24 QUESTION: How shall we feel or react toward injuries such as slander, gossip, malicious talk – with a truly spiritual attitude?
ANSWER: You all know, the answer is to forgive. But to do it, to be really able to do it, is a different matter altogether. The danger always exists that, in your good intention, you talk yourself into having forgiven, while in reality you are doing no such thing. And that, of course, is much more harmful than knowing you still cannot forgive, knowing this imperfection. So the first step is again self-honesty. Compare your actual feelings to the true course you know to be right. In all matters, this remains always the basis of purification, the first step, without which there cannot be a further step.
Then ask God to help you again to have sufficient vision to be able to forgive wholeheartedly. And try to pray for the person who offended you. This may cause you inner resistance at first, but if you try again, you will finally be able to do so without inner resentment. Furthermore, ask yourself: “Do I really want to forgive?”
You will then see that part of you wants to do it, but another part enjoys not forgiving. If you recognize that, you have a further clue about the truth of your lower nature – and this is priceless knowledge on the path of purification. Go with this resistance to the Father and ask him to help you. Realize that you cannot accomplish the least thing without his help. Your part forever has to be goodwill, diligence and utter self-honesty.
Another thing that is equally important, not only in order to forgive but for your development altogether, is the realization that nothing can ever happen that is not based on the law of cause and effect. By this I do not mean that the other person involved is justified or right. His or her wrong may be even greater than your own. And your own wrong may not be in apparent connection with the incident that is its result at this present time. The connection may be indirect and hard to find.
You need to realize that there must be something in you that has, at one time or another, caused this – some wrong current or attitude, some imperfection in your soul that is responsible for the event. Even if the connection is indirect, it is still according to the law of cause and effect. And if you really and truly wish to find out – without shirking from the truth – and ask God with all your heart to help you, you will receive the answer. Know that there must be something for you to learn and you will learn it.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that the desire has to be wholehearted, not just asking God once perfunctorily. You must be filled with the desire to find out the cause in you. If you overcome the resistance against finding out, if you keep awake through the days for an answer, without tension, just being aware, the answer may come through other people or through something you read or something apparently unconnected. All of a sudden, you will feel an inner echo and you will know: this is God’s answer.
Unpleasant as it may be, it will be a great liberation, a great step forward – and this in itself will make it so much easier for you to forgive truly. Then you will be able to embrace the incident, knowing that it helped you upward, forward, nearer to God, to perfection, to happiness that can never be robbed from you.
Without this incident you could not have discovered your imperfection and thus you would have remained in a much lower state of awareness, development, and therefore also personal happiness. All this does not only apply to incidents of the kind you have quoted, but to all mishaps. When you come to the point where you embrace the heretofore unpleasant incident because you have understood its healing nature for your mind, body, soul and spirit, then you have accomplished a great deal.