Clean your slate! Loving and forgiving others starts by loving and forgiving ourselves. The most meaningful definition of true forgiveness (the concept of which has been highly misrepresented in our religious culture) I have ever come across is from Edith Stauffer in her book Unconditional Love and Forgiveness. She writes,
Forgiveness is a willingness to hold a certain attitude. It is a willingness to move forward. It is a willingness to be more comfortable and suffer less. It is a willingness to take responsibility for oneself and allow others to take responsibility for themselves. Forgiveness is a decision not to punish ourselves for the wrongs of others or other circumstances. It is a decision to re-enter the flow of love and life.
So, bless yourself in your true innocence, daily, for deep down that is the ultimate truth of your being. Give up that selfcondemnation, that grudge, that regret or resentment, and let yourself re-enter the flow of love and life. You can do it hour after hour, again and again, until you discover the joy of running with the stream rather than trying to push the river backwards or sitting on the edge, woefully wishing you could flow with it!
You have the choice of the life you wish to lead, moment by moment. And every minute, every thought, every gesture brings you closer to or further from your aim. In every single present moment you are preparing the kind of life you will live tomorrow, in two, ten, twenty years from now—and even after what is called death.
The most important choices we make in life are not the dramatic turning points such as a change of career, the person we marry, the country we emigrate to. The most important choices in life are the thoughts and feelings we choose to entertain, moment after moment, day after day. They shape our lives more surely than any outward circumstance. So why not opt for an existence of blessing—of blessing life moment after moment? After all, each moment is the repository of infinite opportunities, ever renewed.
A lack of authentic self-love (which is completely different from egoism and has no trace of selfishness) results nearly always from a residue of thoughts of self-condemnation, which lurk in the cave of the human ego, the mental realm. Guilt is the mafia of the mind—do not let that mafia reign in your inner home! Complete freedom is our spiritual heritage, and no one nor any teaching can deprive us of it.
And when we commit mistakes, we can know that the Divinity has already forgiven us, completely. Although this might seem too good to be true, divine forgiveness is prospective, and it covers all mistakes we could commit, even in the future. This is because our mistakes—any deviance from the great laws of the universe, some of which we have mentioned in this book—really constitute mistakes against ourselves and against our own happiness, even when they seem aimed at others.
For instance, to go against the law of harmony—expressed in the great teachings of spiritual wisdom since time immemorial and expressed in the major spiritual works of humanity—harms us, not the infinite intelligence that decreed these laws. This might be explained by saying that if Providence does not condemn, certain negative attitudes or behaviors we manifest can lead to a temporary self-exclusion from grace.
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