Pain and suffering are not God’s will. Nor are scarcity and lack. Our perception of them is a simple indication that we remain invested to the ego, which insists on conflict, from which all these other difficulties flow.
The antidote is simple: we have to remind ourselves that “God still is Love, and this is not His will” (W-pI.99.6:8).
That is the essence of forgiveness: a gentle insistence that the world and the self cannot prevail against the natural extension of Divine Love. Illusions dissolve in the Light of Reality.
The temptation is always to change the world and the self. Perhaps we donate to “good” causes. Or grow our own food. Or work for non-profits.
Or we do yoga daily. We practice the daily lesson of A Course in Miracles. We become vegetarian. We exercise more. We enter psychotherapy.
We want to correct what appears to be in error. We believe that
. . . something has gone wrong; something to be saved from, forgiven for; something amiss that neds corrective change; something apart or different from the Will of God (W-pI.99.1:2).
But the course is clear: all that is “a thing impossible” (W-pI.99.1:3).
Jesus makes a subtle but important point here. Forgiveness is not a creative engagement with external problems, but rather the willingness to see they are illusory. The egoic impulse – the human inclination – is to fix things. The course asks us to consider instead that nothing is broken.
If we aren’t careful, this can tie us up in knots. We’ll feel guilty for seeing doctors, or going for a run, or volunteering at the local shelter, or relying daily on A Course in Miracles, or being devoted to a certain teacher.
Illusions are not undone in the blink of an eye. Therefore, while we are here, it is okay – it is more than okay, actually – to be kind to your illusions. Choose and practice what feels most loving. And then forget about it because it doesn’t matter.
For example, some of you know that a mainstay of my spiritual practice is walking in the forest with my dog. That is peace and joy. I spend hours out there sometimes, often just wandering in circles, or sitting by brooks, or tracking moose or bear when I find some sign of them.
It is meditative and prayerful and there is no space or practice – physical, emotional, spiritual or otherwise – that feels so sacred to me.
But the course does not equivocate: the forest, the dog, the body that perceives them are all illusions.
Does that mean I should stop that practice? Or feel bad about doing it?
No. Rather, it means that I should recognize that practice is but a shadow of a shadow of a shadow of Love. It is merely that activity in which my fear of Love is briefly and oh-so-minutely diminished.
But it is not Love itself. By definition, that which is external never is. That which is external is – as Lesson 99 indicates – impossible. Even when it appears mighty sweet and fine, it’s still impossible. The Happy Dream is still only a dream and our goal is to wake up.
What do we do then?
We practice forgiveness. Day by day, hour by hour – and minute by minute if we really want to get intimate with the spirit – we gently remind ourselves that “God still is Love, and this is not His will.”
We say that when the doctor tells us we have cancer and we say it when she says the cancer has mysteriously disappeared.
We say it when we’re walking our beautiful dogs in the woods and we say it when one of them dies and doesn’t seem to be walking with us any longer.
No matter what occurs, “God still is Love, and this is not His Will.”
Your Father loves you. All the world of pain is not His Will. Forgive yourself the thought He wanted this for you. Then let the Thought with which He has replaced all your mistakes enter the darkened places of your mind that thought the thoughts that never were His Will (W-pI.99.7:3-6).
Forgiveness is an internal movement. Healing is internal. It’s all internal.
Don’t be afraid to have a life – even a happy one. Why not? Express yourself lovingly. Extend as much as you can. But don’t confuse any of that with Love or Reality.
Instead, we can pass through this world lightly – not taking it so seriously – and devote what remains of time to restoring to our minds the simple fact that is the ground of salvation.
God still is Love, and this is not His Will.