Forgiveness is Healed Perception

It is important to see the simplicity of forgiveness in A Course in Miracles: it is “the healing of the perception of separation (T-3.V.9:1).” It is not an action, not an accumulation of information and rules. It is a right or coherent way of seeing, a healed way of seeing.

“Seeing” in this case refers to a mode of internal perception. Perception begins internally with names, classifications, memories, opinions and ideals and all of that. It is a vast and complex system and we are aware of very little of its operation. Mostly we perceive only its end result, and maybe the step or two leading up to that result: we call it life, or our experience of life.

A Course in Miracles does not ask us to undo this system. It simply invites us to question its effects and, based on the insights we derive from that questioning, consider there might be a better way. The choice for a better way reveals the better way. It is itself the better way. It is always there.

You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them (W-pI.184.9:2-4).

We might agree that this tree is a “maple tree.” Okay. But that is merely a symbol for this beautiful thing, right? We could call it “Bob” and it wouldn’t be any less lovely or helpful (in terms of syrup, foliage, shade and fire wood). Even calling it “tree” is a convenience. I could call it “blob” and its elegance and grace would not be compromised in the least.

It is important to see this and to practice it. We are not looking at maple trees (or sunsets or wild turkeys or grains of sand), we are looking at life. And there is not an empty space between the trees and our bodies, but rather vital and dynamic air – filled with oxygen and bugs and water molecules and light and all of that. It is all Life, all connected, however subtly, and we are part of it. We are it and our attention is simply a gift, life being grateful for itself.

. . . [C]reation has one Name, one meaning, and a single Source which unifies all things within Itself. Use all the names the world bestows on them but for convenience, yet do not forget they share the Name of God along with you (W-pI.184.11:3-4).

This is always so: if we close our eyes and run through our relationships with friends, neighbors, family members, lovers, pet, politicians and so forth we will see it. We give them names and attributes but it is all a matter of convenience. Our internal landscape is one fluid movement – a singular flux – just like its external reflection. There is nothing but the Oneness we mistake for “everything” or “all.”

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the simple pleasures of our lives: eating healthy food, going for walks, making art, holding hands, listening to Chopin or chickadees or the rain. Our goal is simply to see these “things” for what they are: convenient symbols whose implication of a fractured or separated reality is an illusion.

. . . [Y]ou must accept the Name for all reality, and realize the many names you gave its aspects have distorted what you see, but have not interfered with Truth at all (W-pI.184.13:3).

These many names have no effect on reality: they are merely a convenient way to describe oneness. Once we see this clearly – they are a matter of convenience, not truth itself – then we are no longer resisting our Source. We are no longer struggling to defend our fractured perception and confused sense of Love. We have something to offer – we can be of service. We will see the real world, and it will be both instantly familiar and profoundly new.

The real world was given you by God in loving exchange for the world you made and the world you see. Only take it from the hand of Christ and look upon it. Its reality will make everything else invisible, for beholding it is total perception. And as you look upon it you will remember that it was always so (T-12.VIII.8:1-4).

This is a learned skill. We have to study it and practice it. At first it seems impossible, then awkward and impractical. But more and more it becomes natural and joyful. We begin to see that this is what we are in truth. Love is our inheritance. It awaits only our acceptance.

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  1. Hi Sean, you wrote: There is nothing wrong with enjoying the simple pleasures of our lives: eating healthy food, going for walks, making art, holding hands, listening to Chopin or chickadees or the rain. Our goal is simply to see these “things” for what they are: convenient symbols whose implication of a fractured or separated reality is an illusion.

    Eric: I am reminded of what William Samuel spoke about when he would say, “We think there is us and then the tree. Yet can there be anything outside this One Awareness? It is only when the great impostor (the ego) believes that it can process this awareness that the tree appears to be outside ourselves.” (a bit paraphrased)

    I have to run to work, but I’m going to leave this reply with a few quotes and see what you think about them and how they relate to what you wrote and what William Samuel spoke about. A couple of which are familiar and a couple hardly used, from my experience.

    Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect Oneness and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness and nothing else within. ~ACIM

    “Heaven and earth shall pass away” means that they will not continue to exist as separate states. ~ACIM

    And finally, there is a “period of achievement.” It is here that learning is consolidated. Now what was seen as merely shadows before becomes solid gains, to be counted on in all “emergencies” as well as tranquil times. Indeed, the tranquility is their result—the outcome of honest learning, consistency of thought, and full transfer. This is the stage of real peace, for here is Heaven’s state fully reflected. From here the way to Heaven is open and easy. In fact, it is here. Who would “go” anywhere if peace of mind is already complete? And who would seek to change tranquility for something more desirable? What could be more desirable than this? ~ACIM- Manual for Teachers

    There is nothing outside you. That is what you must ultimately learn, for it is the realization that the Kingdom of Heaven is restored to you. ~ACIM

    1. Hi Eric,

      Sorry for the delayed/missed replies. School just started today and I have been swamped the past week with preparation. Just getting back to my normal writing/reading schedule.

      Samuels seems right on the money, to me. The question is: can we be aware of those moments when we are thinking that way, from the ego? I feel like the course aims at that – as do all the major religious/spiritual traditions, and even pyschotherapy (art, too, perhaps) at its best. We confuse thought – what we perceive, which is always an interpretation – with reality, or truth.

      I don’t think the error – broadly understood – is a moral or ethical one but more in the nature of a habit, a dysfunctional mode of perception readily susceptible to healing or correction.

      Those Course quotes are dear to me as they generally support this understanding – I think the course is clear, if quiet, that “heaven” is merely a present state of mind presently unrecognized.

      . . . to be in the Kingdom is merely to focus your full attention on it” (T-7.III.4.1).

      But, of course, our attention is always drifting and we mistake its drift for inevitable or factual or whatever.

      This all has been very much on my mind lately – I have not read Samuels but I will – mostly because it seems such a natural evolution. What we are calling God can be known, because it is simply the nature of all things – or however one wants to express it, words being pretty futile in the ultimate sense – and we are called to know it.

      Alan Watts used to call it a divine game of hide and seek: we are God playing we’re not God but trying to find God. It hurts when you take it seriously, but it’s fun when you see it’s a game that you can stop whenever you’re ready.

      In reply to a previous comment – yes, the miraculous is within the ordinary, or is the ordinary, seen rightly. “Rightly” isn’t the best word, but you know what I mean. It’s the ego – it’s what’s broken and into separation – that longs for the acid trip/light show, because that is such a small part of the quiet, natural joy of playing human for a little while.

      I can’t go into this in depth (time constraints – got to make dinner) but I have been doing a lot of reading on the evolution of violence and peace (in preparation for my classes this semester) and it is very interesting. There is a general sense that pacifism is a natural potential in our evolution (Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid being a prominent example but the later research moves in this direction as well).

      It relates to the point you and I both raise from time to time: the separation occurred over millions of years and atonement may take even longer.

      We are getting there . . .

    1. That’s funny! When I read “process” I was like, “hmmm . . . what does he mean by this?”

      If I had a nickel for every typo I’ve made over the years I could buy an island in the Pacific.

      1. Yeah me too Sean. That was definitely a typo, but then looking at it again, I think it can actually apply. That was a nice little accident. When we try and possess awareness, then we try and process it too. Through this processing, we compartmentalize, separate, label, etc. awareness itself and thus filter it through the lens of our “personal” perception.

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