Abundance is Everywhere – Open Your Eyes.

Aug 13

Florida’s Gulf beaches offer a cornucopia of gifts: gorgeous sunsets, puffy, shape-changing clouds, fresh air, blue herons, egrets, seagulls, baby turtles plodding their way from their nests to the sea, sharks teeth, seashells, warm sun, blue sky. Every single one of these gifts is free. Do we stay mindful enough to notice them, breathe them in, and allow them to renew our minds, bodies and spirits?


This morning, as I waded in the warm, turbulent Gulf surf, shells and sharks teeth abundantly cascaded over my toes. If I didn’t scoop them up quickly, I lost them. The surf churned them back into the sea or beneath the sand.


The supply was constant, but if I didn’t stay alert and take action, the moment and opportunity were lost.


A friend of mine recently made a public offer to give $25 to anyone who would contact him and ask for the money. At least 100 people looked at the offer. Only one acted.


How about you? Would you rather just sit there, think about it, be skeptical, and lose a life of wonderful moments? Or are you open to taking action to receive all the bountiful gifts that are constantly flowing into your life?

Good “Angry” People

Aug 07

My good friend, Frederick Zappone, just started a big discussion as the result of his INSPIRED LIVING blog talk radio show. His topic was Got ANGER?  Find out how to make anger your most powerful ally and your best friend.


You can’t imagine the resistance his topic brought up from people still stuck in their heads about anger, certain that anger was somehow bad.

I can only assume that those people have lived very comfortable lives. Have they ever been jailed for a crime they didn’t commit? Raped? Tortured? Had their homes ransacked and gifts from their loved ones stolen? Been evicted because their landlord could get more money from someone else? Lived in a society where disputes are resolved by bribes? Been forced to exist in a concentration camp? Been relegated to the back of a bus or forced to drink from a different water fountain because of their skin color? Been an innocent victim of a nuclear bomb? If not, they simply can’t understand anger and outrage.

The issue is not whether there is anger and outrage. There is. The issue is what we do with it when we experience it.

Do we stuff it and pretend these evils never happened? Do we remain silent, tacitly supporting this kind of inhuman conduct and allowing it to continue?

I, for one, choose to speak out against it, bring it to the light of day, make it transparent for the whole world to see, and take action to stop it whenever I can. It is simply not acceptable conduct in a co-creative, collaborative world.

Feeling anger and taking appropriate action is not the antithesis of love and understanding. It is love and understanding at the very deepest levels of our souls.

I can still love the person who engages in this kind of despicable conduct and understand that he, too, may have been abused, without standing silent in the face of his dysfunctional conduct.

Benevolence and Leadership. Valuable? Possible?

Jul 31

A recent post on the Business Spirituality LinkedIn site asked: “What difference can a benevolent leader bring to people and organizations? Is it possible to be benevolent without being naive?”

I’m not sure benevolence is the right word here. Benevolence, to me, implies giving to others, sometimes without including myself in the benevolence. I find myself preferring the word compassion. The word compassion, to me, has more of a sense of having walked in the shoes of the other, having experienced their suffering, and supporting all of us in moving toward a more joyful, purposeful life. Compassion is essential to good leadership.

One of my life long lessons has been learning how to expand into my own spiritual understanding and power and then use that spiritual understanding and power to support others as they expand into the fully developed, unique individuals they are intended to be. Supporting them does not mean giving them whatever they want. Often, it means challenging their current thought processes or flat out saying ‘no.’ This is the role of the spiritual warrior.

I was very fortunate to have had two wonderful parents. Both were teachers. Both were fair and compassionate. Both valued order and structure, and yet, there was always space for play and creativity in our home. My parents truly led by example. Because I was happy, I never questioned their leadership. I knew I was loved, respected, and valued. I did what they told me to do simply because I trusted them.

