Is forgiveness a matter of life and death?

You accept God's forgiveness by extending it to others--A Course in MiraclesMost of us believe that we’re granting someone a favor when we forgive them. In reality, we’re doing ourselves a favor: We’re freeing ourselves from the grip of any negative energy associated with the incident.

When we forgive others, we also are making a conscious choice to defer to what some call the Law of Reciprocity, the Law of Attraction or karma. We are trusting that in a “what-goes-around-comes-around” world, hurtful behavior will be naturally balanced at the most perfect time and in the most perfect way.

Allowing every soul to receive what we’ve given isn’t punishment or reward; it’s merely balance. It’s divine fairness.

Forgiving others also is a conscious decision to heal ourselves so that we can progress on our path instead of being stuck in someone’s stupid. Forgiving someone does not endorse or excuse their behavior. And it does not let them off the hook. They own their behavior, and they alone will be held accountable for everything they do.

It reminds me of the time I was walking out of my office and a concerned staff member called me back. I’d left my wallet on my desk. My response: “I have way too much work on my plate to add the task of monitoring someone else’s karma.”

As far as I was concerned: If someone came into my office without permission and stole my wallet, oh well. They had just signed a requisition for someone to violate their space and steal from them. It’s what happens whenever we do something to someone else that we wouldn’t want done to us. That’s why the rule is golden.

There’s no better time to be selfish than when deciding how to respond to someone’s harmful behavior. The most selfish thing we can do is to avoid creating any negative karma of our own by trying to even the score. The Divine doesn’t need our help in restoring balance. If there a role for us, something we must physically do, we will be guided. You’ll know that it’s Divine guidance if it is spoken calmly and you feel a sense of peace while hearing it and following the directions. If the words or directions cause you to feel angry or hurt, it’s not the Divine talking, it’s Ego.

Forgiveness does not heal relationships with anyone but yourself, and does not require that you remain in the friendship, marriage or other partnership, job or other organization. Once trust is lost, it takes more than forgiveness to restore it–and restoring trust is the other person’s job, not yours. But while forgiveness cannot necessarily heal a relationship, not forgiving might physically harm you.

Harboring anger and resentment linked to cancer

A study published in the November-December 2012 issue of Cancer Nursing: An International Journal for Cancer Care and cited on the US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health website suggests a link between forgiveness and illness:

“The observed relations between religious characteristics and attitudes of guilt and forgiveness suggest that a careful examination of the role of religious beliefs and values is relevant in the clinical care of patients with cancer, both in the setting of early and advanced disease.”

Metaphysical lecturer and bestselling author Louise Hay, who claimed such a link in her 30-million copy bestseller, You Can Heal Your Life, focused specifically on cancer 20 years later in her book, Cancer: Discovering Your Healing Power. Hay asserted that resentment, criticism, and guilt create and maintain illness. And she presented forgiveness as the key to resolving diseases such as cancer.

We will not be held accountable for the way others treated us, only for the way we treated them, no matter how they treated us.Now, how do you feel about forgiveness? Inspired you to drop everything and start forgiving everyone who’s ever “wronged” you? There are things that have happened to us that we can’t recall or that we’ve protected ourselves from by stuffing those memories in the farthest reaches of our subconscious minds. If those situations are not healed, they can resurface—sometimes violently.

The situation is further complicated if you believe that you are a soul that is temporarily wearing a body. There could be thousands or millions of situations to forgive that are outside of our conscious awareness. To cover that possibility, I like to say: “I forgive myself for causing harm and I forgive everyone throughout my eternal life who has ever harmed me. I release all anger and negative energy that have chained me to those situations and souls.”

Life has dramatically taught me the transformational power of forgiveness, and I eagerly encourage others to reap the benefits of the practice (and it is a practice). Years ago, I created Forgiveness Coupons for one of my Drama Queen Workshops groups. The coupons were such a hit that I posted them on my website as a free download.

Right now, I’m in the process of a “gut rehab” of my original site, after remodeling it several times over the years. But some elements must follow me to the new domain. Among them, these precious coupons.

As I say in my workshops: “How would we experience the power of forgiveness if no one ever did anything that required it?”

I invite you to download the coupons as many times as necessary. Share them freely. Heal yourself and your loved ones—and as you practice forgiveness, be mindful not to do anything that would trigger self-forgiveness or the forgiveness of others. Balance makes no exception for you, Dear Soul.

How to live a disappointment-free life: Part 2

As we concluded in Part 1, it is absolutely impossible to disappoint someone who wasn’t expecting anything. Yet, we’re encouraged to have specific goals and expectations. Of course, there’s no guarantee that our expectations will be fulfilled. But we’re told to expect our desires to manifest anyway.

Am I saying that we should live life on Planet Earth without expectations? No. I am saying that when you understand who you are and where you are—and trust that Divine wisdom is greater than your own—disappointments will no longer be part of your earthly experience.

