Forgiveness - The Miracle Of Mind
by Nandini Murali
Catch Sampoorna at the Life Positive Expo 2008
We are delighted to announce that G. L. Sampoorna will present a capsule from her Forgiveness workshop at this year's Life Positive Expo, at New Delhi on October 31, November 1 and 2. Since seats
“You will know that forgiveness
has begun when you recall those
who hurt you and feel the power to
wish them well.”
–Lewis B. Smedes: Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve
The incident was so unbelievable that it is sometimes hard for me to decide whether it was fact or fantasy. About three months back, while I was out shopping, my driver received a frantic call from Raji (name changed to protect privacy) my domestic help. She hysterically screamed that a burglar had intruded into the house and ransacked my room.
My heart froze, my blood congealed. A whirlwind of conflicting thoughts, doubts, and uncertainties whipped through my mind. We had recently shifted to our new residence. With two dogs, one of them a Doberman, the house had seemed burglar proof. And yet…
As I entered my house, everything seemed normal, except my maid’s theatrical behaviour. I sprinted into my room and found that my travel bag
(I was to leave for Chennai that night) was ransacked, and the clothes thrown all over the place. My cupboard was broken open, and all the cash was missing. As I looked around the room, I felt violated in body, mind, and spirit. My husband’s cupboards, which unlike mine, always have the keys dangling from the keyhole, were untouched. So also were the several valuables in the room. Apparently, the intruder seemed to have manifested an intense hatred and resentment against me.
Raji was certain that she saw an intruder, who had entered through the open back door, and walked away nonchalantly with the money while she entered the house through the main door. The dogs were unusually silent. She attributed it to their being satiated with a meal of meat that she had just fed them.
The police step in Still reeling under a miasma of shock and dismay, I rushed to the police station along with Raji, the sole witness to the incident. Soon the house was swarming with police who began their investigation by ruling out possible suspects. My domestic staff consisting of Raji, her mother, and husband, who was the watchman, had been with me for 18 long years. They were as stable and dependable as the banyan, I told the police. My relationship with them had moved beyond an employer-employee norm. The borders and boundaries had dissolved, and I considered them as family. The circumstances of the crime and the behaviour of the dogs alerted the police to the possibility of the domestic staff being among the prime suspects, however even considering that possibility was painful. No, they would not do such a thing to a modelemployer, I rationalised. Yet their behaviour with me in the recent past often led me to wonder who was in charge. Arguments and confrontation were an almost daily occurrence, followed by a honeymoon phase of contrition and apology.
Lost and found
As mysteriously as the money disappeared, it reappeared serendipitously. The next day the watchman sauntered in with the missing purse with its contents intact. The burglar had thrown it in the garden, the couple explained. In one of the few instances in my life, I exploded with hurt, anger and pain. I let out an agonised primal scream and thundered at them, “Get out!” The law then took its course. The police were sympathetic towards me because of what they perceived as exploitative behaviour. I was the classical victim, and the police even referred to me as Mother Teresa when I hesitated to have the culprits arrested.
The archetypal victim
It was after the flurry of intense activity of the first few days, that the real impact of what happened struck me with painful intensity. Despite being reasonably self-aware and having some insight into human behaviour, I found myself no different from any other wronged victim. I constantly rehashed the incident and recycled my innumerable instances of kindness to them. I often swung from the sainthood syndrome to that of an avenging angel. I wanted to forgive and move on with my life, but I was stuck. Trapped in a quicksand of victim consciousness, I asphyxiated in its self-destructive patterns and victim stories that made me feel as powerless as a candle in the wind.
The need for forgiveness
The notion of forgiveness is nothing new. It is a central tenet of all religions that not forgiving generates resentment, anger, hatred, judgement, and criticism – the blocks in our spiritual and personal growth. Today, however, forgiveness has percolated to the realm of psychology and behavioural sciences. It is regarded as central to mental and spiritual health. Forgiveness therapy is also an adjunctive treatment for cancer and immune deficiency for research proves that not forgiving increases one’s chances of getting cancer. The conventional view of forgiveness views it as an act of mercy extended to the transgressor, and allays the conscience of the offender. The person who does the forgiving is a superior being who indulges in a magnanimous act that benefits the forgiven person, while the forgiver gains nothing. Rooted in judgment and polarity that a wrongful or bad act happened, traditional forgiveness rests on the notion of victim consciousness. What would happen if you were told that forgiveness is a two-way street that mutually benefits the forgiver and the forgiven? What would happen if you know that your self-interest is at stake when you forgive because the spin-offs are tremendous? Surely when spiritual leaders like the Buddha and Jesus exhorted followers to forgive transgressors, they were offering not just holy philosophy, but extremely down-to-earth do-able practical advice?
