“Peace of mind is the only thing that deserves your true vigilance.” I first heard these words over thirty years ago. I have believed ever since then that I originally read them in A Course in Miracles but I have not been able to find them there. Therefore, I do not know exactly where I first heard or read them. What I do know is, once I heard them, they resonated with every part of my being as the truth.
I have spent the last thirty plus years, turning over every rock, reading every book that came down the pike, done the best I could to face every fear that has stood in my way, and tried to forgive every grievance that occupied my mind with discord and dis-ease. I have done so with a wide variety of therapies, by studying A Course in Miracles and going through the Twelve Steps, more than a couple of times. Still, peace of mind can be very elusive.
The one thing, more than any other, that has brought me closer to the peace that I have sought, is forgiveness. Forgiveness of self and others. Actually, today, I do not believe it is a one or the other type of thing. As we forgive ourselves truly, it just comes naturally to forgive others or vice versa.
Forgiveness and peace of mind go hand in hand. One cannot be real to us without the presence of the other. Since they do go hand in hand, forgiveness can be just as elusive as is peace of mind.
The questions are simple and so are the answers. The work is simple, though anything but easy. To attain true forgiveness/peace of mind, it requires a few things; an open mind, a willingness to be wrong, true self-honesty and a courage to face all of our fears.
The truth is, whether we realize it or not, we spend our lives chasing peace of mind. We do not realize however, all the contingencies we place on having peace of mind. The addict, regardless of the particular addiction, lives with the hidden concept that just one more of whatever their particular addiction is will bring them the ever-elusive peace they seek. Something or anything to quiet the internal war that goes on in our heads. It does not even have to be any of the typical things we think of when we think about addiction; drugs, alcohol, food, relationships, sex or gambling, being the most common. It is more like anything that becomes a distraction from attaining true peace; one more car, one more house, getting the kids through school, etc.
I am in no way saying that these things aren’t important or that they do not deserve our attention. I am just trying to pose the question, “What if peace of mind were the true focus? And this would require forgiving our grievances.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that if others would just behave differently then I could have peace. If the City Counsel would do a better job, if my neighbor would cut his grass or paint his house, if this person would show me more respect or more love, if only that person hadn’t treated me so badly in the past, if only things were different… then I could be happy.
Wouldn’t it be grand if we could somehow have peace of mind amidst the chaos? Wouldn’t it be grand if, when we were upset for whatever reason, we took responsibility for the upset instead of trying to get the rest of the world to change to suit our perceived needs.
I know that many have had horrible circumstances they have had to overcome. Many, have lived through a lifetime of what would even be supported by spiritual leaders as unforgivable circumstances. Many endure hundreds of hours of different therapies only to be deemed survivors. With forgiveness, the survivor can thrive, become all they ever hoped to be and live a peaceful life.
Forgiveness, takes work, commitment, determination and a deep willingness to see the world in a different light. It takes a desire, a very deep desire to be free of the self-imposed prison that resentment, hatred, anger and any other form of grievance locks us into.
Freedom, of being the victim, by taking spiritual responsibility for our physical experience is the pathway to self-empowerment. We can become the determiner of our own futures, the master of our own minds and the author of our own story.
Becoming determined to see, feel, and to think about our victimizers differently, then we are the ones set free. We have held back our forgiveness, with the idea of, ‘they do not deserve to be forgiven’. This thought only imprisons us, we are the ones held captive by our grievances. We may want to ask the question, ‘Do I deserve the freedom that forgiveness offers?” Or, would we rather be right than happy?
Could it really be true? That peace of mind is the answer and that true forgiveness is the pathway to peace of mind? What if, the only real question is; ‘How do I forgive?’