Forgiveness: Telling our Stories in New Ways

ForgivenessOrder CD: $22.50 (includes shipping and handling)

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Kudos for Elisa's "Forgiveness" CD

 “This CD is a set of tales and ideas that I will return to often. Truly it is a treasury of the work of healing story for our times. I'm going to share it with everyone I know.”
M. Gillard, Author of Storyteller, Storyteacher: Discover Storytelling for Teaching and Living.

“I think you have a gold mine... it certainly brought me a great deal of understanding...”
E.  Secci, Storyteller & Interfaith Minister

“I love the forgiveness CDs, and am using your insight with my own clients.”
S. Kohler, Professional Counselor

"Forgiveness" also gives us the treat to discover Elisa the storyteller, and what a strong storyteller she is. Her delivery is natural, pacing immaculate, and her voice and style makes it wonderful to listen to. She invokes sadness and joy in her telling, and each tale is given a power that few can deliver as well as Pearmain...”
Simon Brooks, Storyteller, Voice Talent, Trainer. Read the rest of Simon Brooks’ review.

A two CD program of stories for healing your past and living peacefully in the present.
By Elisa D. Pearmain, LMHC
Two hours of listening including 16 stories from many traditions, commentary and exercises to help the listener and those they serve to heal from the past and live more joyfully in the present.

How does this CD program help us to forgive?

Hearing the stories of others helps us to hold our own experiences of wounding and forgiveness with more compassion. We know that we are not alone. We experience the tasks on the forgiveness journey vicariously and embed them in our imaginations. We are reminded of our common humanity, and find courage and inspiration.

The CD takes the listener through 8 sections:

First we explore what forgiveness is and isn’t and how to protect ourselves from further harm. We remember that we already know how to practice forgiveness and that we have also been forgiven many times.

We explore the grief process which is almost always necessary when we have been betrayed or have suffered a loss that requires forgiveness.

We learn about cultivating empathy for ourselves and others so that we may learn not to take the wounds we experience so personally, and can honor the needs we were trying to meet when we made certain decisions.

We devote a whole chapter on forgiving ourselves which is most often at the root of an unhealed wound.  We look at forgiving ourselves for specific imagined failings as well as for a general sense of shame that often deepens our self blame.

We look closely at the roots of our anger and what it is that keeps us from forgiving.

Then we learn how to tell our stories in healthier forward thinking ways.

The CD culminates with a section on cultivating a forgiving stance in everyday life, for the benefit of all beings.

All this is done through the lens of mindful self-compassion.

After each story Elisa will ask a question or offer a brief suggestion. You will be invited to stop the CD and write, share or contemplate, or to move on to the next story. Each story has its own marker on the CD.

What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness has been called “the most important contribution to the healing of our world” by author Marianne Williamson. Despite its power, it is often misunderstood. Forgiveness is not about condoning or forgetting acts of cruelty or setting ourselves up to be hurt again. Forgiveness is primarily a form of self-healing for the one who has been wounded. Forgiveness is about shifting the way that we hold and tell our life stories.

“Forgiveness is the act of untying oneself from thoughts and feelings that bind you to the offense committed against you.”  Katherine M. Piderman, Ph.D. Mayo Clinic

“Forgiveness is a way of life that gradually transforms us from being helpless victims of our circumstances to being powerful and loving co-creators of our reality.” Robin Cassarjian 

 “The peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”  Forgive for Good by Fred Luskin

ForgivenessCD 1 – Detailed source information

Section 1 – Getting Started

Story – Indra’s Net – Buddhist

I first found this story on the Internet in many forms. It is attributed to the Mahayana Sutras. This is my adaptation.

Story – Learning to Hiss – India

I first read this story in, Don’t Think of a Monkey and other Stories my Guru Told Me, by Swami Prakashanana. (Freemont CA: Sarasvati Productions 1994). 

Story – Writing in the Sand –I have it on good authority that this story is an old Arabic folktale. The late Brazilian author Julio Cesar de Mello e Souza also included it in one of his collections. Laura Simms has included it in her book, Stories to Nourish the Hearts of our Children in a Time of Crisis. (2001).

Section 2 – Being Forgiven
Story – The Meat Grinder - Personal

Section 3 – Grieving our Losses
Story – The Secret Heart of the Tree – Africa.

