Inner peace is understanding all things created as what they are – free of judgment, and the demands that judgment places on them (e.g., T-30.V.1:3-5). But forgiveness precedes understanding (T-30.V.1:6), and until we have made it our practice, we will remain confused about what we are, what our function is, and what the purpose of the world is.
Implicit in this truth is the fact that forgiveness is not an intellectual exercise. Reason can show us the need for it, but some other action – some other motivation – is what brings us to its application. This is something that happens here – in these bodies and in this world. It is highly practical. It is a skill that can be learned.
To forgive is to want only what God offers. It is to live in the faith that creation is sufficient unto life and that nothing need be added and – more to the point – that nothing can be added. When this is the guiding principle of our lives, our motivation shifts and our action becomes inspired.
What do we bring to a given situation? We bring judgment in the form of expectation – things should be this way, not that way. This has to happen in order for me to be happy, and that can’t happen. This person can be involved but that one can’t.
The ego’s imperatives thrive in darkness and secrecy is its fuel.
Sometimes when I look closely at my thoughts – the wordy ones at the surface, but the deeper ones too, the ones that stir like oceanic currents, outside the immediate grasp of language – I am shocked to see how subtle and yet non-negotiable my demands and rules and conditions can be. We like to bathe ourselves in light but so long as we hide this greed and selfishness, the light cannot extend very far.
So forgiveness is about getting clear with all of that – allowing ourselves to witness it with a loving teacher (the Holy Spirit or Jesus, in ACIM parlance) and not freak out about it. The ego’s imperatives thrive in darkness and secrecy is its fuel. Forgiveness is a way of bringing light to shadow in order to undo the shadow’s more pernicious effects.
We can’t think our way though that experience. It is more in the nature of sitting quietly and watching our thoughts, and dropping through them, level by level, to see what else is there. What drives us? What are our wants? What are we willing to do to satisfy them?
If the level of intellect were sufficient to undo all this, then we would have solved the problem a long time ago, and A Course in Miracles – and myriad other expressions of the perennial philosophy – would not be necessary. The intellect has its place but spiritual inquiry with a goal of undoing illusion is not it.
Forgiveness is a new way of engaging with – of giving attention to – thought. It is clarifying in its devotion to perceiving wholeness in place of fragmentation. It is unfamiliar at first, but as we bring it to bear consistently in our lives – all corners of our lives – it will become more familiar. It will become less frightening, less discombobulating.
And in its wake we will begin to understand what it means to be in – to be – Creation itself. This is not primarily a material experience but rather a state of mind in which we see only means to happiness and joy, a path to peace from which deviation is neither necessary nor desirable.
We are not separate from God – and God is not separate from us – but arriving at this truth is not an intellectual experience. We may later use the intellect to talk about it – to leave notes for those coming after (hence my eternal gratitude to Emily Dickinson) – but the wordy logic of the brain is not the operative mode. Forgiveness is. And forgiveness is the quiet breath of Creation itself, gently infusing our will with a desire to know (through remembrance) only God, and to release – however slowly – each aspect of self that impedes that remembering.