The Path With Love by Rev. Teresa Stuefloten (text)
The Path With Heart, by Rev. Teresa Stueflo
The Path with Heart is the path of love, kindness, and compassion. Remember from my talk a few weeks ago that there is the Jnana path, the path of wisdom, the Karma path, the path of service, and the Bhakti path, the path of love. All of these paths lead to awakening, but the path of love is said to be the easiest. The path of love sees all beings with the eyes of love, seeing our oneness with all that is, and seeing the Divinity of all beings. We are naturally drawn to love. Our heart wants to love.
Last week I offered a sheet of journaling prompts that could be used to reflect on our family relationships, both with family members currently with us, and with family members who have made their transition to the other side. Family relationships can be both loving and challenging at the same time. Family relationships can be tricky, but they are fertile ground for our spiritual growth. We can make a lot of mistakes in family relationships due to the close nature of these relationships, but we also have many opportunities for forgiveness.
Sometimes when a family member dies families get caught up in greed, anger and resentment, fighting over material stuff and money. What a waste to fight over things we can’t take with us to the other side, ruining relationships, and destroying love. Sorting through my mother’s belongings now that she has passed, and reading letters she saved from family members, I see some signs of this in both my Mother’s and Father’s families. It makes me feel so grateful that my brother and I are able to work together harmoniously on our Mother’s estate.
Forgiveness is a big area for potential spiritual growth and expression of love in family relationships. What do I regret in the way I have treated someone else in my family? Do I need to ask for forgiveness? What has someone in my family done that hurt me? Am I willing to forgive? Did someone do something that is so terrible to me that I am not willing to forgive? How does not forgiving affect my life?
According to the Mayo Clinic, forgiveness can lead to:
• Healthier relationships.
• Improved mental health.
• Less anxiety, stress and hostility.
• Lower blood pressure.
• Fewer symptoms of depression.
• A stronger immune system.
• Improved heart health.
• Improved self-esteem.
Refusing to forgive keeps us stuck in the past. Forgiving is freeing. We can lay down that burden when we forgive. And we feel more free when others forgive us. We can move on. Forgiveness opens the heart to love fully.
When we take on these earth suits and come to this plane for an earth journey, I believe we have a plan for our spiritual growth. Along with the earth suit we take on an ego, a personality. Sometimes we get caught up in the ego’s reactions to what others say or do. We make mistakes. We miss the mark. To sin means literally to miss the mark. Sometimes we hit the mark & we’re proud of what we’ve done, and sometimes we miss the mark & we have regrets. We miss the mark sometimes & others miss the mark sometimes. We all make mistakes.
If we could see ourselves & others in the Truth of who we are as Divine Expressions, we would see the purity of our own Soul and the purity of everyone else’s soul.
We don’t come to the earth plane intending to hurt others, but in missing the mark we do sometimes hurt others. To forgive is to clean the slate; let it go; wipe it clean. To forgive is to release our energy for positive uplifting purposes. To forgive is to be free to live in the Soul, not held back by the ego’s hurts, grudges, anger & unforgiveness.
The path with heart is a path of forgiveness. We forgive ourselves and we forgive others. Forgiveness does not mean condoning bad behavior. If someone did something terrible to us, it was not okay, and we don’t have to say it was okay in order to forgive. But forgiveness frees us to live the life we were intended to live. Holding on to anger, hatred, resentment, grudges, & fear causes physical & mental illnesses.
Our heart can literally become hardened when we hold on to negative emotions. My own father would not forgive his parents for their treatment of him when he was a child. His father was harsh. When my father wet the bed (most likely due to the stress of his father’s harshness) his father rubbed his face in the wet sheets. My grandfather whipped my father with sticks from a tree. When my father was in high school his parents sent him to live on his grandparents farm. His grandmother was known to be a difficult person. When my father inevitably had trouble with his grandmother, his parents refused to let him come home.
When my father was an adult his parents reached out many times over the years to admit they made mistakes & to ask for forgiveness. My father had polio & they had thought the farm would be good for him to toughen him up. They wished they had let him come home when he wanted to. Their rationale was since he had already started at the rural high school, staying was better for him, & maybe the smaller rural school was better for him. They admitted they made a mistake. But my father would not forgive his parents.
To the end of his life, my father wondered why his father did not love him. He died of congestive heart failure at 73. His refusal to forgive literally broke his heart. His heart was damaged by his negative emotions. He could not see that his father asking for forgiveness meant he did love him. Granted, his father was a gruff, difficult personality. And what his father did to him was not okay. He took a tender and sensitive little boy with physical disabilities and turned him onto an angry adult. That was not okay. But it was my father’s task to forgive in order to free himself and he could not do it. He kept himself in bondage to his anger, resentment, hatred, and unforgiveness.
Forgiving is mainly for ourselves. We open our heart when we forgive and allow Love to enter in. At the end of his life, when he knew he didn’t have many more years after his heart surgery because his heart was so severely damaged, my father asked my mother “Will you miss me?” He knew he had often taken his anger out on her, even though she was loving to him.
