Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
Forgiveness is the end of illusions, for it sees through them to reality, and thus releases us from bondage and suffering. It is a way of seeing, rather than a response to wrongdoing.
Lesson 134 offers us an interesting correction: when we see a brother or sister as sinful, we simply ask if we would accuse ourselves of the same sin. If we are honest, the answer is no. Why else have we projected it onto a brother or sister?
And as we refuse to burden our brothers and sisters with projection, and as we refuse to accept that burden in our own mind, we begin at last to perceive the truth as God created it. We begin to understand that none of the wrongs and ills in the world are real; we don’t need to solve them or deal with them in any way. We don’t even have to let them go. We can simply look past them to the truth which radiates God’s love (W-pI.134.2:5).
Forgiveness in A Course in Miracles is actually unrelated to wrongdoing of any kind. In bodies in the world, forgiveness is a gift we give another who has harmed us – it reflects our large-heartedness, our patience, our kindness, our Christ-like nature.
But that kind of forgiveness is a lie, because it reinforces the underlying error that sin is real. Therefore, it actually condemns our brother and sister by asserting they have actually done something wrong. And since we cannot lay a burden on another without experiencing it ourself, forgiveness is the world is simply another form of condemnation and lovelessness (W-pI.134.4:2).
There is another way.
It is sin’s unreality that makes forgiveness naturally and wholly sane, a deep relief to those who offer it; a quiet blessing where it is received. It does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. And there they disappear entirely (W-pI.134.6:1-3).
Thinking this way – and allowing this thinking to inform our living – becomes our new spiritual practice (W-pI.134.13:1). And it is a practice. This is not how the world sees forgiveness; it is not how ego counsels us to respond to apparent harms and ills. We have to remember, and when we forget, we begin again.
Forgiveness belongs in this complex sequence of lessons addressing the world’s unreality because it is forgiveness that sees past the world entirely, dismissing it as no more than a wisp of smoke to be blown away in a light breeze. Forgiveness is the practice by which our belief in the reality of the world is undone.
This happens by giving attention to the supposedly awful things others have done. Imagine the worst sin and picture the worst sinner and ask: would you accuse yourself of doing this? Your answer releases them from the bondage of projection and it releases you at the same time. Who does not see the world as sinful, sees what instead?
A world in which no longer have to fight imaginary enemies in order to be safe (W-pI.134.12:1-2). A world in which we do not need to wall others in or out, nor practice other forms of defense and attack (W-pI.134.3-4). We walk gently, inviting others to walk with us as we leave behind suffering and pain.
That this is not easy is understood. Simple perhaps, but not easy. That is why it is a practice. Forgiveness as ACIM teaches it is “as alien to the world” as is our own reality (W-pI.134.13:2). We need to be clear about this: we are being asked to look at the world in a way that is foreign, that may even feel dangerous.
This is why we say that A Course in Miracles is a spiritual practice that is rigorous and demanding. Its promise of peace is real, but the change of mind required to undo the blocks to that peace is daunting. Why else would we be here?