The concept of radical forgiveness is a non-conventional approach in forgiveness. Colin Tipping, counsellor and workshop leader, and author of the bestseller, Radical Forgiveness: Making Room for the Miracle coined the term. Radical forgiveness adopts a spiritual perspective to the process of forgiveness. Its pivotal belief is our awareness and consequent receptivity to the truth that events happen for a reason. We slowly but surely realise that the situation was divinely guided and happened not to us but for us. This results in a shift in consciousness within both the situation and us such that our perspective of the situation itself begins to shift. “Radical forgiveness is radical in that it acts on our psyche in such a way as to enable us to let go of being a victim and to recognise that in truth, seeing it from the perspective of the spiritual big picture, there is nothing to forgive. That is because life is divinely guided and unfolding exactly as it should for our highest good, no matter how it may outwardly appear. Those who seem to victimise us are in fact our greatest teachers and are offering us opportunities to heal,” writes Colin Tipping who describes radical forgiveness as a spiritual mission.
There are no coincidences in life; only synchronicity. The burglary was a tipping point that resulted in a cascade of lessons for my soul. Entrapped in a cesspool of self - righteous anger and resentment, and yearning for liberation from such a self-defeating impasse, a forgiveness workshop at Chennai was my inevitable destination by choice. The forgiveness workshop was designed and conducted by GL Sampoorna, well-known Chennai- based psychologist and workshop leader. Her forte is her brand of psycho-spiritual workshops with a metaphysical perspective. The experiential workshop centres on the twin themes of positive intention and radical forgiveness. The concept of positive intention, packed with paradoxical truths, was for me a satori experience. According to Sampoorna, behind every act, there is an underlying positive intention, and therefore we need to separate behaviour from intentions. In most instances, there exists a mismatch between the behaviour and intent, and therefore we need to change behaviour to make it compatible with intent. In doing so, we understand a person’s intentions, although we do not condone the behaviour. In the burglary episode, what was the underlying positive intention? Was the incident a message for me to heal and move ahead on my inner journey? Was I perpetuating the victim role in several areas of my life? Was it time to take responsibility for my life, create my circumstances and make a leap of faith from victim to victor mode? If all people in our lives are facilitators in our soul journey, was that not true of my domestic help?
An act of unmerited mercy
“Forgiveness is an act of unmerited mercy. Through forgiveness, we can release the past and forgive everyone. We need to forgive unconditionally. When we do so, we set ourselves free and shift from victim to victor mode,” says GL Sampoorna. According to her, an all or none principle operates in forgiving: either we forgive or we do not. There is no halfway measure. The workshop, consisting of a series of guided visualisations, meditations, role-plays, anger release exercises, and finally, working on the radical forgiveness worksheet, enabled a shift in consciousness that was gentle and profound.Each exercise took me deeper into a higher level of healing. Some of them like the world views of the ant, elephant, and bird, highlighted that life is a matter of perspective, while the role play on balancing a disc by two people, underscored how both partners have a role to play in creating a situation. In what way had I too contributed to the burglary episode by my own disharmony, I wondered. While the exercise on anger release against people who have hurt us, was cathartic, the ancient Tibetan technique of Tonglen Meditation, an exercise in applied compassion that involved breathing in a dark cloud of a person’s negative emotion, and giving out happiness and love resulted in ripples of transformation that reverberated in the core of my being. As I did Tonglen for Raji (my domestic help), I sent all the love and strength I could muster to enable her to rebuild her life. The radical forgiveness worksheet enabled me to be fully aware of and operate from the victim archetype, identify myself with the victim role, and confront the persecutor(s) with blame and anger. This was vital because to experience complete release one had to work through and confront the experience(s) in its entirety. Finally, the release letter enabled me to achieve closure by releasing the past, and forgiving the persons unconditionally. Healing is like peeling an onion. The processing enabled me to peel away the layers of accumulated anger, hatred, resentment, guilt, and blame, and as I reached the core of the onion, guided by the Light of the Spirit, I gazed at a shimmering truth – there are no mistakes; only experiences that we need to love and honour. Although the shifts were imperceptible, they have begun to reflect tangibly in my feeling of love for my erstwhile persecutors, and a neutral memory of a charged event. There are times when I slip into victim mode, but bounce back with the agility of a practised gymnast. “Forgiveness is a gift to yourself. In doing so, you set yourself free and the grace consciousness that emerges in the act of forgiving opens the doorway to love,” says GL Sampoorna. When that happens, we truly move beyond forgiveness, through forgiveness.
We welcome your comments and suggestions on this article.
Mail us : firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Forgiveness - 12 September 2012
by: Vijay Raghavan
Subject: Forgiveness - 1 February 2009
Must say byfar the best article hv read on forgiveness a must read for anyone wanting to grow spiritually.wow thnks for helping mankind
by: lata chandanani
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