I used to believe that the art of forgiveness was nearly impossible to master. I was always a sensitive person and every time I was hurt or someone else was the catalyst for my pain I believed that the other person had somehow wronged me. I would be angry and naturally I would hold a grudge against that person.
Forgiveness seemed like an easy task if the perceived wronging was petty enough and if that person made some kind of an attempt to make the perceived wrong right by way of apology. This kind of forgiveness comes fairly easy to most people though and I call this forgiveness conditional forgiveness. The problem with conditional forgiveness is that you are relying on conditions outside of yourself and conditions outside yourself are out of your control for the most part. The forgiveness that has the power to heal instantly however is unconditional forgiveness and it doesn’t rely on any external conditions. This type of forgiveness is ongoing and requires nothing of another person or situation. It is the most powerful kind of forgiveness and when used daily it will not only be healing to yourself but it will be healing to those around you as well.
Unconditional forgiveness comes when we have an awareness of our connection to one another. When we understand that there is one collective consciousness and that all actions derive from the energy of that consciousness, then it shifts the responsibility from an individual part of us back to us as a whole. In Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Our enemy is not the other person no matter what he or she has done. If we look deeply into ourselves, we can see that their act was a manifestation of our collective consciousness. We are filled with violence, hatred, and fear, so why blame someone whose upbringing was without love and understanding?”
Imagine that you and nine other people shared a reservoir of drinking water. You all drank from the same reservoir and at the same time you were all responsible for replenishing the water whenever it got low. So every person drank from the reservoir and every person put water back into the reservoir. However the water that everyone put back into the reservoir wasn’t always purified. Some of the water was contaminated knowingly or unknowingly. Now imagine that you and eight of the people never got sick from the contaminated water because you were all genetically healthy, you all had good nutritional habits so you exercised and ate healthy, and you were all taught how to purify the water before drinking it. Now imagine that one person was genetically unhealthy, wasn’t taught about good nutrition, didn’t exercise and no one taught this person how to purify water before drinking it. What if that person got really sick from the contaminated water? Who is to blame? Are they to blame for having different genes? Are they to blame for having a different upbringing? Is the last person who put contaminated water back into the reservoir to blame? Or is everyone who shares and replenishes the reservoir to blame?
This is similar to the collective consciousness. We are all replenishing the energy in the unified field that connects us and that we drink from daily. Sometimes we put pure and positive energy into it but sometimes we do not. So when someone gets sick from this contaminated energy for whatever reason (imbalanced brain chemistry, poor upbringing, stress, fear, or just not knowing how to purify contaminated or negative energy) and they exhibit symptoms of anger, hostility or violence then we can all share the responsibility together. When blame cannot be pinpointed on one individual then forgiveness can become automatic and unconditional.
The same goes for self-forgiveness. Even the extremely healthy can catch a cold from time to time. Even if you pray, meditate, exercise and eat healthy you are still going to have moments when you act from the ego. This is just the nature of the human condition. As long as you are a spiritual being having a physical experience you are going to have moments when you are susceptible to negative energy because you cannot totally eliminate the obstacles of the physical world. When you understand that in your weakest moments you are merely reflecting the negative parts of the collective whole or that you are becoming ill with the contaminated water that we have all put into the reservoir, then you can automatically forgive yourself and move on. Let go of any guilt you are holding on to and know that outside of the physical bounds of time and space you are perfect in spirit.
Forgiveness can be achieved when we heal our perception of separation. The power of forgiveness is the understanding that every action, whether good or bad, is a manifestation of the collective consciousness. When we forgive ourselves or when we forgive someone else, we are lessening the burden of guilt that we all share collectively. As the burden of guilt decreases, healing commences collectively. Healing is the act of becoming whole. So when we have an awareness of our wholeness, when we forgive because of that awareness, then we are essentially healing ourselves and each other.
Rev. Marcy Ellen is the author of The Soul Truth; Reflections for the Waking Soul. She is an energy healer, a spiritual channel, a Reiki Master, and a contributor at Simple Love Advice.