of the different approaches I share offer a different way to letting go of struggle so you can discover your inner bliss.
In this article, I wanted to share the ways in which the illusion of power can prevent complete forgiveness and how this keeps us from true peace of mind.
The idea of forgiveness as an important spiritual concept is nothing new. I am sure even the mention of it probably generates an eye roll or two. Haven’t we been there, done that, got the t-shirt?!
I would have probably been the first to make a flippant remark if it was suggested that I should do some more forgiveness work to find my bliss. I’m sure I have let more than my fair share of people off the hook over the years.
But even thinking that we have let people off the hook is really a cunning strategy deployed by the ego to keep us safely in our position of superiority. If we believe we have taken the higher ground and are passing our pardon on those that we deem deserve it, we are not opening our heart, and we are simply masking one false sense of power with another.
Let’s explore a typical example. Someone does something that hurts or harms you. It is likely that your first (understandable) response is suffering. Perhaps you feel helpless or powerless. We don’t want to suffer so we are now having a new reaction to our first response. We need to regain the sense of power that we feel we have lost. How do we do that? We usually assume the position of anger, blame or revenge.
This is the first illusion of power. Now instead of the shame of powerlessness, we feel the surge of energy that accompanies rage or hate. Isn’t it curious that we would rather despise or blame someone than feel helpless? But hate is the fastest way to close our heart. We may feel more in control but we are moving even further away from our bliss.
Many self-growth and spiritual teachers will then propose forgiveness as the key to reconnecting to love. But forgiveness is not always practised in a way that opens the heart. If I continue to view their actions as wrong; if I feel as though I am letting them off the hook; if I feel that I have some superior position that gives me the right to dole out a pardon, then I am still coming from a place of judgment and my heart is as firmly closed as it has ever been.
True forgiveness cannot come from the mind; it has to come from the heart. The heart knows that at the soul level we are all deeply intertwined. That person who did me wrong is merely my reflection — my teacher — my gift. They are showing me the areas in which I have been neglecting love. My work is to find ways to appreciate the message rather than to hate the messenger.
Real forgiveness is the knowledge that the suffering we experience can only ever be down to a lack of connection to our own heart. With an open heart there is never a sense of inferiority or superiority. Nothing can hurt us unless we are already hurting ourselves. Embracing this understanding, we exchange our false sense of power for the undeniable and unwavering power of love.
The next time you feel hurt, do not dip into powerlessness, do not seek revenge and do not try to let them off the hook. Instead, turn your attention gently within and ask the light of your heart to show you the way back home to your bliss.
PS I created a visual representation of these four levels to forgiveness. Many of us get stuck at level three and are never able to experience the true peace we yearn for and deserve. To access our true power, we must make the transition into realising that everyone is merely our reflection. We let go of any pain, hurt or superiority. We realise that there is nothing to forgive.