Last night, I awoke with a very clear insight into the arrogance of holding grievances. I mean, it was odd. It was a perception I could both see and feel—what we might call a knowing. Or an epiphany.
I think it was provoked by a discussion I had yesterday with a friend. This friend told me he was embittered about someone who had harmed his loved one. But I know my helping spirits well enough to know that the message was not meant for my friend. It was meant for me.
Years ago, when I was exploring past life regression as a healing modality, I came upon a life in which I had been a soldier in the French Foreign Legion. Suffice it to say, I made some awful mistakes in that life. Though it could be argued I was “just following orders,” I came to the point of my death saddened and disgusted by what destruction had been left in my wake. I stood trembling and filled with self-loathing before the spirits who welcomed me back into the spirit world.
I felt I was not worthy to pass through the gates of heaven. (Yes, there were actually gates there.) I was told I needed to forgive myself and I remember finding the notion of that beyond absurd, given all my earthly transgressions. “What I did is not forgivable,” I said.
“But you already are forgiven,” they replied, smiling. “You were forgiven before you even came here.”
Well, what a startling notion—that forgiveness is automatic and unconditional and ever present in this universe. That we don’t even have to earn it or deserve it. We don’t even have to ask for it. Or be gracious enough to grant it to others.
So, here’s where the arrogance comes in. Is it not arrogant of us to hold grievances in a universe that does not? I asked myself why I had this grievance against this particular person in my life, and my answer was that I felt I had been wronged. But when I examined that closer, I knew this was not true. My life had not been diminished by knowing them. I had lost nothing. If anything I had gained the richness of insight and learning, the strength that comes from going through something painful, and I realized I was taking personally something that had nothing to do with me.
We are only diminished by our failure to forgive, by believing we have been lessened by the actions of another. We need to remember that the deepest and purest part of ourselves—the eternal part—is inviolate and cannot be harmed by anyone or anything.
A guide of mine once told me that the only sin recognized by the spirit world is the failure to forgive because it denies the free will of another to act as he or she chooses in the moment. I know forgiveness is a tall order, given that the actions of others can sometimes be so heinous. But that is the challenge of this duality.
Mary Oliver says it this way: “To live in this world you must be able to do three things: love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.” (Her poem In Blackwater Woods)
Our very survival depends on our holding others close, but we must also remember to hold them harmless.