New Ideas

What Is a Good Heart?

Heart-HaloA close friend asked one of us yesterday, “What is a good heart?” We never had been asked this before. Our response is below. What is your response?

A good heart first has suffered. In the suffering, the person knows that all on this planet are subjected to suffering and so his heart is compassionate, patient, supportive, and loving as best he can in this fallen world. The good heart is forgiving, ever forgiving, vigilant in forgiving. The good heart tries to be in service to others. The good heart is no longer afraid of suffering and has joy because of the suffering, not in spite of it. Having suffered and having passed through suffering, the good heart dances. Others do not understand the good, joyous heart. Yet, the one with the good heart does not compromise the goodness and the joy. It is like a valuable gift received and she knows it.

Dr. Bob

Please follow and like us:

The Light of Forgiveness

CandleThis might help you understand what it is you are doing when you forgive. We are in a dark room, which represents the disorder of unjust treatment toward you. As you stumble around for a match to light a candle, this effort of groping in the dark for a positive solution represents part of the struggle to forgive. As you now light the candle, the room is illumined by both the light and warmth of the candle. When you forgive, you offer warmth and light to the one who created the darkness.

You destroy the darkness in your forgiving.

Now here is what I am guessing you did not know about the light of forgiveness: That light does not just stay in that little room. It goes out from there to others and it even continues to give light across time. For example, if you shed light and warmth on a person who has bad habits, he or she might be changed by your forgiveness and pass it along to others in the future.

Now consider this: If you give this warm candle of forgiveness to your children who give it to their children, then this one little candle’s light can continue across many generations, long after you are no longer here on earth.

I am guessing that you had not thought about forgiveness in quite this way before.

Dr. Bob

Please follow and like us:

The Clash of Cultures: Forgiveness vs the Culture-of-Me

As I sit here watching a Major League baseball playoff game, I am fascinated by the commercials—yes, the commercials. The fascination arises from the observation that virtually every commercial is about wonderful “me”—rewards cards, get more cash back, eat fattening foods just because.

I began to ask myself: Will people who view this stuff end up being better persons as a result of spending time this way? I do not think so because the focus is exclusively on “me,” “me, “me.” It is a self-absorbed world of diversion.

Forgiveness is a culture unto itself when placed next to the world of the commercial. Forgiveness asks of us. It demands. It requires discipline and self-sacrifice. It clashes with the “cheese cake bites” in the commercial.

If we spend, say, 70% of our time in the culture-of-me, how will this affect our understanding and practice of forgiveness? Could all this time in the culture-of-me dull us to the importance, beauty, and challenge that is forgiveness? I think so. If we have the chance to drown our sorrows in the culture of consumption, why then venture at all into the culture of struggle that is forgiveness? And what if we spend 90% or more of our time in the culture of consumption, is there then any hope for the flowering of the counter-culture of forgiveness?

We are in a clash of cultures and I wonder to what extent people know that. “Letting it go” or “just moving on” may be the easier way to go when we are not encouraged to truly forgive from the heart, in service to the one who hurt us, with an eye toward the betterment of that person.

How can we allow ourselves time in the culture-of-me without being consumed by the consumption? How can we step into the culture of service and not think it too difficult or too “out there” so that we return frequently? Or better yet, how can we step into the culture of service and bring the moving van and stay there?

Perhaps the first step is to realize that we are in a culture-of-me. Then we have to decide if we wish to live out our lives there. We really do have a choice.

Dr. Bob

Please follow and like us:

Future-Forgiveness

I just came up with this idea of “future-forgiveness” this week, after almost three decades of thinking daily about forgiveness. I think it is an important idea.

By “future-forgiveness” I mean an attitude you cultivate in moving into the future. As you forgive people for past injustices, forgiveness comes to be a part of you. You begin to see that you can love those who are cruel to you, and if you can do that, then you can love those who are interacting pretty well with you. Then you come to realize that this is how you can live your life—loving others as a way of life—no matter what life throws at you.

“Future-forgiveness”—committing to going into your future with love for others no matter how they treat you—is a joyous way to live.

Dr. Bob

Please follow and like us:

Forgiveness Is an Illusion: Or Is This Statement the Illusion?

The International Forgiveness Institute, Inc. exists for the purpose of helping you to understanding forgiveness and, once it is understood, to practice it if you wish and then to give it away to others. We want you to know that there is a movement that has been building some steam in getting its message out and that message is ultimately irrational and dangerous for those who accept it without deep scrutiny.

The gist of the message is this:

Forgiveness as you think you know it is an illusion because when you try to deal with offenses against you, you will come to see that there are no such things as offenses. What is “out there” is subject to your inner subjective judgement and when you look deeply enough into these offenses outside of you, then you come to realize that there are no offenses, only illusions of offense. There are no sins. There are no offenses. There are no injustices. The Abrahamic religions had it wrong all along. The laws of any land have had it wrong all along. Law Schools are living an illusion that there are offenses to be tried. There are no criminals in the final analysis, only perceptions that what a mass murderer has done is “wrong.” The woman who was brutally raped, beaten, and left for dead in Central Park did not have an offense committed against her. The trial lawyer who sits by her side in court is being duped. The lawyer’s job should be to convince her to cultivate inner peace, to see the rabid attackers as mistaken, as uninformed, but not as sinners or offenders or perpetrators of injustice.

We at the IFI consider these ideas to be the illusion because, based on this view, there is no reality apart from one’s inner world to make sense out of that world. As the late Mortimer Adler challenged all of us, think of the cultures which think this way. What major advances in science have they made? You will see that the advancements in  cultures which do not accommodate to the fact that there is a reality suffer the  consequence of falling far behind in the sciences, which are based in the fact that there is a reality to be studied, measured, and understood with a common knowledge.

If forgiveness is the ultimate conclusion that there are no offenses to forgive and so the “usual” way of approaching forgiveness is wrong, then let us take this to its logical conclusion. Forgiveness as traditionally understood is a moral virtue. If  forgiveness does not exist, then neither does justice or patience or kindness or any other moral virtue. Morality exists only “in here” and not as a commonly held reaction to what is real in the world. Do you wish upon the world this level of moral chaos because you and others have decided that forgiveness in its traditional sense is an illusion?

Be on the lookout for this challenge to the traditional view of forgiveness as grounded in the reality that there are objective wrongs done against us. And if a rape and torture victim ever comes to you and says, “Is it all in my head that there has been a grave offense against me?” what will you say? Rationality, moral order, and a psychologically healthy response to injustice are at stake here. Which path will you choose to help the one who asks the question?

Please follow and like us: