Am I forgiven?

Dara Rittenhouse (Dara Eklund) – USA

Theosophy DE 4 b
Dara loved gardening and frequented gardens such as the Huntington Garden in San Marino, CA. On the photo a flower grown there

The idea of Karma initiates into our lives a sense of conscious responsibility. While we do not always see in every action its ultimate conclusion, while we fail to use every moment or event as a new inroad to truth, the idea has taken hold enough to change, in a great way, our acceptance of all that comes our way. It is the beginning of a larger faith in Law - affirmation of a time when the intricacies of life and action will be understood.

I have often wondered why we look to some outside person (perhaps deeply respected), Teacher or even abstract Law, with the question: “Am I forgiven?” Granted we have denied an anthropomorphic God who rewards and punishes, or "vicarious atonement" through priest or self-constituted authority. But why this feeling of a need to be forgiven? Are our fellow-men so callous, so imperviously critical of our weaknesses and shortcomings? Are we ourselves so sensitive yet in outside condemnation that we cannot rely on Law, as the great Adjuster? Or, perhaps, the unforeseen effects, once recognized, seem too overwhelming to undergo.

Nevertheless, we find they must be undergone, no matter how favorable or unfavorable our action appears to those around us. We have to say: “l set this cause in motion - I alone can accept that responsibility for sure. I alone can forgive my action.”

As we dwell on this aspect of responsibility a new idea takes shape: I can only forgive myself when the highest discrimination of the act, once available, but ignored or neglected, is re-established; when I become “constitutionally incapable” of repeating the error of thought or feeling which brought about that action. And we may notice that it always seems to be in respect to an act, that we seek forgiveness. Our field of work is ACTION. But it must not deceive us from the inner planes of being where action originates. It is there that the change must first come about. 

William Q. Judge refers to a “larger sphere of being,” where “we are confronted by what we are and not by what we have done.” * (* Notes on the on the Bhagavad-Gita, p. 70.) This would lead one to believe that often our very concern for the appearance of an act - whether or not we are “forgiven” - has to do with a mistaken idea of ourselves. Through concern with the shell, not the spirit of an act, it is the very excuse we employ to withhold true inner transformation. It crowds out the live discrimination which does not consider whether an action is “acceptable,” but whether it contains a real contribution to the collective progress of mankind, regardless of appearance. If “final judgment” depended on any one act, we could use such an excuse to give up our hold on future action. But we are not so limited. The final tone of each life is struck by the sum total of our being, which we ourselves but little perceive.

It sounds abstract that a man may become so just in his every action as always to consider others involved. Yet such consciousness provides a very distinct harmony in our lives. It is nothing we can force into our way of living. As long as we hold on to the idea of “My Karma” – “My action” – “My forgiveness,” we will feel but little of that larger undertaking. "The Universe grows I" becomes a fountain of youth in our lives, only as Universal Feeling enters our actions. Even if we begin with the abstract notion alone, our actions can bring about the real condition and foundation for the ideal. The true sense of this duty eventually becomes a living necessity. The philosophy of motive the spirit in which we work - depends on how wide is our grasp of this duty, far overshadowing our "hold" on, our expectation of reward or success. Nothing outside ourselves sets the limits.

It was said of A.O. Hume (in The Mahatma Letters) that his pride was so strong that he himself did not realize his inherent good qualities, which were his true claim to help from the teachers. So, it is with us. Our mistaken idea of ourselves and of what we may become, cuts off this larger life.

Suppose our whole thought revolved about our past mistakes (as in many lives it does) and fear of the possible consequences. Consider the times in our lives when we truly see how harmful a certain step may have been to those concerned. When we feel the error cannot be retrieved no matter how sincerely we repent. How can we possibly forgive ourselves? The conclusion is simply an absolute resolve to shoulder the consequences, of which our grief is a great and natural part, a necessary teacher. We do not know what these consequences will be. We should drop the idea of forgiveness at once - take the scales in hand and begin the balancing.

Under cyclic law the test will return again. How can we possibly be ready for it - even recognize it under subtler guise if our thinking is centered in regrets for self.

The desire, will and power to change the future is our Forgiveness. The steps we take now, our salvation. We become masters of our own destiny. And when the time returns again, it does not carry us off to sea, but gently claims its own from the hard-won lesson of long ago. 


THEOSOPHIA, A Living Philosophy For Humanity, Volume XII, No. 2 (64) - Fall 1955

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