The spiritual life is often viewed from the vantage point of long-term benefits. We might not reap rewards in this life, but in the life to come… goes the thinking. If we decide to take on something in the short-term which we perceive to be difficult, time-consuming, and full of problems, it is usually because we believe the long-term benefits will be greater than the short-term struggles. Meditation and prayer are two examples. The goal of an eternal dwelling place has worked wonders to motivate individuals towards better daily living and also to motivate the practice of abstinence.
In the area of giving, again we look to long-term benefits versus short-term gains. To give without thoughts of return is true giving, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits. However, to give for the sake of getting is short-sided. It may taste like honey at first, but in the end it is poisonous and bitter. Giving from the heart without restrictions on the gift or expectations of return is true giving. It may seem difficult — may even seem bitter — but in the end, true giving will taste like honey and feed not only your soul, but also those touched by you. As we consider decisions we think could make our lives more difficult in the present and foreseeable future, let us weigh those difficulties against the long-term gain that could be achieved.
Forgiveness is a tool to help us get over our past. It has little to do with the one we’re forgiving, and a lot to do with us — our peace, our happiness, and our joy. The exception to this statement is when the one we’re forgiving is our self, and then it has everything to do with us. We rationalize reasons for refusing to forgive, but in the end, refusing to forgive only hurts us.
Sometimes we hear it said that a certain experience was a person’s undoing. Perhaps, however, that “undoing” was a needed process and opportunity to start fresh. When we are on a path that proves to be a destructive one, what could be better than to un-do the decisions that brought us to where we are in order to eventually move forward in a better direction. Out of the ashes of destruction something new and beautiful can be built.
Being right is not as important as being loving. Peace will not be won be debate, nor by religion, but by forgiveness and love.
Stone Three of Religious Recovery encourages us to “...question every experience, all information, personal motives — mine and others — including the ideas presented by The Religious Recovery Program.” A closed mind prevents us from moving forward in our spiritual journey. When we feel we have found the right way — and perhaps the only way — that is when we need to make sure we haven’t closed our minds to the possibility that we could be wrong. Or, that the path we found might be right for us, but not necessarily right for everyone. “Unanswered questions are far less dangerous than unquestioned answers.” –author unknown
As we consider freedom, let us not forget the freedom that comes from the power of forgiveness. This spiritual practice sets us free — and it sets those who we choose to forgive free. Why not choose to set everyone free? We have that power. What would happen if our nations practiced forgiveness instead of war? Imagine for a moment the possibilities and the potential that forgiveness has to bring peace to our personal worlds and to the Earth.
Today, in America, we celebrate our freedom, not just from other countries, but more importantly the freedom of religious choice. That choice also includes all world religions and even the choice to choose no religion. Religious Recovery is not Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or any other religion, yet at the same time we honor, respect, and accept all those religions as valid paths to The Divine. When we judge other religions and dishonor their paths as fruitless, we are only promoting unrest, distrust, hatred, bigotry, and — as has been witnessed to by history — war. Let us play and pray well together, respect one another, and choose the path of Love.
With so many voices competing for our attention, it’s not surprising that we find it difficult to hear that “still small Voice” that some call Spirit, Holy Spirit, Divine Spirit, or Intuition. And when the ego tries to silence that Voice or talk over that Voice, it’s no wonder we struggle with following our own path and choose instead to follow someone else’s religious direction. But that Voice will not be silenced, and in the stillness it comes to us to encourage us to listen and follow where It leads.
Some people believe forgiveness is too easy. Say the words, “I’m sorry,” and that’s the end of it. These people claim that saying the words and meaning them are not always the same. Perhaps that is true. But saying them is a start. Those who struggle with saying the words find it difficult to let go of past grievances so that they can live a spiritual life. It is as if they want to live in the past and hold onto those resentments.
Forgiveness gives us permission to let go and begin again. Those who find it difficult to forgive someone else, often find it difficult to forgive themselves. But when we decide to forgive, the Universe provides us with a clean slate. Yes, we might muddy it up again in the next five seconds, but we can wipe the slate clean as often as we need.
The Divine is always ready to forgive. We are the ones who are reluctant. Even when we make poor choices, we can just as easily forgive and choose differently. In this fashion we can undo the mistakes of the past and build a better present and future. Let’s give ourselves permission to begin again.
As we move into higher realms of understanding, we need to open our minds to a higher world view. All religions, all nations, all people have a place on the planet, and judging, degrading, or disrespecting a race, a religion, or a person takes away from the beauty and fullness of our world. We are one people, understood from various perspectives as attested to by the number of religions that have sprung up all over the world, but we are still one. Let us pledge our allegiance to the Earth and all its inhabitants by respecting everyone
Questioning one’s faith should be no more disconcerting than questioning any other area of our lives. We owe it to ourselves to question our spiritual beliefs more than any other concept we hold because what we believe about religion or spirituality provides meaning and purpose for life.
Note: You might need to refresh your screen to see the current day's Inspiration.
Our purpose is to help individuals to heal who have been injured by religion or the religious. We welcome your comments and questions.