Do you have that one person who drives you absolutely nuts? They push your buttons every chance they get. You forgive, you forget. You move on with your life  — but the next thing you know, they’ve done it again.

A lot of new-thought teachers that teach gratitude and love as the most powerful forces in the world. And I agree that they are. But you cannot put a band-aid of love and gratitude on top of negativity. The negativity seeps out, poisoning the well again and again until you do one thing.

Forgive yourSELF.

I was standing in the kitchen washing dishes. Mark came in and cracked a joke. The kids started cracking the same joke. No one could tell that my feelings were really hurt. I mean, seriously hurt. It was all in good fun for them. Had it been about anything else in the world, I would have probably laughed along with them. For some reason, this “joke” brought tears to my eyes.

The stark difference in their experience and my own experience was telling. I allowed myself to feel the emotion, knowing it was only a pattern and that it wasn’t really me. And then I asked myself how I could stop this pattern from bringing me to tears.

Spirit, which can be rather loud and unmistakable here in Mount Shasta, spoke.

It said, “Forgive yourself.”

I immediately got a higher-self impression of a past-life experience. A part of me that I did not understand or even know felt guilt surrounding this experience, and as such I have chosen a pattern of karma to balance that experience in this lifetime. That’s all it was.

Now, I cannot tell you specifically what that lifetime was. I don’t know. I cannot even tell you specifically what the pattern was or how it balances that guilt that a part of me is feeling. I don’t know why this dropped into my experience at that time, but I do know that I am supposed to write about it and share it with you.

In that split-second moment of awareness and understanding, I got a massive gift. I got a clear understanding of how and why ho’oponopono* works, I got a clear understanding of the teachings of the Buddha, and I got a deep understanding of what Christ said when he said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

(*Ho’oponopono is a ancient Hawaiian practice of “making things right.” It heals past hurts in relationship and cultivates forgiveness. It’s a powerful process, but it really is simply cultivating forgiveness and love. Mark has more about it on his blog.)

Forgiveness of the self, all parts of the self, all parts of creation, is the key to our freedom.

The Buddha’s primary teaching was that Nirvana was not something outside of us. It is within. He became his own guru, sat under the bodhi tree, and became enlightened, discovering the clearing of karma that is Nirvana. This awakening, this enlightenment, was not something he learned outside of himself. His search as Siddharta for his guru was fruitless. And for all of us, the path is similar. We look within. It is all within, because our experience is all us.

If it comes into our awareness, it is our own creation. The exterior is a mirror reflecting all that is within us. Yes, it is even reflecting parts of ourselves we don’t yet fully know. And the more we clear, the larger our sense of self becomes.

We do not need to ask the Divine to forgive us. We do not need to ask anyone else to forgive us. We don’t even need to forgive another person. We simply forgive ourselves for whatever is happening and however we brought it about.

The basis of most spiritual teachings is about taking personal responsibility for everything. If it shows up, you clear on it. Clearing is forgiveness. It is allowing whatever shows up to be what it is, but letting go of whatever is showing up with forgiveness.

As this new awareness came in, I began meditating, asking my Inner/Higher Self for guidance in what parts need forgiveness. And I forgave those parts of me. I let them go. Let go of your own hurts caused by others, and claim responsibility for whatever karmic balance is bringing this experience to your attention.

Forgive yourself, all parts of yourself, and know that all is right between you and others. Nirvana is within you. We simply must let go of all beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and patterns that stand between you and the enlightenment that is waiting for us to open to it.