August 2014 – “Forgiveness is the only gift I give.”

Forgiveness is the only gift I give, because it is the only gift I want. And everything I give I give myself….Workbook page 447, Lesson 297

Why do we want forgiveness? Because forgiveness equals salvation (enlightenment). If we remember that forgiveness means overlooking what has not happened, i.e. letting go of illusions, salvation also involves releasing illusions. “Salvation…lets illusions go. By not supporting them, it merely lets them quietly go down to dust. And what they hid is now revealed; an altar to the holy Name of God whereon His Word is written, with the gifts of your forgiveness laid before it, and the memory of God not far behind.” W407.

A Course in Miracles tells us over and over again that without forgiveness we will not be able to remember our oneness with God and, therefore, we will not be able to awaken from the dream of separation. If we want God restored to our memory, then we need to offer the gift of forgiveness to everyone we meet. This is explained clearly in the Clarification of Terms section of the Manual for Teachers: “The face of Christ has to be seen before the memory of God can return…But the face of Christ is the great symbol of forgiveness. It is salvation. It is the symbol of the real world. Whoever looks on this no longer sees the world. He is as near to Heaven as is possible outside the gate. Yet from this gate it is no more than just a step inside. It is the final step. And this we leave to God.” M83.

The link between forgiveness and remembering God is also explained clearly in Lesson 122 of the Workbook. “Forgiveness lets the veil be lifted up that hides the face of Christ from those who look with unforgiving eyes upon the world. It lets you recognize the Son of God, and clears your memory of all dead thoughts so that remembrance of your Father can arise across the threshold of your mind…” W217.  The reason we do not remember our oneness with God is that when the mind split in two at the time of the “tiny, mad idea” of separation, we developed amnesia. We completely forgot about our unity with each other and God. But it is forgiveness that will help us remember.

Another interesting sentence in Lesson 297 is, “And everything I give I give myself.” This is because all minds are joined. Remember what Lesson 336 affirms: “Forgiveness lets me know that minds are joined.” Well, if I forgive someone it has to mean that I am also forgiving myself, because our minds are joined. Why do I need to forgive myself? Because my mind is full of fear and guilt (at the subconscious level) because I believe I have actually separated from Heaven and so I must be sinful. This is why the ego projects so much fear and guilt out into the world and it comes back as chaos and conflict. Isn’t our world the symbol of chaos and conflict?

The joining of minds is mentioned frequently in ACIM. On page 352 of the Text we are asked to give illusions to truth by handing them over to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. “…to give illusions to truth is to enable the truth to teach that the illusions are unreal, and thus enable you to escape from them…” Then it is explained that if we can’t forgive someone for their terrible deeds, it means we can’t forgive ourselves, even though, in the dream it may appear that we haven’t committed any crimes. This is because there is no separation; there is only one of us. So if I accuse someone of committing a crime or misdeed, I necessarily accuse myself of committing a crime or misdeed. It also means I believe illusions are the truth. “When you become disturbed and lose your peace of mind because another is attempting to solve his problems through fantasy, you are refusing to forgive yourself for just this same attempt. And you are holding both of you away from truth and from salvation. As you forgive him, you restore to truth what was denied by both of you. And you will see forgiveness where you have given it.” T352. Thus, by giving others the gift of forgiveness, we receive it ourselves.

Although salvation is the greatest gift we receive when we complete all our forgiveness lessons, there are many other rewards for being forgiving. In Lesson 122 we are told that forgiveness will give us, “…happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world…care and safety….a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset…” That sounds pretty amazing. But we all know from experience that whenever we forgive someone it feels as though a weight has been lifted off our shoulders. Yet, whenever we bear a grudge, it is as if we are carrying a heavy weight of negativity and anger around with us. And anger and negativity can make us ill.

The prayer in Lesson 335 seems a good way to end this discussion on the gift of forgiveness:

What could restore Your memory to me, except to see my brother’s sinlessness? His holiness reminds me that he was created one with me, and like myself. In him I find my Self, and in Your Son I find the memory of You as well.”

And that is why forgiveness is the only gift we really want; it will awaken us from the dream of separation.

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