I have often heard it said that we hear things at the level we are ready to receive them. Instinctively I have felt that this is probably true and certainly, I have had the experience of talking to someone and realising that they simply were not able to understand the point I was trying to make. But I don’t think I have ever consciously observed a transition to a fuller understanding in myself.
Over the last week I have had precisely that experience. It has happened in a number of subtle ways, but the clearest example has been recognising the central role of forgiveness in achieving spiritual integration.
Whatever spiritual growth pattern one favours, the higher levels requires integration of all that has gone before. I had never really considered before that forgiveness plays a major role in the process of integration. It is only because I have spent so much time thinking about forgiveness in recent months that I was attuned to the word.
When I heard it mentioned twice by both Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault in separate talks in different ways in a matter of hours I realised its significance. We cannot integrate if we are not able to let go of the past. And letting go of the past requires forgiveness.
It requires forgiveness of others who have wounded us. It requires us to ask forgiveness of those whom we have wounded. And it requires forgiveness of our younger selves. Without the release granted by forgiveness we will get occasional glimpses of integration but we will not be able to reside there for long.
There are other factors, I am sure, associated with the threshold to integration. For the moment, for me, this is the one that is uppermost.
I know that if I had heard these same talks a year ago I wouldn’t have noticed the significance of the mention of forgiveness. If I had noticed the word at all, I would have accepted it as self-evident. I would not have thought that forgiveness would be part of the threshold to integration.
It is deeply humbly to me to recognise that my own capacity to hear is so shaped by my own experience.