Iyanla Vanzant Asks, "Are You Ready to Forgive?"

Iyanla Vanzant

To forgive may be divine, but in a world rife with injustices and heartache is it really possible? According to the high priestess of healing, Dr. Iyanla Vanzant, the answer is yes—if you understand that forgiveness isn’t simply an act, but a state of mind, and that its greatest gifts flow to the giver, rather than the receiver.

Vanzant, a spiritual teacher, author and the host of the OWN series Iyanla Fix My Life, explained the distinction during an hour-long teleconference, “The Healing Power of Forgiveness,” on April 7. The talk, accessed by hundreds of listeners and streamed simultaneously online, was the second in a special eight-part series on mentoring launched by the National Cares Mentoring Movement  in partnership with the National Alliance of Faith and Justice’s PEN or PENCIL (penitentiary or education) program.  

The series, "Mentoring Mondays," is designed to ensure mentors’ well-being as they support children struggling in the margins. Every Monday through the end of May, National CARES will host life-affirming calls at 7:00 p.m., Eastern, with some of the nation’s most brilliant and inspiring leaders. The next call, “The Science of Retiring Debt and Building Wealth: You Have the Power!” is slated for Monday April 14 and will feature world-class economist and author Dr. Julianne Malveaux; to register visit caresmentoring.org. (You can listen to the first call of the series, with Georgetown professor and cultural commentator Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, in entirety here).

Hosted by Susan L. Taylor, Founder and CEO of National CARES Mentoring Movement and author, asha bandele, Vanzant kicked off the call by reminding listeners of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy on forgiveness. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is to devoid of the power to love,” she said. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, because like attracts like.”

True forgiveness, she added, “is a state of mind and a state of being, in which one recognizes and understands the fullness of the power and presence of love, which is God, to reign supreme in our consciousness.”

Refusing to embrace the power of forgiveness can lead not only to psychic pain, but physical manifestations, she said.  “Feelings buried alive do not die. They just land somewhere.” 

Acknowledging that some have trouble forgiving because they see it as condoning hurtful behavior, Vanzant emphasized that forgiveness “doesn’t mean saying that what has happened is okay.”

“It doesn’t mean you tolerate bad behavior,” she said. “Forgiveness isn’t for the other person. It is for you. It clears the energy of your heart and raises your vibration.”

Once you forgive, you then get to choose how you are going to be in relationship with the other person, she added.  “That choice is your power.”

Listen to the call with Iyanla below!