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[reposted from 9-7-16] THE MIRACLE OF FORGIVENESS: Much has been written in spiritually themed literature, Vedic scriptures and Prabhupada's translations, and personal growth/self-help books about forgiveness. As a young person and devotee I had no idea how important forgiveness could be. It was only after years of introspection and prayer that I personally understood how important it was for me to forgive important persons in my life and myself.

The topic came up in my reading of the last few days, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts about it. I have done much work with forgiveness—with my parents, for how I was raised, and for myself, for my many personal failings and what I should or should not have done. I looked at all my significant relationships in as much honesty as possible, and also considered that I may have some anger toward Krishna, and my guru, Shrila Prabhupada.

I did find some anger toward Prabhupada and I had a long talk with him to uncover it, and let it go. I have written somewhere about my, in contemporary terms, gestalt type conversation with him. Whatever it may be called, to me it was a very real talk before the Prabhupada murti in Berkeley almost 40 years ago. Before him, I shared and examined my anger and doubts, and I received a simple though compellingly powerful answer to my angst with his physical disappearance.
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I felt he had abandoned me and left me to fend for myself without proper guidance. He said to me that what I did with my life was up to me, but the important aspect was to remember and love Krishna. For guidance, he left his books and especially his disciples who could act as shiksha gurus for me. To use Shrutakirti’s book title, “What is the difficulty?”

Even with all the work I have done in the past, as part of my current endeavor to face my death, and understand that I must “die before dying” to actually live fully and realize my full potential and contribution to the world, I have had to reexamine my life for any residues of anger and resentment. I wanted to make sure such negative emotions were not still hanging around like smoke, obscuring my clarity of purpose, and belief in my ability to go forward in my personal mission.

I have found that in personal growth work or in uncovering anarthas (unwanted habits of thinking and acting unfavorable for spiritual progress) awareness comes in layers. We go as far as we can and we may even think we are done, but in time, we find another layer is peeled that requires further self-examination, revealing more work to do. This means that we can’t do our spiritual work all at one time because that would be too overwhelming. We need to be aware of how deep we are required to go to be cleared of what are actually karmic weights keeping us materially bound.

By our spiritual urgency and prayer we can be open to areas of our psyche we don’t want to admit we have, or those undesirable attitudes and feelings that may be unbecoming and even gross and ugly. Yet, to progress in spiritual life and get unstuck, we must move beyond them; we have to first own and accept them, seeing their natural purpose from our human conditioning, and then with love, release and let them go by our desire to do so, strengthened by prayer and grace.

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I have shared before that each day as I rise, I remember what I am grateful for, and in gratitude put a smile on my face. As I dedicate my day Krishna, or my Gurus and Gauranga, I decide that whatever the days brings, I will practice happiness.

I am going to share a blog after this introduction with the title "Decide to be Happy,” from my blog because it expresses something of what I am feeling today: that to be happy or sad is a choice we make based on what we give our power or energy to through our focus. What we focus on we tend to attract more of so we can spiral up or down emotionally simply by our mind’s absorption. Unless we are in the middle of some trauma or have an undiagnosed clinic depression, we can make a decision to be happy as part of our spiritual practice, and more, show that with a smiling attitude.

As I go about my day I am amazed at the power of a sincere smile with no agenda other than expressing joy and sharing it. As I sit to write a blog in a health food store, I observe people in a hurry to begin and finish whatever shopping they must do, and it seems they are not completely present and have forgotten that they can do whatever they must in happiness—at least for the most part a smile is absent on their faces. Yet, I find that smiles are contagious and when people encounter my smile their face lights up.

For those of us who want to look younger smiling is a good way to do this, as our smile covers up our wrinkles or overpowers them. Sometimes my smile can be unnerving for people as they think I am crazy or that I must know them to be smiling at them.

Regardless, I would like to challenge you to practice remembering what you are grateful for in your life and decide to be happy as part of your spiritual practice, while have a smiling attitude as you go about your day. Look in the mirror at how better you look with a sincere smile than a sad expression.

Focus on the positive and believe in your natural happy nature. As you interact with others note how people reciprocate with your happy demeanor and smiles. If nothing else, you will feel much better throughout your day. Here is the link: