January 2010 – “The past is over. It can touch me not.”

“Unless the past is over in my mind, the real world must escape my sight. For I am really looking nowhere; seeing but what is not there. How can I then perceive the world forgiveness offers?” ACIM, Workbook page 442, Lesson 289.

The real world mentioned in the passage above refers to a world where we have overcome the ego and where everything has been forgiven. Those living in the real world have awakened from the dream of life on earth, and are no longer affected by the fear and guilt of the ego. Unlike this world, there is no pain or sorrow in the real world, and no unhappiness or strife. “The real world is the symbol that the dream of sin and guilt is over, and God’s Son no longer sleeps. His waking eyes perceive the sure reflection of his Father’s Love; the certain promise that he is redeemed. The real world signifies the end of time, for its perception makes time purposeless.” ACIM, Workbook p. 443.

Lesson 289 states that we can only awaken and live in the “real world” by forgetting the past. In order to do this we have to forgive; forgive those who seemed to offend or attack us and forgive ourselves for having created the ego and the world of form. We have to rise above fear and guilt and live in the present, harbouring no resentment towards anyone. The way to do that is to focus only on the present and remember: The past is over. It can touch me not.

So, whenever we meet someone who may have offended or upset us in the past, the best thing to do is to erase all memory of that. See that person with the slate wiped clean. It isn’t always easy to do, and it takes a lot of practice. But it really is the only option if we want to learn what ACIM is teaching us. “If you remember the past as you look upon your brother, you will be unable to perceive the reality that is now.” ACIM, Text p. 250. When we are able to look upon an enemy without condemnation or judgement, then a miracle has taken place. “….The miracle enables you to see your brother without his past, and so perceive him as born again. His errors are all past, and by perceiving him without them you are releasing him. And since his past is yours, you share in this release…” ACIM, Text, p. 251.

The reason we share the past with others is that we are, in fact, all one, united with each other and with God. Therefore, when we release someone from the past, we are equally released; when we forgive, we are forgiven. That is why forgiveness is one of the Paths back to God. It is through forgiveness that we can overcome illusions and awaken. By being forgiving we are acknowledging that there really isn’t anything to forgive because life on earth is simply an illusion. This is the way to defeat the ego.

“Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them….” ACIM, Workbook p. 73, Lesson 46.

Forgiveness takes place in the present. It is at this point in time that we release someone from his past, by choosing to be forgiving now, instead of condemning him for what he appeared to have done previously. The Course explains clearly why we need to remember that the past is over and that the present is the only time there is. “….Look lovingly upon the present, for it holds the only things that are forever true. All healing lies within it because its continuity is real. It extends to all aspects of the Sonship at the same time, and thus enables them to reach each other. The present is before time was, and will be when time is no more. In it are all things that are eternal, and they are one…” ACIM, Text p. 252.

Jesus is well aware of the hard work it takes for us to be completely loving and forgiving towards everyone. In Lesson 73 he advises us to repeat the following two sentences whenever we feel tempted to hold a grievance against someone: “I will there be light. Darkness is not my will.” We need to repeat that to ourselves as soon as any negative thoughts enter our mind, and we need to repeat it frequently. That will make it easier for us to remain in the present and let go of the past; and easier to be forgiving towards others instead of blaming and condemning.

What better way is there to welcome in a new year and a new decade, than to wipe the slate clean, and to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us in any way? This could be the most important thing we do all year because it could just bring about our salvation!

 

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