When you understand who you are and where you are, and trust that Divine wisdom is greater than your own, disappointments will disappear.

Is that so?

In “A New Earth,” Eckhart Tolle tells a fascinating story about a popular Japanese spiritual master who was accused of having a sexual relationship with his next-door neighbor’s pregnant teenage daughter. When confronted by the angry parents, the master merely responded, “Is that so?”

As word spread about the pregnancy, he instantly became a pariah in the town. No one would speak to him or seek his spiritual counsel. When the baby was born, the mother’s parents thrust the child at the master.

The Zen master had lovingly cared for the baby for about a year when the young mother confessed: The baby’s father was not the Zen master; it was her boyfriend, the young man who worked in the butcher shop.

How do you think the master responded when the contrite neighbors came to his home to ask for their grandchild? He responded as he did to the false accusation: “Is that so?”

Most of us could not imagine ourselves reacting that way. How in the world could he?

When I don't mind what happens, I am in alignment with what happens.

Clearly, the Zen master had viewed the girl’s false accusation and his year of parenting her child from the Balcony of Life: It merely another human drama, and he chose not to emotionally invest in it. Instead, he trusted that everything was happening as it should, no matter how goofy it looked on the surface, and he aligned with it.

Going with the flow…

In other words, he went with the flow. He trusted that everything was in Divine Order, and was intended to serve him rather than hurt him. That’s impossible to do when we view ourselves as mortal flesh and bone.

We have been taught to think of ourselves as bodies, under the watchful eye of a God who lives in the far reaches of outer space. When hurtful things happen, and God doesn’t intervene, it reinforces our isolation and vulnerability.

It’s our belief in this capricious, vindictive Outer Space God and our investment in specific outcomes that create our heartbreak, disappointment, and situational depression. We wrap ourselves snugly in the cloak of a victim, carefully fastening every painful button and tightening the disappointment belt around our waists. We are so focused on our pain that we miss the opportunities that we created for ourselves. Doors that shut are merely alerting us that we’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Disappointing people and situations are your puppets

How can a soul experience or practice compassion, generosity, service or even forgiveness and unconditional love unless it writes scenes and characters into its life script that prompt these actions?

From the Balcony of Life, I can see that situations and people who disappoint are working for me; they’re not doing anything to me—even though it doesn’t appear that way to my body costume, Pat Arnold. Situations that didn’t turn out the way Pat wanted are turning out the way I scripted them.

Imagine a place that’s akin to Central Casting in Hollywood: Karma-Creator Central. They warehouse thoughtless individuals who do things to others that they would not want done to them. For them, it’s sport, and they think they’re winning the game. Poor dears.

As souls, we cast these clueless karma-creators in our dramas. We direct them to help us align our bodies and souls, trust the wisdom of the Omnipresent God, and embrace everything that happens as a divinely designed growth opportunity.

Bad actors who disappoint us are merely our puppets. They thought they were being self-serving. In reality, they were serving us, while delaying their own soul’s inner peace. We should appreciate their sacrifice to fulfill our desire to align with the Divine Within.

As Tolle said of the Zen master: “He’s nobody’s victim. His is so completely at one with what happens that what happens has no power over him anymore. Only if you resist what happens are you at the mercy of what happens, and the world will determine your happiness and unhappiness.”

Looking through your immortal eyes

Think about the last thing that happened that you perceived as a disappointment. On sheets of paper or pages on your computer, write:

“When I see this scene from the human side of me, it looks like this… and I feel like this…”

Now, pretend that you’re not on the stage in the middle of the drama. See yourself as an immortal soul sitting in the balcony of Earth’s stage, looking at a drama that you wrote, cast and directed as an opportunity to learn or grow in some specific way. On a separate sheet or page, write:

“When I, as an immortal soul temporarily wearing a human body, see this scene, it looks like this… and I feel like this…”

Why did I create this? How does it serve me?Explore the powerful question we discussed in Part 1: Why did I create this? How does it serve me?

  • Are my feelings about that scene the same when I’m on stage as when I’m in the balcony?
  • Am I still angry or hurt?
  • Am I still emotionally invested or detached?
  • What was the growth opportunity that I, as soul, created for myself?
  • If there were any bad actors, did they perform well as my puppets?

Overcoming Disappointment: Part 1

Disappointed young manPhysicist Albert Einstein asserted that we cannot solve problems from the same level of consciousness at which they were created. Perhaps that’s why I’m seeing an increase in requests for one-on-one Drama Queen Workshop consultations.

It appears that more of us are beginning to realize that we can’t solve a problem until we fully understand it. At the current level of consciousness, some things seem absolutely incomprehensible; so it seems logical, perhaps even natural, to come at it from another vantage point.

Unquestionably, problems look starkly different when you’re standing in the footlights of the world’s stage than when you’re sitting in the balcony. Frequently, the solutions to those problems can easily be spotted from up there, too. With that possibility in mind, we begin to look for the solutions together.

