"Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists.
Herein Lies the peace of God."
Course in Miracles
Forgiveness and Healing
VII. Practical Forgiveness
The practical application of the Holy Spirit's purpose is extremely simple, but it is unequivocal. In fact in order to be simple, it
be unequivocal. The simple is merely what is easily understood, and for this it is apparent that it must be clear. The setting of the Holy Spirit's goal is general. Now He will work with you to make it specific[, for application
specific]. There are certain very specific guidelines He provides for any situation, but remember that you do not yet realize their universal application. Therefore it is essential at this point to use them in each situation separately, until you can more safely look beyond each situation in an understanding far broader than you now possess.
In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is, "What do I want to come of this? What is it
?" The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome. In the ego's procedure, this is reversed. The situation becomes the determiner of the outcome, which can be anything. The reason for this disorganized approach is evident. The ego does not know what it wants to come of it. It is aware of what it does not want, but only that. It has no positive goal at all.
Without a clear cut positive goal, set at the outset, the situation just seems to happen and makes no sense until it has already happened. Then you look back at it and try to piece together what it must have meant. And you will be wrong. Not only is your judgment in the past, but you have no idea what should happen. No goal was set with which to bring the means in line. And now the only judgment left to make is whether or not the ego likes it—is it acceptable, or does it call for vengeance? The absence of a criterion for outcome set in advance makes understanding doubtful and evaluation impossible.
The value of deciding in advance what you want to happen is simply that you will perceive the situation as a means to
it happen. You will therefore make every effort to overlook what interferes with the accomplishment of your objective and concentrate on everything which helps you meet it. It is quite noticeable that this approach has brought you closer to the Holy Spirit's sorting out of truth and falsity. The true becomes what can be used to meet the goal. The false becomes the useless from this point of view. The situation now has meaning, but only because the
has made it meaningful.
The goal of truth has further practical advantages. If the situation is used for truth and sanity, its outcome must be peace. And this is quite apart from what the outcome
. If peace is the condition of truth and sanity and cannot be without them, where peace is they must be. Truth comes of itself. If you experience peace, it is because the truth has come to you, and you will see the outcome truly, for deception cannot prevail against you. And you will recognize the outcome
you are at peace. Here again, you see the opposite of the ego's way of looking, for the ego believes the situation brings the experience. The Holy Spirit knows that the situation is as the goal determines it and is experienced according to the goal.
The goal of truth requires faith. Faith is implicit in the acceptance of the Holy Spirit's purpose, and this faith is all-inclusive. Where the goal of truth is set, there faith must be. The Holy Spirit sees the situation as a
. The goal establishes the fact that everyone involved in it will play his part in its accomplishment. This is inevitable. No one will fail in anything. This seems to ask for faith beyond you and beyond what you can give. Yet this is so only from the viewpoint of the ego, for the ego believes in "solving" conflict through fragmentation and does not perceive the situation as a whole. Therefore, it seeks to split off segments of the situation and deal with them separately, for it has faith in separation and not in wholeness.
Confronted with any aspect of the situation which seems to be difficult, the ego will attempt to take this aspect elsewhere and resolve it there. And it will seem to be successful, except that this attempt conflicts with unity and must obscure the goal of truth. And peace will not be experienced except in fantasy. Truth has not come because faith has been denied, being withheld from where it rightfully belonged. Thus do you lose the understanding of the situation the goal of truth would bring. For fantasy solutions bring but the illusion of experience, and the illusion of peace is not the condition in which the truth can enter.
The substitutes for aspects of the situation are the witnesses to your lack of faith. They demonstrate that you did not believe that the situation and the problem were in the same place. The problem was the lack of faith, and it is this you demonstrate when you remove it from its source and place it elsewhere. As a result, you do not see the problem. Had you not lacked the faith it could be solved, the problem would be gone. And the situation would have been meaningful to you because the interference in the way of understanding would have been removed. To remove the problem elsewhere is to
it. For you remove yourself from it and make it unsolvable.
