In different countries, after seminars on this material, participants have continued to meet in small groups fortnightly for up to a year, sometimes for longer, helping each other learn about this material, and exploring its beauty and depth together.
They overcome difficulties and produce wonderful results in their lives. They build deep and lasting friendships. You could do the same.
Action Circles are support groups for learning and practising Forgiveness Skills and the Goodwill Patterns
Number of Members: Three people is an ideal number, for at each meeting one can be the Forgiver, one the Guide, and one the Observer, these roles rotating so that within three weeks everyone gets a turn in each. But two or four could also work. Larger than that and the groups can become unwieldy, and it take too long for the rotation of roles to occur.
Frequency of meetings: Weekly is best, the work gets completed quicker, and the group's learning is faster. Fortnightly is OK, but longer than that and the work becomes slowed,and interest may become hard to maintain.
Group Agreement: It is just as important for the small group as in the seminar, that members come to an agreement about rules and ethics for the group's meetings. This agreement could be based upon a discussion of the Guidelines for Building Community at the beginning of this manual, with adaptations by each group to meet their own requirements. Confidentiality, trust, acceptance, no competition, cooperation, "I"-statements, honesty, 100% commitment to the group's process and the forgiveness work, and so on - these are all things that need to be discussed clearly, and be agreed upon by all at the first meeting. It is also important to discuss how difficulties, if they arise, will be handled by the group. This is excellent practise in knowing your needs and stating your preferences clearly!
Meeting places: This could be in rotation at each others' homes, or at an agreed place. Obviously the group must be undisturbed during meetings.
Suggested format for meetings: What has worked well for other groups is to:-
1. Have a round of sharing where every member shares in turn telling of his or her experiences since the last meeting. It is wise if this is focused and specific to the purpose of the group and not a rambling "chat". Experiences with the use in daily life of the Goodwill Patterns, and any effects of using the forgiveness processes are the essentials here. Insights gained, lessons learned, successes achieved, obstacles overcome or difficulties to be overcome are useful.
This kind of sharing can be most productive, especially if the other members just listen lovingly and acceptingly. Interrupt the speaker very little, if at all. Speakers, keep to the group task, and remember that gossip about people outside the group, and criticisms of self or others are to be avoided. People outside the group should be spoken of only in the light of the Goodwill Patterns or the Forgiveness Processes.
2. Next, the next of the Goodwill Patterns derived from the Aramaic words could be taken as a theme for the coming week. The meditation or exercise on it could be done, and the groups discusses how it could be applied in their own lives. They agree to meditate daily upon it, invoking its qualities and practising it as best they can in the coming week. They will share their experiences at the beginning of the next meeting.
3. Someone volunteers to do forgiveness process and does it. This might be in rotation, or if there is urgency for someone their needs might take precedence over the roster.
4. Someone guides them through it.
5. The other(s) observe with two purposes: (a) to be detached and develop powers of observation of process, and give feedback to the guide later, and (b) to be involved in the process and assist in the content . It takes skill and practise to do both these tasks simultaneously and the group's growth may be best served by doing one only according to where the need lies.
6. It goes without saying that each is seeking to practise unconditional
love within the group dynamics.
Here are the Stages of the Act of Will as outlined by Roberto Assagioli, applied thinking about the forgiveness process.
To heal and forgive. To enhance life, health, and relationships through Unconditional Love.
My Life and Health. Goodwill. Creativity. MORE THAN the negatives.
I weigh the benefits of doing it versus the burdens of not doing it.
Yes, I'll do it, and I will set aside other goals until I have completed it. I give it top priority now.
