Forgiveness is putting these biblical words into action: "Do not hate your brother in your heart; rebuke your neighbour frankly so you will not share in his guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself, I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19,17-18)
What does it mean to forgive?
The word forgive comes from the Latin "perdonare'', derived from 'donare', which means to 'hold harmless from, to give everything', to prefix 'per' reinforcing the action.
The phrase 'perdoner la vida - spare (pardon) a life' will evolve to 'pardonare - pardon' and finally 'forgive'. It means not to keep any resentment, putting aside vengeance; it is to forget, absolve, grant reprieve....
"And if for human weakness' tis too great/ To pardon all the burnings of : regret, / Oh, spare thyself at least the scourge of hate; / Tho' thou canst not forgive, thou canst forget."(1)
Why and how should we forgive?
Anger, resentment and hatred are poisons that inhibit the offended person and day after day gnaw away at him. Resentment towards a person, family or community always gives rise to thoughts of vengeance, or even hatred; this state of affairs cannot be resolved without sincere and genuine forgiveness.
It is not easy to forget, and even harder to forgive. Today, many psychotherapists work with patients on this notion of forgiveness to help the individuals manage emotions such as anger, anxiety and depression. Olivier Clerc holds 'forgiveness workshops', allowing 20 to 40 participants; the first thing he teaches though, is not forgiveness but learning to ask for forgiveness: 'Why on earth should I ask for forgiveness when I am the one who has been hurt? It is absurd. But I do not ask forgiveness for what the other person has done to me; it is his responsibility. I ask to be forgiven for what I have done with what he said or did to me.
NOT TO FORGIVE IS TO PREVENT OURSELVES FROM FULLY LIVING IN THE PRESENT, BECAUSE WE ARE CONSTANTLY 'THINKING ON THE PAST'.
I ask for forgiveness for having borne the wound for months and years. I ask to be forgiven for having used the other person as an excuse to keep my heart closed and nourishing hatred over an indefinite period. And in so doing I free myself! I regain self-control and personal responsibility.' (From an interview with Oliver Clerc)
'Have we not always been told that our heart wants to be clean and pure, as does our body, if not more? Have we not been taught that negative emotions, anger, hatred, resentment, rumour, snap judgements, and so on, end up leaving toxic deposits on the walls of our emotional system, thus preventing our heart from loving unconditionally? Nobody can pass through the narrow door of forgiveness while still burdened with anger over past events, or carrying a load of various grievances that will not do.' (2)
The need to forgive may take a trans-personal and collective dimension in cases where ancestral conflicts between ethnic or religious groups have led to wars, terrorism or genocide. In the absence of forgiveness, suffering is perpetuated, and bitterness and hatred are transmitted from one generation to the other, without ever reaching the necessary liberation from this enchainment to evil. This is the karma of peoples. For example, some states have committed genocide, like in Guatemala against the Ixil-Maya Indians.
On the road to forgiveness, we should be able to translate aggression feelings into words, and to achieve this, we will need a sympathetic ear, a confidant or a friend, a trusted person who can demonstrate compassion or a suitable practitioner. Expressing our emotions will help us identify our suffering and alleviate them. The process of forgiveness can then begin: by freeing ourselves from our first faults. The desire to return evil for evil heightens the injury and keeps us continually in the past. It becomes difficult to live in the present, and future prospects diminish and even may disappear.
Not to forgive is to prevent ourselves from fully living in the present, because we are constantly 'thinking of the past'. But it is also to deprive ourselves of spiritual development, because these unceasing thoughts strain the brain to the point of sickness. Eckhart Tolle says: 'Forgiveness is to relinquish your grievance and to let go of grief. It happens naturally once you realise that your grievance serves no purpose except to strengthen a false sense of self. Forgiveness is to offer no resistance to life - to allow life to live through you. The alternatives are pain and suffering, a greatly restricted flow of life energy, and in many cases physical disease.'
Can we forgive the unforgivable?
Such as incest, rape, murder.....'Forgiveness is there to forgive precisely what no excuse would know how to excuse.' says the philosopher Vladimir Jankelevitch. It is 'made for such hopeless and incurable cases.'
The powerful testimony of an American death-row prisoner shows that it is possible to forgive the unforgivable. After having met with the parents of his victim, he said: 'I have never been so scared in my life and when they said they forgave me, I felt the ground opening up under my feet and I burst into tears. I was able to cry for months afterwards. By showing me what it is to be a human being, they have helped me to realise my crime.'
'FORGIVENESS OF THE CULPRIT CAN ONLY COME FROM THE PERSON WHO SUFFERED THE OFFENCE, NOT OTHERWISE."
Let us mention another incident: The picture of the little Vietnamese girl 'Kim' running naked down a village road, screaming in agony and desperation, which was portrayed on the front page of Life Magazine in 1972, had a surprising twist twenty-four years later. At a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a long granite wall on which are inscribed the names of the fifty eight thousand Americans who lost their live in Vietnam, Ms. Kim Phuc spoke out over the crowd to the author of her misfortune.
'If I could talk face to face with the pilot who dropped the bomb, I would tell him we cannot change history but we should try to do good things for the present and for the future to promote peace.'
Nearly five thousand veterans of the Vietnam War gave the young woman a standing ovation.
It took years for the Vietnamese woman to recover from the physical and psychological injuries she sustained during the attack. Offering her thank in the same breath to journalists, nurses, doctors and family members who helped her over the years following the events, she added: 'I learned that in order to be free I had to learn to forgive - the most difficult of all lessons. It didn't happen in a day and it wasn't easy. But I finally got it!'
Who are we condemn?
'Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her' (John 8,7), said Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees who had brought to him a woman caught in adultery. Are we ourselves also without sin that we do not have to seek the forgiveness of those around us because of our negligence, selfishness, mistakes or other quirks? The media inundate us with information that can often elicit resentment towards a person whom we have never met and whom we blame for not thinking like us or imposing a behaviour or lifestyle which we find offensive. Resentment may then build up inside us and bring us to a state where we think that the whole world, and even occasionally God, is against us! Our thought-forms thus create autonomous entities, real power centres that work invisibly like pollution hanging over nations. Therefore, we too are greatly in need of forgiveness.
Rather than hate our enemies, we must love them, as Jesus has taught us:'But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you...'(Matthew 5,44). 'Pray', is the key which represents the best form of help we can render to those who have offended us; love for our neighbour is also manifested in this action. If we pray sincerely, it spontaneously leads to forgiveness, which frees us from our resentful thoughts.
Trust in God
One who is guilty of causing injury to another person is strongly tied to this wrongful action, and of course with the offended person. However, one must take into the fact that the injured party can reinforce this link and be himself tied to the wrongdoing if he entertains thoughts of hatred and vengeance. This sad state of affairs can persist in the beyond after physical death, and into the next incarnation, where the cycle of this link of thread must come to a closure and unwind, even if we no longer remember the original action. The Cosmic Laws of the Creator that enable us to forget the wrongdoings of our previous life are very wise, because otherwise, in most cases, our present life would be impossible. This is why Jesus advises in the Lord's Prayer He gave to His disciples:'And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us!'In this sentence, Abd-ru-shin tells us, 'lies the knowledge of the incorruptible and just reciprocal action of the spiritual laws ordained by the Will of God. At the same time it expresses the assurance of complete confidence therein. For the plea for forgiveness or redemption from guilt is conditional upon the petitioner having previously forgiven all the wrongs inflicted upon him by his fellow-men.' (4)
If we are offended, we should not therefore feed any resentment, any desire to return evil with evil. Have we not been told: 'To me belong vengeance and recompense. In due time their feet will slip, because their time of calamity is near and the things prepared for them draw near;, thus said the Lord in Deuteronomy 32,35 with reference to Sodom and Gomorrah. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul reiterates this same maxim:'Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written; Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.'(12,17-19)
Recognising our faults
Forgiveness is closely linked to repentance, to redemption from our faults, to purification; this is the way Jesus told His disciples: 'So watch yourselves. If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, I repent, you must forgive them.'(Luke 17, 3-4). One can then understand why Peter came to Jesus and asked: 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.' (Matthew 18, 21-22). Here the number 7 is symbolic, and Jesus' response is significant: forgiveness is not calculated, it is heartfelt or it is not. It refers to the origin of the word itself: the giving of oneself, unconditional giving.
The strongest utterance on this subject was without doubt that made by Jesus on the cross: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' It is one of the greatest prayers of intercession ever made: that the Father might give humanity another chance to pick themselves up and make a fresh start. But one thing is required from mankind: that it repents for the inexcusable murder of the Bearer of the Truth. This prayer, though, does not allow us to interpret the death of Jesus on the cross in a wrong manner, namely, that He died to redeem our sins. This idea goes against nature and it could not be more contrary to the Laws of Creation. It is obvious that if it had truly been the case, this prayer would not have been necessary. This is why recognising our propensities and other faults is essential for progress. And it is through humility that we can receive strength for a beneficial change.
Can we receive forgiveness from a third party?
The absolution given by a priest at confession, the presidential pardon which is only a relic of religion in a secular state....are contrary to the very act of forgiving, which can only be offered by the offended party. It is a wrong interpretation of the words of Jesus to His disciples: 'If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'(John 20,23).
I should therefore like to conclude with an expert of The Grail Message by Abd-ru-shin, which clearly explains how these words should be understood, and the process of forgiveness itself:
'The actions of many religious ministers, however, indicate doubt in their own teaching, because they stand in direct contradiction to it, and by their deeds they openly disavow its basic tenets. For example, the bearing of confession and the imposition of penance, the sale of indulgences whether for money or for prayer, which is supposed to be followed by the immediate forgiveness of sins, and other similar customs, are, if considered calmly, a denial of the Divine Will resting in the Laws of Creation. He who does no more than merely engage in a desultory consideration of these practices will see in them nothing else but an absolute belittlement of the Perfection of God.
'When Jesus the Son of God once said to His disciples: "Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them...", these words were not meant as a general licence to act arbitrarily. That would have been equivalent to upsetting the Divine Will as embodied in the immutable power of reciprocal action, which in its active working carries reward and punishment with incorruptible and Divine, and therefore perfect, Justice. It would have meant a permitted interruption of this law. This Jesus could never have done, neither did He do it, because He had come to "fulfil" the laws, not to overthrow them!
"With these words He meant the lawful operations which rest in the Creative Will, whereby one human being can forgive that injury which he has suffered at the hands of another human being! Being the victim he has the right and also the power to forgive! His sincere forgiveness will turn aside and break the power of the karma which would otherwise surely develop for the other through reciprocal action, and in this actual happening lies at the same time real forgiveness.
'This forgiveness of the culprit can only come from the person who suffered the offence, not otherwise! It is for this reason that there is so much blessing and deliverance in personal forgiveness when it is honestly meant and intuitively felt.
'A person not immediately involved is quite naturally excluded from the threads of reciprocal action and therefore cannot actively and effectively intervene because of this fact. He can only intervene by prayer in such cases, the effect of which, however, depends on the condition of the souls of those immediately concerned. He himself must remain on the outside and therefore cannot bring about forgiveness! This alone rests in God's Will, which reveals Itself in the laws of just reciprocal actions, against which He Himself would never act, because they were perfect from the beginning according to His Will.
'.......Thus no man can forgive another an offence unless he has personally been the sufferer! The law of Reciprocal Action would remain uninfluenced by anything not interwoven in it with the living thread, and this can only come about through being directly involved. Reformation alone is the living road to forgiveness! '
Original text by Claude Thibeaudeau, compiled for this Blog post by Edeltraud Grace
1 Alfred de Musset, Poems- The October night
2 Olivier Clerc. Gift of Forgiveness
3 Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
4 Abd-ru-shin, In the Light of Truth - The Grail Message. Vol 2, Lecture: I am thy God
5 Experts from the Bible
Recent studies provide remarkable results and can give guidelines about the important factors that ensure a long-term, fulfilling partnership.
"In entering a marriage one should ask oneself the question: Do you think you will have good conversations with this woman until old age?" A marriage advise Friedrich Nietzsche gave to men in identifying a suitable partner.
Thomas Aquinas formulated: "Love is the ability to perceive what is similar in what is dissimilar."
"Everyone gets the partner he deserves - whether he likes it or not" is the title of a book by Herman Mayer, a Munich researcher into partnership and destiny.
How different may - or should - two lovers be in order to make a long lasting, fulfilled partnership possible?
Do birds of a feather generally flock together here, or do opposites attract?
Similarity is, in principle, clearly an important element in a partnership. It can be noted that couples after decades of being together often more or less strongly resemble each other the way they look. Robert Zajonc of the University of Michigan carried out a study to find out why this is the case. He evaluated photographs of many couples taken over the years. He was able to establish that two partners appearances after a remarkable period of 25 years together showed that they both demonstrably looked more alike. There was a further interesting correlation: those couples indicating that they live in a particularly happy relationship, had grown to look even more similar.
Similarity in what?
According to the renowned New York social psychologist Art Aron, the reason why two people choose each other "often lacks a clear logic". In his "theory of self-expansion" he names one major driving force: Man is continually striving to increase the control over his life. " This is why in principle he feels particularly attracted by opposites, as they promise a maximum degree of self-expansion", Aron explains. On the other hand, the chances of establishing a partnership at all are greatest with a person similar to oneself. The key to answering the question as to whether similar or dissimilar natures are beneficial for a long-lasting, fulfilled relationship lies in my view, in a detailed analysis of the idea of the similarity. On what level, for example, should similarity be judged? With regard to character? Moral concepts? Interests?