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A Course in Miracles
Introduction to Lessons 181 - 200
Our next few lessons make a special point of firming up your willingness to make your weak commitment strong, your scattered goals blend into one intent. You are not asked for total dedication all the time, as yet. But you are asked to practice now in order to attain the sense of peace such unified commitment will bestow, if only intermittently. It is experiencing this which makes it sure that you will give your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth.
Our lessons now are geared specifically to widening horizons and direct approaches to the special blocks which keep your vision narrow and too limited to let you see the value of our goal. We are attempting now to lift these blocks, however briefly. Words alone can not convey the sense of liberation which their lifting brings. But the experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself. Your motivation will be so intensified that words become of little consequence. You will be sure of what you want and what is valueless.
And so we start our journey beyond words by concentrating first on what impedes our progress still. Experience of what exists beyond defensiveness remains beyond achievement while it is denied. It may be there, but you cannot accept its presence. So we now attempt to go past all defenses for a little while each day. No more than this is asked because no more than this is needed. It will be enough to guarantee the rest will come.
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A Course in Miracles
All things are lessons God would have me learn.
God does not know of learning. Yet His Will extends to what He does not understand in that He wills the happiness His Son inherited of Him be undisturbed, eternal and forever gaining scope, eternally expanding in the joy of full creation, and eternally open and wholly limitless in Him. This is His Will. And thus His Will provides the means to guarantee that it is done.
God sees no contradictions. Yet His Son believes he sees them. Thus he has a need for One Who can correct his erring sight and give him vision that will lead him back to where perception ceases. God does not perceive at all. Yet it is He Who gives the means by which perception is made true and beautiful enough to let the light of Heaven shine upon it. It is He Who answers what His Son would contradict and keeps his sinlessness forever safe.
God offers no forgiveness, for He knows no sin is possible. And yet He let His holy law of Love be given form in which it could be offered to the world. And He created One Who could perceive what form this law should take, to be received by every mind which had forgotten it as it exists in Heaven and in God. Thus He encompassed what He could not see nor understand by giving of His Love and making Answer to a question which, though meaningless, His Son had asked of Him.
The One Whom God created to replace the foolish thoughts which crept into the mind of His most holy Son with peace and joy fulfills His function now. He redirects each lesson you would teach in hate to one in which forgiveness enters, and returns the hate to love, so that the fear is gone. And now guilt cannot enter, for its source has been excluded as the purpose of the lesson has been changed to guiltlessness; the hatred has been rooted out by love.
These are the lessons God would have you learn. His Will reflects them all, and they reflect His loving kindness to the Son He loves. Each lesson has a central thought, the same in all of them. The form alone is changed, with different circumstances and events, with different characters and different themes apparent but not real. They are the same in fundamental content. It is this:
Forgive and you will see this differently.
Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form. It is this sameness which makes learning sure because the lesson is so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end. No one can hide forever from a truth so very obvious that it appears in countless forms and yet is recognized as easily in all of them if one but wants to see the simple lesson there.
Forgive and you will see this differently.
These are the words the Holy Spirit speaks in all your tribulations, all your pain, all suffering regardless of its forms. These are the words with which temptation ends and guilt, abandoned, is revered no more. These are the words which end the dream of sin and rid the mind of fear. These are the words by which salvation comes to all the world.
Shall we not learn to say these words when we are tempted to believe that pain is real and death becomes our choice instead of life? Shall we not learn to say these words when we have understood their power to release all minds from bondage? These are words which give you power over all events which seem to have been given power over you. You see them rightly when you hold these words in full awareness, and do not forget these words apply to everything you see or any brother looks upon amiss.
How can you tell when you are seeing wrong or someone else is failing to perceive the lesson he should learn? Does pain seem real in the perception? If it does, be sure the lesson is not learned. And there remains an unforgiveness hiding in the mind which sees the pain through eyes the mind directs.
