To find spiritual freedom, we need to forgive others. But how does the “gift of forgiveness” heal our hearts and minds? It’s about asking for forgiveness from others – no matter what they did. Here, author Olivier Cleric describes what he learned about forgiveness from Don Miguel Ruiz (who wrote the The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom).
“The most important part of asking for forgiveness isn’t related to others,” said Don Miguel Ruiz, “it’s related to ourselves and to the merciless judgments we so promptly pass on ourselves.”
Are your feelings hurt? Do you find it difficult to forgive? Are you holding a grudge? Those feelings can damage your spiritual, emotional, and mental health – and the sooner you practice forgiveness, the sooner you’ll be free from both self-judgment and the burden of resentment. Here, Olivier Cleric — author of The Gift of Forgiveness: A Magical Encounter with don Miguel Ruiz — describes how forgiving other people helps heal hearts and minds.
The Gift of Forgiveness – How Forgiving Brings Spiritual Freedom
All of us have been hurt and wounded at some point in lives – some of us, many times – and we may feel a lot of resentment, anger, even hatred towards the people who were responsible. Our religious education may have taught us “to forgive our enemies” or “to turn the other cheek,” but we may find it very difficult to do so, even if we’re willing.
Feelings do not yield to our will; they have a life and a flow of their own. So, try as we might, we may find ourselves unable to muster a genuine feeling of forgiveness for someone “who’s done us wrong.” Consequently, we may feel torn between our willingness to forgive and our inability to do so, and we may feel guilty for having feelings of resentment and rage. It becomes a vicious cycle. The more we try to push ourselves in the direction of forgiveness (“I must forgive them”), the more we trigger resistance in our heart, and the more we blame ourselves for it.
We may feel we are morally in the right, that the other person just doesn’t deserve our forgiveness, that we cannot forgive them for what they have done. In effect, we feel superior to them. We are good; they are bad. We become like a king, a governor, a president, a judge, someone who has the right to grant a pardon to a condemned person. We revel in the power we believe we have over others.
The practice of the Gift of Forgiveness changes our mental script. We are no longer seated on the throne of our ego. We no longer weigh whether to show largesse and forgive those who have maliciously hurt us, judging whether these people deserve to be forgiven. Instead, we become aware of our own judgments. We realize how these judgments have led us to close off our heart and to hurt ourselves even more, using whatever other people may have done to us as justification.
Using the practice of the Gift of Forgiveness, we ask forgiveness from them. In choosing to ask for forgiveness, we move from a place of self-importance and pride to a place of humility. We drop our pretense, climb down from our ivory tower, and something opens up inside us. By shedding our armor and our grievances, we are free again…and this forgiving helps heal our hearts and minds.
The main purpose of the Gift of Forgiveness is to restore the flow of love in our heart, which has been reduced—or frozen altogether—after the various hurts we’ve experienced. When we stop loving, we are the first to suffer. We become cold, dry, and defensive. We lose part of our natural joy.
In asking for forgiveness from others, the purpose is not to become great friends with people who’ve done bad things to us, but to stop shutting down our hearts and imprisoning ourselves in resentment, anger, and other isolating feelings. We don’t have to actively love our enemies, or even like them; we just need to stop shutting down our capacity to love them, to stop using them as a reason for shrinking our hearts and progressively drying up our love.
Excerpt From The Gift of Forgiveness, reprinted with permission. To learn more from Olivier Cleric about the power of forgiveness, read The Gift of Forgiveness: A Magical Encounter With Don Miguel Ruiz.
Do you have any questions or thoughts on how forgiving others can heal your heart and mind? Please comment below…