I’m 72 today. Around the time of my birthday last year, I was privileged to be working on a new film project from Hay House called My Greatest Teacher. The story is based on my experience at my father’s grave in Biloxi, Mississippi in 1974.
It was a moment of forgiveness that turned my whole life around and changed everything—from my writing to my career to my relationships. I stopped drinking and doing so many things that were debilitating to my body. In that moment, I got rid of the anger and rage against my father that I had carried around inside of me since I was a child.
The film has a contemporary setting with an actor playing the young me—angry, impatient, careless of the feelings of others—until he faces his greatest teacher. Essentially, he can’t go on with his life until he settles up with the huge burden of blame he is carrying. A Course in Miracles says, “If you didn’t blame, there would be nothing to forgive.”
That’s important to remember. We get to stages in our life where we’re blaming other people for our unhappiness and our pain and our hurts. If we stopped blaming, where might we be? Ram Dass once said to me, “Who is anybody to forgive anyone else?”
If we must forgive, we must first have blamed. To forgive is to stop blaming and to accept with compassion that everyone is simply doing the best they can given the conditions of their life and what they have to work with at the time.
Forgiveness sets you free to move past the pain and on into a life of loving and serving. The satisfying and fulfilling life you know is there for you. My Greatest Teacher does a fine job of portraying the turnaround that comes when a man stops nursing his own wounds and looks around to see who else needs the gifts of love and healing he was born to give.