#350 Forgiveness?

Here’s one more thing about forgiveness — I don’t really believe in it.
 
If you’ve been reading these notes for a very long time, you may remember a previous discussion of forgiveness in which I said that forgiveness is a religious concept, one that I’m not particularly interested in. Let me see if I can explain.
 
Imagine a web to which every living being — past, present, and future, this universe and others — is connected. Maybe call it the Web of Life, or the Web of Being, or the Web of Becoming. Maybe it’s the Web of Enlightenment. Maybe even it’s the Web of Unconditional Love. It’s an interconnected and active Web. And it’s a sensitive Web — a disturbance on the Web in one place can ripple out and cause jostling in seemingly entirely disparate parts of the Web.
 
Let’s say I’m jostled by someone. Someone, either intentionally or unintentionally, disturbs me. Given the nature of the Web of Being, there’s really no way to know the origins of the jostling. There’s no way for me to know the antecedents of the jostling I experience. But I can know this — the chances of the disturbance originating with the person/thing who jostled me are so slim as to be impossible. And if there is no way to know the origin of the jostling, how can I possibly take it personally? How can I possibly blame the jostler? What, then, is there to forgive?
 
I am a resident of the Great Web — the Web of constant movement, of expanding and contracting energy. The Web of wild fluctuations, from smooth and calm to hugely eruptive. All of my experiences on the Great Web offer instruction for the fulfillment of my becoming. What, then, is the role of forgiveness? If I look to assign blame, I only remove my awareness from my own becoming. If I take another’s actions personally, I turn my back on all the possibilities available on Great Web of Change and Becoming.
 
So arises a question — if movement on the Great Web has origins in the deep past or even in the distant future, what about holding people accountable? More to the point, does the nature of the Web absolve me of responsibility for my actions?
 
No. Holding myself accountable for my own actions (thoughts, intentions, beliefs, desires, expectations, etc.) is a way I can strengthen my equilibrium on the ever moving Web of Creation. Accountability is paramount. With accountability, and the awareness it requires and the equilibrium it results in, it is conceivable that I can learn to navigate my way around the web. Imagine where I might go! Imagine what I might learn! What I might do! Who I might become!
 
To me, forgiveness personalizes experiences that are essentially mysterious. Rather than forgive, I choose to accept all jostling, no matter how egregious, as new lessons in my learning to dance along the Great Web.
 
It is also clear to me that this idea of the Great Web requires unconditional acceptance, which might be kin to unconditional love, the discussion of which started this peroration.
 
But what if I’m way off base? What if forgiveness is everything religions say it is? What if it is more? Well, I have surrendered to Willingness. As I learn to dance along the Web, I will no doubt discover many things.
 
I want to thank my friend Jeff Nygaard for his correspondence about forgiveness. He nudged me to find language that has long eluded me.

#350 Forgiveness?

Here’s one more thing about forgiveness — I don’t really believe in it.
 
If you’ve been reading these notes for a very long time, you may remember a previous discussion of forgiveness in which I said that forgiveness is a religious concept, one that I’m not particularly interested in. Let me see if I can explain.
 
Imagine a web to which every living being — past, present, and future, this universe and others — is connected. Maybe call it the Web of Life, or the Web of Being, or the Web of Becoming. Maybe it’s the Web of Enlightenment. Maybe even it’s the Web of Unconditional Love. It’s an interconnected and active Web. And it’s a sensitive Web — a disturbance on the Web in one place can ripple out and cause jostling in seemingly entirely disparate parts of the Web.
 
Let’s say I’m jostled by someone. Someone, either intentionally or unintentionally, disturbs me. Given the nature of the Web of Being, there’s really no way to know the origins of the jostling. There’s no way for me to know the antecedents of the jostling I experience. But I can know this — the chances of the disturbance originating with the person/thing who jostled me are so slim as to be impossible. And if there is no way to know the origin of the jostling, how can I possibly take it personally? How can I possibly blame the jostler? What, then, is there to forgive?
 
I am a resident of the Great Web — the Web of constant movement, of expanding and contracting energy. The Web of wild fluctuations, from smooth and calm to hugely eruptive. All of my experiences on the Great Web offer instruction for the fulfillment of my becoming. What, then, is the role of forgiveness? If I look to assign blame, I only remove my awareness from my own becoming. If I take another’s actions personally, I turn my back on all the possibilities available on Great Web of Change and Becoming.
 
So arises a question — if movement on the Great Web has origins in the deep past or even in the distant future, what about holding people accountable? More to the point, does the nature of the Web absolve me of responsibility for my actions?
 
No. Holding myself accountable for my own actions (thoughts, intentions, beliefs, desires, expectations, etc.) is a way I can strengthen my equilibrium on the ever moving Web of Creation. Accountability is paramount. With accountability, and the awareness it requires and the equilibrium it results in, it is conceivable that I can learn to navigate my way around the web. Imagine where I might go! Imagine what I might learn! What I might do! Who I might become!
 
To me, forgiveness personalizes experiences that are essentially mysterious. Rather than forgive, I choose to accept all jostling, no matter how egregious, as new lessons in my learning to dance along the Great Web.
 
