We Must Be Willing To Change Our Belief System, Let the Past Slip Away, Expand Our Sense of Now, and Dissolve the Fear in Our Minds

William James? Gerald G. Jampolsky? Judy J. Johnson? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Recently, I came across a quotation attributed to the famous philosopher and psychologist William James about the difficult task of changing one’s belief system. He stated that one must let the past slip away, and one must dissolve fears. I do not recall where I read this statement, and now I am not sure it was really from James. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that William James authored a matching quotation, and QI conjectures that the common misattribution is due to an error in a 2009 book. Details are given further below.

In 1979 psychiatrist and bestselling author Gerald G. Jampolsky published “Love Is Letting Go of Fear” which included the following passage. Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds. This changed perception leads to the recognition that we are not separate, but have always been joined.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading We Must Be Willing To Change Our Belief System, Let the Past Slip Away, Expand Our Sense of Now, and Dissolve the Fear in Our Minds

Notes:

  1. 1981 (1979 Copyright), Love Is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald G. Jampolsky M.D., Chapter: Introduction, Quote Page 13, (Same text as 1979 Celestial Arts edition), Bantam Books, Toronto and New York. (Verified with scans)

Forgiveness Is Giving Up All Hope of a Better Past

Anne Lamott? Don Felt? John A. MacDougall? Gerald G. Jampolsky? Gina Berriault? Dorothy Bullitt? Lily Tomlin? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: It is not possible to change the past. Yet, enduring grievances are often emotionally rooted in an irrational hope that somehow past actions can be altered, and a disheartening event can be excised. Here is a popular adage based on this insight:

Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.

The author Anne Lamott has received credit for this saying. Would you please examine its provenance?

Quote Investigator: Anne Lamott did include an instance in her 1999 book “Traveling Mercies”; hence, she helped to popularize the saying; however, she disclaimed credit, and the remark was already in circulation.

The earliest match located by QI occurred in a speech reported in “The Los Angeles Times” in 1991. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

As the Rev. Don Felt, pastor of the Iao Congregational Church, Maui, explained to those attending an interfaith memorial service on Nagasaki Day, Aug. 9, this year, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better past.”

QI does not know whether Don Felt coined this saying. The expression has been credited to others, and it also has been associated with twelve-step programs. This article presents a snapshot of current research.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Forgiveness Is Giving Up All Hope of a Better Past

Notes:

  1. 1991 December 2, The Los Angeles Times, Perspectives on Pearl Harbor: Apologies Across the Pacific by Brien Hallett, Quote Page B11, Column 4, Los Angeles, California. (Newspapers_com)