The soul and forgiveness

In ‘The Instruction – Living the Life Your Soul Intended’ by Ainslie MacLeod, he explains that our souls use each lifetime to learn to overcome fear and self interest and that we are aiming to realise that love and understanding are the only forces that unite us all. This is both the path to enlightenment and our purpose. Many complicated elements of our lives, including forgiveness, find answers in the simplest truths.

In our lifetime, we are presented with opportunities that correspond to the lessons our soul needs us to learn for our development. Until we learn from our lessons and act with love and understanding, we will continue to receive the same lesson. Though its form may change each time, it will make its way back to us. Every soul agrees beforehand to have specific lessons to deal with in each lifetime and, for me, forgiveness is one of them. An opportunity for me to act from a higher point of being is always presented so that I (and hence, my soul) can realise that only love matters.

If our existence is about evolving to this point where, as Ainslie MacLeod states, we live solely by the principles of love and understanding, then we will need to address our ego at some point. We literally need to get out of our own way in order to develop. The ego is bound in our personality – it is neither our soul nor our point of higher understanding. It is the judgemental, comparative and wanting aspect of our self. It is the never satisfied element that, like an over-indulged child, wants to have its own way, be important and keep us under control all the time. The ego does not forgive because it can’t. It wants us to remain offended, angered and righteous. An imbalanced ego is the block to our personal development and spirituality because it is our emotional centre, reactive base and our point of self interest and fear.

If we choose to listen to our ego, we can expect to receive the same lessons over and over and feel as though we are getting nowhere in our lives. Until we learn from them and act from our highest point of love and understanding, we remain destined to repeat lessons for as long as it takes for us to get it. Forgiveness is one opportunity to move the ego aside and operate with compassion that extends beyond the self’s interests and intent. Forgiveness requires a degree of control over the ego and hence, will be difficult for us to do.

In truth, forgiveness is not my first response towards someone whom I believe (based on my values) has wronged me. I’m also pretty sure that blessing them for this opportunity isn’t my strongest tendency either. However, we have choices don’t we – it is worth remembering that we always have this. For me, I will instinctively react. I will want to assert my rights and hold people accountable for their actions by adopting my own moral high ground. If we re-visit MacLeod’s ideas, we discover that our soul remains locked into experiencing repeated lessons when we choose to not learn anything from what is before us. If we could just stop ourselves first and remain still long enough to think and listen before we respond in any manner, we could shift forgiveness (and ourselves) to a whole new developmental level. Emotion does not allow for rational thought and because of this, forgiveness cannot occur. Recognizing this as well as when you are reacting, is the key. Once you are aware, you have control of your ego for this point of awareness silences it.

Recently, I got to ‘walk the talk’ on this. I received an apology from someone who had broken an agreement we held and, as my first reaction was not an evolved one, I needed to recognize the consequences of my reactions … whichever way I went. Then I read the quote on the back of Ainslie MacLeod’s book because it was on my desk at the time and a light bulb above my head moment occurred. I finally understood that I repeatedly receive lessons on forgiveness because I haven’t learnt to respond with love and understanding yet. Our choices are clear … when faced with a situation, we either put our self interest (ego) aside, or, we don’t forgive and accept all that comes with this.

Alexander Pope said, “To err is human, to forgive is divine”. Accepting another’s apology requires acting beyond self interest and hence, beyond the mind, where the ego lives. Forgiveness is a heart-based experience and not an act of lip service to diffuse situations. To forgive, you must mean it, and to mean it, you must feel it! An act of forgiveness is selfless and has the highest interests of the other person held before your own. To forgive and then think, “Wow! I’m a good person for doing this” is NOT to forgive at all because this is an act that ensures the ego is controlling you.

When we choose not to forgive, everything remains with us, we continue reacting and we hold onto the event/person/issue allowing our anger and resentment to fester. Ask yourself what purpose this serves and then imagine if you were never forgiven either? Every thought we have is a form of energy. Like energy attracts like energy. If we don’t wish to surround ourselves with this, we have to choose an alternative. Learning to forgive is a life-long path that we are all on. Mohandes Gandhi declared “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Living an awakened life asks us to be fully present, accountable and aware. We do this when we stop, think, listen and then respond … from the heart. Ours is a journey of choice and, if the American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr is right, “Forgiveness is the final form of Love”.


Ainslie MacLeod: ‘The Instruction – Living the Life Your Soul Intended’, Sounds True Inc, 2007 Pope, Gandhi and Niebuhr quotes: