Here in Lesson 8 of Thought Bricks, Bernard emphasises forgiveness as a way of clearing out our inner obstacles to abundance. He offers us a new version of the Finger Exercise, called the Four Finger Exercise and a Tube Exercise to help bring home the meaning of forgiveness. He also emphasises the importance of being able to receive and that having a simple, childlike spirit opens us to greater abundance.
My dear Student,
In the eighth Lesson of our Course there comes some very challenging teaching on Forgiveness. Do not, on any account, set it aside as unimportant! It is the most vital Lesson of all, up to now, for on it hinges all the teaching contained in the other Lessons. Unless you are free from obstacles, the Divine Flow cannot reach you, just as water cannot come through a blocked-up pipe. So be systematic and logical about this; give it your close attention as speedily as you can.
To help you, I suggest the following Bible references to study–all on the subject of Forgiveness: Matt. 18, 27; Luke 7, 42; II Cor, 2, 10; Col. 3, 13; I Kings 8, 30; Psalm 25, 18; Psalm 86, 5; Isa. 2, 9; Dan. 9, 19; Amos 7, 2; Matt. 18, 35; Mark ii, 25-26; Luke 6, 37; Luke 23, 34; Luke 17, 3.
In the Lesson 1 have spoken about a ‘tube’. I wonder if you have heard about it before? It is sometimes used by people who wish to contact one another by cutting out all outside distractions. Instead of a diffused thought spreading outwards, a thought sent down this mental tube will be concentrated. Once you ‘get the hang’ of this tube you can use it for other purposes besides forgiveness. Before a business interview, for instance, you can contact the person you are to meet by means of this tube, urge upon him silently that he listen to your proposition impartially and give you his undivided attention. When you meet him you will find your interview satisfactory Now let your imagination suggest to you other ways that you can use this tube ! (But never use it to influence the will of another, to force your own desire or will upon him.)
LESSON EIGHT: IN THE KING’S PALACE
Had you seen this title at the beginning of this Course you would not have dreamed that it applied to you, would you? But now you can consider this truth in quite a matter-of-fact way. Think calmly of the fact that you are an heir of God and joint heir with Christ’. (Rorn, 8, 17.) Think again of the words: ‘Son, thou art ever with Me and all that I have, is thine.’ Then turn these words round, making them personal, and say: ‘Father, thou art ever with me and all that Thou hast, is mine’.
Think of this especially when you view a wide landscape, or look down into a teeming city. Stand, as it were, on the heights with Him and revel in the sense of exultation and power that will come to you. But here is a warning. Never feel that only you are a prince and not the other fellow. Never feel superior, or especially favoured or beloved. Remember that the Master pointed out that there is only one condition to prosperity of every kind:
‘If thou canst believe‘. And, in other words: ‘ Whosoever shall not doubt in his heart‘. There is nothing about: ‘If you are better than others’ or ‘stronger’ or ‘wiser’. So you see, it is absolutely essential for you to realise that the same Spirit is in all, however hidden and shadowed, that the same promise applies to all; that, having the same Divine Father we are kin in spirit. Sometimes that is very difficult to understand. Someone does us a wrong, perhaps, and despite all our efforts to feel forgiving, we cringe inwardly or become tense at the very thought of them. Now the Master taught that we must forgive.
“Then came Peter and said, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? ” Jesus saith unto him, ” I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven “.’ (Matt. 18, 21-22.)
If it just rested there we might think we could ignore the whole thing as just a ‘hard saying’. But it does not rest there! It affects us personally.
‘Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.’ (Luke 11, 4.) Or as written in Matt. 6, 12: ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.‘
You see that each time we forgive, we are forgiven, but if we do not forgive, then we are not ourselves forgiven.
‘For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.‘ (Matt. 6, 14-15.)
How many of us can feel so innocent and sinless that we can ignore this? How can we feel that we can claim all the King’s blessings because we are princes, if we deliberately block our hearts against other princes? For the truth is that the Spirit of the Eternal flows into and through us all, that if we cut ourselves off from even one of our brother men, we cut ourselves off from the free-flowing of the Divine Spirit.
Four Finger Exercise
Do you remember the exercise with the piece of paper? I want you to do it again, but in a slightly different way. Take a sheet of paper and make four holes in it. Stand it up on end, supporting it with your left hand. Put your four fingers through the holes.
Now take a steady look at those finger-tips. They can move independently of each other; yet they are part of one hand and the hand is part of you. Look around now, mentally, upon your fellowmen. These are like your finger-tips – apparently separate, yet in reality, one. And they are all part of one Being, our Heavenly Father, even as the fingers of your hand are part of you. You cannot, therefore, separate yourself from one single fellow-man if you wish to live as a prince in the kingdom of your Father.
If you want to draw forth from Him the abundance of Divine Supply, you must own your kinship with all men. So now you see why you have to forgive! Forgiveness of your fellows removes obstacles, because obstacles are removed in you. You become a clear, free, pipeline down which every blessing flows!
What you have to do, then, in order that this can be achieved is systematically to forgive everybody. I don’t mean by this that you should go running dramatically raking up old squables and generally hurting people’s feelings! No, I mean that you should forgive, or give for evil, good. If you are at present engaged in some wrangle with a neighbour, or something of that sort, then of course the thing to do is to go to him and say: ‘Let’s call it a day, old chap, and forget all this’.
