Forgiveness has a great reputation in certain new age and self-healing circles. In some workshops it’s been called “the master erase.” It’s recommended as a way of healing not only the person forgiven, but also more importantly, for the person doing the forgiving. Some could consider it required topic in workshops and books on topics like relationships, healing, and success. There’s even an international organization as well as a day devoted to forgiveness!
What if there were an approach that went beyond forgiveness in creating the clarity, the freedom from attachment to the past, and the freedom those using forgiveness might be looking for?
According to Gary Douglas, best-selling author and founder of Access Consciousness, there is. Douglas calls it “allowance.” As Douglas sees it, allowance goes far beyond the pocket money your parents grudgingly gave you as a teenager.
Allowance, for a start, is the ticket out of judgment of any kind. In allowance, all points of view are merely interesting points of view. They not only have no significance, but they also have no value. They are not good, bad, right, wrong, positive, or negative. They just are interesting points of view.
As all of this might indicate, allowance is not where most people live. On the contrary, most people are defined and bound by their points of view. Their target in most conversations is to get those to whom they are talking with to either align and agree with their points of view, or resist and react to their points of view. “There is no freedom in either of these positions,” Douglas points out.
Douglas likens this to being a rock in a stream. If you align and agree with a point of view, you are liable to be washed down the river. If you resist and react to the point of view, you attempt to stop the flow of the river. Functioning from interesting point of view on everything is just being the rock in the stream, content and at peace with being the rock while everything flows over and around you without affecting you.
Sound callous? Unfeeling? Au contraire, mon ami! This energy of complete allowance, where every aspect of one’s being is not judged, is the atmosphere that Douglas creates in his classes worldwide. The sense of peace it creates in those participants in his classes makes people reluctant to leave when the day is over. The sense of “coming home” to a place where there is no judgment is so warm and inviting that participants often linger an hour or more after class, unwilling to leave the warm fuzzy feeling for the constant judgment that most of us encounter in our daily lives. “That’s the sign of a good class,” Douglas observes with a wry smile. “People don’t want to leave!”
Allowance offers total freedom from having to react to anything ever again. Alignment and agreement and resistance and reaction, on the other hand, offer no freedom at all. The people or actions to which you are either aligning and agreeing or resisting and reacting end up having total control over your mind and your emotions. You are in a constant state of judgment, determining whether you should either align and agree or resist and react to everything.
Alignment and agreement and resistance and reaction are two sides of the very same coin, Douglas points out. “You cannot resist and react to something without at some level aligning and agreeing with it first.”
Consider teenage “rebellion” as an illustration of this: teenagers rebel against the values of their parents, yet these very values are those they absorbed as their own before they even experienced their separate selfness in infancy and as toddlers. The more they aligned with their parents’ values then, the more they must resist them in adolescence.
What might be accomplished in our political dialogue if this principle were acknowledged? Might the pendulum swings of political extremism be replaced by some more constructive searching for new approaches to the challenges that face us all?
What’s the difference between allowance and forgiveness? One dictionary definition of “forgive” is to “stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense, flaw or mistake.” To have forgiveness, then, one must first have anger and resentment, and offenses, flaws, and mistakes.
Think about it, if everything is just an interesting point of view without any goodness, badness, rightness, wrongness, positivity or negativity, then how could one even determine that anything is an offense, flaw or mistake? Only through our judgment does anything acquire any of these labels.
That which we might wish to judge is most likely the very thing we ourselves have done in some lifetime, notes Douglas, as “you can’t judge anything without having been there or done that. Otherwise you would have no place to judge from.” If you’d like to free yourself from the attachment that your judgment is creating and create more freedom for yourself, Douglas offers tools to those who attend his seminars in Access Consciousness.
What about the anger and resentment part of the forgiveness definition? Is it possible to be angry or resentful about another person’s behavior if you didn’t have projections and expectations of their behavior in the first place? Doesn’t the anger and resentment come from their not meeting these projections and expectations? Would the anger and resentment even be possible otherwise? These projections and expectations are judgments and fixed points of view. They are just your interesting point of view, Douglas reminds you. What do they have to do with the other person who’s on the receiving end of these judgments, the one who you might have formerly considered requiring forgiveness from you? Nothing at all. They’re your points of view, just your interesting points of view.
If you’d really, really like to get free of all these emotional entanglements, Douglas has a challenge for you. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to do “interesting point of view I have that point of view” for every point of view you have for 6 months. Every time you find yourself making almost any kind of statement, you will be revealing to yourself a fixed point of view or judgment. Remind yourself that it isn’t real or significant or meaningful, but just yet another “interesting point of view.”
“It will be the hardest work you’ve ever done,” Douglas points out. “But at the end of it you will have freedom. Nothing and no one will ever control you again.”
Now, doesn’t that go beyond a forgiveness ritual?