God would not have you suffer thus. He would help you forgive yourself. His Son does not remember who he is. And God would have him not forget His Love and all the gifts His Love brings with it. Would you now renounce your own salvation? Would you fail to learn the simple lessons Heaven's Teacher sets before you that all pain may disappear and God may be remembered by His Son?
All things are lessons God would have you learn. He would not leave an unforgiving thought without correction nor one thorn or nail to hurt His sacred Son in any way. He would ensure his holy rest remain untroubled and serene, without a care in an eternal home which cares for him. And He would have all tears be wiped away with none remaining yet unshed and none but waiting their appointed time to fall. For God has willed that laughter should replace each one and that His Son be free again.
We will attempt today to overcome a thousand seeming obstacles to peace in just one day. Let mercy come to you more quickly. Do not try to hold it off another day, another minute, or another instant. Time was made for this. Use it today for what its purpose is. Morning and night, devote what time you can to serve its proper aim, and do not let the time be less than meets your deepest need.
Give all you can and give a little more, for now we would arise in haste and go unto our Father's house. We have been gone too long, and we would linger here no more. And as we practice, let us think about all things we saved to settle by ourselves and kept apart from healing. Let us give them all to Him Who knows the way to look upon them so that they will disappear. Truth is His message; truth His teaching is. His are the lessons God would have us learn.
Each hour spend a little time today, and in the days to come, in practicing the lesson in forgiveness in the form established for the day. And try to give it application to the happenings the hour brought, so that the next one is free of the one before. The chains of time are easily unloosened in this way.
Let no one hour cast its shadow on the one that follows, and when that one goes, let everything that happens in its course go with it. Thus will you remain unbound, in peace eternal in the world of time. This is the lesson God would have you learn: there is a way to look on everything that lets it be to you another step to Him and to salvation of the world.
To all that speaks of terror, answer thus:
I will forgive and this will disappear.
To every apprehension, every care, and every form of suffering, repeat these selfsame words. And then you hold the key that opens Heaven's gate and brings the Love of God the Father down to earth at last, to raise it up to Heaven. God will take this final step Himself. Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him.
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All things are lessons God would have me learn.
This is an important Lesson and can easily be misunderstood because we are confused about the idea of God and lessons. It is helpful to look at our current thinking about God and His lessons to really uncover all our false and strange ideas about Who God is and what our beliefs are about His role in our lives in relation to what we are here to learn. The Lesson title sounds like God wants us to learn something. Yet the first line says that God does not know of learning, so we need to explore this further to understand what is being said.
We do not have to learn what we are because it is given; but, we are here to learn forgiveness as a way to remove the blocks to the love that we are. That is the function we are given through the Holy Spirit. What we are to learn is to let go of unworthiness and self-hate so we can remember what we are. We lay our unforgiving thoughts on the inner altar where truth resides. We do so by looking without judgment at our self-attacking thoughts so the Holy Spirit can dismiss them. Shining behind all appearances is the radiant Self, waiting to be revealed.
We are the ones that bring about the lessons, not God.
"And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked."
(T.21.II.2.5) (ACIM OE T.21.III.15) The Correction the Holy Spirit reveals to us is that there is another way of looking at everything. The interpretation He gives us is always the same: we are the guiltless Son of God. While the script for our lives has been written by us outside of this dream of time and space, it can serve a different purpose when the events of our lives are given over to the Holy Spirit for healing. What this means can be summed up by the word "humility." It is to admit that I am not in control of my life and everything I have taught myself, every concept I hold, and all thoughts of good and bad are misguided. Now I humbly ask for help in receiving a new interpretation of everything I perceive. I ask how I am to see every circumstance and situation that shows up in my life.
In other words, it is to stop thinking I know and to allow room for a new perception by stepping back and following Someone Who does know. This is the Holy Spirit, Who is in the right mind as a symbol of the love we are. In every challenging situation and every difficult encounter, we have an opportunity to choose to forgive so we can see everything in our lives as serving the purpose of healing the mind.