Then I moved out into the rest of the world and discovered, over and over, through painful experience after painful experience, that not everyone was as kind, benevolent, compassionate and fair as my parents. Other people said negative things about me, verbally abused me, bullied me, and betrayed my trust. I had to learn how to protect myself from all this negative energy. I had to learn how to detach mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically. I had to learn how to release my fear. I had to learn how to refocus my outrage from judging and blaming the bullies and abusers to shifting the energy of that outrage into being just, fair, and accountable. As painful and sometimes terrifying as it often was, I had to learn how to say ‘no’, I will not enable and support that conduct. I will not stay in a relationship where I am not respected. I will move out of relationships where I am verbally abused. I simply deserve better.

For me, finding the balance between benevolence and naivete requires a constantly shifting awareness of the energy dynamics of any situation. I can then change those dynamics by changing myself. It always requires staying in integrity with my own values of compassion, non-violence, mutual respect, and accountability.

I’ve walked in the shoes of the other. I’ve experienced their suffering. How can I be anything but compassionate toward us all?

Does Evil Really Exist?

Jul 01

Are we asking the wrong question when we ask, “Does evil really exist?”

What if we change the question to: “What does the word “evil” mean to me in this particular experiential context?”

Envision a mother, bound and gagged, forced to watch a brutal gang rape of her beautiful ten-year old daughter. The mother’s and daughter’s physical and emotional pain has to be nothing short of excruciating.

If I were in the shoes of either, it would be easy to label the rapists “cruel”, “brutal”, “uncaring”, and even “evil”. From the rapists’ perspective, they are probably simply showing off their sexual prowess and engaging in male camaraderie. But at what cost to the mother and daughter?

If you’ve never spoken with a woman who has been brutally raped, you have no idea what shame, guilt and anguish she experiences or the years it takes her to heal. If she’s fortunate, her shame, guilt and anguish will eventually turn to rage and outrage, and yes, this rage and outrage may initially be directed at the rapists. Temporarily, she may need to label these men “evil” in order to find the courage to step into her own passion, power and purpose. What will that passion, power and purpose be? To protect herself and all other women on this planet from this type of life-shattering experience and stand firm in her own core respect for and appreciation of herself and all other women.

“Shut Up, Mind!”

Jun 24

This is my friend Alice’s new mantra when her mind starts going round in circles.

How interesting! That’s the exact opposite of what I use when my mind starts going round in circles.

I just let my mind go wherever it wants without censorship. The “without censorship” is important. Censorship is exactly what makes my mind go around in circles. How can it possibly get out of that tiny little box it doesn’t know it’s in, when it keeps telling itself that that tiny little box is the only safe place to be?  What would other people think if I let my mind get out of the box?

“Shut up, Censor!”

When I let my mind out of the box, it takes me along absolutely astonishing paths, to places I’ve never dreamed of visiting, along roads I never thought I would travel. This often occurs in a semi-dream state when I’m half awake and half asleep. I’m conscious, but my critical, analytical brain is less active. That’s when my creative, right brain comes alive. I never try to stop it.

Often, I’ll go to bed struggling with a problem my left brain can’t solve no matter how hard it tries.

My right brain comes in, chuckles, and turns my left brain’s ideas upside down. In the morning, my problems of the night before are solved and I am at peace.

How do I remember the thoughts that pop into my head during that semi-conscious state? I keep a tape recorder next to my bed and talk into the recorder as the thoughts happen. In the morning when I’m fully awake, I welcome my left brain back, listen to my out-of-the-box mumblings from the night before and integrate whatever is useful.

You and Me – Alienation or Collaboration?

Jun 18

Shib Shakti, a long- time spiritual friend from India, wrote:

… we are programmed, in our families, from the very onset of our senses – It’s ‘my’ mom, it’s ‘my’ dad, it’s ‘my house’, that’s ‘your’ pen, that’s ‘your’ toy…. and this way we are programmed to alienate ourselves from ‘others’, though we could be taught instead that everything outside us is also part of ourselves

What a fascinating topic!

You/Me Scarcity Mentality

If I hear Shib correctly, he is speaking about that aspect of you/me mentality that operates from scarcity. There is not enough to go around. I have to protect myself and hoard all the physical resources I can. If you win, I lose. This mentality creates conflict.

There are, however, other aspects of you/me mentality.

You/Me Uniqueness Mentality

Each of us on this planet is unique. Each of us has different genes, different cultural experiences, different parental experiences, different education, different skills. These differences are the gifts we have to give to the planet. It is vital for each of us to respect our own uniqueness in order to be able to grow to our full potential. This requires distinguishing you from me and getting clear on exactly what gifts and skills each of us has to offer.

You/Me Stewardship Mentality

US - Figure/Ground Ambigram by John Langdon, www.johnlangdon.net. Used by permission.


A third aspect of you/me mentality, related to Uniqueness Mentality is stewardship.

There are clearly some people who are better qualified to manage certain resources than others. For example, if I want to fly to New Delhi, I am far better served when the plane is piloted by an experienced pilot than a five year old child. If I need food, I am far better served by a farmer than an accountant. If I want joy and curiosity in my life, perhaps I am best served by the five-year old.

Stewardship emanates, not from scarcity thinking, conflict and disrespect, but from abundance thinking, collaboration and mutual respect. It is a you/me relationship that allows you and me to align into us. It allows me to serve you and you to serve me. We all win.

Are there other aspects of you/me mentality? I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can comment below.


Jun 08

Two Perspectives on Transition

Dr. Amit Nagpal, New Delhi, India, and

Dr. Janet Smith Warfield, Florida, USA

Dr. Amit Nagpal’s Perspective

Amit NagpalA Parting Note

Tools for Transformation (Earlier known as ‘Two Perspectives’) series is coming to a close as both Janet and I have transitioned and have developed new focuses. We have been writing this column for the past 3 years, though frequency of publishing has changed in between.

Janet and I decided to write one last blog together and then refer our readers to our new focuses. Interestingly “Two Perspectives “ which we started in May 2011, was the idea of Dr Janet. Subsequently, I have written many twin series inspired by the success of Two Perspectives (Hug and Nudge with Jennifer Sertl, USA Japan and India with Peter Sterlacci , Japan, and Uncovering our inner greatness with Michael Thallium, Spain)


In simple words transition is a significant change from one state/concept/stage to another.  Since the first blog on two perspectives, I have transitioned in many ways:

From Personal Branding to Digital Storytelling. Life coaching is part of personal branding and the focus in two perspectives has been personal development (life coaching). I have transitioned to Digital Storytelling (Inspirational Storytelling of people and brand storytelling of organisations). I have ventured into offline storytelling and during the next two years, I will be taking a deeper dive, especially into different areas of storytelling in a corporate context, besides my current focus on storytelling content development for clients.

From Blogger to LinkedIn Author. I am now publishing my more formal and serious work on LinkedIn. The blog has more semi-formal work including mini-stories on wisdom/love, musings etc. Publishing on LinkedIn adds credibility to your content, besides serving a larger audience. I also expect LinkedIn to become the third largest search engine soon (after Google and Twitter) especially for professional articles. The ‘Search articles’ function of LinkedIn is likely to become more and more popular and the high Searchability of LinkedIn on Google/search engines will make it even more influential.

Transitions are necessary, time-consuming and sometimes painful.

To evolve as a human being, transition is sometimes necessary yet it is often time consuming and painful. Sometimes it is like taking a U-turn and starting from scratch again. It becomes all the more important to do sufficient reflection and weigh the pros and cons before deciding on a significant transition.

Enlarge Excel Evolve reaches 500

500 posts are considered an important landmark for a blog and also demonstrates its long journey and credibility. As a mark of honor to the series and the successful collaboration, I am publishing this blog post as 500th post on my Blog and plan to celebrate and publicize this great partnership with Janet and maybe plan an eBook at the appropriate time.

Goodbye with a heavy heart

Sometimes the transition can be expansion and little bit of tweaking and twisting rather than taking a U-turn. In my case, transition from personal branding to digital storytelling is more of an expansion and tweaking.