In a 2006 study at the University of Munich in which 440 participants were asked about the most important criteria of a successful partnership, 86.5 per cent of the men and 93.0 per cent of the women indicated 'shared values/attitudes', and 63.9 per cent of the men and 65.9 per cent of the women 'mutual interests/hobbies'.
Quite tellingly, the wish for things in common was considerably less important in the responses for short-term sexual relationships.
A subsequent survey of couples in the same study shows that mutual values actually constitute a highly relevant factor: With loyalty, tolerance, trust, honesty and respect, more than two-thirds of the respondents said that their moral concepts were in line with those of the partner.
What raises the risk of separation?
The results of the study are interesting regarding circumstances that can significantly alter the risk of separation in partnerships and thereby endanger or favour a fulfilling, long-term partnership. The risk of separation rises with big differences in education between the partners. It decreases, however, with a household structure based on work sharing, matching values and fulfilled expectations.
Unreasonably high, and therefore unfulfilled expectations are a problem in many relationships today. This can be related to a development that increasingly grants sexual love the status of a substitute religion and not infrequently defines happiness in life, as well as contentment, solely on how close one's relationship is to an imaginary ideal state of affairs. Today love is expected to provide what in former times was sought in religion: fulfilment, upliftment, vibrant intimacy. Therefore social scientist speak of love as the 'secular religion' of the age.
Personality and life experience.
A study conducted at the University of Iowa, published in the February 2005 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, underscored the importance of matching personalities of the partners. 291 newlyweds were tested on attitudes and aspects of relationship qualities. Eva Klohnen and colleagues concluded that 'similarities in personality and life experience are actually the most important prerequisite for the success of a romantic relationship, and what exercises attraction initially seldom proves a guarantee of a happy relationship. (....) ' For years similarities in personalities played the crucial role: It was assumed that the behaviour on matters of conscience and the attitude towards the environment, family and children need to match. Similar ideas on what is considered worthwhile is the foundation for a long, harmonious relationship and the prerequisite that love does not break up due to different approaches to problem solving in the daily life or to long-term planning, as the research team found in a study.'
Similarity determines the choice of the partner
Various studies show how the similarity between romantic partners even manifests on a physical level and visible matches influence the choice of partner from the outset. In an experiment the British psychologist David Parrett at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, took portrait photographs of experimental subjects and with special computer software changed male faces to female and vice versa. Afterwards he presented the test subjects with a series of pictures of the other sex and let their attractiveness be assessed. Among these faces there was also one with their own likeliness, which, however, due to the digital manipulation looked more male or female. Many of the viewers found the opposite-sex counterpart of their own image exceptionally attractive. While they also did not recognise themselves, they felt an appeal nonetheless.
Similarities of inner values
The resemblance in looks or attractiveness actually say nothing about the success of a partnership. Much more important than the exterior are the much cited 'inner values' - even in this like attracts like: same interests and hobbies, similar attitudes, values and outlook, similarities in background, culture, religiosity, education, intelligence, lifestyle and aims in life.
I think that here the conformity of interests and hobbies should not be overrated, because just in this area different orientations can lead to an increased measure of versatility and fresh perspectives. It is primarily about deeper commonalities; resemblance is not the same as similarity.
The similarities which may make sparks fly at the beginning of a relationship, are quite different from those that ensure long-lasting happiness and contentment. At first it is perhaps similar temperaments and interests, and later fundamental values right up to religion, which connect. Without decisive matches in character, love has no chance in the long run.
Complementary qualities are crucial
When we speak here of 'decisive matches in character', this should not be interpreted as that the partner should preferably have the same character traits. On the contrary, this would entail the risk of a mutual affirmation and encouragement also with regard to weaknesses and extremes. The essentially important balancing moment would be missing and the complement of the qualities (still) lacking in the other.
Yet in the search for a partner we evidently even look for this necessary balance. Although we choose people who have similar characteristics, we only do this as long as such qualities are those we like in ourselves. But if it is a characteristic, we personally perceive as weakness, then we certainly look for the matching counterpart. A rather introverted person, who would like to be more open, looks accordingly for an extroverted partner, who brings him a step nearer to his ideal image.
Also Abd-ru-shin points out in his work In the Light of Truth - The Grail Message that 'already at birth every human being brings along certain qualities, the harmonious development of which can only be achieved through those with matching qualities. These matching qualities are not identical, however, but complementary to the others, and in completing each other they obtain their full value.