What we have come to believe is that we are victims of the world, and we have to get from others what they have taken from us. In other words, we blame others for our condition. When the pain becomes great enough, we become motivated to look for another way, meaning another teacher; we are no longer turning to the ego for guidance. We realize that turning to the ego only brings more suffering. Jesus asks,
"Do you prefer that you be right
(about the way you see the situation)
(T.29.VII.1.9) (ACIM OE T.29.VIII.43) This is what Jesus calls an invitation to the Holy Spirit. We turn to Him by giving it over to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation and realize that putting faith in our thoughts has never brought us peace or happiness.
The Holy Spirit does not send us Lessons. He knows our perfection, but He needs our cooperation so we can come to know it for ourselves. We need to be willing to bring our misperceptions to Him so we can be shown that there is a better way and a new way in which we can see everything with vision. With the separation came the belief that the world is outside of us and is the cause of how we feel. In fact, we learn through this Course that it is just a screen on which we project what is in our minds. As such, it is a helpful reflection of what we need to see within the mind that is the cause of our suffering. Mind is cause, and the world is effect. We have turned it around, believing that the world is the cause of what we feel, and as such, we feel victimized by the events of our lives.
Let's look at some of the ways we currently address the problems in our lives that come from our victim perspective. When difficulties occur in our lives, often our first thought is that God has something to do with it. This may or may not be conscious. It shows up in thoughts such as, "Why is this happening to me?" "What have I done to deserve this?" or more specifically directed at God, "Why is God punishing me?" or "What is the lesson that God is bringing me?" Jesus tells us,
"God does not perceive at all."
(W.193.2.4) As a result, God could not possibly have anything to do with this dualistic world of perception since He only knows Oneness. But while He does not know of the dream of this world, He hasn't left us without Help. He has given us the Holy Spirit.
"Yet it is He Who gives the means by which perception is made true and beautiful enough to let the light of Heaven shine upon it.
Forgiveness is the means given us by which perception is purified. When we experience problems, our usual response is to look to the ego for an answer to try to fix whatever we see as the problem. We may strategize how to solve the situations that cause us pain. We bring solutions to the problem based on past experiences, and if we successfully resolve the problem and our needs are met, we are happy. Yet the solutions we apply will never address the true source of our distress, which is the guilt in our minds. Only by releasing the guilt can we experience true peace.
We believe that we are on our own and it is up to us to try to solve the never-ending problems that show up in our lives. But they can never be truly solved because our focus is on solving them in the world when the source of every problem is in the mind. While we try to defend against outside forces, our peace and happiness are elusive because there is nothing outside of the mind. As long as we hold onto these misguided perspectives, we will continue to perpetuate the dream. The only undoing that is possible and the source of our true happiness is to turn to the Holy Spirit for His interpretation of every difficulty we encounter. This is the only Lesson to be learned.
We come to this world through birth, and we think that the game is already on and that we somehow have to teach ourselves the rules of how to play it. We feel alone in this process of learning, but increasingly, we either make adjustments to the world and learn to play the game, or we feel we have failed in successfully meeting its seeming requirements. Either way, we feel increasingly unworthy and unable to figure out how to achieve the peace and happiness we all seek. We have all learned lessons in this game of life and they form our concepts and beliefs about ourselves. Many lessons we learn through pain. If we have gone through several difficult relationships, we may learn not to trust again. If we were punished for cheating at school, we may learn not to cheat, or to get better at it. In any event, the meaning we give to each of these events is part of how we learn to get along in the world.
"The blind become accustomed to their world by their adjustments to it. They think they know their way about in it. They learned it, not through joyous lessons, but through the stern necessity of limits they believed they could not overcome. And still believing this, they hold those lessons dear, and cling to them because they cannot see. They do not understand the lessons
them blind. "
(T.21.I.4.1-5) (ACIM OE T.21.II.6)
No matter what the form of our ego lessons, the content is always the same, which is more guilt, more unworthiness, and more despair. The ego tries to reinforce, daily, that we are separate from God, we have spoiled our perfection, our will is different from God's, we are not as God created us, we are born in a body, and we are flawed and separate. It reinforces the idea that our strength is in us alone, and thus, we can only depend on these limited, vulnerable selves that we think we are. The world is throwing things at us, and we feel it is up to us to figure out what to do. We are constantly changing, adjusting to external circumstances, and trying to be nice, but sometimes the world just pushes us too far and hatred breaks through the niceness.