The only painful part of this transition is not being able to devote time and do justice to the “Two Perspectives” column. I will miss Janet and the immense learning which has been happening in my writing (and word sculpting) journey in the companionship of Janet.

Sometimes life has to go on and we have to bid goodbye to the old story with a heavy heart. Yet it is the only option to welcome a new story into life or maybe for starting a new chapter in the life story.

Dr Amit Nagpal is Chief Inspirational Storyteller at AL Services. He is a Social Media Influencer,  Author, Speaker/Trainer & Coach. To know more, visit www.dramitnagpal.com. (His special interest and expertise lies in inspirational storytelling, anecdotes and visual storytelling.) AL Services offers content development/story writing, consulting, training and other services in the area of brand storytelling. To know more, write to amit@dramitnagpal.com

Dr. Janet Smith Warfield’s Perspective

Dr. Janet Smith Warfield.
Dr. Amit Nagpal and I have been co-blogging now for three years. Our procedure has always been to agree on a topic, write our own blog without reading the other’s blog, and then post the blogs simultaneously on both of our websites.

Two different perspectives, two different writing styles, and two different bases of experience have emerged. Our topics have ranged from Dark Nights of the Soul to Tools for Transformation, from Love to Conscious Mind, from Piercing the Veil of Word Illusions to Silence.

We both like to tell stories. We both offer diagrams to illustrate our points. It has been great fun! I have learned from Amit as I believe he has learned from me.

It is now time for both of us to move on. Amit is heavily focused on developing A.L. Services, an inspirational storytelling organization, coaching deeply passionate entrepreneurs and “intrapreneurs” to share their conscious and emotionally connecting stories. You can download Amit’s free ebook I Too Want to be “A Storyteller” here.

I am heavily focused on a doctoral dissertation in Wisdom Studies with Wisdom University, as a Circle Leader in Conscious Evolution Coaching Circles, developing Vistar Circles on the West Coast of Florida and in Flat Rock, NC, and developing a Membership Site, Expand Your Consciousness.

Amit has been a wonderful, accountable, collaborative co-blogger, with a charming sense of humor. I highly respect him and encourage you to follow him and his work as he moves along his new path. You can find him at his Company Website, LinkedIn Author, and Personal Website.

I also invite you to continue to play with words, play with wisdom, and Expand Your Consciousness at my new Membership Site. There are already many pages, videos, and images to explore, with many more to be added. Many are free.

If Going Deeper interests you or you want to get answers to Anything You Want to Know, there is a small monthly membership fee – simply enough to support my time and expenses.

I invite you to continue your own exploration, discovery, and consciousness-expansion in dialogue with other fascinating co-creators. There is plenty of opportunity to comment or add your own thoughts. Let’s get a spectacular, infinite, and unending dance of words and wisdom going at Expand Your Consciousness.


Dr. Janet Smith Warfield serves wisdom-seekers who want understanding and clarity so they can live peaceful, powerful, prosperous lives. Through her unique combination of holistic, creative, right-brain transformational experiences and 22 years of rigorous, left-brain law practice, she has learned how to sculpt words in atypical ways to shift her listeners into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace. For more information, see www.wordsculptures.com,  www.janetsmithwarfield.com, and www.wordsculpturespublishing.com.

The Perennial Philosophy—A Golden Thread of Awakening

May 25

By Guest Bloggers, Lee and Steven Hager


In our world, nothing stays the same for very long. We’re taught to rely on the advice of experts, but their opinions seem to change with the breeze. If you knew that something had remained unchanged for over two thousand years and had continued to help people find the peace and joy they were seeking for that entire time, would you be curious?

The perennial philosophy is a golden thread of spiritual thought that can be found in virtually all cultures and time periods. It’s a group of harmonious spiritual concepts that are free of dogma and ritual. It’s been a part of so-called “primitive” and pagan belief systems as well as the mystical branches of nearly every organized religion.

