June 2014 – “Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.”

“The major difficulty that you find in genuine forgiveness on your part is that you still believe you must forgive the truth, and not illusions…” Workbook page 248, Lesson 134.

A Course in Miracles has a completely different definition of forgiveness from the usual meaning of the word. Most of us believe that when we forgive someone, we are actually pardoning them for an error or a sin they have committed. But ACIM tells us that when we forgive someone, we forgive them for a sin they have not committed. The reason for this is that everything we experience in our lives has been projected out of our own minds and, because of this, it only exists in mental matter; it does not exist in reality. Furthermore, everyone is all part of the one sonship—God’s only Son. Therefore, there isn’t really anyone else who is separate from us, and so there is no need to forgive anyone. This is known as quantum forgiveness or radical forgiveness. It leads to healing because it undoes the idea of separation in the egoic mind.

Lesson 134 points out that forgiveness follows naturally from the belief in the fact that we cannot sin in this world. “It is sin’s unreality that makes forgiveness natural and wholly sane, a deep relief to those who offer it; a quiet blessing where it is received…Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. It sees their nothingness, and looks straight through the thousand forms in which they may appear…” W249. In other words, all the many types of sinful deeds we perceive in this world are illusions, and forgiveness recognises this. It overlooks what has not happened. “Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven.” W401

Whenever we are tempted to judge another or accuse them of a sin, Jesus advises us, in Lesson 134, to ask ourselves: “Would I accuse myself of doing this?” We, most probably, would not accuse ourselves of committing the same sin, and as there is nobody else out there in the world (since we are all one) then we cannot accuse someone else of committing the sin. It makes sense from a logical point of view but, at times, it is difficult to put it into practice. Yet, if we are unable to forgive, we will not be able to awaken from the dream of separation.

If someone is able to forgive, it will heal his mind. “He has been gently wakened from his dream, by understanding what he thought he saw was never there. And now he cannot feel that all escape has been denied to him.” W249. Gary Renard, in his book The Disappearance of the Universe, gives an excellent explanation of the mechanism of forgiveness: “I need to forgive myself by forgiving others instead of attacking them. Even if it’s just a mental judgment and I don’t say or do anything, an attack thought is still an attack thought. That’s why I have to monitor my thoughts. Whether I attack or forgive, I do it to myself because these people aren’t real anyway–they’re just symbols of what’s in my mind, just as I’m a symbol in the collective mind. The world doesn’t need God’s forgiveness; people need to forgive themselves by forgiving the images they see.”

Jesus gives us a useful exercise to carry out in Lesson 134. He asks us to think of one person who comes to mind whom we blame in some way. Think about all his offenses and then ask ourselves: “Would I condemn myself for doing this?” Then we need to forgive the person and, thereby, set him and ourselves free.

Forgiveness is so important in ACIM because we are told that each time we practice complete forgiveness, we experience a holy instant of release, and we are a step closer to liberation. This is because forgiveness helps us undo all the ego barriers in our mind. When we have completed all our forgiveness lessons and awakened from our dream world, the Course tells us that this world will gently slip away. Undoing the guilt in our minds through forgiving others is at the heart of the teachings of ACIM. It explains that when we are able to heal our relationship with others, through forgiveness, we are able to heal our relationship with God, which appeared to have been adversely affected by the sin or error of separation.

The Holy Spirit plays a role in the forgiveness process. The Course tells us that as we forgive we are able to hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit and He becomes our guide. If we follow Him, He will lead us Home. It’s a matter of turning away from the ego and listening to the Holy Spirit or our Higher Self instead.

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