Uplifting and anecdotal in nature, this insightful book shows how all individuals can change their perspective with the power of forgiveness, resulting in more freedom and joy.
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About the Author
John-Roger, D.S.S., is the founder of the Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness, founder and chancellor of the University of Santa Monica and of Peace Theological Seminary & College of Philosophy; he is also the founder and spiritual adviser of the Institute for Individual & World Peace. He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows and been a featured guest on Larry King Live . He is the author and co-author of more than 50 books, including Living the Spiritual Principles of Health and Well-Being, Fulfilling Your Spiritual Promise, The Rest of Your Life, and Spiritual Warriorinspiration for the acclaimed film Spiritual Warriors. He lives in Los Angeles.
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The Key to the Kingdom
Mandeville PressCopyright © 1999 Peace Theological Seminary & College of Philosophy®
All rights reserved.
The Coin in Your Purse
A person once came up to Jesus and said, "Look at all the terrible things these people have done to you. Lord, let's pay them back."
And Jesus said, "I have to pay them back with the coin I have in my purse." What was that? Love and forgiveness.
Wouldn't it be nice if that's the coin you have in your heart? Love and forgiveness. Do you know what forgiveness really entails? Repenting from your judgment, forgetting that you made the judgment, and living your life from that point on.
And if you make a mistake, learn from it. You can beat yourself up, but listen: when you are down, one thing you don't need is somebody to step on your face. When you're down, you don't need somebody to say how terrible you looked when you fell.
What is it you need when you're down? A helping hand. You need good thoughts inside of you to counterbalance the bad thoughts. And you'd better have an arsenal of affirmations that can pick you up out of any situation and straighten you out and get you going.
Live Your Life the Best You Can
Live your life the best that you can. It can be hard, even on good days, but still do it, and work the best you can and give yourself credit.
And if you have flaws, fine. Just don't focus on them; work on them. If you looked only at your flaws, you probably wouldn't feel worthy to be here because you would see the errors of your behavior and the imperfections of your body. So focus on the goodness of the work you do, and then correct the flaws as you go along.
The negative thinking that we can hold inside ourselves is really a demonstration of great mind power. What would happen if we decided to move that to a positive action and go for the essence behind all our actions as being that which is loving, caring, and sharing, and health, wealth, and happiness, and prosperity, abundance, and riches for everyone? And inside, we are doing Soul transcendence, and when we're not, we're loving, caring, and sharing.
Looking Through Grace
Grace is God's formless form, or the essence.
Behind everyone who is negative is a crying out for love and understanding.
Behind every accusation is a cry for help.
If we look through grace, we look at supplying the wherewithal for the person to move out of their imprisonment, which is the law, into the formless, which is their living, loving, caring, and sharing of the beauty and the gratefulness of life.
That includes God in all of its wisdom, all of its infiniteness, all of its compassion, and all of its sustaining us through the negative and the positive aspects of our life.
Christ Is Forgiveness
We have to understand that all of us have very similar reactions to the environment of this world, and in that we can give compassion to people. In that compassion, we enter into grace.
Christ is forgiveness. Love is forgiving. Love is for the giving. God gives all the time. If we're going to enter into God, what is it we must start doing? Giving all the time.
We then become commutators of divine energy into this world, and the kingdom of heaven appears in us, around us, as us. And all the things we want come to us in the way that is noble and honorable, for the best of us and for the worst of us. And those are all the same things because there is no better or worse when we're in this dimension of Spirit. For in that height, we see that everything we've done that's been a yea or a nay or a good or a bad or a judgment or an evil has been a progression in learning, a karmic fulfillment, a debt paid, a new, life-giving experience to someone else.
So we start to rejoice in the wondrousness that we're part of a creation that is our own, that a God creator-form, of which we're an extension, has that type of magnificence, knows all of us by our name, and recognizes us as the Divinity. And in that, we have our coming and our going.
I've never found a place where God was not already there. Even when I didn't recognize it, He was there. It was my perception that needed correcting, not God's.
Being in God's Will
The neat thing to know is that the law of God is just and it's impartial. Yet some of you may say that God should give you a break. If you enter into the grace of now, God gives you the break. So all the breaks are in our hands and our control.
It's really nice to know that we're controlling our future in the sense that we come under the Divine guidance and make our will one with God's will. It doesn't take anything away from us; we don't lose individuality, we don't lose respect, we don't lose anything.
We can still go out, get drunk, fall in the ditch, and still be in God's will, because nothing is taken away from us. We just know that what we're doing is part of the Divine plan. When we are outside of knowing it's part of the Divine plan, we get drunk and fall, and we think we're a dirty alcoholic. Or if we see somebody else do that, we say, "What a terrible person. They ought to go to hell or be locked up."
But when we come back into God's will, we say, "I can see this. This is your last life-time, and you're fighting off the negativity this way. Let me help you up." And then we become not do-gooders, but people who are just doing the goodness.