Making a list of all the people and events for which I need to apply the forgiveness process. Joyfully looking for all the occasions when I have blocked the flow of love through me. Listing the occasions for self forgiveness. Rank-ordering the incidents and starting with the easiest ones first. Becoming conscious of my own needs and subpersonalities lovingly and with good humour. Approving of myself for doing this project. Getting together with a friend or small self-help group. Using some of the exercises daily. Reading the notes and/or the book, perhaps several times. Practising the Transpersonal mind-sets (good attitudes) daily. Reviewing my progress with love and compassion for myself, either in my journal or with my support friend or group. Taking more courses in this (psychosynthesis and the forgiveness project). Recording the changes in my journal, to help evaluate my progress. Welcoming crises as opportunities for growth and learning. Forgiving myself for not mastering it all yesterday!
There is a tendency for a car to not steer itself - it must be guided by a vigilant driver. You will need to use vigilance and to apply the process from time to time, then you will be able to return to the safe course quickly and easily. But, like driving skills, it tends to get easier and become part of your unconscious skills in time. And like driving skill, it's worth it.
Early on in my work with forgiveness, I thought that it would be most unlikely that couples would be able to "handle" working on forgiveness with each other. This view was my own limitations speaking! Events happened which showed me that couples could greatly benefit from working on forgiveness processes together. If done in the right way, with trust, love and compassion, it greatly deepens their relationship.
As I came to think more about this, I could see that when I worked one-to-one with clients, benefits could certainly occur - but when couples came and worked together, the level of energy was higher, and the benefits increased exponentially. I was beginning to experience synergy - the group energy being greater than the sum of its parts.
Extend this principle. One person working on unblocking their loveflow in a family can certainly produce benefits. What can happen when a whole family does this work simultaneously? For example, what happens when the rest of the family forgives the "bad" one (the addict, offender, sick one, victim, perpetrator, etc....)? Some have begun to do this.
We all live in a "system" of networked relationships, and as you get deeper into this work, you will want to work at unblocking the loveflow, not only in your own body etc., but also in the "system" in which you live. Your family is where you can begin.
Extend this principle to the groups you belong to - the workplace (management and staff), the clinic, the hospital, the religious, political and other groups. What happens when everyone in such a group is practised in the forgiveness processes, so that Unconditional Love flows freely throughout the entire "system"?
Extend this principle to the larger groups on the planet. What happens when national and other prejudice and strife is replaced with a freely flowing love energy?
We can begin to see how the use of television and other rapid communication is already beginning to bring this possibility before us. (The work of Nelson Mandela, Mikhael Gorbachev, Mother Theresa, and many other individuals and international groups carries the hallmark of this style of thinking and acting). From time to time you will see how the theme of forgiveness comes up. Begin to imagine how this force for right human relationships could be fostered, developed, brought generally into public awareness, then into actual behaviour of groups. This brings us to the idea of:-
The United Nations has in the past declared other International Years - e.g. of the Child, of Women, etc. This has resulted in beneficial focusing of attention on certain important issues, raising consciousness, drawing out the inventiveness, creativity and productive service of countless people and organisations all over the world.
Much preparation has gone into these International Years - people, money and energy are gathered together and used constructively. Barriers between people have been broken down and international cooperation has been achieved.
Most importantly, let us remember, each of them began life as an idea,
which was then nurtured by the collective thought of many people into manifestation.
Give thought to what will be needed in terms of training teachers of the skill, finding the right language for different groups of people, writing suitable plays, songs, stories, etc., for skilful presentation by the media, gaining the support of groups - international, religious, political, educational, scientific, business and media groups, and so on.
If this is an idea that touches you and stirs you in your heart, and you give your attention to it, thoughts and actions will follow.
Write to the United Nations itself, the United Nations Association of the USA, 485 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10017 USA, your own local United Nations Association, your church, your politicians, or to Global Cooperation for a Better World, 866 United Nations Plaza, Room 582, New York, NY 10017, USA, about ideas and support you may have for this project. There are local branches of this in many countries. You could discover your own by contacting this main office.
Write to your country's Prime Minister, President, and/or Ambassador to the U.N. asking that the proposal be put to the U.N. General Assembly.
Visualise an International Year of Unconditional Love and Forgiveness for the years 2000 -2001 A.D., and an International Day of Forgiveness each year thereafter.
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