Forgiving others is essential for spiritual growth. Your experience of someone who has hurt you, while painful, is now nothing more that a thought or feeling that you carry around. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will dis-empower you if you continue to let these thoughts occupy space in your head. If you could release them, you would know more peace.
Below I share how to forgive someone who has hurt you in 15 steps:
Step 1: Move On to the Next Act
Your past history and all of your hurts are no longer here in your physical reality. Don’t allow them to be here in your mind, muddying your present moments. Your life is like a play with several acts. Some of the characters who enter have short roles to play, others, much larger. Some are villains and others are good guys. But all of them are necessary, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the play. Continue Reading
Summer is an ideal time to slow down and reflect on all the gifts of a simpler, more peaceful life. Your personal choices can help you align with the tranquil nature of the Tao. For example, why not opt to do without some of the new technology at least some of the time. You can choose to write by hand and feel your connection to your Source as the words flow through your heart onto the paper. You can choose to walk rather than drive as often as possible. You can choose to compute numbers without a calculator, and remember phone numbers as a way of personalizing your connections. Choose to swim or ride a bike for exercise in lieu of using machines.
As part of your simplification routine, you can eliminate some laborsaving devices. Maybe not having email or downloading music is your way of symbolically staying close to the land. You can know what the modern world offers in the way of information and technology, while at the same time being aware of the areas of your life where you want to keep things basic. Recognize when you’re feeling the effects of information overload, too many gadgets, or overcomplication, and switch to an environment that pleases you for whatever amount of time you choose. Simplifying your life can be a way to heighten your awareness of your connection to the Tao.
Here are three suggestions for getting back-to-basics: Continue Reading
The amazing wisdom of the Tao offers us principles for parenting if we look at the way Lao-tzu describes our power to lead by example. The 65th verse of the Tao Te Ching advises us to live by staying simple-hearted, “Content with an ordinary life, you can show all people the way back to their own true nature.” Being open to the guidance of your own true nature will free others to do the same. And “when they know they do not know, people can find their own way.” Parenting shouldn’t mean imposing rules or impressing others with your supposed intelligence and superiority. Refuse to convey superiority. Show others how to live from the Tao perspective by being willing to admit that you don’t know what’s best for them, nor do you even know with any degree of certainty how your own life should go. Let other people know that you’re willing to ask for guidance. Show them that you’re not “in charge,” either of them or of what happens to you. Allow them to see a man or woman who’s humble, lives peacefully in the cycles of life, and stays simple-hearted.
Be willing to say to those in your charge, “I don’t know.” This phrase is a symbol of strength rather than weakness, so use it freely. When you teach others to do the same, they’ll begin to allow their highest selves to be guided by the Great Way. Keep in mind that nature never forces anything to grow, but is silently and invisibly ever present. Do the same to the best of your ability by not forcing yourself and your ideas on anyone (with sensible precautions for those too young or too immature to take on adult responsibilities).
Practice keeping your life simple and uncomplicated. Model this behavior for those you feel obliged to lead. Don’t “pole-vault over mouse turds”—dispose of those rodent droppings with a simple tissue and dump them into the garbage! Keep it simple. Spend a day without the label of “parent” or “boss” and put yourself on an equal footing with those who usually look to you for direction. Think of yourself as one of those you lead—in fact, pretend that you are him or her for a day. I’ve found that when I practice this with my children, they respond according to their best and true nature. For example, when I simply say to my teenage daughter, “I know that you’re perfectly capable of being responsible and sensible while I’m out of town, and I love that about you,” I remove the “authoritarian parent” label and treat her the way I’d want to be treated. When this becomes the norm, it’s obvious that Lao-tzu is correct: “The simplest pattern is the clearest” when showing people the way to their own true nature.
Have you noticed that the more you hurry, the less you get done? For example, try rushing through a shower after heavy exercise and notice how your body continues to sweat profusely. Then try showering your mind down, relaxing, and allowing the water to course over you—and notice how your body feels clean without sweating in precisely the same amount of time that you used in your hurry-up mode. Even if your ego doesn’t grasp it, this is the truth: Everything is on time under heaven’s net.
Today after rereading the 73rd verse of the Tao Te Ching, I decided to go for a one-hour “nonaction” walk to observe how everything under the net of heaven is working perfectly. I noticed the silent sun nourishing the land and providing light for us all. I stepped back and watched bees flitting back and forth between flowers, and stood there amazed by the invisible life force growing green bananas in a clump at the top of a tree. In all, I was just an observer of the Divine, invisible, silent, effortless Tao at work—realizing that while it’s in no hurry, it’s still getting everything done on time. Those green bananas will ripen in due course; but today I just loved the energy that creates, nourishes, and prepares them to appear for my breakfast someday!
