God is the Love in which I forgive.
This is the first lesson of the workbook where forgiveness appears in an active way. We cannot meaningfully study A Course in Miracles without encountering forgiveness – it is the backbone of the healing the course both teaches and brings forth. Forgiveness is the means by which we make the Atonement a reality in our day-to-day lives, in order to see those lives through a lens of holiness and thus remember truth.
In today’s lesson, we are given a chance to explore the critical idea of forgiveness in depth. We are invited to bring into application this healing gesture.
One of the clearest and most potent references to ACIM forgiveness can be found in Beyond Perception from Chapter 3.
Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation. Correct perception of your brother is necessary, because minds have chosen to see themselves as separate (T-3.V.9:1-2).
It is in seeing our brothers and sisters as they are in truth that restores our mind to its natural function.
Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to awareness of God (W-pI.46.2:2-3).
That is a powerful revision of traditional notions of forgiveness. We are not identifying wrongs and patiently agreeing to look past them – i.e., to forgive others for doing us wrong. Rather, we are engaging in an entirely new way of seeing. We are practicing correct perception. This new mode of seeing does not acknowledge the wrongdoing – the sin, the error – at all. It sees only the perfectly healed and perfectly whole brother or sister.
This matters! It can take years to appreciate how A Course in Miracles reframes forgiveness. And even then, we can easily lapse into merely preaching it – talking the walk, so to speak. The question is: can we practice forgiveness? Can we – to paraphrase this lesson – accept our being in God’s creation and – from that space of quiet perfection – see our brothers and sisters as having their being in God’s creation?
To see our brothers and sisters as both sinless and incapable of sin . . . That is something very different than understanding. There is an active component to it, a willingness that surpasses the narrow capacity of the brain. How do we reach beyond intellect to right mind?
Lesson 46 is instructive on its face: God is the Love in which (and by which) we are able to bring forgiveness – the radical forgiveness proposed by A Course in Miracles – to bear in our lives. It is the means by which we remember what living is in truth.
His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God (W-pI.46.2:1-3).
All of the recent lessons have been emphasizing – gently, patiently – that the ground of our being is God. God is the light in which we see, the mind with which we think. God is our Source and our Strength. All of these ideas testify to a simple truth – that the separation never happened and that we remain perfect extensions of God and God’s Love. Forgiveness, as we adapt to the ACIM perspective, strengthens our faith in this Truth.
Forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear (W-pI.46.2:4-5).
To “forgive” error is to refuse to make error real. It is not to see the error at all. To assert that Love is our Source is to commit to seeing and experiencing reality as God created it – and that means, we do not see sin at all. Not even a hint of it.
So on one level, this lesson is very simple: we list all those people who have wronged us to one degree or another and we forgive them. Then – having cleared the way a little – we forgive ourselves.
But on another level, this lesson is powerful beyond measure. We are actively undoing illusions – specifically, the illusion that we can be harmed or assaulted in any way. A Child of God is not a body and not the narrative structure – the egoic thought system – in which that body is entangled. As we forgive, little by little, we crack the door so the Light of Love and Truth can enter. And that Light will demonstrate that we are not what we think we are. We are not bodies lost in a cruel and hostile world.
Together, as one, we are Love Itself. There are no mistakes. And so there is, in the end, nothing to forgive.
Thank for this explanation of the lesson. One thing I’m not clear on with this lesson is forgiving my brothers and sisters. The lesson is asking me to “forgive the number of people I have not forgiven”, and to forgive them by mentioning them by name. The course states forgiveness is the correction of perception. As you stated we are not seeing that our brothers did anything wrong, but correcting what we perceived they did wrong. If we are to see our brothers as sinless and guiltless what are we forgiving them for? Don’t we only need to forgive ourselves because we projected our guilt on them and then perceived they wronged us?
Thank you, Robert.
While it is true in an absolute sense that we have not been harmed and there is nothing to forgive, most of us – certainly I am one – are still invested in separation-based thinking. We find fault with others, we perceive an external world in which bad things happen, and we believe that what is external affects the interior.
The Course meets students where they are. Essentially, it undoes our upside-down perception by not resisting it. We think others have harmed us – or that this group or that group are doing bad work – or the world would be better if everybody would just follow Jesus – or whatever. This lesson is asking us to recognize this and to engage with it.
We have to see the error in a lived way, a felt way, rather than merely intellectually understanding it.
Undoing our perception of a real external world full of people who have the power to threaten us begins with accepting that we DO see the world – and others and ourselves – that way.
The more we lean into the error, the more we can begin to see that we are doing it to ourself, accept that we do not like or need its effects, and so choose another way.
There is a part of this process that involves “forgiving our self because we projected our guilt onto others,” but it is actually quite brief. By the time we see – again, not merely understand as an intellectual exercise, but actually experience healed perception – it is clear that there is no separate self doing anything. That, too, is part of hte confusion engendered by our upside-down perception.
For me, it was the process of forgiving others – really consciously attempting to see and experience my brothers and sisters differently – which included my own self – that Vision began to restore itself. It is not that “I” forgive – any “self” that would do that is also external to what we are in truth, is also ap rojection – but that I begin to perceive a world in which there is no wrongdoing, only love and calls for love.
And, of course, the response is the same in either case: love.
Thanks for reaching out.