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.

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.

Forgive us, for we know not what we do

Forgive us, Father, for we know not what we do.

Each Palm Sunday, I am even more sensitive to the fact that for the next week, millions will unknowingly demonize God and believe that they will be mightily blessed for doing so. I’m sure you’re wondering: How in the world can someone demonize God and not know it?

As simply as I can explain it, we can be fully aware that we’re doing something (walking, driving or standing somewhere) without giving it a conscious thought. We frequently do things without thinking about why we’re doing them—or the meaning and implications of our actions.

For example: All of us have found ourselves in a room and wondered, “Why did I come in here?” Or while in the process of doing something, we suddenly ask, “Why am I doing this?”

On rare occasions, we ask, “What does it mean that I am doing this?”

Death by torture: Divine or demonic?

This week we will frequently hear the phrase, “Christ died so that we might live,” as if he lay down on a slab, closed his eyes and stopped breathing. No one ever says, “God gave Jesus to the Romans to be sadistically tortured to death for sins he didn’t commit.” If they did, would it change our perception of God?

God-so-loved the worldWe unconsciously declare, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Have you thought about the meaning of this Bible verse and others that proclaim that Jesus “died for our sins”? Would you like to? Let’s do a Drama Queen Workshops-style thinking exercise:

Scene:

Front door of a beautiful suburban home. A business executive and single father, who has returned home a day early from a business trip, hears loud music and raucous chatter coming from his basement as he opens the door. He walks past beautifully appointed living and dining rooms, then into the huge kitchen, and down to the basement.

As he gets to the foot of the basement stairs and his eyes adjust to the darkness, he surveys the room. It looks like a scene from Sodom and Gomorrah:

Teenagers are drinking alcohol and dancing wildly. A few have passed out on the floor and on the sofas. Four guys are gambling at a table in the corner.

Near the laundry room, two boys are raping a drunk girl in the shadows. One kid, who was severely beaten after vomiting on a classmate, is lying in a pool of his own blood, lifeless.

The father is outraged! “What the hell is going on here? Mandy! Mandy, where are you?”

Screaming kids start scrambling, trying to escape up the stairs. He blocks their exit.

His daughter stumbles over friends to turn off the music and runs to him, stammering, trying to explain. Dad doesn’t want to hear it.

Mandy begs for his forgiveness; but forgiveness is out of the question. She falls to her knees, head bowed, in tears.

Dad is so angry, he can barely look at her. He asks, “Where’s your brother?”

“He left for that spiritual retreat today, remember?” Mandy murmurs, sobbing.

Dad raises an eyebrow. “It looks as if you are the one who should have gone!”

“I’m sorry, Dad. I don’t know what I was thinking. Please forgive me. Please forgive all of us,” she says, making a sweeping gesture across the room.

Her friends are now too afraid to move.

Dad thinks for a moment. Looking into the faces of the frightened teens, his tone softens.

“Because I love you so much, I will forgive you—but only on one condition: When John returns, I’m going to have him arrested and slowly tortured to death. His murder will wash away all your crimes. Everyone who believes that I have done this as an act of love will be forgiven of their misdeeds. In fact, they will live forever. So go tell everyone you know.”

That’s our drama. Now, ask yourself:

How would you respond to the father’s forgiveness offer if you were one of those teens in the basement: Would you accept it? Would you be grateful?

Is it an act of love or sadism to have an innocent child sadistically tortured to death so that the guilty children can escape punishment for their own misdeeds?

Why do we believe it is an act of love if God does it?

If a parent loves his guilty children so much that he would protect them by having his innocent child tortured to death, how does he feel about his innocent child?

If we insist to others that God had His innocent child tortured to death, are we proclaiming that God is good or evil?

If we believe that torturing an innocent person to death—for any reason—is a good thing, what does it say about us?

Needless to say, I’ve given this matter considerable thought, and I have concluded that declaring that God does something that Love would not do actually demonizes God. So during Holy Week or any week, I will repeat only one verse from the Bible’s crucifixion narrative: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24)