Group: Pocatello, Idaho
November 08, 2002
Daniel(Bill): Faithful friends, this is Daniel. Let us pray.
To You, God . ..eternal, infinite, almighty, wholly pervaded by love and generosity, and beside Whom there is no Other, we, Your universe creatures, Your sons and daughters, bow our hearts and heads in glad submission to the great direction of Your loving will in our lives. Strengthen these, my students, that they may grasp the nobility of their heritage, the splendor or their destiny, and the joy of their humanity. Amen.
My dear friends, I am Daniel, still your teacher, always your friend, never ashamed of you or discouraged by you, but, rather, am I pleased to be, once again, in this tender, confidential and trusting relationship. My, time goes by and this group continues to mature! But, some of you say, "You are too generous with us, for we are full of failures and setbacks. We look upon our imperfections with a magnifying glass. We are not worthy to be your friend." And I reply, "Nonsense!" (Laughter) "Absolute nonsense!!" (More embarrassed laughter) Dear ones, it is true that I want to lecture you, and then we can have discussion, on the topic of self forgiveness. [Editor's Note: The TR had informed the group that he had heard ahead of time that self forgiveness was the topic.]
Because of comments that have been made over the last few months and, indeed, have been made over the years, this topic remains relevant, comments such as I just illustrated in my self depreciating monologue. Because of these sorts of feelings and expressions on your part, once again we desire to talk about self forgiveness.
First of all, understand that self forgiveness is not a simple intellectual decision. You have all experienced the understanding in your mind that God is forgiving and understanding, and that none of you stand in debt to Him; and at the same time feel guilty, remorseful, resentful of your imperfections, hasty and impatient to be done with your habits that bring you grief. In other words, at the same moment that you intellectually understand that you are forgiven by the Source of your life, you almost stubbornly hold on to your lower self opinion. Surely, if you could simply say, "Ok, I forgive myself", it would be done, wouldn't it?
Virginia: Ha! (Chuckling from group)
Daniel: But...it doesn't work that way. Now, I will pause here and state that without intellectual belief in the forgiveness of your Creator you would have even less reason to be successful in self forgiveness. Therefor, I think it is important that we discuss this whole issue in the light of your knowledge of God's forgiveness. Paradoxically, however, there are some with no belief in a higher Power who are actually more realistic about their humanity and less judgmental toward themselves and other people.
I have alluded to this many times....that God's love and God's consequent forgiveness is the same thing that you experience, in a reflective manner, in your relationships with your children when you are acting as a good parent. In other words, true fathers and true mothers are understanding forgiveness in this sense...that they don't even use the word "forgiveness" in their minds, especially with younger children. They have a much larger word than forgiveness. The word is understanding. Good parents understand the limitations of children in maturity: mental, social, moral, and spiritual, as well as lack of experience. You understand that children make mistakes. They make bad choices. How many of you typically felt that you had to "forgive" your children for their mistakes due to lack of maturity and experience? Weren't you more simply inclined to just understand the larger picture and that what matters is that the child does not develop a habit of making bad decisions? Forgiveness is not merely setting aside the debt, the breaking of the rules. Forgiveness is the transformation of a person who has made a bad choice so that they learn where they went astray, and what they can do the next time around, not to make the same mistake.
Self forgiveness, then, is based on self understanding. The better that you and I understand ourselves, the better and easier will be our tolerance and forgiveness for our mistakes and even our sins. It is for this purpose that it is necessary for you all to do the work that will result in self understanding. This means that you try to trace back in your history the origins of those attitudes and those beginning habit patterns that may be connected to current problems.
However, in looking into the past many stumble and fall into the error of remorse, guilt, and shame. Even as they are trying to understand themselves, they are self loathing. That is not what is valuable about remembering the past. It is problematic and non-productive, for remorse and guilt serve no further useful purpose once they have promoted change by learning. The drive of those negative emotions on the physical and mental energies of your electro-chemical mechanism have no positive purpose. So, in stepping into the past for the purpose of understanding current behavior, avoid the delusion that somehow reviewing the past will change it. It will not...but it can change the present as you gain larger understanding and acceptance of yourselves.
