“When there is no enemy inside, the enemies outside can’t hurt you.” – African Proverb
I was once taught a forgiveness process that seemed too good to be effective for me. It can be used to forgive person, place, situation, anything. It works as follows: 1) Remember that you’re dreaming. 2) Forgive your dream images and yourself for dreaming them. 3) Let God/Spirit/Is/Self do the rest. It takes a much shorter time to practice it than to describe it. Basically, if I’m having trouble with a person, I just ask for my Self to allow me to see this person through Its eyes. All three steps in one. Presto. Being mortal, I sometimes (make that often) need to practice the process over and over again around the person or situation in order for it to work. But it works. “Hi (perceived) nasty behavior in front of me. Oops, wait – Self, let me see this person through Your eyes.” It works as I heard a respected friend in recovery describe it. “Practice things I don’t believe in, get results I can’t deny.” I’ll vouch for that.
I have said it before. I have tremendous respect for those who protest peacefully, who get their physical selves out there to be agents for change. And I know particularly with today’s state of the world, their value is immeasurable. I have come to believe that a quiet approach can be equally effective, and in fact may be what drives those who put themselves on the line. To pray without ceasing is hardly a pious endeavor. And it doesn’t mean walking around with hands folded and being oblivious to cars about to hit me or anything else that may pose a physical threat. It is more a state of mind that doesn’t even require words like “God” or “Holy Spirit.” Eckhart Tolle simply refers to it as “being.” My most common internal reference is “Self.” I need to practice being in the presence of that Self in order to live in peace. Hating war doesn’t create peace, loving peace does.
I’ve had a conflict situation brewing in my workplace for the last few weeks. Setting boundaries is far from being my favorite sport, and setting boundaries was certainly an option to attempt to repair the situation, especially if I nipped it in the bud. I did not. If any trigger in the world brings out my inadequacies it’s workplace boundaries. I am clueless in this area. I also (ahem) noticed that the situation seemed to escalate in the last week or so as I began to skimp on my usual spiritual practices. Meditation and spiritual reading, practicing noticing little miracles, practicing the aforementioned forgiveness process, all of these things keep me sane and happy in a nutty world. It was easy to notice this in retrospect, but of course I had forgotten the following Course In Miracles philosophy: “It is impossible to evaluate an insane thought system while engaged in the same system.” Oh.
After I noticed what I had been lacking, resulting in out picturing an unsavory circumstance, I did a blitz on my sanity producing methods. I had requested a meeting with a manager on Monday to explain what had been going on in the office. My habit sometimes is to paint disaster fantasies, fearing the worst or something close to it. But after doing lots of inner work on Sunday I awoke to a pleasant surprise on Monday morning: a beautiful Christmas dream. I was at a party, with everyone dressed festively, including a woman wearing a dress with all of the Peanuts characters on it. (I absolutely love Peanuts – especially Snoopy) But the part of the dream that stood out to me was what happened when I left the party to go home. I couldn’t find my car. Oddly, I felt no dismay, in fact I felt more of a sense of relief. A Christmas dream alone usually ushers in a time of receiving gifts of some form. This time there was an added bonus. It finally occurred to me what the missing car meant. Without a car I could no longer drive. I had surrendered. And I had a very nice day indeed.
The story of the ten righteous men in the bible strikes me as an allegory explaining critical mass. It doesn’t necessarily take fifty people, or forty or thirty to begin a shift in the world. Just ten. And while I’m slaying the “demons” within by starving them, by instead focusing on the inner beauty and calm of the Self, my mood and demeanor begin to change. Just like the story of Jesus in the boat during a storm with the apostles. The Master to me is symbolic of a person’s faith, asleep at this time. The apostles symbolize fear. The sea represents the human body, composed of mostly water. When the Master “wakes up,” the waters quiet down. I become calm. And I pass that calm and presence on to the next person I meet. The forgiveness process can be used on anything. World events. Political shenanigans. Disagreements with friends. But they all begin inside. Joseph Campbell once amended an ages old quote to say “Love thine enemies, for they are the instruments of your destiny.” It sometimes seems impossible to look on cruelty and inequity in the world in any area of life and love it. If I can remember that all I need to do is ask to see the world with “a new pair of glasses” as a popular book title suggests, the job doesn’t seem so enormous. In fact, as I’ve said in the past, it can become a labor of love. Just let me look at one political story (maybe a debate?) with Your eyes. Just let me look at one person I’m having difficulty with through Your eyes. It takes a fraction of a second. I cannot be ten righteous folks. But I can be one.