It is said and written that forgiveness heals. Don Henley sang about it. Jesus taught it. A Course in Miracles describes it as the final solution to the illusion of separateness. It’s the ultimate in healing arts. It’s about forgiveness.

Is that a fairy tale fugue or is there something real to experience about forgiveness? If the opposite of airy-fairy is scientific evidence, then we can stand on that leg if you wish because there is ample research showing forgiveness provides any number of metrics denoting better health.

To reach the deepest level of forgiveness, the truly transcendent place where healing transpires, we must absorb the metaphysics of the matter. After all, feelings of resentment and blame — the phlogiston of fear — are not a physical science.

Forgiveness mends the relationship between guilt and innocence. I like to say forgiveness isn’t for the other guy. Forgiveness is “for giving us” freedom from guilt. Guilt is the most insidious emotion we can hold about ourselves. Innocence is its answer. There is not a human alive who doesn’t deal with guilt. The side effects of pharmaceutical drugs are small stuff compared to the side effects of guilt on a global scale.

You can say you don’t have guilt issues, that you’re over that stuff and you feel good about yourself. Uh huh. That’s how insidious guilt can be. For though you maintain your innocence, do you sometimes find yourself hinting at little things like, “I could have done such-and-such better?” Or, “I should go to the gym more often.” Or, “I shouldn’t smoke so much.” Or, “I should get up earlier.” Or, “I should eat more veggies.” All of those “I should’s” are nothing but guilt unrecognized. They may seem innocuous but there is a tiny seed of guilt gestating in the mind. That tiny whisper of negative self-talk is the same as a shout. It’s a black or white issue, digital as on or off, 1 or 0. Negative is not positive, no matter how long you look at it. To paraphrase the late Robert Palmer, “You’re gonna have to face it, you’re addicted to guilt.” To feel innocent, make someone else in that likeness.

Monkey time. Humans, like any species, learn by observing.  When we see another human do something, or a condition in another human, we learn to apply it to ourselves.

One hot afternoon in the Florida Keys, my friend Desi and I spent the better part of an hour trying to teach his little brother Jesse how to water ski. We lectured. We described. We coached clearly with expert advice. No dice. Little brother, though a superb athlete, just couldn’t glide up onto the water.

Finally, I helped Jesse back in the boat. I took a quick ski to cool off, then climbed back in. Next thing we know, Jesse’s in the water, skis on and in one try and he’s up. Why? Because after all the talk, it still took Jesse seeing someone do it to make it seem possible to him. Seeing someone do it was the key. That basic tenet holds true throughout life. If you want to see what innocence looks like, transform someone from guilty to innocent through forgiveness.

Here is your greatest power. No one can substantially change any other person in the world. We’ve all tried it. It never has and never will happen. Except by this one feat. Here is the only way possible that you can change another person.

You can look at any other person in the world and make them innocent.When one forgives someone, we make that person innocent. They become the example we need to convince ourselves that innocence is possible. We are then able to forgive ourselves and become guilt-free.

There is no way another human being can stop you. Your will is guaranteed enforceable. No matter what, another person cannot keep you from forgiving them.

Pardon me? No. To understand true forgiveness is important. In the world, we think of forgiveness as “pardon.” That is not forgiveness and will not benefit you. The act of pardon has an implicit message. That is, that you are acknowledging someone’s wrongdoing but notifying them that you are overlooking it. True forgiveness requires the realization that no wrong was committed.

It is the discerning mind that recognizes oneness by admitting what is acted without love is acted with fear and therefore not real. The so-called perpetrator has not perpetrated anything. How can a body affect a spirit? It cannot.

True forgiveness then, works on at least two levels. It creates an example of innocence that forgivers can use to model that innocence for themselves. It also reminds that the real essence of who we are is unthreatened spirit. Only the mind can be healed: The body is but an instrument. The spirit is not malleable.

Somewhere it is written that good will must be extended to “the least of my brethren” or its benefit falls short. In the case of forgiveness, it cannot be limited to just a few on our list. If we harbor blame toward any, we are not getting the message completely across to ourselves. It would mean that somehow, we still believe in guilt in our own minds.

Don’t be the last monkey in the jungle to see it.

Be well.

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