The Power of Forgiveness
In less than a week, Rosh Hashanah will be upon us and to make the most of this connection so we can become a new version of ourselves it’s important we do the work this week to leave the old “us” at the door.
Forgiveness is a hugely powerful tool that we can use to move ourselves from our past and make room for the new person we are meant to become. Astrologically, there are certain times it’s easier to accomplish things than others and this week, in particular, happens to be one where the cosmos assists us to forgive.
No matter how spiritual we may be today, we all have a history of both hurting others and being hurt by others. We hold onto everything from the pain that happened to us in our childhoods to the unkind words someone said to us just yesterday. We beat ourselves up over mistakes we made, things we wish we’d done differently, and the people we might have harmed along the way.
We hold onto both the bad things that happened to us in our lives and the bad things we have done. Many of us hold onto this like security blankets, refusing to let go! And it blocks us not only from being happy but also from achieving whatever it was we each were specifically put on this Earth to achieve.
The kabbalists teach that some of our biggest blessings in this world – finding our soul mate, having children, getting the business deal, restoring our health – are blocked because of both the pain and suffering we have caused others and the resentment that others have towards us. It’s imperative that we ask ourselves the questions: Who do we need to forgive? And what would we like someone to forgive us for?
Once we know the answers to these questions, what is left for us is dealing with the pain; the pain we caused or the pain we experienced. Whatever you want to forgive or be forgiven for, the first step is you must feel the pain.
I’ve been traveling a lot lately giving lectures about forgiveness and it’s made me look internally at my own pain. As I asked myself those same questions I ask of you, I discovered the biggest pain in my life was in 2004 when the Rav had a massive stroke. He is my teacher, my father, and my best friend. We have shared things with each other that we’ve never shared with anybody.
For six months, I was in a total depression. Everything was dark to me. There was no tunnel of which to even see a Light at the end. It was so black; I couldn’t even see the tunnel.
At the end of six months, I picked myself up and made a decision. I made a commitment to start doing the work he would do, which meant translating and providing more content, travelling to more places around the world and teaching the wisdom of Kabbalah; continuing his vision. He had told me there were specific spiritual sites he’d always wanted to visit but had never been able to, and so I started going to those places. He had a relationship with the head of the Palestinian Authority so I started to build a relationship with the Palestinian Authority too. Anything I thought that he would do, I did.
But as I was putting my notes together for these lectures on forgiveness, I found myself understanding that the decision to continue my father’s work wasn’t altogether a righteous one.
If I were honest with myself, part of the reason I run around doing what I do is to avoid the pain.
I don’t want to feel the pain that he is not here for me as he once was. There are even moments I think to myself, “How dare he have a stroke? How dare he do this to me?” As if it is personal. As if I’m the only person this happened to.
We all have a special talent as human beings to make everything about us.
Even recently when the Rav broke his hip I found reasons why it was my fault and why I was to blame; beating myself up for having put him on a travel schedule that might have been too much for him. As hard as it is for us to forgive others, it’s even harder sometimes to forgive ourselves.
As you can see, the more I faced the pain head on, the more lessons were brought to Light for me. I suddenly realized I needed to do the work I do for me. I can’t do it for him and if something goes wrong, I can’t blame him. I have to take responsibility myself. This is my life.
I can tell you now from experience: The more we deal with the pain, the more we learn the lessons, and when we learn the lessons our pain can become less. It might not all be gone but for me, I can tell you I’m in a better place today than I was yesterday.
The true power of forgiveness doesn’t come from just saying or accepting an apology. It comes from dealing with the pain that has been inflicted and discovering the greater lesson in it.
Whatever it is we want to move beyond in our lives, we have to first feel the pain and if it’s something we did to somebody else, we have to feel their pain and really sit in it.
Pain sucks. Trust me, I know.
But if we are running from the pain, holding onto our resentment or guilt, we will never become the person we are meant to become or receive and accomplish all we are meant to in this world.
When we face the pain, learn the lessons, and move on from our past, we open ourselves up to everything the universe has to offer us and all that we can offer it in the present.
All the best,
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