by Marianne Williamson: THERE ARE TWO BASIC filters through which to view all things: the filter of the body, and the filter of the spirit. To the extent that you view your life only through the body’s filter, you are bound to the body in a way that does not serve you. Being bound to the body, you are at the effect of the body’s appetites, whether they are healthy or dysfunctional. But when your eyes are lifted, giving you the capacity to see beyond the body to the realm of spirit, you’re given power over your body that otherwise you do not have. Dwelling lightly within your body, your body becomes light.
And how do you do that? How do you see beyond the body? You do it by being willing to extend your focus beyond the dramas of the material plane, remembering that beyond this drama there is the truer truth of who we all are. What is love is real, and what is fear is mere illusion. Yes, a friend might have said something cruel to you—but in her heart, she’s simply lost and lonely like everyone else. Your friend does love you; she was just disconnected from her love at the moment when she made that comment. It helps to remember that whatever trauma you experienced in your childhood was probably not all that different from what other people experienced in theirs.
No matter what happens to you, you have a choice as to how to interpret it. You will make that choice—consciously or subconsciously. You can focus on the body’s drama—your friend’s hurtful words, her mistake, her betrayal. But if you do, you won’t be able to escape the emotional experience of being at the effect of her words. By choosing to focus on the material drama, particularly the drama of guilt, you increase your attachment to the material plane and thus your vulnerability to its dysfunctions. You forgive because you wish to stay above the dramas of the material world, particularly the drama of your addiction.
Your alternative choice is to focus on the innocence in your friend—on her divine reality that is beyond, and truer, than her bodily self. All of us are made of love, yet all of us make mistakes. In detaching from an overemphasis on someone else’s mistakes, you detach from an overemphasis on your own. As you reach across the wall of separateness—and there is no wall thicker than the wall of judgment—then the wall comes down. That is the miracle of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is selective remembering, a conscious choice to look beyond guilt to innocence. In common parlance, it usually amounts to simply cutting people more slack. This serves you. Judgment and blame put stress on the body of whoever is doing the judging and blaming, and stress is the time bomb at the center of your addiction. It is in “staying above” the drama of the body that you dwell more harmoniously within it. Your body was not created to bear the burden of your overattachment to it, but was created as a container for the light of your spirit. It will more easily remember how to function perfectly when you remember the perfection in everyone.
As you forgive others, you begin to forgive yourself. As you stop focusing on their mistakes, you will stop punishing yourself for your own. Your ability to release what you think of as the sins of others will free you to release yourself, putting down the weapon with which you punish yourself so savagely. Forgiveness releases the past to divine correction and the future to new possibilities. Whatever it was that happened to you, it is over. It happened in the past; in the present, it does not exist unless you bring it with you. Nothing anyone has ever done to you has permanent effects, unless you hold on to it permanently.
Please teach me to forgive
myself and others.
Remove the walls
that keep love out,
behind which I am prisoner.
Heal my guilt
and remove my anger,
that I might be reborn.
Make gentle my heart
and strong my spirit,
and show me how to love.