“Condemn and you are made a prisoner. Forgive and you are made free.” [A Course in Miracles].
  A Course in Miracles urges us to experience “…a deep relinquishment of everything that clutters up the mind and makes it deaf to reason, sanity, and simple truth.” One such cluttering mechanism is unforgiveness. The energy involved in rehashing old hurts culminates in a mindset of worried paranoia, a constant unease, and a lack of imagination that prevents us from envisioning foreseeable threats and of creating a better future. Continual focus on dark emotions creates a mental vice, or “claustrophobia,” (Canfield & Miller, 1986) which is a precursor of unipolar depression. If the mind is discordant, negative, fearful, and worried, it will manifest a less coherent set of circumstances. The resulting chaos creates negative synchronicity, or a series of harmful events which appear to snowball once an unhappy mindset has been activated.

Individuals who have suffered tragedy, disappointment, or personal injury have experienced their release in personally meeting with their offender. One such person is Immaculeé Llibaziga, who provides one of the most profound examples in this regard. She lived during the Rawandan genocide in a tiny bathroom with seven other women, trying to escape what would otherwise have been certain death. During this three month time period several members of her family were murdered, her house was burned to the ground, and she was left orphaned in a country that was devastated by civil war. Despite these tragic and life altering circumstances, Immaculeé offered mercy to the man who murdered her family.

The loving embrace around a painful memory permits “death to work backwards,” (Youngblood, 2000) and for individuals who are locked in a conflict to breathe new life into a broken relationship. Relatedly, Wayne Dyer speaks of the added burst in creativity that occurred when he finally forgave his father. The “forgiveness effect” has been empirically demonstrated by Helmut Schmidt, who found that subjects could in effect “reprogram” past taped recordings by simply concentrating on a different outcome (McTaggart, 2002). Taken literally, his findings suggest that a different interpretation, or a positive spin could transform a past event’s very nature, in effect reconstructing our reality. He suggests “…time displaced human intention somehow acts on the probabilities of some occurrence to bring about an outcome – it could mean that we could…[then] alter pivotal moments or initial conditions which later bloom into full blown problems…” (McTaggart, 2002, p. 175).

In People of the Lie, Peck (1985) argues that past focus is only helpful in attempting to obtain or bestow forgiveness. Heaven is then peace with one’s present circumstance and the anticipation of future achievement. Hell is past focus, and our present circumstances viewed with cloudy emotional spectacles.

 Reflection: What in my life should be relinquished so that I can move forward?








Canfield, J., & Miller, J. (1996). Heart at work (p. 232). New York, NY: McGraw Hill, Inc.

Llibaziga, I. (2007). Left to tell: Discovering God amidst the Rwandan holocaust. New York: Hay House.

McTaggart, L. (2002). The field: The quest for the secret force of the universe.  New York, NY: HarperCollinsPublishers.

Peck, M. S. (1985). People of the lie. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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