We are accustomed to forgiveness as a responsive action. At the level of the body and the world, we “forgive” those who hurt or offend or attack us. Even at the metaphysical level, at the level of A Course in Miracles, we want to first see the thing – the anger, the other, the resistance – and forgive it with the Holy Spirit or Jesus or whatever. That which needs to be forgiven proceeds forgiveness.
But I am saying that forgiveness has to come first, or else we are still stuck in the same old cycles, the same old patterns. It is a new way of thinking, to put forgiveness at the fore, but why not? When there is forgiveness there is peace. If we start with it, then conflict will not come into play.
Thought is by definition exclusive and judgmental – no matter how well-intentioned we are, this is true. Thought is reactive.
Forgiveness, then, is not a response. Can I say that? Forgiveness is the state of mind that does not recognize the other, it does not acknowledge the separation as real. It is the beginning, not the end, and not a means to an end.
What would that mean practically?
It would mean that our thoughts – that concatenation of image, symbol, language, feel – would have to cease. Thought is by definition exclusive and judgmental – no matter how well-intentioned we are, this is true. Thought is reactive.
So forgiveness is not of thought, it is not an idea. We can bring it down to that level – talk about it, get excited about it, learn about it and so forth – but it won’t operate there. It won’t awaken what sleeps and fitfully dreams.
In the ACIM workbook, in the lessons collected under the heading of forgiveness, we are that God is the home wherein we live and move (WpII.222.1:3).
God . . . is the Source of life, the life within, the air I breathe, the food by which I am sustained, the water which renews and cleanses me. . . How still is he who knows the truth of what He speaks today! (WpII.222.1:1-2, 5)
Forgiveness begins with the understanding that we are not separate from God. Our perception of separation – food upon plates, glasses full of water, prayer within, arms we hold and are held by – are all God. They are not reflections of God – they are God.
How easy it is to read that and say “yes, I agree.” I do it all the time. But what happens if we stop and give attention to it? If we approach life with that reverence, that care, that grace?
The answer is given – we are not separate from God. We learn that in our study and then it becomes our responsibility to bring it into application, to live from the truth of it. And we won’t want to! But there is nothing left really. For most of us practicing A Course in Miracles, the time to study and learn has ended. Now is the time to liberate and be liberated.
Forgiveness is the state of mind that accepts the truth that God is with us, that we live and move, are sustained and lifted, by God. It is not a response to beauty or injury, not a reparation or redress. It is the present moment unhindered by judgment.
The answer is provided everywhere . . . The holy instant is the interval in which the mind is still enough to hear an answer that is not entailed within the question asked (T-27.IV.6:4, 9).
The answer is given – always, everywhere, unconditionally. Over and over the course tells us this, puts it before us, opens the door.
And we cannot accept it – cannot live it – cannot bring it to application – because our minds are not still but flooded with thought. And thought is always a response, always a reaction. It is never original.
So we have to become very vigilant – intensely aware – giving attention at a pace and to a degree that heretofore seemed impossible. Forgiveness waits outside time and space yet is also here and now. Step around the seemingly impregnable wall of thought – find the space, the vast quiet – in which thought occurs, and forgiveness will meet you, and you will be home.