' In this state of full value all the strings sound in a harmonious chord. If the one partner is complemented to full value by the other partner, then the latter will also receive full value through the former, and in their union, that is, in their living and working together, the harmonious chord will resound. Such is the marriage which has been made in heaven.'
Longing for completion
In his work "In the Light of Truth" Abd-ru-shin declares the Attraction of Homogenous Species to be one of the basic Laws of Creation. Following this statement he was asked:
"How is it then that extremes make contact whereas like poles repel each other? This can be observed everywhere, even among human beings. Good wives on the whole do not really have special husbands, while good husbands often have remarkably bad wives, and so on. Many such examples could be quoted." Abd-ru-shin replied: "When I speak of the Universal Law of the Attraction-Power of Homogenous Species, it is not a matter of a small part-species like those referred to in the question. If you wish to speak of homogenous species in the Universal Law, you must first be clear about what a species really is! Positive electricity, for instance, as well as a bad wife or a bad husband, is by no means a species of its own, such as takes effect in the Universal Law: Positive and negative parts crowd together, because only with many other parts can they form a species. Moreover, the crowding together of the various part-species is a direct effect of the Law of the Attraction Power of Homogenous Species, which compels the parts belonging to a complete species to find one another and unite."
When you deliberate over this answer, the apparent contradiction between "attraction of homogenous species" and "attraction of opposites" is solved. Thus the sexual desire for a union is based on the splitting of the species "human spirit". The male and female attract each other, as each species in Creation strives for completion.
This striving and longing for completion, of which we are generally unaware, may also form the basis of our choice of partner. Therefore we often favour a partner whose personality expresses something that we are lacking and who therefore complements us in a certain way.
So, if sometimes it is said that two people "do not really match" , they may still match after all! "Everyone gets the partner he deserves - whether he likes it or not" is the title of a book by Herman Mayer, a Munich researcher into partnership and destiny. He refers to the great power of this hidden striving for completion, while we often judge others merely by their outward behaviour. "For some non-smokers it would be unimaginable to associate with a smoker.(...) But perhaps it is just the smoker, of all people, who has the qualities and abilities that harmonise with our own disposition and would enhance our happiness?"
If we judge another person by his weaknesses or faults, there is something we should take into account: the very fact that we reject something may be evidence to suggest that inside us we unconsciously have the same deficiency of which we have not yet freed ourselves -"Thou beholdest the mote that is in they brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye".
An aversion to something can be an indication that we still bear this very flaw unconsciously in ourselves.
If we wish to have a different partner with whom we will supposedly be happier, we first have to change ourselves! In the way he behaves, our partner always holds a mirror up to us reflecting our own behaviour, which we may have suppressed. We should have the courage to look into that mirror instead of shying away from it.
When a quiet, introverted man meets a loud, fun-loving woman, the two can still be on the same "wave-length", because they are connected by a sound and healthy desire for attachment and union.
In addition, two people can be attracted to each other by the similarity (homogeneity) of a certain aspect of their volition, and a good partnership is ideally characterised by both facets.
On the one hand, a congenial inner orientation is required, on the other hand the partners should complement each other so that the personalities of both are strengthened and furthered.
This process of development involves work and the effort to refine oneself, and it is unlikely that in everyday life this can be effected without any conflicts. A probable reason why marriages that last a life-time have become so rare is that only a few are prepared to undertake the work. This means, however, that the people concerned miss valuable opportunities for personal development, and consequently the general egoism continues to escalate.
The wish for a free and independent life allows for only short-term relationships - as does the restless search for "the right partner", bound up with unrealistic expectations. Today, a frequent change of partners - caused not least of all by poor role models - has long become socially acceptable, even if ultimately such a way of life brings many disappointments and inflicts deep wounds upon the souls.
It is to be hoped that our disorientated world will undergo a reformation and that many people will recognise the intrinsic value of working on a true partnership and marriage.
This blog post was put together by Edeltraud Grace
For questions and feedback contact via email@example.com
Corinna Huebener (Or is he the right one after all).
Quoted from Abd-ru-shin, "Questions and Answers." Stiftung Gralsbotschaft Stuttgart 1972
Siegwalt Lindenfelser (Do only birds of the same feather flock together? )
Friedrich Nietzche: Human, All Too Human
Dvit Perret, In your Face. The New Science of Human Attraction
Abd-ru-shin, In the Light of Truth -The Grail Message, Vol1, Lecture: "Marriage".
Edeltraud Jakob Grace:
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