You can ask, "How would Christ handle this situation that I am in?" You put on the eyes of the Christ; you look through them and say, "Well, Christ would do this." Then you do that. And that is the enlightenment.
If I declare to you that I am enlightened and there are no criteria by which you can see that, then I can also declare to you that I'm a billionaire and use the same criteria for you not to know that, either. So there must be an empirical, objective point by which you look at enlightenment.
Enlightenment is not a bright light that shines and blinds everybody. That's called blinding everybody. Enlightenment is the process by which you relate to people in your conversation, in your daily occupation. And one of the foremost things to look for in enlightenment is forgiveness.
When you go into a situation with someone, you should have an anchor into the Spirit of who you are so you can come back out of it. And the way in is the way out. So if you think step by step into judgment, you must think step by step back out into forgiveness. In the judgment is the "endarkenment," and in the forgiveness is the enlightenment.
The Forgiving Father
Do you remember the story of the prodigal son, who left his dad, took half his inheritance and squandered it, and went into endarkenment?
The son said, "Even to live in my father's house as a low servant is better than to live where I am now," and so he began to return home. On the way back home, he got more and more excited about being there. And when he got home, his father saw him coming and shined his enlightenment upon his son; the father went out and fell on his son, kissing him on the neck and bringing him back in.
The son who stayed home started going into endarkenment, saying, "Why are you doing this to my brother, who took half of his things and went off to squander them, and I stayed and worked with you?"
The father said, "Because he's come home, and all he's done is forgiven. And to you, son, all that I have is already yours."
What the father didn't say is, "And don't blow it by judging your brother. He's got a lot of wounds to be healed. He needs a lot of nurturing and caring."
That's a story of enlightenment.
Moving into the Field of Battle
We have an opportunity to part-icipate in our life as a statement of loving and caring and sharing and nurturing. Not climbing up on the mountain and staying in safety, but actually moving down into the field of battle. Not fighting, but forgiving the fighting.
The keynote of everything we do is to be of one accord. Prior to the one accord, there is discussion. Once the thing discussed is agreed upon and we've made a loving commitment to it, we move.
Then, when you talk and do things, you find that people will start to assist you. You feel grateful for that, but you won't really feel the gratitude until someone else asks for help and you do help them. Then you feel the gratitude of the giving and the joy that comes with freely giving.
It's really important to realize that the attitude you hold is the attitude that brings to you what's present in your life.
If things in your life are not coming down the way you want them to, change your attitude and be grateful that you get what you get that's coming down.
God Doesn't See Evil
We come under grace when we're willing to listen and look at the face of God, wherever that is showing.
This is not easy to do. It's a very difficult thing to do because the habits of this world are very, very powerful.
If you die in your "evil," who's to handle it? It's yours. The only thing you can do to balance that is to come back again. But what if you come back with less remembrance than you had before and with a body wanting to contract itself and a mind and emotions wanting to protect themselves from all the horrendous things you've done? Having no memory, you do more evil.
Finally, you walk up to somebody who says, "There's no good reason to ever withdraw your loving." And so you look at the evil you do and you love it, and it is changed to good. That's why God doesn't see evil, because His goodness transforms it.
What Is Forgiveness?
Q: What is the true meaning of forgiveness? When I say, "I forgive," what am I saying?
A: If you ever had your feelings hurt and you forgave the person for it, and, inside of you, you allowed them the chance to hurt your feelings again, then you really did forgive them.
You entered into real, true forgiveness because you allowed them the opportunity to come back to you again. That's forgiveness. But if you remember who they were and what they said and what they did and the time they did it, and if you say you forgave them, you didn't.
We don't really forgive when we still have the feeling of the memory of the hurt.
What to Pray For
So what are you going to pray for?
If your answer is, "I'm going to pray for all these things that I want," you had better think about it because the scripture says, "Even before you pray, God knows what you want and is delivering it to you."
Does that mean we're invalidating prayer? No. But I have my own radical approach. I get on my hands and knees, and I say, "Dear God, I don't want anything from you, but I'd like to know what it is you want from me. Would you let me know what you want? Because that's the difficulty I may be having — finding out what it is you're giving me that I'm missing."
Sure, it's a little radical, but have you ever stopped to think about it? If God is already supplying everything, before I even ask, why am I'm missing so much? It's because I was so busy asking that it was going by me.
I should have said, "Open my eyes so I may see." That's the prayer, right there.
It's very simple, all day long: "God, what is it you want from me?"
Everything everybody has ever said they've done — I've already done it.
I forgive myself first, for doing something that would make me forgive myself.
When we have really forgiven somebody, we enter into original innocence. And that original innocence is like new snow. It's like fresh rain that clears the air.
It's anything where you just go, "Wow." I guess it's every sunset I've ever seen. ... They're all new.
Grieving is a working out of the blockage of the emotions and the mind.
Sometimes it's crying that does it.