The concept of an “eternal philosophy” that incorporates universal spiritual truths and exists free of human influence has intrigued philosophers for hundreds of years.  In the West, it’s been thought of as a “philosophy of harmony” or a “universal religion” that remains untainted by sectarian views. In the East, it’s been thought of as Sanatana Dharma (eternal law) or Manava Dharma (religion of man). In 1945 Aldous Huxley wrote the aptly titled Perennial Philosophy, which outlines the universal truths that have continued to crop up in spiritual thought worldwide.

The perennial philosophy is not a formula for enlightenment, but its simple concepts have encouraged countless seekers to reach spiritual mastery. Although the perennial philosophy has far more to offer, here are four of its most basic and helpful concepts:

  • There is a Divine Ground that permeates the universe. The world we think we see is a temporary projection that originates from that Divine Ground
  • A change in consciousness is required to become aware of, and experience, the Divine Ground.
  • Everyone has the ability to experience the Divine.
  • Experiencing the Divine is life’s highest purpose.

Simply put: Life-giving intelligence permeates everything in existence. This intelligence wants to be known and can be known.

Most of us have been taught that spiritual mastery is a nearly impossible goal, but the perennial philosophy does not agree. No secrets, methods, formulas or spiritual practices are involved, and none are necessary to experience the Divine.  Knowing the Divine does require a shift in our awareness, but everyone is capable of making that shift. How do we shift our awareness? Huxley pointed out that successful spiritual seekers have all shared a mindset that includes these features:

  • “Pure in heart.”  This does not mean we need to “clean up our act.” It refers to our motives. A pure heart is looking for a connection with the Divine for the sheer joy of that connection.  A pure heart isn’t asking for material blessings.
  • “Poor in spirit.” This has nothing to do with poverty. It means that we understand that the world can make us rich, but it can never enrich us. We’re poor in spirit when we understand that our life will be empty until we have a direct connection with the Divine.
  • “Empty hands.” Seekers with empty hands are willing to let go of all mental conditioning, preconceived notions and the desire for a particular outcome. They are willing to be instructed by the Divine instead of trying to fit the Divine into their own belief system.

These qualities are free and available to everyone, no matter what our circumstances might be. Most of us have been taught that we can learn about God by taking in information, but there is no need for us to be satisfied with that.

Spiritual masters have never been interested in learning “about” the Divine; instead, they expect to “know” the Divine through personal experience. You don’t have to become a spiritual master before you can experience the Divine, in fact, it works the opposite way. As you open yourself to the experience, you grow spiritually. The perennial philosophy tells us this is not only possible, it’s our highest purpose.  Best of all, experiencing the Divine is the beginning of a life of fearlessness that you can enjoy.

Know by your own direct experience that the Divine within you is the Divine in all—Shankara ______________________________________________________________________________

Lee and Steven Hager are the authors of The Beginning of Fearlessness: Quantum Prodigal Son, a spiritual quest and scientific adventure based on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, quantum physics and the gnostic gospels. Their blog http://www.thebeginningoffearlessness.com/blog features articles on oneness, spiritual awakening, quantum physics, the gnostic gospels and the direct, personal experience of the Divine.


Tools for Transformation – ROPES COURSES

May 22

Two Perspectives on Ropes Courses as a Tool for Transformation

Dr. Amit Nagpal, New Delhi, India, and

Dr. Janet Smith Warfield, Florida, USA


Dr. Amit Nagpal’s Perspective

Amit NagpalIf life itself is a rope walk, then what can be better to learn living than climbing ropes? Don’t we need the same gentle balancing act, the same courage, the same attitude to emerge as a winner in life, which we need for ropes courses?

Since my zodiac sign is Libra, balance has been a gift of the Universe. Since childhood, I had a natural flair for balance-balance in relationships, balance between work and (personal) life and so on. Balancing is an act which continues throughout the life or should I say balancing is something we do every moment.

