Recently my daughter and I had a long talk that drifted into exploring ‘forgiveness’. And to explore forgiveness we also had to look at judgment. We had to look at our family’s pattern of bonding in judgment. That is, connecting deeply with each other in small groups of two or three, and in those groups talking about people who aren’t with us…you know, because we’re ‘concerned’. This has been a fueling practice in our family; it’s a very well woven thread of communication. And it is painful to recognize that something I’ve considered ‘nourishing’ is actually all about separation. It feels like when you’re trying really hard to wake up from a difficult dream but can’t quite bring yourself to consciousness.
Neale Donald Walsch quotes God as saying that in order to understand the totality of the Formless we can think of looking at something tiny under a high power microscope. And imagine splitting that thing into tinier and tinier pieces. And then extrapolate from that to recognize that we are just like that tiny thing under the microscope and we are just as connected to everything around us, as are all the particles in the tiny thing under the scope. We are all One; we are all connected. This concept makes my brain hurt. And when it is applied to judgment and forgiveness it makes my heart hurt.
Patterns and habits are passed down through generations, the same way that eye and hair color are. A recent scientific study proved that fear and anxiety are passed down in sperm. If you can inherit freckles, how can you avoid lifestyle habits? They are just as much a part of your parents as height and build. The difficulty is that we’re all laboring under the false delusion that we are separate beings and that our thoughts are right, important, helpful, and useful. And many of our thoughts and ideas ARE helpful and useful, but the illusion we’ve been creating as humanity is based in separation and comparison thinking. It is largely blind to the Universe’s best efforts to unfold its magic to us. Thinking about separation keeps us separate.
I’ve been reading (again) Vishen Lakhiani’s wonderful book ‘The Code of the Extraordinary Mind’. One of the hacks that Vishen tries to get to optimal brain function is a brain training program called ’40 Years of Zen’. The program touts that in five days you’ll realize as much gain in your brain wave activity as you would through many years of meditation. For $15,000 you too can realize these benefits through the ‘very hard work’ of meditating for five days. None of the marketing materials reveal the secret to the content—the main focus of it all is forgiveness. You spend five days forgiving everyone who wronged you, watching your brain grow stronger and lighter as you release bigger and bigger hurts.
When we point a finger at another, we’re jabbing them emotionally. And have four fingers jabbing right back at ourselves.
A Course in Miracles states, "Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world. I would remember this, as I want to be happy." This lesson comes right after “I am the Light of the World”, so there’s a link. As long as I carry around negative projections, judgments, expectations and habits I am building the experience of more of THAT for myself. It’s easier to understand this idea when I think about how I have harshed on others and how releasing myself from that can give me more room to enjoy them and love them. “Nothing others do or say is about you” says one of don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements.
It is much harder to forgive myself. Places where I struggle with shame or failure energy eat me up and I feel frozen—separate. The first place this made sense to me was in my parenting. I made a lot of mistakes. I struggled. And years later I regretted the things I did wrong, and sometimes would cry about my mistakes in front of my daughters, shame and pain bubbling up in me in hot wet tears. This made each of them very uncomfortable. They don’t like it when I cry about my parenting, because they then feel obligated to ‘absolve’ me from my pain and that means they have to focus on what I did wrong, and try to make it right or make it go away. Since I did a lot of things right, they feel better when they are focused on those parts of my parenting. Focusing on the parts where I got it wrong makes all of us feel separate. Focusing on how we got through the challenges and love each other very much and feel supportive to each other makes us feel connected.
Which is what we are. Connected.
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