by contemplativeinquiry

Wisdom from Peter Russell, consciousness researcher. meditation teacher, and author.

“The conventional understanding of forgiveness is of an absolution or pardon: ‘I know you did wrong, but I’ll overlook it this time’. But the original meaning of forgiveness is very different. The ancient Greek word for forgiveness is aphesis, meaning ‘to let go’. When we forgive others, we let go of the judgements we may have projected on to them. We release them from all our interpretations and evaluations, all our thoughts of right or wrong, friend or foe.

“Instead we see that they are human beings caught up in their own illusions about themselves and the world around them. Like us, they feel the need for security, control, recognition, approval or stimulus. They too probably feel threatened by people and things that prevent them finding fulfillment. And, like us, they sometimes make mistakes. Yet, behind all these errors, there is another conscious being simply looking for peace of mind.

“Even those we regard as evil are seeking the same goal. It is just that for one reason or another – who knows what pain they may have endured in their childhood, or what beliefs they may have adopted – they seek that fulfillment in ways that are uncaring, perhaps even cruel. Deep inside, however, they are all sparks of the divine light struggling to find some salvation in this world.

“Forgiveness is not something we do for the other person so much as something we do for ourselves. When we let go of our judgements of others, we let go of the source of much of our anger and many of our grievances.

“Our bad feelings may feel justified at the time, but they don’t serve us – in fact, they usually cause more damage to ourselves than they do to the other person. The freer we are of our judgements, the more at peace we can be in ourselves.

“This change of perception is the essence of a change in consciousness. When I first heard of higher states of consciousness, I imagined they would bring awareness of subtler dimensions, possibly new energies, or some other aspect of reality that was beyond my everyday perception. Over the years, I have gradually realized that enlightenment is seeing the same world, but in a different light. It is not so much seeing different things so much as seeing things differently”.

Peter Russell From Science to God: A Physicist’s Journey into the Mystery of Consciousness Novato, CA: New World Library, 2002

Peter Russell had an early involvement in Transcendental Meditation (TM). To this day he says that the Beatles’ greatest contribution to culture was in showing the door to TM and other eastern contemplative systems. He took a degree in physics and experimental psychology at Cambridge University followed by a Master’s in Computer Science (and an early interest in graphics). On presenting a doctoral proposal on meditation to the psychology department he was laughed out of Cambridge, this being the 1970s. But soon afterwards he was offered a place, complete with his own ‘stress laboratory’, at Bristol. Before long he was invited by IBM to offer stress reduction programmes based on TM and his findings about what it could do. More corporate work followed. A pioneer in the field subsequently given its Theravadin Buddhist name ‘mindfulness’, Peter Russell is still active, with an involvement in Science and Non-Duality – – and his own Spirit of Now website at  – -.