You might ask if people who hurt others deserve forgiveness. At the level of the Truth of who we are, our Divinity, we all deserve forgiveness. Yes, we have made mistakes in our humanness when we allowed ego to rule our life. But as Souls we all deserve forgiveness. The Path with Heart wishes the best for ourselves and for others. The Path With Heart acknowledges our oneness with all others.
What does the Bible say about forgiveness? When Peter approached Jesus, Master Yeshua, asking about forgiveness, in Matthew 18:21-22 Peter (Kaypha) approached him, and he said, "My Lord, "If my brother commits an offense against me, how many times shall I forgive him? Seven times?" And Yeshua said to him, "I do not say to you until seven times, but until seventy times seven - each*.” In other words, we are to forgive and to keep forgiving.
The Path with Heart opens to heal wounds in our family through forgiveness and letting go. We allow Love to enter and surround the heart, opening to greater & greater depth, risking being vulnerable by taking the armor off of our heart. This doesn’t mean allowing ourself to be a victim. We stand strong in our Divinity. But it means softening our heart with compassion for life’s pain, ours and others.
Forgiveness might mean recognizing a family pattern of abuse, seeing how it damaged a parent who hurt you, and deciding that this pattern will end with me. I am going to do the forgiveness work to heal this pattern so that future generations will not experience this abuse.
To forgive means to wish the highest for ourselves and others. If we are the one who needs the forgiveness, forgiving ourself means opening our heart to the pain we have caused others & releasing it in Love. We free ourselves to hear the pain of those we have hurt & make amends in whatever way we can. We also open the space spiritually for healing at the highest level through Spirit.
I would like to do a couple of heart-opening exercises with you. I invite you to close your eyes and relax in your chair. I am going to start with a 2,500 year old Buddhist meditation on loving kindness.
Picture yourself as a young and beloved child, held in the heart of loving kindness. Let your heart open, letting the feelings of the words penetrate your body and mind.
May I be filled with loving-kindness.
May I be well.
May I be powerful and at ease.
May I be happy.
(repeat several times)
Now choose someone who has truly cared for you and picture this person in your mind. When I say “this person” you can think the person’s name in your mind.
May this person be filled with loving-kindness.
May this person be well.
May this person be powerful and at ease.
May this person be happy.
You can open your eyes again. How did that feel? Did you feel happy and loved? You can do this exercise at home and add more:
May my friends be filled with loving-kindness…
May my neighbors be filled with loving-kindness…
May people everywhere be filled with loving-kindness…
May the world’s political leaders be filled with loving-kindness…
May the animals be filled with loving-kindness…
May the whole world be filled with loving-kindness…
May all beings everywhere be filled with loving-kindness…
When you feel ready to do it, you can include the difficult people in your life, both those present in this plane of existence and those who have made their transition.
The Chakra Meditation we do on Wednesday evenings is a heart-centered meditation. We begin with the heart charka, centering in the heart. We begin with Love and move out from there. I invite you to try a brief version of heart centering with me. Close your eyes again & relax. Bring your attention to your heart chakra, allowing it to soften and to open, seeing light emerging from your heart chakra. Acknowledge the Love light that is present in the heart and lights up all of life with love and compassion.
Now bring awareness to the solar plexus chakra below the heart, while keeping your focus in the heart chakra, encompassing both chakras. Feel the solar plexus chakra softening & opening with Love and compassion from the heart. See the light in the solar plexus chakra. You have the power of the solar plexus based in the love of the heart, power with love, the power to heal, the power to bless.
Now bring awareness to the throat chakra while keeping your focus in the heart chakra, encompassing both chakras. Feel the throat chakra softening & opening with Love and compassion from the heart. See the light in the throat chakra. The throat chakra is the seat of communication. You have loving communication, the ability to communicate love & compassion to others, to express words lovingly, uplifting others, blessing others with your positive loving words.
Now bring your awareness to the naval chakra, while keeping your focus in the heart chakra. Feel the naval chakra softening & opening with Love and compassion from the heart. See the light in the naval chakra. The naval chakra is the focus of creativity. You have the power of loving action and loving creation.
Now bring your awareness to the 3rd eye chakra, while maintaining your focus in the heart chakra. Feel the 3rd eye chakra softening & opening with love & compassion from the heart. See the light in the 3rd eye, the seat of intuition. You have loving sight, the ability to see the highest in others, to see the Truth of their Divinity as Divine expressions, to see all with Love.
Now bring your awareness to the base root chakra while keeping your focus on the the heart chakra. Feel the root chakra softening & opening with Love & compassion from the heart. See the light in the root chakra. The root chakra is grounding. You are grounded in Love.
Now bring your awareness to the crown chakra at the top of your head, while maintaining your focus in the heart chakra. Feel the crown chakra softening & opening with Love & compassion from the heart. You are awakening in Love, seeing all of life with Love, knowing the Truth that there is only Love, and you are one with Divine Love.
Feel all of your Chakras open in Love. Feel your entire system bathed in Love. Begin to bring your awareness back to the room and open your eyes when you are ready.
Namaste’ And so it is!