All societies have taboos, the rules, that when they are broken produce enormous levels of guilt and shame in a normal minded person. These taboos are not necessarily consistent with the moral structure of the spiritual universe. They are social institutions. That is why conscience, the accumulation of the taboos, cannot be equated with the guidance of your Thought Adjuster. Your conscience is not the voice of God within you; it is the voice of culture within you. Taboos evolve and are maintained in order to keep society in a structured and knowledgeable formation, in order to preserve civilization and to promote intellectual, social, and spiritual growth. Many people feel guilty about things which the spiritual supervisors of the universe do not consider to be problems; and many people do not feel responsible for lacking interest in the things of real value.
We have discussed your humanity and how important it is to be comfortable in it. Your humanity is not a perfected state of being. It is the first state of being. It is far from perfected. You share with your animal cousins your animal nature which includes all the spirit poisons: anger, guilt, fear, envy, jealousy, resentment, ego enhancement, etc. Many people feel guilty for experiencing feelings that are inborn, genetically programed, and that are not the result of rational choice. They feel responsible for having these feelings, which equates to feeling guilty about being human.
Rather, what you have the choice to do is to decide how you will respond to these feelings that are so negative. How do you respond to frustration? How do you respond to ego threat? How do you respond to various kinds of fears? How do you respond to sexual feelings? How do you respond to feelings of hatred? And so on. Do you make a choice on your actions as a result of consciously choosing how to respond or do you simply allow those feelings to dictate your actions? If there were no choice involved when dealing with your feelings, if there were no alternative ways to experience and express these feelings, then, truly, you would be no more than animals, and you would act without choice. But this is not your situation. You are human beings. You are will creatures of the cosmos. You are sons and daughters of God. You have within you that Perfect Pilot. So, do not feel guilty about your animal nature and the feelings that come from it. It is not appropriate to feel guilt about the way you are made!
In addition to feeling guilty about having an animal nature, many people feel guilty about making mistakes. Making mistakes is both inevitable and normal. The only time that guilt is appropriate is in the choices that you have before you. And guilt should last no longer that it takes you to say, "I have made a mistake. I have done the wrong thing". Now if you knew ahead of time with certainty that it was the wrong thing, then you have committed a sin. But either way it is time to say, "Well, I did the wrong thing. I have screwed up. I desire not to do that again. I want to let go of the past. I don't want to sit here in misery and self depreciation. I want to claim my birthright as a son or daughter and move on. I want to agree with You, God, that I am a good person and I have a right to be here and that the universe is unfolding as it should be".
From the inner state of forgiveness comes your ability to be understanding toward others. If you are self condemning then you will see yourself mirrored in those around you. Their behaviors, which unconsciously remind you of your own, will arouse in you the greatest indignation and you will become very judgmental. Always remember that the finger points both ways. What you find offensive in another is likely to be what you have not understood and forgiven in yourselves. This is why that it is in the act of forgiving another that you experience self forgiveness. The mirroring process works both ways.
The only people that Jesus couldn't forgive were those who would not accept his forgiveness. When I say, "couldn't forgive" I mean his forgiveness was not effective. He forgave even those who nailed him to the cross. Listen to the words he said. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do". They didn't understand who he was and what they were doing. In a sense they made a mistake rather than a sin. If they had known he was the Son of God and still crucified him, that would have been a sin. But they didn't know what they were doing.
The degree to which you forgive yourself is the degree to which you can forgive another. The degree to which you forgive yourself is the measure of your self understanding and self acceptance. The degree to which you forgive and understand another is the degree to which you love and understand yourself. These are my thoughts. Not new ideas, but pertinent.
I say to you: work on understanding yourself and realize that you are an animal origin being because that is the way God wants it! I am an animal origin being because that is the way God wants it! We are going to experience it all, from the lowest level of animal origin to the highest level. As we understand and gain acceptance of ourselves, as we make that effort to move spiritually up the ladder, rung by rung, our horizon expands. We see farther and farther. You are all greatly loved. We are all greatly loved. Please take each other's hands. (We are not finished)
In your minds, think of the person on your left and say either, "This is my sister, or this is my brother who is just like me and who I love". Say that to yourselves. (Silence) Now, to the person on your right, the same. (Silence). Thank you. You may be seated.
The floor is yours for comments or further discussion.
