While perusing the hieroglyphics in an ancient Egyptian tomb, I discovered a painting showing a set of scales, like the scales of justice. On one side of the scales was a feather, and on the other, a human heart. Near the scales a godly entity looked on, along with an ugly monster-like animal.
Our Egyptologist explained that this image depicted the Egyptian concept of the day of judgment. When someone died, according to the ancient legend, the person would be accused by 42 gods of having committed various sins. If the person could deny these sins -- while keeping his heart as light as a feather -- he would be admitted to heaven and enjoy eternal life. If he could not deny these sins with a light heart, the nasty-looking dog-entity Anubis stood waiting to devour him and send him to. . . well, you know.
If I were a fire and brimstone minister, I could have a field day with this scenario. But I am a teacher of forgiveness, and I will have my own field day with it.
Recognizing Our Innocence: Keeping Our Heart Light as a Feather
Can you recognize your innocence when others are trying to convince you that you are guilty? The Four Agreements advises us, "Don't take anything personally." A Course in Miracles tells us, time and again, that we are all innocent. None of us have truly sinned. Yes, we have made plenty of mistakes, but none of us has done anything that would cause us for even a moment to lose the love of God or deserve damnation. To the contrary, the Course tells us, we are born of light and unto light we return. If we practice forgiveness and self-honoring, we can enjoy the light even as we walk the earth.
When faced with demanding situations, can you keep your heart as light as a feather? Can you laugh your way through challenges and maintain an attitude freer than fear? When confronted with upsets and the poisonous projections of others, can you remember that all is well? Do you know that you are a spiritual being, not subject to the whims and caprices of earthly tides? Are you bigger than your circumstances?
Keep Choosing Joy: Turn Every Experience Into a Gift
One of my favorite movie characters is played by Gene Wilder in Stir Crazy. Harry is a perpetually happy-go-lucky fellow with a knack for turning every experience into a gift. When Harry is thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit, the prison officials try to break his positive attitude. But they can't. The guards hang Harry by his wrists for several days, only to find him with a big smile on his face. "Thank you, oh, thank you!" he exclaims as they untie him. "You've finally solved my back problem!"
Next, the officials lock Harry in a little hot box under the sweltering sun. When they extract him a few days later, he begs, "Oh, please, give me just one more day -- I was just starting to get into myself." Finally they throw Harry into a cell with Grossberger, a 300-pound crazed murderer that the toughest criminals avoid like the plague. When the guards return, they find Harry and Grossberger on the floor laughing over a game of cards. Harry kept choosing joy, and everything around him lined up with his best interests.
Get The Latest From InnerSelf
In This Moment, Is My Heart Light or Heavy?
Let's revisit relationships through the eyes of lightheartedness. The nature of love is freedom and empowerment. It is about play, delight, and celebration. It is about supporting each other to be ever more passionately creative. Relationship was never intended to be heavy, constricting, and soul-consuming. It is not about projecting need and blame and judgment upon our partners or ourselves. Yes, there is life beyond processing. If there is one purpose to relationship, it is to empower each other to be more comfortable, confident, and alive in who we already are.
Throughout your day, as often as possible, take a heart reading. Ask yourself, "In this moment, is my heart light or heavy? Am I pandering to the fears of others, or proceeding from my inner strength? Have I given my power to appearances, or do I remember the truth?"
The lesson is the same for the lighthearted Egyptian, Harry the prisoner, and you and me: Enjoy your life. Everything else is details. Forget about the ugly monster waiting to devour you; he is a figment of somebody else's imagination. Your own imagination can take you to far brighter places.
We have been taught that spirit and matter are different, but they are not. Matter is an expression of spirit, and in the end, the only thing that matters is spirit.
Book by this author
The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Anymore: Living Fully, Loving Freely
by Alan Cohen.
Alan Cohen's story is an inspiration. From his roots as an Orthodox Jew, he took a mind-expanding tour of the teachings of Jesus, Ram Dass, Zen, Jung, the Esalen Institute, and Einstein, to name a few. In this extraordinary collection of lyrical, challenging essays, Cohen synthesizes what he has learned from these masters, and shares his journey with all of us. He discusses overcoming limitations, creating fulfilling relationships, tuning into the flow of life, transformation, finding a personal path, and the greatest gift of all, love. Read it straight through, or essay by essay, for daily meditations on the mysteries of God, love, and the spiritual path.
About The Author
Alan Cohen is the bestselling author of A Course in Miracles Made Easy and of the newly-released Spirit Means Business. Join Alan and musician Karen Drucker in Hawaii, December 1-6, for an extraordinary retreat, “A Course in Miracles: the Easy Path.” For more information about this program, Alan’s Holistic Life Coach Training beginning January 1, his books and videos, free daily inspirational quotes, online courses, and weekly radio show, visit www.alancohen.com