Without really thinking it through, most people separate the practical side of their lives from their spiritual beliefs. This separation is actually not valid. No matter what kind of experience you are having, that experience occurs in awareness. Therefore, spirituality needs to be clarified in terms of consciousness, which is real and practical, instead of […]
Published on Jul 25, 2016 Deepak Chopra – Journey to Higher Consciousness Deepak Chopra is an Indian American public speaker, and writer on Ayurveda, spirituality and mind-body medicine. Chopra began his career as an endocrinologist and later shifted his focus to alternative medicine. Chopra was a top assistant to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi before launching his […]
Published on Jul 6, 2016 Deepak Chopra How to discover your true self
All of us, I feel fairly certain, believe that forgiveness is a positive quality. But the fact that religion has been the traditional basis for finding forgiveness has made it seem quite often that there’s something saintly, or at the very least unusually gentle, compassionate, and selfless in those who can forgive. Since the current project is to create a wave of forgiveness with a global reach, I think forgiveness needs to be brought down to earth.
To begin with, forgiveness comes at the end of a process, not at the beginning. In order to forgive yourself or another person, three obstacles must be overcome. Let’s call them the three dragons of judgment, anger, and blame. Each has had powerful effects in everyone’s life. Millions of people feel justified in clinging to their own dragons, and it takes conviction to realize that nothing about judgment, anger, and blame actually serves anyone’s self-interest.
The reason that we cling to our dragons is out of a belief that they somehow serve us. In medicine we call this a secondary benefit, as when a child with tonsillitis gets to stay home from school and eat ice cream after his tonsils are removed — that’s a secondary benefit of being sick. The three dragons also have secondary benefits even though they represent a psychological malady.
Judgment has the benefit of making you feel righteous, justified, morally superior, and on the good side of “us versus them” thinking.
Blame has the secondary benefit of shifting responsibility to someone else, escaping moral scrutiny, and having no need to examine your part in the conflict.
Anger has the benefit of justifying revenge, providing an outlet for hostility and aggression, and keeping you safe from fear, which is a much harder emotion to deal with than anger.
As a practical matter, then, the process of forgiveness is about choosing to renounce these secondary benefits. Why make such a choice? Leaving aside the people who have inculcated forgiveness as a moral or spiritual virtue, someone has to actually experience the advantages of forgiveness. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and fortunately, almost everyone who has walked the path to forgiveness testifies that they feel much better personally without the burdens of judgment, blame, and anger. Second-hand testimony is a helpful motivation, but realistically, it’s a minor factor compared with the personal sensation of defeating your own dragons.
I’d like to encourage anyone who wishes to become a unit of peace in the world to consider walking the path of forgiveness, and so as a practical matter, let me simplify it — in essence, the following things are necessary.
A Path to Forgiveness: 7 Key Steps
Find your own peace through meditation, yoga, or other contemplative practice.
Renounce the illusion that you can change someone else’s morality or worldview.
Know that you can do more to change the world by who you are than by anything you can say or teach.
Take responsibility for nonviolence in your speech and actions.
Address the issues of judgment, blame, and anger in yourself.
Associate with like-minded people who are committed to peace and forgiveness.
Adopt a vision of the highest possibilities for humankind.
If you pay attention to one or more of these steps every day, you will bring the power of self-awareness into play, and self-awareness is the level of the solution. Talking about forgiveness, struggling to overcome your own judgment, blame, and anger, even vowing to have no enemies in the world — these are good intentions that need a level of peace consciousness in order to be truly lasting and effective.
What I’m calling upon here is a merging of spiritual and moral values with psychological realism. A mind filled with judgment, blame, and anger has trained the brain to favor those pathways. Forms of violence become habitual when they are paralleled by pathways in the brain that have turned into the path of least resistance. The more you favor intolerance and prejudice, the easier they become. People who now see reason to abandon blame and judgment have turned those attitudes into default positions that their brains click into. It’s important to take seriously the numerous studies in social psychology that show something we all wish wasn’t true: The more you offer anyone rational reasons for letting go of a harsh prejudice or fixed opinion, the more strongly they cling to those prejudices and opinions.
By the same token, the most effective negotiators are those who enter a situation showing respect for both sides of the dispute — that’s because peace consciousness lowers the other person’s defensiveness. So we have already listed several reasons why forgiveness is personally beneficial:
You feel lighter and more unburdened.
You no longer allow judgment, blame, and anger to be in control of your responses.
You will be more effective in situations where conflicts need to be settled.
You are undertaking a change that will free your brain up from a mindless default setting.
This perspective will help you to consider the path to forgiveness, but the hard reality is that trying to be more peaceful raises a threatening specter. A voice inside warns, “If you forgive the bad guys, they only get stronger, and in the end you lose.” To bolster this warning, there are lots of frightening historical examples, such as the appeasement with Hitler that allowed him to invade helpless countries without fear of reprisal. Everywhere that evil and bad faith must be opposed, from Kosovo to ISIS, from the concentration camps to the Gulag, the power of forgiveness seems not just feeble but immoral.
