Dear God, please help me to recognize the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is. ~Alan Cohen
Recently I did some hard, painful work with the Healing Codes, a system of self-treatment somewhat akin to EFT.* One section of this session dealt with issues related to lack of forgiveness, of oneself or others. This slammed me into the all-too-familiar situation of feeling utterly inadequate and unable to forgive myself– while it is such an amazingly easier matter to forgive everyone else.
Louise Hay wrote, I think in You Can Heal Your Life, that she has found the feeling of not being good enough at the bottom of all the problems she’s tried to help her clients with. I can well believe it. It seems pervasive and terribly difficult to shake. I remember conversations with Mendy Lou Blackburn about this, in which we tried to figure out where in the world it comes from and how it can be dealt with more effectively. My best understanding, though I think it’s incomplete, is that we must learn to feel inadequate during the earliest days of our lives, despite even the most loving and doting parents, because we are surrounded by beings who seem infinitely larger and more powerful than ourselves.
Mendy Lou calls this awful misconception the Antichrist. Let me try to explain that. One way of understanding the term “Christ,” controversial in some circles but I think quite useful, is that the Christ is a cosmic or universal spirit/being/principle that embodies the best that humanity can become, the closest humanity can be to the divine. If the Christ is that which pulls us upward and forward toward our highest possible development, the Antichrist is that which beats us down and makes us believe we are worthless and cannot become anything more.
On Christmas Eve, my husband and I took our traditional stroll through Albuquerque’s Old Town and sat for a while in its spiritual center, the venerable San Felipe de Neri Church. I was enjoying the peacefulness and the (recorded) music when my eye fell upon the cards that had been placed in the pockets of the pews to help parishioners with the new wording of the Mass. What I saw, in bold, large-type print, happened to be:
“By my fault, by my fault,
by my most grievous fault.”
And so on. Oh. I had forgotten about that. I certainly knew it existed, since I’d been brought up with it, but I hadn’t remembered how devastatingly direct the guilt-mongering was. I will offend some readers when I say that this is positively criminal. Human beings already hate themselves enough. We don’t need to have this bitter poison poured over our hearts. It only causes us to do more harm to ourselves and others. Please, let us stop this! It is not in any way necessary to Christianity; it is only of use to authorities who wish to control their followers.
Rambling on: I heard a presentation on the radio about the über-curmudgeon and fundamentalist atheist Christopher Hitchens, who left the planet on December 15. One of the recorded quotes from him on the broadcast was something about not believing that a human sacrifice made 2000 years ago had anything to do with whether anyone is forgiven now. Something like that– I’ve been looking for the quote but can’t find it in written form. Although I find Hitchens often narrow-minded and mean (albeit clever), I’m with him on this. I have felt for a long time, and not because some new-age philosopher told me so, that the emphasis on sacrifice-for-our-sins as the main point of the life and death of Jesus (the stories we have of him, that is) is a terrible misinterpretation, one which worships and promotes that “Antichrist” rather than the Christ. Hitchens, with his violently antitheist views, somehow was more compassionate, and believed in a more expansive potential for human beings, than mainstream Christianity has been. That’s strange, isn’t it, for a religion supposedly based on love.
As a spiritual person and a non- (though not particularly anti-) Christian, I have struggled with the American Christmas season these past few years, as so many people do, religious or not. I have settled down a bit more comfortably this year with the idea that the birth of Christ is not so much the divine deigning to come down to Earth, but us being pulled closer to the divine– the birth of a larger and greater spirit in us.
In the process of researching for this post, I was reintroduced to the term “at-one-ment,” union with the divine, which some say is the inner meaning of “atonement.” Some Christian writers** rake users of this term over the coals, insisting that it is not possible for humans to experience oneness with God, Jesus notwithstanding. (Think about this: religious people who believe that it is impossible to be one with God.) They again emphasize the sinfulness of humans and the need for expiation of that sin. Yet, I originally learned this concept of “at-one-ment” in Catholic high school, where it was being taught by the nuns.*** Go figure.
And the Healing Codes procedure, taught by some kinder and gentler evangelical Christians who don’t believe that God hates us and wants us to suffer, did work. I feel I have made progress in forgiving myself. At least for now. It’s said, “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” I don’t think the divine has any trouble forgiving us.
Later: Having written thus far, I ran this past Mendy Lou, since I was using her ideas. She pointed out that we ourselves are part of the divine, and the divine does not need to forgive itself. “Forgiveness is very powerful,” she wrote, “but to me it must be a definitive action of releasing the ego/emotional reactive self to the higher self. It is a very arduous and ardent process that I feel takes us to the place of pure acceptance, self-acceptance as the embodied presence of the Divine. It is only the indoctrinations that we choose that bind us from knowing who we really are.”
*thehealingcodes.com [no http://www.]
** Here is one source: http://libertytothecaptives.net/scofield_at-one-ment.html
*** Sisters of the Humility of Mary, many of whom were seriously groovy back in the ‘70s, and very likely still are.
4 responses to “Confessions and Confusions for the Christmas Season”
Elene, very interesting. I may have to read it again to fully digest it. I have never felt the need to forgive myself, whatever that means. I have felt guilty about certain things and felt remorse concerning them, but I don’t dwell on them and it has never occurred to me that I should forgive myself. I’m wondering now if I should have considered it or should still consider it, but in trying to figure out how I forgive myself I see remorse as the same thing. Maybe I’m off track here. .
Mike, if you can let go of things you’ve felt guilty about and not dwell on them, you’re probably way ahead of a lot of us, and I think you should just happily go on that way! You’re not missing anything.
Odd that I, too, have been thinking about forgiving myself lately, but for what exactly? That one time I dared to sass my overbearing tyrant of a mother? Stuff like that? Where does guilt come from if not primarily from our parents? Are we born guilty of sin? The churches I went to seemed to think so. I had a shrink who proposed that we are born with the baggage of our ancestors; how’s that for a poser, as it seems to explain some things…or afford a direction into which we can cast blame.
Family Constellations Therapy shows that we are in fact “born with the baggage of our ancestors.” It’s kinda spooky.