"Forgiveness in New Thought Spirituality"

by Dr. Larry Morris (1995)


Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place: and when thou hearest forgive.
— 1 Kings, 8,30

I do not think that anyone can get very far in New Thought or any spirituality based on Oneness, without forgiveness. Spirituality based on the idea of One Presence, God, in and through all people and all all things, is unlike a two power system of good and evil.  It is grounded in the premise of One Presence, all good and all present everywhere. Therefore, to be true to our basic teachings, we cannot leave anyone or anything outside of this Presence. If there is anyone we have not yet forgiven, then we are essentially affirming that that person is not a part of the One Presence, because he or she does not represent all-goodness to us.

Put in another way, we say, "God is in and through all people and all things." If we can't forgive the person, then, in essence, we cannot forgive God. We may say, "Well, I forgive the God part of him or her; it's the other part I can't stand." Again we are creating the duality that denies our basic teaching of oneness. One Presence means: Oneness, period—nothing and no one is left out. As Jack Boland used to say, "You're not far from the Kingdom of Heaven when you can forgive your former spouse's attorney."

Aside from the metaphysical and philosophical reasons for forgiveness, there is also the personal reason: forgiveness brings self-healing and spiritual renewal. We cannot really feel the job of life or the sense of God's Presence as long as we are fearful about or angry at someone or at some situation in our life. How could we possibly feel attuned to the oneness of all life and still hold on to a negative and condemning attitude towards anyone, for any reason? Perhaps this is why most, if not all, religions have taught forgiveness as one of the prerequisites for living the spiritual life.

And forgiveness is not something we do not know how to do. We have all had to forgive many, many times all the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of our life. We are all master of forgiveness. We all have been in situations in which someone hurt us and we felt anger, but then we decided to drop the anger right in the moment, not to carry it any further. We said to ourselves, "I do not want this feeling to separate me or poison my relationship with so and so." We all know how to do this kind of forgiveness-in-the-moment of someone who wronged us. But perhaps there are others in our life who we have yet to forgive. And there may be long term issues connected with divorce or separation or a sense of deep loss or betrayal. How can we forgive these deep hurts from the past that may be clouding and influencing what we do in the present? Forgiveness can be used just as we use our spiritual mind treatment for healing. As we do our affirmations and denials, so can we do forgiveness. And we find that our forgiveness treatment leads to inner healing and release.

When we speak our word of forgiveness from the depths of our heart, there is an instantaneous lifting of our emotional burden. Forgiveness breaks our contact with that which is causing us pain. And it's such a simple thing to do. Perhaps we are still feeling anxious or fearful or burdened by our feelings about someone or some situation from the past or even from right now. We can simply make a decision to forgive everyone involved in that which is causing us distress and pain including ourselves. We forgive and we let ourselves be forgiven. We release and we are released. It can be so simple to just let go of whatever is bothering us; we really do not have to carry it around with us forever, endlessly rehearsing it. This moment can be our moment of healing and release, giving up our grievance whatever it is and no matter how long we have been nursing it.

Now, we want our freedom and release more than we want to carry this pain any longer. So, we just forgive it, let it go and we are free in this moment. As Quimby used to say of his healing method: "My idea of health was stronger than my patient's idea of illness, so therefore, the patient was healed." We can discover that our idea of forgiveness is stronger than any idea of grievance, and, therefore, we are healed.