What is the Meaning of Forgiveness?
This ACIM Blog post is written by Sudie Shipman
Before one can really have an understanding of forgiveness they have to have a clear understanding of what the word means from the perspective of A Course In Miracles.
Jesus gives us a wonderful essay on forgiveness in the Supplements to “A Course a Miracles” entitled “The Song of Prayer,” and I highly encourage everyone to read both of the Supplements. The other Supplement is entitled, “Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice.”
Before we define forgiveness in ACIM terms, let’s discuss what it is NOT.
Most of the time in my mind (and in the mind of others) I see the tendency to believe forgiveness must be for oneself or for another. One is forgiving an action or a circumstance, or a past something that they have done that they regret or that has been done to them. And one sees this as a hurdle, something they need to overcome, before they can reach God.
As a human mind, we look out upon our life and the lives of others and we see mistakes.
Of course we see good things as well, but it is the mistakes that we ruminate about in our mind. It is our grievances that occupy our mind, both the grievances we have against ourselves and the grievances we have against other people.
So, in the interpretation of the human mind, forgiveness is the forgiving of these grievances, forgiveness of these mistakes that we see in the world.
Jesus calls this type of forgiveness, forgiveness-to-destroy.
He gives four very definite examples of forgiveness-to-destroy.
The first is when, “a ‘better’ person deigns to stoop to save a ‘baser’ one from what he truly is.”
This often looked upon as “charity.” One perceives himself as better than the other person, and forgives them because he is the better person.
The second is “very like the first if it is understood.”
In this type of forgiveness-to-destroy one does not claim to be better than the other, but acknowledges they are both steeped in sin.
The third and sometimes hardest to see is that of martyr.
“Behold, how good are you who bear with patience and with saintliness the anger and hurt another gives, and do not show the bitter pain you feel.”
And the fourth is what Jesus calls bargaining.
It calls for a sacrifice to be made so that one can forgive. “I will forgive you if you meet my needs, for in your slavery is my release” (All quotes from “The Song of Prayer, Section 2, paragraphs 2 - 6).
These four types of worldly forgiveness are meant to destroy you and the other person because it keeps the mind in a state of separation from God and in judgement.
The separate mind is called the ego.
It is separate, alone and distinct. Its foundation is fear and unworthiness and its purpose is to prove it is real by your extinction (the idea of death).
Lesson 193 in the ACIM Workbook is “All things are lessons God would have me learn.”
In this lesson we are told to practice saying: “I can forgive this and I will see it differently.”
Forgiveness in the terms of ACIM, in its most fundamental form, is asking the Holy Spirit to see the situation, our brother or ourselves differently. We do not want to see it from the human mind, we are asking to see it from God’s mind. We are not pardoning a sin, or forgiving another or ourselves for what we have done. We are asking the Holy Spirit to correct our perception, to correct the error in our mind.
The last suggestion in ACIM Workbook lesson 193 is: “I can forgive this and it will disappear.”
This is the idea of the “disappearance of the universe.” If I am asking God to see something differently, I’m asking God to raise my perception to my creator’s, to God‘s level to take it out of the realm of human experience and perception and to place my mind at what could be called the right hand of God.
Our right mind.
At this level of awareness there is no other, no separation and therefore no universe to perceive.
So to ask the Holy Spirit to see it differently is asking our higher power, our right mind to show us a different perception of the same situation. We are literally asking to be taken out of our human ego perception and to have our perception come from a higher place, “above the battle ground,” from the place of what one could call non-duality or the unified mind.
We are asking for the miracle, because what is a miracle, but a shift in perception.
We are asking for divine intervention in our mind.
We are asking for divine correction of our perception to take us out of the petty grievances and the pain and heartache of the world of suffering and bring Light to our awareness.
This is how we see differently, no longer from our human perspective, but from our Divine perspective.
This is what ACIM calls “Christ’s vision.”
When we see, we “perceive” through the body‘s eyes, but we are told that there is another way of seeing that does not involve the body’s eyes.
This is Christ’s vision, the vision of Christ.
This is forgiveness.
It takes us way beyond our grievances and way beyond the problem-solving of the world, way beyond a solution that would have the world arrange itself to suit our needs, and it brings us to that birds eye view, that mighty eagle’s view, looking down upon the world from the highest perspective of unconditional Love, of Light of Unity of the One Mind.
When this is what we are aware of then indeed we are blessing the world because the love that we are blankets the world in its peace and presence.
So it is imperative that we understand forgiveness as we practice ACIM
knowing that we are asking the Holy Spirit to heal our perception, so that we no longer see a world of pain and human suffering and have that perception replaced by what the Holy Spirit sees which is a world blessed in holiness and light.
Then we live, we walk the remainder of our days on earth in peace,
the savior of the world,
a bringer of Light.