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Forgiveness Is the Key to Inner Peace
By Dr. Ray Angelini
January 23, 2007
This past weekend I had the privilege of attending a workshop conducted by Gary Renard, who is a teacher of the Course in Miracles. Much of the focus of the workshop was on forgiveness. Forgiveness is a very challenging issue in today's world, mostly because I think it is largely misunderstood. However, our media and society have created what I refer to as a "culture of condemnation," which has made true forgiveness more difficult than ever.
Most of what passes for news today could be more appropriately deemed gossip. The media seems to thrive on stories that highlight others' failures, and the public seems to have almost insatiable appetite for vicariously enjoying the judgments imposed on the so-called "guilty" parties.
Each day, the New York Times highlights its mission statement in its masthead "All the news that's fits to print." This implies that there is some news that is unfit to print, yet rarely, if ever, does this take place in our media-saturated society. Someone recently characterized our era as "A time when everything is permitted and nothing is forgiven."
I believe that this trend can and must be reversed. First, we must examine our own complicity in this trend. The media would not continue to publish these stories unless there was a market for them. We have become a voyeuristic society, one that has become fascinated by peering into the private lives of our celebrities. This trend needs to be reversed if there is to be any hope in transforming our "culture of condemnation."
What is needed to transform our culture is for each of us to own our own projections. A projection is a thought, feeling, or desire that we tend to want to place or project onto someone or something else. In order to forgive others, we must first learn how to forgive ourselves. Forgiveness implies releasing someone from judgment, and we first have to release ourselves before we can release anyone else.
One of the most powerful experiences in the workshop I recently attended was a "forgiveness exercise" where each attendee at the workshop walked around the room, stopped in front of each other attendee and silently stated: "You are spirit, whole and innocent. All is forgiven and released."
This was, without a doubt, one of the most profound and powerful forgiveness experiences I have ever had. It made me realize first-hand what I have always preached to others: that forgiveness is more for the forgiver than the forgivee. I felt so light and free and guiltless after this experience that I was moved to tears. I realized that this type of forgiveness is the key to both my own inner peace and healing as well as the world's inner peace and healing. It made me realize once again what a tremendous untapped resource forgiveness is and how everyone needs to utilize it more often is we are to transform ourselves and others into more loving and compassionate people.
We all face challenges and make mistakes. The more we can release ourselves from judgment regarding theses mistakes and failures, the easier it will be to release others. It is through this release of judgment that we begin the process of forgiveness and healing for ourselves, others, and ultimately our whole society. So strive to be forgiving, as it is the best antidote that I know for our "culture of condemnation."