As said earlier, we may also believe that God sends us lessons that we try to discern as to their meaning. Since God does not know of this illusion, the God, Who we think is sending us difficult lessons, is actually the God made up by the ego that is talked about in the Laws of Chaos,
"For if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept His Son's belief in what he is, and hate him for it."
(T.23.II.6.6) (ACIM OE T.23.III.24) In other words, God just becomes a more powerful ego. We now fear Him and see Him as the enemy Who sends us difficult lessons in order to build our character. How can we trust a God like that?
The ego has done a good job of teaching us that the world is the cause of our difficulties and that we are its effect. As a result, we have learned to protect and defend ourselves physically and emotionally. Yet Jesus shows us the only lesson we are to learn is to forgive our wrong-minded perspectives. Forgiveness is the closest we come in this world to God’s Love. The Holy Spirit shows us that behind all forms of this world the content is always the same. The content behind all forms is love, but it is kept hidden until we learn to see with vision. Our eyes only show us forms of this world. To see the love behind the forms, we need to undo the way we see now. We need a new perception. That is what the miracle offers us.
When we hold thoughts of anger, distress, victimhood, demands, expectations, betrayal, lack, loneliness, and unworthiness, our self-attacking thoughts get projected onto the world. These are the thoughts we need to bring to awareness so they can be released. That is what forgiveness offers. In other words, no matter what is going on around us and no matter the nature of the problem, the answer is always to forgive. We do this by looking at our thoughts without judging ourselves for them but simply bringing them to awareness. Our stories may vary and have
"different characters and different themes,"
(W.193.3.4) but behind them all, we are called to accept the Holy Spirit's purpose of forgiveness. Forgiveness shows us that none of the seeming problems of this world are real. Thus, for all problems, the answer is always the same. It is to recognize their unreality.
All learning is about how to perceive correctly. God does not understand the condition we are in, as He knows us only as complete and whole. He wants us to return Home to Him so He has given us the Holy Spirit to be our Guide and Helper. While the events, circumstances, different characters, and different themes in our lives all seem unique and different for each of us, they all contain the same lesson.
"Forgive, and you will see this differently."
I had a situation in my life where I was being sued by someone. I perceived her doing something to me that brought me pain and distress. I was angry at her for the pain that I perceived was being caused by her actions. I felt victimized, betrayed, and hurt. I questioned what I had done to deserve this and how I could solve the problem. Then, the realization came that I had been given an opportunity to see how I was keeping us both bound to guilt. I was using this situation to demonstrate that I was right, as I had set all of this up to prove I could be victimized. I perceived myself vulnerable to attack. She was guilty and I was innocent. I wanted to prove that the problem really did exist out there, rather than as a result of the guilt in my own mind. I did not want to accept that my suffering came entirely from my own guilt. This situation was simply a witness to the guilt I was holding in my mind.
Jesus reminds us over and over that guilt is the content behind all problems that we experience in the world. He makes the Lesson
"so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end."
(W.193.4.3) He asks us to see that whatever we find difficult in our lives has no external cause. Our minds have set up these situations to prove the truth of the ego's lessons of guilt and fear. The problem can only be solved in the mind where it originated in the first place. If we have guilt in the mind, we will call into our lives those situations that bring the punishment we think we have coming to us. The only answer is to look at the guilt and bring it to the light. The upsets that we think are coming from the world are generated by our belief in guilt. That is why Jesus asks us to recognize,
"I am never upset for the reason I think."
Jesus recognizes that to us
"all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness."