It is also clear to me that this idea of the Great Web requires unconditional acceptance, which might be kin to unconditional love, the discussion of which started this peroration.
 
But what if I’m way off base? What if forgiveness is everything religions say it is? What if it is more? Well, I have surrendered to Willingness. As I learn to dance along the Web, I will no doubt discover many things.
 
I want to thank my friend Jeff Nygaard for his correspondence about forgiveness. He nudged me to find language that has long eluded me.

#349 Forgiveness

You may remember that recently I said, “I’d like to master unconditional love. What will my practice look like? Gratitude will play a big role, of that I’m sure.
I thought, “I’ve got this! Gratitude’s groovy, easy. fun. No Problem!”
Then unconditional love looked me in the eye and told me it wasn’t going to be quite that easy, that there is more to mastering unconditional love than the groovy practice of gratitude. There is forgiveness. 
 
I’ve long described forgiveness like this: acknowledge the transgression; accept that it happened; release it. But unconditional love taught me that there’s a step I’d neglected to include in my formula for forgiveness: love the transgressor. 
What? Love the transgressor? Love the perpetrator? Now wait just a minute! Not only that, but sometimes the transgressor is me! Love me? Even though I was the transgressor? Oh dear.
It’s a tall order, but I’ve been working on it. And while I may not yet be able to actually love the transgressor, be it me or another, I have come to the point where I can honestly say that I am willing to love the transgressor. I have surrendered to willingness, and I’m curious to see where it will take me. I’ll let you know!

#346 Happiness

Happiness never ever leaves us; it does not abandons us; it never withdraws. It is we who leave it. And it is we who can can return to it.
Happiness remains, even when we’re not aware of it. There certainly are times when happiness is not really appropriate—when we’re deep in grief, or fear, or sadness, or anger. Yet happiness is always there, leaning against our backs, always keeping in close contact. It’s there when we need it, when we’re able to turn towards it, able to take it up and dance with it again.
The knowledge that happiness remains with us through it all can bring a touch of sweetness, an awareness of love, to our grief or anger or even fear.
And there are times when we truly forsake happiness—when we’re tangled up with too much useless thinking; when we’re caught up in being judgmental; when we’re stuck in self-loathing; when we’re mired in addiction. I’m sure you can add to that list! Nonetheless, happiness remains in close contact, always there should we decide to choose it.
Can you feel it? It’s there, at your shoulder. Always.

#345 Negative again

“No negative talking or thinking about anyone, including oneself.”
I made it three days! 😂😂😂 
Though I must say, this practice is filling me with gratitude. I’m grateful when I don’t go negative. And I’m grateful when I catch myself going negative—because then I have the opportunity to make a different choice. 
I’m even grateful when I recognize that I’m going negative and yet continue on the negative path—there’s learning in everything. 😊
Onward!

#344 Nothing Negative

I saw a sign on Facebook: Try to say nothing negative about anybody for three days, for forty-five days, for three months. See what happens to your life.”

I’m going to give it a try! I put it on my calendar: “say nothing negative about anyone.” I put it on every day until February 14! What do you suppose my odds are? I’d say they’re not great.

I suspect I’ll be parsing out what exactly “say nothing negative” means! Such as, “but what if it’s true?!”
 
Wait! What if I THINK something negative about someone? Does thinking count? (Yes Jett, thinking counts.) 
 
Okay, I’ll give it a try.

#343 Gratitude and Generosity

Whatever happens in your life, never forsake gratitude!
Do you brush your teeth? What do you do while you’re brushing? Think about the government? Compose your shopping list? Worry about your family? Try this—while you’re brushing your teeth, feel gratitude for them, each and every one. Perhaps even love them!
And consider this: the gratitude and love you experience for your teeth is a form of generosity. What are other ways you can enhance your practice of generosity? Toward yourself. Toward the land. Toward your neighbors. Toward anyone and everyone. Seize every opportunity to be generous! Ramp it up!

#342 Miracles

Love is power. Wait, let me rephrase that—UNCONDITIONAL love is power.
Or say it this way—UNCONDITIONAL love creates the space where you can access your power.
And let me tell you something else—that’s the space where miracles happen. Power accessed within the space of UNCONDITIONAL love is the power that can do miracles.

#341 Gratitude for no reason

Gratitude For No Reason.
 
When you get up from sitting, pause, take a breath, and feel gratitude—for no particular reason. 
When you sit down, pause, take a breath, and feel gratitude—for no particular reason.
When you enter a room, pause, take a breath, and feel gratitude—for no particular reason.
When you get in your car, pause, take a breath, and feel gratitude—for no particular reason.
When you—you name it—pause, take a breath, and feel gratitude—for no particular reason.

#339 My Life’s Purpose

Someone shared a letter that Rev. Shari Prestemon, from the  Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ, sent to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

In it she said that hers is a denomination that “strives to seek justice and share extravagant love with the most vulnerable among us.” I like that phrase, seek justice and share extravagant love. I think I’ll take it as my life’s mission statement. Seek justice and share extravagant love.

And now I know my life’s purpose to be this: to live up to my mission statement.