This blog post is the first of a two part series. This first post includes the What and Why. Part Two covers the How.
WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?
“Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.” – Lesson 134 in ‘A Course in Miracles’ (ACIM).
Lesson 134 in the ACIM workbook says, “Forgiveness must be practiced, for the world cannot perceive its meaning, nor provide a guide to teach you its beneficence. There is no thought in all the world that leads to any understanding of the laws it follows, nor the Thought that it reflects. It is as alien to the world as is your own reality. And yet it joins your mind with the reality in you.”
Forgiveness is not something that can be explained. Neither can there be a standard guide for its application. But despite being exposed to the word ‘forgiveness’ early on in our lives, few of us truly understand what it means. As a student on the path, we know forgiveness is an invaluable tool to move beyond the confines of the ego-mind. But most people are still unclear, what the practise of forgiveness means or don’t know what it involves. If you want to know, read on.
Most people on earth still believe we live in a “real” world. We experience events and incidents where either we attack someone or are attacked ourselves. This attack can be experienced as anger, jealousy, criticism, fear, anxiety, sadness, greed or a thought of judgement like “I know better, they never understand, he always does this, etc.” Such experiences generate some thoughts in our head or sensations in our body. Then we continue to carry these experiences and their impact on us, believing them all to be true. But what if none of this is true? Most Saadhaks have heard that “none of this is true,” but few have had the experience of this. And that is where Forgiveness comes in. It is a practise that takes you closer to this experience of Truth.
From the perspective of A Course in Miracles (ACIM), forgiveness is a path to Truth. It is not a process as much as a way of life. ACIM tells us that while there are many paths to Truth, forgiveness is the easiest one. According to ACIM, a forgiveness practice thus involves-
1) Seeing experiences, as projections we have created based on our own unconscious thoughts and guilt.
2) Taking responsibility for what we see out there.
3) Bringing it back home and releasing it with God.
ACIM reminds us that ‘all attack is an attack on God.’ We are afraid of God because we believe we are separate for God and are unconsciously afraid God will punish us for it. This guilt keeps us trapped in the mind, which generates experience upon experience to keep us stuck in thoughts and away from God. And it is this lie that forgiveness exposes.
WHAT SHOULD WE FORGIVE
ACIM says – “Forgive all thoughts which would oppose the truth of your completion, unity and peace.”
The world we see is symbolic. We must remember that everything in the world is just a projection of our guilt of separation from God. But since we can’t see that guilt and haven’t acknowledged it, we project that guilt out on to others in multiple different ways, by creating multiple different scenarios. These scenarios involve pain, sorrow, fear, death, destruction, revenge, anger… anything and everything that can keep us away from the Peace of God. What we need to do is – clean up our projections one by one, as and when we see them.
The mind can make this seem like an impossible task. The book Disappearance of the Universe (DOTU) reminds us – “Forgiveness is an attitude. Everything you learn becomes incorporated into that attitude until forgiveness happens automatically. For most people, especially during the first few years, forgiveness requires that you think about it. You become a master by having forgiving thought process.”
This is a valuable reminder since the ego can convince you forgiveness is another “dream activity.” The trick for the Saadhak is to remember that forgiveness is a dream activity, but it is the most valuable one of them all. Since it offers us the opportunity to move out of the dream.
WHY SHOULD WE DO IT?
DOTU says, “we must practise forgiveness on the level where our experience is. Yes, you have to understand the metaphysics of the course in order to understand what you are doing. But forgiveness is done here, which means you should be practical. And respectful of other people and their experiences.”
Even as we struggle to see this world as a dream, it is important to remember that this process of seeing begins with small steps. It begins by seeing every judgement, every episode of anger, every incident of sadness, every experience of illness as something that keeps us away from the Truth. The trick is to remember this and forgive ourselves for whatever it is we are experiencing. It is this forgiving that ACIM reminds us trains our mind to eventually see it all as a dream.
DOTU also reminds us that, “to forgive means to give ahead of time. In other words, your attitude is that you are ready to forgive, no matter what it is that comes up on your awareness.” This forgiveness opens us to the peace of God. Slowly and steadily we are lead away from the mind, towards God, towards Oneness.
If like ACIM says “we judge only yourself and forgive only yourself,” in this forgiving we forgive the world and begin to glimpse the dream for what it really is. And this slowly paves the way out for us.
For more on How to Forgive – click here