(W.193.4.1) If that is truly the content behind all events, circumstances, and situations in our lives, eventually we will learn that the sameness of the content makes our learning sure. We will get many examples of problems over and over so that eventually we will see that the only real change possible is through forgiveness. The answer is always the same no matter what the form of the problem. We will always suffer until we get this. Lack of forgiveness is where all pain comes from. Jesus says to learn this is simple. And that is because there is only one answer. We don't have to figure out a whole series of lessons to be learned. It is all the same.
"Forgive and you will see this differently."
Does this mean we don't take any action in the world? Of course not, but it does mean that the actions we take come from a place of peace, a place of forgiveness, and through guidance. Ultimately, Jesus reminds us that we have no control over the world we made.
"You still cannot will against Him, and that is why you have no control over the world you made."
(T.12.III.9.4) (ACIM OE T.11.IV.33) All the lessons we teach ourselves about living in this world are about learning how to get control, but this is only the illusion of control. He goes on to remind us that we do have control over our own minds. Thus, we can learn that it is never the world that causes us pain, but it is our mistaken decision to be separate and to be special. Through forgiveness, we are undoing the decision to be separate. We see that we are all the same and that our brothers
interests are our own. We are learning that we have been wrong, but that we can now turn to the Holy Spirit, Who is the Answer to all of our pain and suffering. We can learn to see everything, not as a threat, not as a loss, and not as an attack, but as a step in our own healing and thus as a step to wholeness and to God.
Jesus says that it is a simple thing to see our wrong choice in any moment.
"Does pain seem real in the perception? If it does, be sure the lesson is not learned."
(W.193.7.2-3) What is the lesson? The lesson is that there is unforgiveness still hiding in the mind. It means that I am choosing to see through the wrong-minded perception of the ego. It means that there is still guilt in the mind, calling to be undone. It is irrelevant whether I see the pain in me or in you, as it is the same. If I see victims and perpetrators in the world, I am seeing through my own guilt. I am choosing not to be at peace. Thus, forgiveness is called for. I recognize that I am using this situation to keep myself from the love that I am, and that I need help to forgive myself for my wrong perception. Jesus says,
"God would not have you suffer thus. He would help you forgive yourself."
(W.193.8.1-2) Suffering is something we impose on ourselves. If we choose to suffer, we are renouncing our salvation (happiness).
It is on behalf of our own happiness that Jesus pleads with us,
"Let mercy come to you more quickly."
(W.193.10.2) The guilt in the mind makes us think we don't deserve mercy, but time is ours to use for the purpose of undoing guilt. Thus,
"We will attempt today to overcome a thousand seeming obstacles to peace in just one day."
(W.193.10.1) He says that we have been gone from our Father's house much too long. Why would we linger and keep our suffering apart from healing when it could all disappear with the Help available to us?
Today, whatever the situation, whether a computer breaks down, a relationship is not working, or someone steals your car, instead of looking for the lesson in the world, or trying to figure out what to do, what if we realized that
"This is the lesson God would have you learn: There is a way to look on everything that lets it be to you another step to Him, and to salvation of the world"
(W.193.13.1) Yes, the situation may still be there to be attended to, but the distress of it is gone when we forgive. Forgiveness is about looking at the ego without judgment or fear. Now the problem, as we have defined it, has disappeared. With forgiveness, the power of that situation to hurt us has now been neutralized. That is what each situation is there to teach us over and over and over until forgiveness becomes our entire focus for our time in this world.
Today, we remind ourselves,
"I will forgive, and this will disappear
"every apprehension, every care and every form of suffering,
(W.193.13.4) and everything that bothers us, we could see it differently by looking at our thoughts about it, without judgment. Today, in watching the mind, it is important not to let the little annoyances and irritations go by without taking the time to look. The more we practice this daily, the more we make every instant a holy instant and take the steps necessary to open Heaven's gate. The words of this Lesson,
"Forgive, and you will see this differently,"
(W.193.5.1) have immense power when sincerely applied to every situation.
"Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him."
Love and blessings, Sarah
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