Adapted from The Way of Grace: The Transforming Power of Ego Relaxation, by Miranda Macpherson.
Grace is the living presence that brings online the qualities of your true nature, such as love, peace, joy, strength, clarity, inherent intelligence, and so much more. It brings forth precisely what you need to heal, evolve, and thrive so that your noble qualities can flow deeper into our world. Recognizing that we abide within and are part of the deepest Grace imaginable is truly a cause for joy, but it doesn’t mean we can skirt around the grit of being human.
All wisdom traditions agree that forgiveness is crucial for bringing us back into right relationship with ourselves and one another. Forgiveness restores inner peace by cleansing our minds of blame. It heals the wounds of the heart — both those we have given and those we have received. Most importantly, forgiveness helps us deal with the taboo emotions of rage, envy, and hatred that few of us want to admit to, yet tumble out of us when we’re caught in some untenable pain. Given the destruction born of unresolved grievances in our world, we need the medicine of true forgiveness now more than ever.
Forgiveness is a powerfully transformative spiritual technology, but it’s wildly misunderstood. Consider how you feel when someone shares their judgment of something you said or did, presumes their perception is objective, and then says, “I forgive you.” You wouldn’t be alone if such a declaration triggered intense irritation. When you hold a grievance and then take the spiritually noble position of “rising above it,” not only is it nauseating, it’s not forgiveness. Neither is forgiveness righting a wrong. Liberation doesn’t come by insisting another admit their “sin,” agreeing with your condemnation of them as “guilty” and submitting to some “penance” for their error.
The liberating breeze of forgiveness comes mysteriously by Grace, and it calls for a particular kind of surrender. It challenges us to “turn the other cheek,” which understood from a mystical lens is not being a martyr and letting an aggressor sock it to you once more; it’s a turning away from the external orientation of ego that seeks to correct errors “out there” and instead taking the log out of your own eye first.
Forgiveness means tilling the soil of your own consciousness more thoroughly. It’ll ask you to question your perceptions of who did what and why, suspending all projection of guilt and blame. It’ll ask you to let go of all positions. Most of all, it’ll call you to surrender everything that feels so impossible on the inner altar of the unified heart. You cannot “do” forgiveness. Essentially, it calls for a shift out of identifying with ego altogether — yours or another’s.
Forgiveness begins when you want true peace more than you want to be right, to be in control, or to hold the moral high ground. While choosing peace sounds simple enough, consider the last argument you had with a family member or spouse, and you might recognize how hard it can be to let go of the insistence that “if you change, I can be at peace.” Yet true forgiveness doesn’t ask you to pour pink paint over a cracked wall.
The following exercise is a powerful practice that blends reflective inquiry with a meditation designed to open you to the Grace of forgiveness.
- Sit in a sacred space, where you won’t be disturbed, with your journal or a friend.
- For ten minutes or more, explore the following question: What grievance do you wish to place on the altar of the heart-cave? (If you don’t limit your heart to merely being the seat of emotions but journey deeper and further back into the cavity in your chest, at some point, you will begin to feel a vast, loving space that has no beginning or end. Make sure to consider hurts you’ve given and the ones you’ve received, including those that feel “minor” as they are equally disruptive to your peace of mind.)
- Close your eyes, turning your attention within for the meditation. Bring your awareness to the breath, letting each inhale and exhale guide you to melt in and down.
- Bring your awareness to the heart. With each inhale, feel your desire for true peace and liberation in this process, yet without concern about how to get there. Just breathe into your heart and cultivate your true desire. Stay with this awhile.
- Feel yourself being drawn to the back of the heart, to a place that is deep, dark, and quiet. It might feel as if your heart backs onto the infinite galaxy, but be open to however the heart-cave shows itself to you. Here you find an empty altar that welcomes everything without exception. Above the altar is a spotlight.
- In your own way, lay on the altar your grievances, the impossible conflicts, and the hurts you do not know how to get past or forgive, asking for liberating Grace to restore you to the truth behind all appearances.
- Lay down your judgments, anything you’ve rejected as “bad.”
- Lay your most significant relationships on this inner altar.
- Lay whatever you find heartbreaking in our world on this inner altar.
- Lay yourself down on the altar. Ask to be cleansed of all error, all misperception, all distortion.
- See, feel, or sense a transparent, cleansing aqua mist pervading everything and everyone that’s been placed on the altar. It might feel like soft healing vapor. Let this presence of forgiveness cleanse all errors at the Source, unwind distortion, and remove all veils. It restores everyone to indestructible innocence and complete unity, our original pristine condition.
- Be open to any additional insight that comes, and then when you’re ready, return to the inquiry with the following question for ten minutes or more: What’s it like in the heart-cave of Absolute Love?