Virginia: Well, Daniel, I'm sure you have been at the house and sort of know what I have been doing, writing all my memories that come to mind of my childhood. As I read through it and add things, I certainly love getting to understand where a lot of feelings of guilt have come from.
Daniel: Yes, my dear, I am aware.
Virginia: And certainly understanding that it was not an adequate or fair interpretation of reality; and certainly the need to realize my present reaction to those situations so that what you have told us to do, I certainly have begun. I am not there. I have thanked God many times that I have the time to, maybe, self actualize and understand.
Daniel: Yes, my dear.
Virginia: I would like to say one more thing and I won't talk any more. I do believe that forgiveness of self and forgiveness of others is an ongoing process. You think it's complete and then the horns stick up again.
Daniel: Yes, those feelings, as you have indicated, come out of your past as well as out of your genetic animal heritage. Without you understanding an interpretation, to simply remember them only freshens the pain. Of course repression, holding them under unconsciously, is not healthy either. But what you are doing in remembering those things is giving insight into why you feel the way you do now. The next step is to decide that, number one, the injustice of the event which caused the guilt needs to be rectified...
Daniel: . ..reinterpreted so that you know that laughter was never an action you should be ashamed of. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you wish to see it, the brain is a programed organic computer. It can be re-programed. If you simply push the play button on the tape recorder, after rewinding, you hear what happened the first time around. However, if you press on the play and record button at the same time, and put a new entry into the tape recorder, going over the past event with a new interpretation, then when you replay it, you will hear the newer version. It takes a lot of replaying until eventually the brain changes. It accepts the newer and more expanded understanding. Virginia: Daniel, I certainly believe that a new interpretation will do it. But there are circumstances where you can't change the play which has been done and there is no way to reclaim those moments that I think I am working on understanding. Maybe even understanding why those things happened, but certainly deeply understanding where ridiculous feelings of guilt have come from. So, thank you. Now I will shut up.
Daniel: I may be taking issue with your last statement, my dear. All events can be reinterpreted.
Virginia: Reinterpreted. Yes. Daniel.....I am not saying....
Daniel: But, they can't be changed. [Editor's note: The past can't be changed, only its meaning] Virginia: No. You can't replay it.
Daniel: Reinterpretation is what I referred to as "changing the tape", yes. I will give you a general example here.
People are close to each other in family or friendship relationships. One person does something involving another. The other person interprets that behavior as an attack upon themselves. (S)he becomes hurt and bitter. Their friendship ends. Years later these two come together again and the event is discussed that led to the separation. The person who "caused" the hurt in the other one explains what happened internally and how what he or she did had no intentional connection with the other party, even though the other party was hurt as a consequence. The other party took it personally when, in fact, it was not personal. I am not suggesting that this is always the case. I am simply saying that at this point in the story the second party can now accept that the event was not intended to be personally hurtful to them. Now they understand that this person acted out of their internal pain which had nothing to do with them, even though they took it personally. A new interpretation now makes possible the renewing of that friendship. That is just a general hypothetical explanation.
However there are times when people do injure others intentionally and it can't be denied. Then, reinterpretation will not be able to give the injured party a plausible or alternate explanation that will take the sting out of it. Then reinterpretation has to be: What can I learn from this painful thing in my life that will make me advance spiritually? What did Jesus learn from the experience of crucifixion, you see? Well, we can't really know unless the Master himself were to tell us. But he gave us a tremendous example of how to handle the most vicious and awful experience that one can imagine. He handled it with the grace and beauty of a Son of God and implored his Father to forgive them for they didn't know what they were doing. Does this help you, my dear.
Virginia: I think that all has helped me. Certainly I do believe that understanding self is the basis for preparing yourself to forgive in relationships that will one day have to be met, either there or here in this place.
Daniel: My words are not intended for you alone, of course, they are intended for all of you. A teacher teaches best that which he also needs to learn.
This is a postscript to my lesson We are working on this stuff now because you are going to work on it . ..
Virginia: Forever and ever.
Daniel: . ..either now or later. The sooner you work on these things and get past them, the farther along we are and the more we can do in other ways. Yes. Other comments or questions? Very well. Once again if you will stand and help this TR to his feet we will conclude with the Serenity Prayer. Let us pray together.
Unison: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Amen.