A crucial skill for successful ropewalking is a sense of focus and an independent judgment. After all they say, obstacle is something you see when you take your eyes off your goals. Ropewalk has a goal but life needs a purpose and the purpose driven (or passion driven) will reach the goal sooner or later, and enjoy the journey for sure. So many times people will give you advice, which is coloured, either by their fear or their personal interest. But a successful ropewalker or lifewalker continues in a state of equanimity with his/her independent sense of judgment, neither overwhelmed by the cheer nor the fear (fears of others).

I have fallen off balance from the rope of life at times, but with a firm conviction that I gave my best and the belief that I strived for a balance even under that extreme condition or provocation. If I have come out of an experience with baggage, I have learned to observe myself and work sincerely to shed it. Even when my body refused to grow tall on its own, I have hung myself for hours on an iron rope, which I got hung on the ceiling.Life may be a rope, but I see hope. This is my mantra for happiness-give your best, leave the rest…to the Universe (OMG, this requires a balance of action and trust too).


Dr Amit Nagpal is a Personal Branding Consultant and Deepest Passion Coach. He is based in New Delhi, India and specializes in personal branding with a holistic touch. His philosophy is, “Enlarge as a Human Being, Excel as a Social Media Being and Evolve as a Personal Brand.” To learn more, visit www.dramitnagpal.com.

Dr. Janet Smith Warfield’s Perspective

Dr. Janet Smith Warfield.
As I pulled myself up the 20-foot-high pole, one metal support after another, a part of me was thinking, “Janet, You’ve got to be crazy! What do you think you are doing, jeopardizing your life climbing this pole and placing your trust in those people down below you don’t even know!”

Then, I remembered. My intention was to release my anger toward the father of my children who had abandoned both me and our children to spend his life with a woman I once thought was my best friend.

My helmet and harness were securely in place. My belay team were holding firmly to the ropes that would gently guide me back to earth if I lost my balance and fell. I was determined to do this.Climbing the pole was easy until my hand reached the last metal support near the top of the pole. Then I had to, some how, some way, get my feet up on top of the pole and stand up – without anything to support me.

As I struggled to pull myself upright, I swung sideways off the pole.

The ropes, held by my belay team and attached to my harness, stopped what would otherwise have been a disastrous fall. I could trust. Gently, my belay team lowered me down. Now I was more determined than ever to climb to the top.

Metal support after metal support, I climbed back up to the place where the supports ended. Somehow, I managed to get one foot up on top of the pole, then the other. Slowly, acutely aware of my balance, I stood upright. My belay team cheered loudly. Now I knew I could do it.

For a moment, I stood tall, focusing with laser-like intention on what I had come to do: forgive the father of my children for deserting us. Then, I leaped into space, struck the celebration bell with my hand, and, with the support of my belay team, glided swiftly back to the ground.

I’d done it! Not only had I jumped from the top of a twenty-foot high pole. I had also let go of my judgment and blame. The transformation was huge and immediate. In the instant when I jumped, I became free to move on with the rest of my life.

Janet Smith Warfield serves wisdom-seekers who want understanding and clarity so they can live peaceful, powerful, prosperous lives. Through her unique combination of holistic, creative, right-brain transformational experiences and 22 years of rigorous, left-brain law practice, she has learned how to sculpt words in atypical ways to shift her listeners into experiences beyond words, transforming turmoil into inner peace. To learn more, go to wordsculptures.com, janetsmithwarfield.com, and wordsculpturespublishing.com.

Why Forgive?

Apr 20

David Beale, a long time spiritual friend from Perth, Australia, has a brilliant and penetrating mind. Years ago, he offered a wonderful analogy for understanding forgiveness:

The yin-yang, though symbolic, does sum up the harmony that averages to nothing when taken over a wide enough viewpoint. …. A hurricane that goes in both directions may in sequential time do lots of damage yet the net average is No Wind ….