Sometimes fasting does it.
Sometimes running does it.
Sometimes hard work will do it.
There are a lot of things that do it. But to do it is very important.
Awakening to the Divine
Whatever you need to forgive in another person, do it, because it's important to restore that person to the original image that brought you into relationship with them in the first place.
It's called, love, kindness, and consideration.
You restore their image inside of you, and then you attempt to help them restore the image inside of them. In other words, we help each one awaken to the presence of the Divine inside of them. Then Divinity speaks. And that's us, not singularly, but collectively.
Talk About It
Is there someone you cannot forgive? Is there something that people do that you cannot forgive? Why do you hate them? It's because you can't forgive them.
What did they do?
"They hurt my feelings."
Where did you have your feelings?
"Well, right here on my sleeve. I took my heart and put it out here, and I said, 'Here, love me.'"
Yes, and they said, "Excuse me," as they bumped into you.
And you said, "Why are you doing that to me? All I wanted was love."
Well, you had your heart in the way and on your sleeve. And if you ask them what happened, they'll probably say, "I wasn't trying to hurt you. I just wanted your arm moved so I could put my arm around you, and it hit on the way up."
"Oh, you mean that you were making an effort to hug me, and when you hit me in the chin, you didn't mean it? Oh, good. Now I can forgive that."
Why? Because you talked about it with that other person. And you understand that it was really just a mistake.
The Lord Is Always Available
I've been under the impression (and I have my experience for it) that the Lord has always been available. And I also have to admit that I wasn't always available to the Lord's availability.
When I finally came to that conclusion, it was then a matter of my moving back to the position of being with the Lord. I then realized that the Lord never moved because the Lord didn't really know how to move. He only knew how to be with me all the time. It was a remarkable thing to find out that he knew that more than he knew anything else.
Then when I found that the Lord knew it with others, well, it got to be really tremendous inside of me. In fact, my ego trip left real fast. I said, "This Lord knows how to be with everybody all the time, so I don't suppose there are any restrictions, though I had placed restrictions."
And whenever I turn to that, there it is. There it is. There it is.
That moment inside of you where you forgive what's happened is the moment when you are enlightening yourself.
Making the Most Out of a Situation
Sometimes the best way to make the most out of a situation is to get out of it. The other way is to accept it and be grateful that it isn't worse.
I find that it's much easier to just love it all. When it shows up, I go, "Wow. Another form of loving. Another face of loving. Another expression of loving. Another location of loving." And then I get to participate in it.
Grace Is Loving God
The only grace is loving God.
If you want grace, you love God, and then you get it. And when you don't get grace, you're not loving God.
Your approach has probably been to want to get grace first, and then you'll love God. It doesn't work that way. I wish it did. I wish I could see the kingdom of heaven first, and then repent.
On My Way to See Who Forgave Me
A man once said to me, "Do you understand that when I accepted Christ as my personal savior, I was forgiven?"
And I said, "That's wonderful, but did you forget all your sins?"
"Then," I said, "you must forgive yourself by forgetting and coming into the presence of Light and love and laughter and joy."
He asked me, "What do you do?"
So I told him, "I may be forgiven, but I'm on my way to see who forgave me. I don't have time to look at the shadows that are being cast by the bright Light that shines upon me."
Seeing the Face of God
How on earth do you gain forgiveness when you've forgiven yourself and the stuff keeps coming back up?
I know that we all have very similar feelings that stop us from moving forward into what we really want. We have to address with courage, conviction, and all the willpower that we have whatever it is that stands in the way.
It takes great courage to see the face of God, because you first have to look at your own.
An Ultimate Selfishness
If I'm going to do something that will make me need to forgive myself, I don't do it. Because that's putting it against myself to start with. And if you're going to do something to me, where I'll have to forgive you, I'm not going to let you do that. This is, in a sense, an ultimate selfishness.
I'm going to take care of myself so well that when you're around me, you'll be able to do whatever you want to do without worrying about me, because if you do something that I don't want you to do around me, I'll tell you.
It's an ultimate selfishness, but do you understand it's also unconditional loving? Because that way? You're free. And when you're free, the Spirit comes forward, which is what I really want to see in people anyway — the Spirit.
You don't get forgiveness until you forget what it is that is blocking you.
Living Your Life to Completeness
If I'm going to have forgiveness, who am I going to have it from? Myself. But every time I forgive myself for something, I'm remembering what it was. And every time I remember what it was, I put some more of my energy into it. So it seems to get bigger and doesn't go away.
So although I say, "Okay, I forgive myself," the next time I see the person that I got angry with, up comes the anger again.
So we have to do something more than forgive it. We actually have to forget it. We have to live our lives in this moment to such completeness that when one moment disappears, there's no evidence that we were in that moment.
Excerpted from Forgiveness by John-Roger. Copyright © 1999 Peace Theological Seminary & College of Philosophy®. Excerpted by permission of Mandeville Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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