For this reason, we are all fence-sitters about both peace and forgiveness. We pick and choose when to fight and when to forgive. We blame the people it’s impossible to forgive and make peace mostly with those who already want to make peace. Gandhi faced a tottering British Empire that was ready to make concessions; we have no Gandhis who stopped Attila the Hun. When it comes to fence-sitting, the following points may help to promote more forgiveness.
First, be easy with yourself. Forgive whom you can. Make the right gestures and keep making them, but don’t struggle to forgive someone you simply feel doesn’t deserve it. You aren’t meant to become a saint, only a unit of peace consciousness.
Second, allow yourself to evolve. Forgiveness is a path. The more you walk it, the more your awareness expands, and the possibilities of peace, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness expand at the same time, because these are qualities of consciousness once resistance has been removed.
Third, obey the practicalities without becoming a slave to them. As a practicality, criminals need to be caught, tried, and sometimes imprisoned. But to use this as a justification for revenge, cruelty, fear, and social feuding is to become a slave to wrongdoing. “Love the sinner but hate the sin” is a dictum almost impossible to live up to, but the distinction makes sense.
A world in conflict has always been with us. Fear, war, violence, retribution, and “us versus them” thinking have been in place since recorded time. But humankind evolves, and we are unique among all living creatures in holding the power of evolution in our own hands. A forgiveness initiative brings something new to the evolutionary table. For every person who becomes a unit of peace consciousness, the future changes even as the present is uplifted.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and “Forgive for Peace,” in conjunction with the UN’s International Day of Peace (Sept. 21, annually). The International Day of Peace is devoted to strengthening the ideals for peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. Forgiveness is the first step on the path toward Peace and therefore the Forgive for Peace Campaign was established. It also marks an annual day of non-violence and calls for a laying down of arms to bring about a 24-hour cease fire on September 21st. To learn more about Forgive for Peace, visit here.
How do we change the world? By taking a stand for compassion, one person at a time. Join Deepak Chopra, Gabrielle Bernstein, Ismael Cala, and more than 500,000 people from nearly every country in the world, as we come together online on Saturday, July 11th, with one common intention – to turn around the rising tide of disconnection in the world and, through renewed empathy and love, reconnect to what truly matters.
Here are my 10 keys to happiness:
2. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look for the fullness in every moment.Accept what comes to you totally and completely so that you can appreciate it, learn from it, and then let it go. The present is as it should be. It reflects infinite laws of Nature that have brought you this exact thought, this exact physical response. This moment is as it is because the universe is as it is. Don’t struggle against the infinite scheme of things; instead, be at one with it.
3. Take time to be silent, to meditate, to quiet the internal dialogue. In moments of silence, realize that you are recontacting your source of pure awareness. Pay attention to your inner life so that you can be guided by intuition rather than externally imposed interpretations of what is or isn’t good for you.
4. Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth, and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. There is great freedom in this realization. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts.
5. When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe.
6. Know that the world “out there” reflects your reality “in here.” The people you react to most strongly, whether with love or hate, are projections of your inner world. What you most hate is what you most deny in yourself. What you most love is what you most wish for in yourself. Use the mirror of relationships to guide your evolution. The goal is total self-knowledge. When you achieve that, what you most want will automatically be there, and what you most dislike will disappear.
7. Shed the burden of judgment – you will feel much lighter. Judgment imposes right and wrong on situations that just are. Everything can be understood and forgiven, but when you judge, you cut off understanding and shut down the process of learning to love. In judging others, you reflect your lack of self-acceptance. Remember that every person you forgive adds to your self-love.
8. Don’t contaminate your body with toxins, either through food, drink, or toxic emotions. Your body is more than a life-support system. It is the vehicle that will carry you on the journey of your evolution. The health of every cell directly contributes to your state of well being, because every cell is a point of awareness within the field of awareness that is you.
9. Replace fear-motivated behavior with love-motivated behavior. Fear is the product of memory, which dwells in the past. Remembering what hurt us before, we direct our energies toward making certain that an old hurt will not repeat itself. But trying to impose the past on the present will never wipe out the threat of being hurt. That happens only when you find the security of your own being, which is love. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear.
10. Understand that the physical world is just a mirror of a deeper intelligence. Intelligence is the invisible organizer of all matter and energy, and since a portion of this intelligence resides in you, you share in the organizing power of the cosmos. Because you are inseparably linked to everything, you cannot afford to foul the planet’s air and water. But at a deeper level, you cannot afford to live with a toxic mind, because every thought makes an impression on the whole field of intelligence. Living in balance and purity is the highest good for you and the Earth
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