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Beyond Forgiveness: Spiritual Alchemy

By Bonnie Starr Mandell-Rice

This month Bonnie Starr sent through her last 'Healing from the Heart' article which is a section from her book Beyond Forgiveness: Spiritual Alchemy. As I have already reviewed it I thought I'd include the message here in Soul Search as the book has such a profound impact on me. Also this will be our opportunity to thank Bonnie Starr for so many inspiring messages and to send our best wishes for her somewhat unknown future. So many of my friends have embarked on a completely new journey this month, it would seem the energies are really moving now.

No, no, you might say, I don’t want an eye for an eye.  I don’t need revenge.  I’m willing to surrender my need for vengeance.  I simply want an apology; I want to see and feel that they feel really, really, really badly about what they did or said.  I want them to suffer emotionally as I have suffered.  One of my friends said to me once that to forgive someone requires that they (the offender) take responsibility for their actions or words, apologize and make amends.  This is the way many of us feel; but forgiveness requires nothing except the willingness on the part of the one who feels hurt or angry to forgive.  Forgiveness requires nothing, because love requires nothing.  Love simply is for giving – without condition, without restraint.       

Now if I do something about which another feels hurt or offended or that causes them pain, who I am, the person I choose to be, will take responsibility for my words and actions, will apologize and seek to make amends.   I do it as much for myself as the other, for when I apologize and make amends, I am able to begin the process of forgiving myself for hurting the other.   As for the other, I have no control over whether or when they will forgive me; I can only do what I can to rectify my mistake and then forgive myself.  When, however, it comes to forgiving other people for what they have said and done - yes, an apology would be great, amends would be great, - but will I withhold forgiveness, will I hang on to my resentment, my ill will, my anger and hate?  I choose not to do so.

Why?  You may ask.  Here is the reason, plain and simple.  It is not about them.  It is about me.  It is about me because whenever I perceive another as having been the cause of my pain – real as it may be, real as the injuries may be - I am assuming the role of the victim.  When we assume the victim role, we have given our power away to the one who has caused the harm or the injury.  This give away is not intentional; but it happens.  First, you have given them the power to determine how you feel and who you are in relation to them and to what occurred; you have fallen into the victim trap.  Then, for so long as you withhold forgiveness, as long as you hold on to your anger, your hate, your resentment, your ill will, you are still their victim, trapped (you believe) until they set you free by making it “right.”  There is only one person, however, who can set you free, who can make whatever happens to you in your life “right.”  That person is you.  No one can do this for you.  Even one who makes amends and apologizes – will that have been enough?  How many of you have heard (as I have) an apology and still stewed in a huff for another hour or another day?  Only you can decide what is enough, and you can decide whether they “need” to do anything at all before you will be free again.  It is you who holds the power to set you free and only you can exercise it.

In the movie, The Interpreter, a white woman from the small African nation of Koo who works as an interpreter at the UN learns of an assassination plot against the president of her country, a man whom she both admired as a child for his efforts to free the country from a despot and whom as a woman she hated for having become a despot himself, killing her parents, sister and thousands of others.  Nevertheless, she comes forward with the information.  The special secret service agent assigned to protect this president learns of her history and begins to suspect that she may be involved in the assassination plot.  He challenges both her story of how she learned of the plot and her motives.  In response she tells him this:  Among her people, the Koo, when someone is killed, the killer is bound tightly and taken out on a boat into the middle of the lake, with the whole community watching.  The killer is tossed out of the boat.  The family of the person killed has a choice:  They can jump into the lake and save the killer from drowning, or they can stand and watch him drown.  The choice is theirs to make. It is believed that if they save the killer, they will be freed from mourning within a year, and that if they let the killer drown, they will mourn for the rest of their days. 

This story is not about the killer.  It is about the power of love and forgiveness.  Choosing to let the killer drown, the family remains bound to him and to their grief.   Choosing to save the killer, the family saves themselves – frees themselves.  Such is the power of forgiveness.

As this wonderful story demonstrates, forgiveness is not about the other person.  It is about you.  It is about healing you.  It is about restoring you to love, to peace, to your own authentic power.  It is about restoring you to Grace, to that place where you know that you and no one can ever be harmed for you are the Power and the Presence of God in the place where you stand.  And sometimes, as in the story, when we do this, we redeem the other as well.  And what does it mean to Redeem?  It is to claim what is yours – as redeem a prize you’ve already won – or to buy back that which is yours.  Forgiveness is for your own redemption:  you take back your power; you reclaim your divine sovereignty and power.  With redemption comes atonement:  at one ment.  You become whole again, and at one with what is, including the other.  You make it possible for them to be good again, by holding up to them a mirror of their own innate goodness. 

Here is a note from Bonnie Starr:-

As of October 31, 2009, I am shutting down my website and terminating my coaching practice (except for those of you in my current CWG groups).    As a result there will be no further monthly Healing from the Heart ezines.  From time to time, however, unless you let me know that you do not wish to receive emails from me, I may send something I have written that I would like to share with you.  As with each of the other times I have leapt into the unknown of what my next step will be, I feel a certain amount of apprehension and relief - relief if for no other reason that I have made the decision.   I could make up a whole story about why I have made the decision, but in the end it really comes to one thing:  as I walked the other day, I just knew it was time.   I trust that whatever I am going to do next will arrive in Divine timing. 

Because I will be shutting down the website at that time, you will no longer be able to order copies of Beyond Forgiveness: Spiritual Alchemy, through it.  If you would like to buy one (it would make a great Christmas or Hanukah gift!) after October 31, 2009, please email me at:  I still have a limited number of the books on hand at the $14.95 (plus applicable taxes, S&H) price, which is $10 off the retail price set by the publisher. 

Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of your journey.


Bonnie Starr