Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All by Gerald G. Jampolsky, MD, Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., Hillsboro, Oregon, 1999; 123 pages, ISBN 1-58270-020-6, paper, $12.95.
Doctor Jampolsky is best known for his work with children suffering terminal catastrophic disease. His work at the Center for Attitudinal Healing, which he founded in Tiburon, California, has expanded to 120 such centers. (Cf. "Love is Healing, is Freedom from Fear," Sunrise, Oct/Nov 1981, for an interview with Dr. Jampolsky.) His healing of bodies and souls has helped numerous patients overcome the fear and pain they must inevitably undergo.
The author's emphasis is on the healing properties of a forgiving attitude; not only forgiving some hurt or specific wrongdoing, but accepting people and events for what they are, without either judging or indulging. This is an attitude like that advocated by Dag Hammarskjold, second Secretary General of the United Nations, who used the Swedish word livsbejakande, meaning "yes to life," an accepting of whatever befalls naturally: not condoning evil or excusing the author of it, but letting drop the heavy weight of resentment experienced by the ego, which feels anger and lust for revenge. Dropping these thoughts al- lows the hurt to heal naturally; for feelings of resentment, anger, and self-pity poison the mind and lodge in the fabric of the personality, only to issue in disease in due course.
We have to accept that we all are imperfect and prone to make mistakes of many kinds and grades of severity. We tend to make light of our own weak- nesses, but often see all too clearly the least mote in another's eye. This is not to say that we should ignore obvious wrong, but we can and should overlook other people's faults as part of a package deal which includes many worthy qualities that more than compensate for the character flaws we observe.
The author does not claim to cure his charges, though seemingly miraculous remission sometimes takes place. He does help his patients bring about a state of mind conducive to transforming pain and despair into cheerful acceptance of their plight and recognition that "we are spiritual beings who are just temporarily in these bodies of ours" (p. 1). When one of his patients dies, the event is greeted as a celebration rather than a tragedy, for it frees the imprisoned soul from its home of suffering.
Forgiveness is a small book, but it contains a wealth of original and helpful hints for anyone, sick or well. Its wisdom is rooted in experience, and the author does not hesitate to admit his own shortcomings when applicable. Many will be inclined to pocket a copy for frequent consultation.
(From Sunrise magazine, February/March 2000; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)
Behold, I do not give lectures or a little charity,
When I give I give myself. — Walt Whitman