By HARV BISHOP
I recently wrote about my addiction to revenge porn: fantasizing about evening the score for wrongs and betrayals. It’s not pretty, but there are people I want to see fail in a major way.
Nor do I think I’m alone or not being spiritual when I’m out of sorts toward some people. I remember a wonderful New Thought minister who sat near me in the church lobby to a take a break after a service. Obviously frustrated with someone, he said angrily and out loud to no one in particular, “I’ll speak my word!”
Reading two books in one snowy spring day signaled my need to let grudges go. The first was Mitch Horowitz’s life-changing The Miracle of Definite Chief Aim and the second Vishen Lakhiani’s The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. The unmistakable message in both books: holding onto the past limits manifesting future good. It’s been a rough year-and-a-half for my wife Diane and I, but we have a passionate vision for our future. Do we want grudges to get in the way? Definitely not. Still I feel hesitation in granting full absolution for their perceived sins.
I have made progress. Some days I feel quite magnanimous and holy and proclaim to the universe, “I forgive those bastards.” Then I think about how those bastards have wronged me or my beloved and the embers of anger fire up again.
I’ve decided to try hacking my way to forgiveness. Borrowed from computer lingo, lifestyle hackers experiment with everything from meditation to mantras to find the most effective methods to get high-quality results in less time. Perhaps less time isn’t applicable with forgiveness, but effective methods, particularly to overcoming resistance, are paramount.
Why resistance? There’s no low hanging fruit on my forgiveness list. We’re talking substantive wrongs and betrayals and in one awful case, violent crime. In reflecting on my need to forgive, realized that the majority of these transgressions don’t involve me directly, but adversely affected people I love.
I was even resistant to trying the principle forgiveness exercise in The Miracle of a Definite Chief Aim. I found it necessary to use baby steps. Fortunately, Mitch provides forgiveness preparation exercises: praying for guidance to open to forgiveness, mediating on the benefits of forgiveness, and contemplating how forgiving would impact those you love.
This process helped me more deeply anchor the call that Diane and I feel to move on and open to something greater. And it reminded me how hanging onto grudges does not allow me to be fully present with those I love. The desire for revenge does nothing to the transgressors and only negatively impacts me.
I also felt the need to work at an energetic level, cutting chords and ties to the people I need to forgive. Most wisdom teachers are emphatic on this point: not forgiving ties us to the transgressors psychologically and energetically. Spiritual teacher David Spangler says this is the deeper meaning behind the famous saying to turn the other check. It means not to return like energy with like energy such as anger with anger. To do so only creates a negative feedback loop. This does not mean avoiding the anger, he says. One can embrace their anger with compassion, contain it, and transform it rather than send it out.
Daniel C. Matt, in God and the Big Bang, writes of a Kabbalistic alchemical process where one traces a “negative” emotion back to the Divine and the qualities of the mystical Tree of Life. For instance, anger becomes Gevorah, or strength, power and boundaries.
Clearly, it’s time for me to set an energetic boundary with these past situations and people to gain the strength to open to the new.
This is not unlike certain Buddhist Tantra exercises where embracing a negative emotion flips it to its opposite. Anger becomes discriminating awareness. My kabbalistic rabbi, Howard Hoffman often says that Judaism correctly understood is closer to Buddhism than Christianity. He too emphasizes practices that transform the poison into the cure.
Diane and I recently spent a wonderful afternoon with Karen Schultz, a talented and compassionate energy healer based in southern Colorado, near our home in Crestone, sometimes called America’s Shangri-La because of its spiritual culture. We felt reenergized and metaphorically several pounds lighter after that day. Challenges still came, but we started rebounding quickly and finding new paths to our passions. Karen has a helpful twist on the practice of energetic chord cutting. It involves intending that you are returning the power that rightfully belongs to the other person as well as reclaiming your own.
The indomitable Tony Robbins writes that seeing yourself as the author of your story reclaims your power to forgive, releases others and harvests the positive lessons. I know that my resentments over some past relationships faded into non-significance once I met my Beloved Diane. I can also see that the more Diane and I move into new territory now, the easier it is to contemplate forgiving.
So, my task is to continue to hack my willingness to forgive until I’m ready to approach the full forgiveness exercise recommended by Mitch.
Have you been able to forgive the unforgivable? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.