“Demonstrating Immortality Through Forgiveness” by Tom Taffel Emergence Conference November 3, 2006

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Immortality is unending life.  Forgiveness is the key that opens the door to immortality.  So, how are forgiveness and immortality related? 

Our bodies are the vehicles which transport us from one place to another with individuality and grace.  But after our human bodies have fulfilled their usefulness — having served their primary purpose (as the vehicle through which we learn and teach “true” forgiveness), we can — fearlessly, gently and peacefully lay our bodies aside.

Like outdated clothing — ready to be laid aside in preparation for something new and more suitable — we will lay aside the human concept of our bodies as we continue to progress on our journey…our gentle passage onward to a higher prayer, toward quiet, active rest.

When it’s appropriate to make the decision to release our bodies by giving our consent to leave them behind and transition onward, this decision should be a painless, gentle, natural, joyful and a welcome decision enabling us to move confidently and peacefully onward. It’s at this point that we will recognize our true identity as our understanding of God.

Forgiveness allows us to leave this sphere of consciousness without excess mental baggage. Should we carry the excess baggage of blame, shame, hate, guilt, grudges (and a grudge is a heavy thing to carry around), this would only delay our progress Spiritward.  And so, either here or hereafter, we need to learn that fear, resentment and grievances condemn while Love liberates. In her poem, “Satisfied” Mary Baker Eddy wrote:

            Love looseth thee, and lifteth me,
                Ayont hate’s thrall:
            There Life is light, and wisdom might,
                And God is All.
We know intuitively that unforgiving thoughts foster fear, hatred and ultimately war and death … but … have you ever considered earth to be a great learning laboratory where God establishes the curriculum and we decide whether we want to learn through peace or through pain. Here, we learn that forgiveness is an acquired ability we need to cultivate and perfect through daily practice.  Let’s not be fooled by the simplistic expression of personal forgiveness (which only soothes personal resentment), the expression:  “forgive and forget.”  That’s Not Healing!  Christian Science can and will spiritualize our concept of forgiveness by revealing forgiveness to be an essential element of God’s unconditional love ,,, which enables us to freely express the love inside us.

Because the door to happiness is always open, there’s no key to happiness…but if there were a “key to happiness,” it would definitely be forgiveness. Forgiveness is growth in grace; it’s learning and living God’s unconditional love; the love which cannot be earned or lost, transferred, neglected or forgotten.

Like gratitude, forgiveness is a human necessity and not a spiritual demand, since God loves us unconditionally, whether we remember to thank Him for our blessings, or not. Forgiveness and gratitude keep us focused and humble. Every now and then … just STOP… do the math… and count your blessings. 

When you count your blessings…where should you begin?. Mrs. Eddy tells us on page 3 of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “If we are ungrateful for Life, Truth, and Love, and yet return thanks to God for all blessings, we are insincere and incur the sharp censure our Master pronounces on hypocrites.”  It would be so easy to express gratitude for a new Mercedes….but expressing gratitude for “Life, Truth, and Love” … now THAT takes real sincerity.  Here’s where “resolving things into thoughts” comes in handy.  On page 269 of the textbook Mrs. Eddy writes: “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul.”  So, for example, are we grateful for a good job, or are we grateful for supply?  For a car, or for transportation?  For a house, or for a home?  For a fat checking account…or for the unfailing assurance that Principal Operates
Unspent?  For a partner, or for someone with whom we can grow, share and both learn and teach forgiveness? 

True forgiveness heals, and healing is forgiveness. They are synonymous. True forgiveness is based on the fact that only good is real and that discord is an illusion and has no real foundation.  Grievances have no more foundation and substance than a shadow and are instantly dispelled by enlightened thought.

Healing is neither a change of matter nor a change of circumstance, it’s a change of thought.  At one time, many believed the earth was flat and this false belief may have delayed world progress, (as Galileo could well attest).  But did the magnitude and tenacity of this false belief make this error more real or true?  What happens to an error after a mathematical mistake has been corrected? Mistakes, (or injustices and grievances), dissolve into nothingness when we see that the wrong was without 
foundation in Truth and never really existed in spite of our personal belief or investment in them.  Fear condemns but Love liberates.  Remember, a mild annoyance is the same as a huge unforgiveness because both build walls around our hearts.  So, stay flexible–  that way, you’ll never get bent out of shape!

True forgiveness … never pardons … and never condones…thereby making the error real.  True forgiveness always starts with healing our own thoughts and not the thoughts of others, because grievances are always based upon our projection of what we think others are thinking about, and doing to us.  When we come to the full realization that nothing real can be threatened, because nothing unreal exists …we experience the peace of God. Asking God to forgive us is completely unnecessary because He never condemned us.

The Lord’s Prayer, (Mrs. Eddy tells us), “instantaneously heals the sick.” And to the line: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” Mrs. Eddy gives us this spiritual interpretation:  “And Love is reflected in love.”  According to Smith’s “Young Peoples’ Bible Dictionary,” the word “forgive” means “to remove sin or guilt, restoring the relationship between God and Man or between men.”

If we translate the word “debt” to “trespasses” we have:  forgive me for intruding on your presence or time, for overstepping, offending or infringing on your boundaries.

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” implies…unless we forgive, we cannot be forgiven.  But let’s not forget to forgive ourselves because self-condemnation retards our spiritual growth just as much as the denunciation of others. 

The greatest example of true forgiveness was Jesus’ crucifixion on Calvary when, –completely free of personal sense — Jesus said, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34):  In this monumental declaration of forgiveness, Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated his immortality.  Jesus was able to forgive his crucifiers because he understood the continuation of life past the death experience and his true selfhood as deathless.  

All that we truly possess are the gifts we give to others. Forgiveness is our gift to God, and all our gifts enrich us and are saved for us because giving and receiving share the same principle; that good is without limit.  The Biblical account of “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11), is a beautiful testament to the power of true forgiveness and raises the all important question: would we rather be right or would we rather be happy?  The father’s awe-inspiring declaration:  “Son, thou art ever with me, all that I have is thine.” Those twelve words may take us a lifetime to fully appreciate. Joy, warmth, beauty, comfort, restfulness, light, happiness and self-worth – sparkle in the eyes of those who understand true forgiveness, because what we give always comes back to us.  The Prodigal Son’s father gave credence to the old adage:  “Man doesn’t sin a sin; it is always sin that sins the man.”

Our identity is not our physical body. Suppose for example you had a friend who was missing a limb. How would you introduce your friend to others? Would you say: “I’d like you to meet three-quarters of my friend”? Of course not, because matter does not define our being or our completeness. Our real bodies are the embodiment of all right ideas.

What about companionship?  Are we incomplete mortals, looking for our other halves? And if we lose a dear friend, partner or relative, does this rob us of our completeness, wholeness and usefulness?  When faced with the loss of my fiancée, my despair was healed as I began to express more of the very qualities I missed most.  The void I was feeling was filled quickly with those  supportive, Christ-like qualities for which I was longing:  joy, spontaneity, generosity, adventure, affection and laughter.  And let’s not forget to laugh…every day.  Laughter is important… it’s like inner jogging.  Two wonderful healing thoughts came to me from the Christian Science Hymnal:  “He knows the angels that you need, And sends them to your side, To comfort, guard and guide” (Hymn #9)  and,  “His might thy heart shall strengthen, His love thy joy increase; Thy day shall mercy lengthen: The Lord will give thee peace.”  (Hymn #77). I was instantly
healed of crippling depression and despair.

Often we feel an aching loss and a longing to communicate with the departed. Mrs. Eddy reassures us on page 72:23 of the Christian Science textbook,  “In Science, individual good derived from God, the infinite All-in-all, may flow from the departed to mortals; but evil is neither communicable nor scientific.”

And speaking of Mrs. Eddy…Upon the passing of her dear husband, Mr. Eddy, she wrote:  “I can’t feel much interest in anything of earth.  I shall try and eventually succeed in rising from the gloom of my irreparable loss but it must take time. Long after I shall smile and appear happy, shall I have to struggle alone with my great grief that none shall know, if I can hide it.”  (Page 120 of Lyman P. Powell, biography: “Mary Baker Eddy – A Life Size Portrait” (Page 120 line II Mrs. Eddy’s Letters and Miscellany, Vol. 55:53:7691).

Then, the following year, she wrote these heart-felt words:

O, make me glad for every scalding [cleansing] tear,
                  For hope deferred, ingratitude, disdain!
Wait, and love more for ev’ry hate, and fear
No ill, – since God is good, and loss is gain.

“Life is but a dream,” goes the old song; and so it would seem as we awaken from one dream and try to replace it with another dream.  We strive toward improved dreams; from dreams of sickness to a dream of health, from the dream of too much matter around the waist to less matter; from pain in matter to comfort in matter, from impoverished matter to abundant matter, from old matter to newer matter. But what does it matter? Mrs. Eddy tells us: 

        “It matters not what be thy lot, so Love doth guide; 
        For storm or shine, pure peace is thine, what e’er be tide.” 

Trying to change matter is an endless and futile task, because matter is forever changing, which is its only constant.

Now, the experience of “death” is not new to any of us. We experience the same dimension every time we go to sleep and travel to remote locations, see clearly without the use of eye glasses, move effortlessly without the limits of gravity or experiencing the ravages of time.  When we sleep, we experience a world without the limitation of time and distance; a freedom from all the laws of matter.  So why be fearful and anxious about the unknown – which is simply a continuation of life, but without  having to carry around a body of matter.  Like a stop sign, death is not the end of our journey, and although we may “walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” that doesn’t mean that we need to stop and pitch a tent— we continue onward, and pick up right where we left off.  “As man falleth asleep, so shall he awake.  As death findeth mortal man, so shall he be after death, until probation and growth shall effect the needed change.” S&H

Many believe in reincarnation for their immortality. Well, if you accept the Christianly Scientific premise that there is no past and no future – only the eternal present, and that  “There is no life, truth, intelligence nor substance in matter.”  (S&H page 468:9) than being born into a body once, or multiple times – becomes a non-issue since we are not our bodies…we are free.  Life is eternal — and now is the only time there is. Reincarnation asks of us, this important question:  “Are we making the most of the present or postponing our spiritual growth to the future for a future incarnation”? Either way, we are wasting and postponing a precious opportunity to make the most of the present. 

Life’s exciting journey doesn’t start with birth nor end with our “passing.”  On life’s road, there will be bumps and many lessons to be learned and if we’re wise, we will learn and avoid repeating our mistakes.  Remember, no experience ever leaves us where it finds us.  Although evil often comes to us in the disguise of good, true good never comes to us in the disguise of evil.  Rest assured that God never sends us adversity and problems to teach us good lessons because He is not a vengeful, angry God. 

We can always choose to think good thoughts.  Choosing the thoughts we wish to think is not an involuntary act forced upon us by the media, society, brain washing or even our politicians.  You control your thoughts and you can always apply this foolproof litmus test:  will this thought/action I’m about to choose lead me toward more or less peace.  The answer will always head us in the right direction and guide us to the right decision … BUT … we MUST listen, really listen and silence human will.  “Silence is often misinterpreted but never misquoted.” When we get all tangled up in our problems, be still—be still. God wants us to be still so He can untangle the knot.

Whether we are thinking thoughts of forgiveness or thoughts of resentment, anger and hatred, thoughts are powerful and they can be felt.  "Good thoughts” Mrs. Eddy tells us, “are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort.  And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited.” The First Church of Christ Scientist and Miscellany, page 210:7-11.  The opposite of good thoughts are worrisome thoughts, and worrying is just a waste of your time. If you worry, you didn’t pray. If you pray…Don’t Worry!

Just how powerful are our thoughts?  Consider this arresting statement of Mrs. Eddy: “The spiritual power of a scientific, right thought, without a direct effort, an audible or even a mental argument, has oftentimes healed inveterate diseases.” Rudimental Divine Science 9:21.

Keep in mind that you are responsible for what you see…and you choose the feelings you experience … you decide upon the goal you would achieve.  Every thing that seems to happen to you…you have asked for…and received as you have asked.  So choose carefully what you ask for!

Now, let’s take a look at immortality as seen from the perspective of mathematics.

The physical form of the number eight can be manufactured, sold, takes up time and space and then be can be destroyed – while the principal behind number eight has always existed and will forever exit.  The principle behind the number eight isn’t subject to the laws of matter having a beginning, ending, aging process, decay, decrepitude, (due to lack of exercise and use), surplus or inflation.  The principle of mathematics can’t be withdrawn, burned, diseased or withheld from us.  The idea of eight is infinite and abundant and can be shared and utilized by everyone without scarcity, inflation or recession or dilution because the idea of “eight” behind the physical number eight is not material, it is spiritual, eternal and immortal.  The number eight is complete. It does not need to infringe upon number nine in order to usurp “nineness” for its security or build a surplus, nor look down upon number seven with superiority.  Its value is
established in Mind, and is not subject to inflationary pressures.  There are no good or bad years for the number eight and anniversaries do not exist as number eight was never born and will never wear out and die.  Our immortality is just as secure as number eight. 

Like our automobiles, we need to care for our bodies and maintain, clean, realign and tune-up our thinking.  Let’s be thankful for the service they perform during our earthly journey.  Understanding that “man is Mind in motion” enables us to live and move and have our being in peace and freedom. 

There’s a song “Home Is Where The Heart Is.”  We can feel more at home, H.O.M.E.  the “Harmony Of Mind Expressed,” as we consciously express more unconditional love forgiveness. The result is more harmonious interactions with others.  We can never leave – or loose our concept of home, although we may temporarily be without a house in which to put it.  So let’s embrace our immortality by being less judgmental and critical of others and be more forgiving and loving toward one another.  

The poem by Anna L. Waring, in the Christian Science Hymnal not only heals the belief of grief, it also gives us a beautiful perspective on our eternal, heavenly home:

In heavenly Love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me;
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.

Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me,
Where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure,
My path in life is free;
My Father has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.