Even though each person has a different set of circumstances and concerns, I’ve noticed that one problem seems to arise more frequently than others: Disappointment. Many are disappointed by the situation they’re in, the person they’re with or the direction their lives have taken. They had a different vision and grander expectations. Therein lies the rub.

Expectation: Root of Disappointment

I think my “all the world’s a stage” mentor, Shakespeare, has given voice to a truth that a lot of us choose to ignore: “Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Instead, we follow directives to create expectations and visualize those expectations in great detail. They tell us to feel euphoric, as if we actually have received what we desire.

Some even tell us that if we don’t expect something, we won’t get it. But what is a disappointment but an unfulfilled expectation? And, oh—by the way, how do these folks explain surprises: those gifts that we never envisioned?

My unexpected trip last year to Egypt—on short notice, with all expenses paid, including a luxurious suite in a five-star hotel on the Nile River—comes to mind. My daughter, Maiysha, was headlining the “Sing Egyptian Woman” competition as part of a cultural exchange program for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

I accompanied as her publicist. The trip far exceeded my most vivid imagination!

Days after we returned, I had to cancel a long-planned, highly anticipated, prepaid trip to a conference in San Juan. So much for expectations.

What is the real “secret” to manifesting our desires?

Pat at the sphinxWhenever I mention my trip to Egypt, others ask: “How did you manifest that? I want to do that!”

I tell them the same thing I wrote in my book on the Law of Attraction secrets no one wants to talk about: Manifesting depends more on “being” than “doing.” Your soul history plays a significant role, too. I can’t delve into that in a blog post; however, in my metaphysical memoir, I do cite a surprising, real-life example of how my soul’s ancient history impacted my 20th century life.

Chances are, you don’t know anyone who has never experienced a disappointment or a surprise. You probably don’t know people who have always received what they expected. I’m sure the same is true of those who tell us how critical it is to have expectations, so it’s difficult for me to believe that they are unaware that their claim is fallacious.

We want to hear that we control our lives and our experiences here, and there are those who are willing to tell us that we do–sometimes they even charge a fee to hear it. But the fact that so many of us pray for one outcome or another is evidence that humans don’t have total power over what manifests here. So why do some spiritual leaders and motivational/transformational speakers tell us that?

I’m sure their hearts’ desire is to empower and motivate us. But are you more likely to empower someone or set them up for disappointment by misleading them?

You can have everything you want. Really.

From up here in the Balcony of Life, it appears that Spirit said, “You can have everything you want.”

Before finding out if Spirit had said all It had to say, folks excitedly dashed off to “empower” people with the few words they heard. Word spread like wildfire. Apparently, no one asked, “Then why don’t I have it already?”

Short answer: Spirit sees us as souls. When It says “you,” Spirit isn’t talking about the physical body costume you are wearing. The body merely enables you to be visible on Earth’s stage now. It is not “you.”

Indisputably, you can have everything you want. In fact, you do have everything you want, Dear Soul—YOU, not your body. Whatever situation you’re in, whatever you manifest here, you—as an eternal soul—created it.

Understand that to the soul, a human lifetime is a bat-of-an-eyelash experience. Whether a prince or a prisoner, it’s just a role to the soul: a way to experience Life in a different way, learn some lessons, create or complete some karma.

While that’s fine and dandy for immortal souls that have written the scripts, their mortal bodies might be catching hell. That’s when my phone starts ringing and my e-mailbox blows up.

Why did I create this? How does it serve me?Then begins the first step on the journey to find the source of the discomfort. It always starts with this question: “Why did I, as Soul, create this painful situation?”

Life isn’t random, and what happens here on Earth is not intended to hurt us. In fact, as immortal souls, it’s impossible to hurt us. Our only pain comes from our belief that we are mere mortals, disconnected from God.

That, in itself, creates a lot of uncertainty and insecurity that leaves us vulnerable to scary stories about an angry vindictive Being who lives far away in the sky, solves problems by killing humans, and has threatened to come down here to judge us, then sentence us to an eternity of torture.

It’s a not-so-Divine drama starring someone who’s certifiably satanic. He demands that we love and worship him, and we do.

Why, God, why?

You’ve heard that everything happens for a reason. Essentially, every drama in which we find ourselves was scripted purposefully. That’s why the most appropriate questions to ask when we want to move to another scene is, “Why did I, as Soul, create this horror flick? How does it serve my life’s purpose?”

If you dare to ask these questions, Spirit will answer. It’s the one thing I can say you can expect. Your answer may come through—wait for it—unexpected channels: a commercial on TV, something someone says in the line at the grocery store, or one of those “something told me” moments when you’re alone.

Stay open. Listen. Trust. If you want to, drop me a note and tell me what you heard—and how it made you feel to get a response. If you must visualize, see yourself surrounded by unconditionally loving souls who are always available, willing and able to support you through your toughest times.

In Part 2, we’ll go a little deeper and explore ways to eliminate disappointment from your life experience.