I first read this story in The Moral of the Story: Folk Tales for Character Development by Bobby and Sherry Norfolk (Little Rock: August House, 1999). My dear friend Alexandra Petrovic translated it from the French version for me and I included it in my collection, Once Upon a Time: Storytelling to Teach Character and Prevent Bullying, (Character Development Group, 2006). I have adapted it further for this CD.

Story – The Mustard Seed – Buddhist

This story is one of the most widely told of the Buddhist stories and comes from early Pali texts. You can find it on the internet or in many collections including, Doorways to the Soul, Pearmain (Pilgrim 1998), and Favorite Folktales from around the World by Jane Yolen, (Pantheon Books, 1986.)

Story – Amaterasu the Sun Goddess – Japan

I first heard this story from Jay Goldspinner who included it in Spinning Tales Weaving Hope ed. By Brody et al, (New Society Publishers, 1992). You can also find versions in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell, 1978), and The Moon in the Well by Erica Helm Meade  (Open court Publishers 2001)

Section 4 – Empathy
Story – The Dervish in the Ditch – Sufi

I first heard this story from Doug Lipman who includes it on his audiotape: Milk from the Bull’s Horn: Tales of Nurturing Men (Cambridge: Yellow Moon Press, 1986.)  I am told that there is also a Zen version but I have not found it myself.

Story – The Gift of Time – India 

This I read on the internet quite a few years ago. My neighbor Hema who grew up in India said she had heard and read the story but we were unable to track it down.

Meditation - Loving Kindness in the Buddhist tradition.


CD 2 – Detailed source information

Section 5 – Forgiving Ourselves
Story – The Two Monks – Buddhist

This story is widely published including in Zen Flesh Zen Bones, by Paul Reps (Rutland, VT, 1947), in The Song of the Bird by Anthony De Mello, Doorways to the Soul, Pearmain (Pilgrim Press1998).

Story – Her Story in Motion* – Personal

Story – The Kiss – Celtic

I found a version of this in Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell, 1978. This is my adaptation, especially the beginning which I took from another Fairy Tale, The Water of Life.

Section 6 – Letting Go of Anger
Story – Prince Dhigavu – Buddhist

There are many versions of this story in print. See “Brahmadatta, Dighiti and Digihavu” in Buddhist Parables translated from Pali by Eugene Watson Burlingame, (Yale University Press, 1922). “Prince Dighavu” in Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents by Sarah Conover, (Eastern Washington University Press, 2001)See “Peace that Lasts” in Wisdom in the Telling by Lorraine Hartin-Gelardi (SkyLight Paths Publishing, 2006).

Section 7 – Telling a New Story
Story – Telling the Whole Story* – Adapted by Elisa from an African Ritual from the Babema tribe in South Africa.

I read about this ritual in the Art of Forgiveness, Loving Kindness and Peace by Jack Kornfield, (Bantam Books, 2002).  Jack first learned of this ritual from the West African elder/author Malidoma Some.

Section 8 – The Forgiving Stance
Story – The Lost Ax – China

Heather Forest’s Wisdom Tales from around the World, (August House Publishers, 1996). Based on a Taoist parable by Lieh Tzu.
Jane Yolen’s Favorite Folktales from around the World, (Pantheon Books, 1986.) Chinese folktale.
Stories of the Spirit Stories of the Heart, by Christina Felman and jack Kornfield, (Harper Collins, 1991). Attributed to German origins.

Story – Erin’s story – This story is retold with the permission of storyteller Erin Johnston.

Story – The Lost Horse – China

Wisdom Tales by Heather Forest (August House Publishers, 1996) as a Taoist parable by Liu An.
Favorite Folktales from around the World by Jane Yolen (Pantheon Books, 1986.) Chinese folk tale.
Sweet and Sour: Tales from China, by Carol Kendall and Yao-wen Li (Seabury Press, 1978).
Story – Jesus’ Purse – Sufi
Expanded from “The Answer of Jesus” by Attar of Nishapur, found in The Way of the Sufi, by Idries Shah (Octagon Press, 1980).

All rights reserved. No part of this program may be reproduced without the sole consent of the author, Elisa Pearmain.

* I refer a few times in the program to former clients. Please note that all of the names have been changed and information has been slightly altered to protect their identities. In some cases several client stories have been melded into one.


Credits: Cover art by Victoria P. Pearmain.
Engineering and production by Robert Smyth at Yellow Moon Press.
Music by Girish from the song, “Diamonds in the Sun,” on the CD Diamonds in the Sun (2010) with the generous permission of Girish. Special thanks to Penny Post for her belief in the project and her excellent coaching and editing skills.