Saturday, November 1, 2008

Grievances or Peace?

One of the greatest learnings on my spiritual path is that grievances and peace do not mix. If it is peace I choose (and it is), then I must release all grievances. So how does one do that when the grievance may be justified?

Perhaps I was wronged or hurt in some way. I may have been insulted, cheated or taken advantage of by someone I trusted. Perhaps someone made some unfair or untrue comments about me. The list of potential grievances is unending, but I think you get the picture. When we are hurt in some way, we tend to want to hold onto our grievance against those that seemed to create it, even though it makes us feel worse.

As I stew about the grievances I hold, I separate myself from the person(s) that caused them. As I see myself separate from the offender, I also separate myself from peace. An additional thing to note here is that at some level I may fear that I don't deserve the love and respect I desire. The truth is we are not separate. We are all connected, so when I am holding a grievance against someone else, I suffer.

This is a challenging concept to take in when the person (the offender) is not penitent or sorry in any way and when I did not outwardly do anything to deserve it. Our egos are an interesting phenomena and as long as we see one another as separate, peace escapes us.

I used to believe if only the offender would apologize, I could release it and return to peace. The truth is in many situations, an apology may not be offered, so it is up to me to give up my grievance if it is peace that I desire.

This is where forgiveness is needed. It is not excusing or condoning the action of another person, but rather looking beyond the action or offending words that had been spoken to who the offender really is. The person that offended me is not inherently evil. In some cases, they may not even know they hurt me. As I look deeper into the heart of the person, I can see their own vulnerability. Somehow, when I see the true spirit of the person, their negative behaviors lose importance. I may not love the negative actions, but I can find compassion and love for the fearful soul within.

The bonus of forgiveness is as I see the spiritual truth in others and forgive them, I receive the same benefit of forgiveness for my own unconsciously perceived imperfections.

If you're ready to let go of your grievances, I suggest you take note of the negative feelings you have about those that hurt you. Notice how it feels when you re-play the story of whatever it was that caused your pain. The next step is to choose if the feeling of "being a victim" or of "being unfairly treated" or "wronged" is worth the absence of peace. If you choose peace, look more closely to find forgiveness, compassion and love for the other person and for yourself. Every grievance that is released is a step closer to feeling peace.

An important note here is that unconditional forgiveness takes a lot of practice, but I can say without question, peace is worth it.

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