David went on to note that to forgive, we must have a sense of both:

  1. It does not matter because it can and does add up to nothing; and
  2. In this physical life, we have an obligation to change both ourselves and the elements of disorder so that they balance and no longer bother us, “allowing us to enjoy our temporal existence with minimal disruption and maximum joy …. we are individuals growing in a limited environment so as to better enjoy a less limited environment. Forgiveness is part of the less-limited environment. (Emphasis supplied.)

In short, there is no need for forgiveness and yet every need for forgiveness. What in the world do I mean by that paradoxical statement?

In what sense is there no need for forgiveness?

Each of us physical human beings births onto this planet with limited perspectives, limited bodies, physical needs for food, water, and shelter, and emotional needs for love and belonging. Baby Mary cries because she is hungry or cold or has a bubble of air in her belly. Her perspective is limited to her own immediate needs. She doesn’t understand that Mommy may be exhausted from cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and caring for her brothers and sisters. She knows nothing about the sixteen hours per day that Daddy spends in a coal mine to provide a few dollars to buy rice and beans. Maybe she doesn’t even know she is hungry or cold or needs to burp. She just knows she hurts. She cries because that is all she knows how to do. She has done the best she knows how with the limited resources she has. Mommy is doing the best she knows how. So is Daddy. There is no need to forgive any of them, even though they live in desperate poverty and pain. They are all doing the best they can with the resources they have.

In what sense is there every need for forgiveness?

As Mary matures through youth and adulthood, the pain continues to gnaw at her gut. Now she notices that not everyone is hungry or cold or without shelter. As she becomes aware of her external world, her pain turns to anger. She may resent those who have more food and better shelter. She may blame her parents for their lack of education or the fact that they haven’t always been able to respond to her needs. She may come to hate other children whose parents can afford to buy them nice clothes. Her boyfriend may leave her for another woman, betraying her trust. Her internal pain and external anger may generalize to labeling all men liars and cheats, even though she has had personal experiences with only one or a few. Worst of all, she may hate herself because she feels powerless.

Pain and anger are simply different forms of the same energy. Pain is negative energy directed inward. Anger is negative energy directed outward. It doesn’t really matter where the negative energy is directed. The challenge for each and every one of us is how to release the negative energy and transform it into positive energy, or at least into neutral, detached awareness.

Mary’s adult condition is the human condition that Buddhists call “suffering.” Suffering is not necessary and can be released. At this point in Mary’s life, there is every need to release suffering. There is every need for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of many spiritual tools we’ve been given to transform our pain and anger into deep, personal, inner peace.

Why forgive? Certainly not because the other person deserves it. In their own misery, desperation, and low self-esteem, they may have done horrible, ugly things that felt like knives through our hearts. Perhaps they lied because they were ashamed to tell the truth. Perhaps they murdered. Perhaps they committed adultery or stole our physical possessions. Perhaps they were simply not present in their relationships with us.

Their actions were certainly not functional. We do need to pay attention to how others treat us and conduct themselves in their relationships with us. If we don’t notice what others do and how it makes us feel, we haven’t learned the relationship lessons we were intended to learn.

However, we never change the relationship by changing the other person. We change the relationship by changing ourselves.

Why then forgive? We forgive for ourselves. We forgive because forgiveness releases our own pain and anger, changes our relationship dynamics, and allows us to move forward in freedom and joy.

Holding onto pain, anger, and blame destroys each and every one of us. It makes us sick. It keeps us stuck. Anyone stuck in this negative energy and unable to let it go will eventually kill themselves as well as all the loving relationships that surround them and could support them. Being stuck in negative energy condemns you to a life lived in hell (using Christian words) or a life of suffering (using Buddhist words).

So why do we forgive? We forgive to shift our own energy from hell to heaven (Christian terminology). We forgive to release our own suffering (Buddhist terminology).

First, we forgive ourselves, knowing that we did the best we could with the resources we had. Then, we forgive others, knowing they did the same. Forgiveness does not mean staying in abusive, dysfunctional relationships. If we learn the lessons our pain and anger have taught us, we move out of abusive, dysfunctional relationships and seek out relationships that support us. When the abuser no longer has a victim, the abuse stops.