Every day I pray for peace, an end to the war in Iraq, reconciliation and peace between Israel and Palestine, an end to the occupation of Tibet by China, an end to the genocide in Darfur. I spend my time trying to build a movement of spiritual progressives to contribute to this effort, to get people to sign our ad for peace at www.tikkun.org/iraq peace, to get people involved in Generosity Sunday April 15, and to work with us to get the liberals and progressives to push Congress to end funding for the war and to fund instead our plan for the Global Marshall Plan.
But sometimes, when I am about to go to sleep, I am filled with the troubles of the day. I worry that people who told me that they agreed with what they were reading in Tikkun or hearing me say in the Network of Spiritual Progressives (NSP) or in reading my book The Left Hand of God have not followed through financially to support our efforts to help spread our ideas. Or they haven't followed through with time and energy that we so badly need--they tell me "keep up the good work, Michael" but they don't actually join me. Or I remember the terrible things being done by our government or the pain of so many on this planet who do not have enough food to eat because of the global economic system we've created and sustained. Or I remember the ways that our environment is being systematically destroyed. And sometimes people intentionally try to hurt me or put me down, or hurt others whom I love, or our movement of spiritual progressives. All that sometimes makes me upset, angry or just filled with agitation. And then I remember the ways that I myself have not been the fullest embodiment of my own ideals, the ways I've been insensitive, or unnecessarily judgmental, or in other ways just didn't fully be the kind of spiritual leader I want to be. I know I have to forgive others and ask that they forgive me.
So I say the following prayer/meditation (below), based on the writings of the Jewish spiritual tradition and the wisdom of my teacher Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, and the wisdom of many other traditions as well. I invite you to try this for a week or two, and I think you'll find that it contributes to a more restful sleep and a more tranquil soul ready to engage in the necessary struggles and opportunities to build a world of love in the coming years. You don't have to believe in God or religion to use this meditation. Feel free to circulate it, post it, reprint it or even claim you wrote it (no private property in ideas) or use it in whatever way it can help you or others.
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Chair, The Network of Spiritual Progressives
Bedtime Prayer of Forgiveness
YOU, my ETERNAL FRIEND, WITNESS now that I forgive anyone who hurt or upset me or who offended me-- damaging my body, my property, my reputation or people that I love; whether by accident or purposely; with words, deeds, thoughts or attitudes.
I forgive every person who has hurt or upset me.
May no one be punished because of me. May no one suffer from karmic consequences for hurting or upsetting me.
Help me, Eternal Friend, to keep from offending You and others. Help me to be thoughtful and not commit outrage by doing what is evil in Your eyes.
Whatever sins I have committed, blot out, please, in Your abundant kindness, and spare me suffering or harmfulillnesses.
Help me become aware of the ways I may have unintentionally or intentionally hurt others, and please give me guidance and strength to rectify those hurts and to develop the sensitivity to not continue acting in a hurtful way. Let me forgive others, let me forgive myself, but also let me change in ways that make it easy for me to avoid paths of hurtfulness to others.
I seek peace, let me BE peace. I seek justice, let me be just. I seek a world of kindness, let me be kind. I seek a world of generosity, let me be generous with all that I have. I seek a world of sharing, let me share all that I have. I seek a world of giving, let me be giving to all around me. I seek a world of love, let me be loving beyond all reason, beyond all normal expectation, beyond all societal frameworks that tell me how much love is "normal," beyond all fear that giving too much love will leave me with too little. And let me be open and sensitive to all the love that is already coming to me, the love of people I know, the love of people who do join and work with me in my projects to heal and transform the world, the love that is part of the human condition, the accumulated love of past generations that flows through and is embodied in the language, music, recipes, technology, literature, religions, agriculture, and family heritages that have been passed on to me and to us. Let me pass that love on to the next generations in an even fuller and more explicit way.
Source of goodness and love in the universe, let me be alive to all the goodness that surrounds me. And let that awareness of the goodness and love of the universe be my shield and protector. And with that awareness, let me be energized to more fully contribute with my heart, my full dedication of time and money and energy, and my mind and soul, to the task of tikkun, healing the world, and finding the best ways that I can personlly do that.
Hear the words of my mouth and may the meditations of my heart find acceptance before You, Eternal Friend, who protects and frees me. Amen.
To connect to the community of people advancing these ideas, please go to www.spiritualprogressives.org