Today I urge you to take a similar nonaction walk for an hour, and note how nothing slips through the net of heaven. It is heaven’s way to conquer without striving…It does not hurry, yet it completes everything on time.
You’ve often heard me say that the Tao is filled with paradox. In the 59th verse of the Tao Te Ching, for example, we find what looks like the paradoxical idea that a no-limits life begins with self-control, moderation, and thrift. Living in thrift and moderation means being in harmony with the world through your generous nature. Be one who accumulates a warehouse full of virtue by living in accordance with the Tao. When virtue is what you have to give away, you’ll naturally be more moderate, humble, and less demanding. Feel joyful knowing that the example you’re setting is helping others make the right choices, too. Practice living without limits by gathering virtue.
For years I practiced gathering virtue without realizing it. I sent hundreds of thousands of books to individuals and organizations at my own expense, getting into the habit of beginning each day with this act of love. I spent a great deal of time giving away much of what I earned, almost all of it anonymously. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I was doing was accumulating virtue, or what I facetiously call “God points.”
I then found that not all of my life was to be peaks and mountaintops. Yet when I succeeded in getting out from under what felt like a mountain, I was virtually unscathed. This is because I was so deeply rooted and firmly planted in the Tao that my original vision was to be a lasting one, impervious to external circumstances.
Change the way you look at your life by moderating your ego. See yourself as a being who gives rather than collects, and live on what you need rather than practicing conspicuous consumption. You’ll begin to see that your purpose has more to do with Tao consciousness than ego directives. When you moderate your demands and use only what you and your family require, you’ll gather virtue points by serving rather than accumulating. Lao-tzu reminds us that this is “the secret of long life and lasting vision.”
Make a commitment to gather five virtue points today. Imagine how the Divine Source must be operating in order to maintain the creation cycles of life, and do five things that match up to it. Pick up a piece of someone else’s trash, which is an example of excess; anonymously give a gift to someone in need; or perform any other actions that help you accumulate virtue and remain deeply rooted in the Tao.
The 77th verse of the Tao Te Ching suggests thinking about the surpluses we can put back into circulation to decrease deficiencies that exist elsewhere in our world. Lao-tzu asks you and me to put the wisdom of this verse to work in our personal lives by seeing what we have but don’t need as an opportunity to be “Tao people.” Lao-tzu isn’t asking our government, political leaders, or captains of industry, but us personally: “What man has more than enough and gives it to the world?” The answer is, only the man or woman of the Tao. When there are enough of us, there will be a pool from which we Tao-centered people emerge to govern. Then we’ll put into place the way of living offered in this verse.
It’s fairly simple to understand a surplus of money or possessions, but the word actually symbolizes much more. For example, there’s the surplus of joy you feel that you can offer to yourself and your family. Then there’s the excess of intellectual prowess, talent, compassion, health, strength, and kindness you can share with the world. Whenever you see deficiencies in joy, abundance, educational opportunities, perfect health, or sobriety, make your own surpluses available. Lao-tzu urges you to look at what’s deficient and be an instrument of increasing, rather than a collector of more, which marginalizes and divides the oneness that is all of life.
Reduce what’s in excess in your life and then offer it where it can be utilized. Begin with your stuff: clothing, furniture, tools, equipment, radios, cameras, or anything that you have too much of. Don’t sell it; rather, give it away (if you can afford to). Don’t ask for recognition for charitable acts—simply behave in harmony with the Tao by reducing your surplus. Then think about your intangible abundance of health, joy, kindness, love, or inner peace, and seek ways to offer those glorious feelings to those who could benefit from your bounty.
Just as nature fills voids by maintaining the cyclical balance necessary to our world, be an instrument of increasing where you observe deficiencies. Practice giving by dedicating a portion of your earnings to be used to ease deficits, for as Lao-tzu points out, “The master can keep giving because there is no end to his wealth.” If you can’t offer money to those who are less fortunate, say a silent blessing for them. Offer a prayer when you hear an ambulance or police car siren. Look for opportunities to fill the empty spaces in other people’s lives with money; things; or loving energy in the form of kindness, compassion, joy, and forgiveness. Be a man or woman of the Tao!