But if, as is far more likely, you remember some past unpleasantness which has never really been cleared up, then act in this way.
Forgiveness Tube Exercise
- Visualise in your mind a long tube about six inches in diameter.
- Imagine that you are looking in at one end and can see the other persons’ face at the other. Try to get as clear a picture as possible, for this will mean that you have cut out distractions and are in direct contact with their subconscious mind.
- Then begin to ‘speak’ to him or her within yourself. You need not ‘say’ much but just make your peace with them.
- Later on, you may be able to contact them and will probably find them friendly – but In any case you have removed the obstacle
Continue to this in the case with all whom you have had a quarrel or misunderstanding. Soon you will have the wonderful relief of feeling free. Then watch the Divine Blessings flow.
On this subject of forgiveness a Student wrote: ‘I have practised and gained nicely with the Lessons. The one on forgiveness seemed very hard. Something always happened to chop off all my work and ambitions each time – it didn’t seem as if God was in it. So I didn’t want to forgive people who seemed to be the cause. But I am forgiving, and even those who have passed on I feel better about. I have tried and am succeeding, and being blessed, as you said.’
So resolve to be stern with yourself about this, Student – very calm, ruthless, logical! Go about this matter in a real business-like way – and then write and tell me how much happier you are.
You are well on your way through the Course Are you persevering and getting the fullest value from it? Remember you can only take out of the Course according to the measure that you put in.
While we are on this subject, here is an article from a former issue of ‘Bernard’s Weekly News’:
This week I have been engaged in the gathering of loose threads. By this I mean that I have been thinking of Students who have not made very good progress so far.
While doing this, it has been borne in on me very forcibly that the unresponsive type, the difficult-to-convince-they-are-wanted type, the “independent” type who will not accept a free gift when it is offered lovingly, are all people who are finding life rather hard. Don’t you think that is very significant? And the responsive ones, the ones who write to me with gladness, and who accept with naturalness any little gift that comes their way, are the ones that tell me that life is grand, that good fortune is for ever-flowing to them.
Does that make you think? It did me. It made me realise that, if we pride ourselves on being independent, in refusing to be “under an obligation” to others, if we don’t expect anyone else to be friendly, no matter how much they try to prove that they are, if we stand on our dignity and forget the child-like spirit the Master recommended, then we put a block in our lives which not only holds off others but keeps off all God’s blessings too.
Yes, this became very clear to me the other day. For instance, there was a woman who wrote to me that she had been very ill for months, and she was poor and alone. I wrote offering her a free gift and telling her how much joy it would give me if she accepted. She replied: “I did not know there was so much kindness in the world, but I could not possibly accept unless I paid you for it.” Why not? Why should this woman, of all people, choose to repudiate the words of the Master: ‘Give and it shall be given unto you.’ Yes, we have to learn how to receive as well as to give – and sometimes the former is the hardest to learn!.
To two other people I offered gifts recently – but what a difference in their reception of them. One wrote: “You made me very happy indeed. I gratefully accept your generous offer in the loving spirit it is given. To me it means ‘abundant supply’ and one day I will be able to repay your very great kindness, to me”.
The other wrote: “Thank you so very much for your wonderful offer. Sounds like something out of a fairy story to me. When I read your letter to my daughter, Margaret, she said: ‘Oh, I do love Bernard, don’t you, Mum?'”… Now see what a simple, childlike spirit these people reveal! How pleasing it must be to the Master . . . What, after all, does it matter, if some people let us down, when we give? We have given. God will reward us. We are not dependent on men. And all these simple, childlike people constantly report a free-flowing of blessings in their lives. “Give and it shall be given unto you, full measure, pressed down, and shaken together, running over.” (Luke 6, 38.)’
To end this Lesson, here is a poem which came flowing into my mind while I was ‘On the Heights’ in my ‘Inwardness’ one day. These poems, by the way, come to me in a flash, with rhyme and rhythm all complete, and never need any addition or revision. This one I am copying from the original for you. It is scribbled in pencil on the back of an old, large envelope! Underneath is the date: ’31-3-49′. I had forgotten all about this poem for they come to me in scores – but in turning out some papers I discovered it the other day. It has no title:
Oh, that I knew Thee, Master dear;
Could find Tee now, in vision clear,
And, seeing Thee, the Father reach,
Joining the Angels Thou dost teach!
In vision have I seen Thee, Lord;
Thy sufferings – and heard Thy Word;
But if I look to Thee without,
The inner Truth I then shut out
Of Thou in me and I in Thee
Oh, show me this great mystery!
‘My son, behold in vision sweet
Yourself low kneeling at My feet;
Then rising up, behold My eyes,
And, gazing, I shall make you wise.
You must be fashioned after Me
In purity, a “Christ” to be,
In wisdom, born a son of God-
No more a creature and a clod.
You must be moulded by My will,
Powerful, when you are still,
No longer seeking Me without
But finding Me beyond a doubt.
As drops of water join in one,
So Christ-with-Christ, then Truth is won.
Strive not to see Me while you seek
But strive to be Me, strive to speak
And live and act and move and pray
As Christ, thy Brother – then you may
As water-drop joins with another,
Merge into Me, your Elder Brother!