Forgiveness: No previous experience required (or desired)

I had been mentally complaining to Jesus (that symbol of the one awakened mind we share) about a number of brewing situations in my seemingly cavernous interactive forgiveness classroom, asking him to help me count like beads on a Montessori chain the many new ways in which I perceived myself vulnerable. I recently had a book published about practicing A Course in Miracles forgiveness in my personal life which—even though barely a hiccup on the radar–left the introvert in me feeling wildly exposed and scrambling for cover; a lizard in the desert suddenly sans camo.

In another classroom corner a life-size action figure I’ve been intimately interacting with and forgiving for years appeared to be breathing fiery accusations again. Some directly aimed at me and some intended for an all too frequently absent other he secretly believed had slighted him. At a computer lab I sat opening emails that appeared to contain astonishing, thoroughly unprovoked demands and affronts defended by preachy arguments. At yet another hands-on learning module, I found myself playing the role of a parent listening to an administrative panel from the college to which my daughter had recently committed answer parents’ probing and increasingly troubled questions about the school’s alcohol and drug culture and incumbent disciplinary protocols.

Once again marveling at the way in which my dream of exile from perfect Love can sometimes resemble a Bergman film complete with grim reaper lurking in the background and sometimes present more akin to Pee Wee’s Playhouse, I turned to A Course in Miracles for help. Hoping to kill two birds with one stone—multi-tasking student that I am–by finding a passage that would not only instantly return me to right-mindedness but also offer perfect fodder for the weekly Thursday night forgiveness class I teach and needed to prepare for. I longed to find the consummate summation of the many ways in which our original albeit unconscious choice for separation and ongoing desire to preserve our “specialness” feeds on perceiving our problems outside the one mind on ego that put them there. But someone appeared to have snuck in the back door and rewritten every word of that big blue book in a foreign language. No matter what section of the Course I turned to, I had no idea what the hell Jesus was talking about.

This fruitless pursuit in attempting to understand with the brain of an individual specifically designed to prevent true understanding went on all day–interrupted only by mandatory appearances at various classroom stations wherein situations continued to spiral out of control—leaving the imaginary self I still think I am, needless to say, increasingly anxious. What if I could no longer comprehend let alone attempt to apply A Course in Miracles? What if the ego’s legendary “hungry dogs of fear” the Course so poetically refers to had finally busted through the steel fence of their kennel and picked up my particular scent?

I posed these and other questions to Jesus, of course, but he had apparently taken a sabbatical because the incoming silence was deafening. The more I flipped through the big, blue book’s pages, the more obscure it’s hieroglyphics. I slept fitfully that night, only to dream of diabolical action figures plotting against me, thoughtlessly fired emails, and my only little girl unleashed in a pit of drug-pushing piranhas a decade before I would ever be ready to let her go. In and out of sleep, I begged my right mind to help me see things differently.

In the morning I arose smiling, seemingly recovered from my ego attack. The action figure had morphed back into work attire and we engaged in a reasonable conversation. The objectionable emails from the previous day appeared to have been replaced overnight with ordinary requests and explanations. In another corner of my classroom I played a parent listening with excitement to the many service and travel-abroad opportunities my daughter could partake of next year, sighing with gratitude that she had received a financial package that would make it all doable.

Back at my desk with a Vente three-quarter decaf light room Americano perfectly brewed to my liking by baristas at the nearby Starbucks, I opened A Course in Miracles to Chapter 11, VIII. The Problem and the Answer, wherein Jesus gently and humorously leads us to entertain the idea that we understand nothing about what’s really going on in our own lives, let alone the greater world. But, like small children, can learn to interpret the threatening images bouncing on our bedroom walls differently with help from an inner Teacher who can translate their meaning for us from monster to undulating curtain shadow.

“You do not know the meaning of anything you perceive,” I read, in paragraph 3. “Not one thought you hold is wholly true. The recognition of this is your firm beginning.”

I could not help but smile, noticing that Jesus did not claim recognizing we do not know was akin to awakening as I often hear it so interpreted by dream figures. Instead he referred to it as a “firm beginning.” The open, beginner’s mind to which we must return again and again, recognizing we have chosen the inner teacher of division and unhappiness but can choose again for the Teacher of union and peace.

The key word here is: choose.  Simply returning to the decision making mind that chose to imagine the experience of separation in the first place is not enough. We must then admit we do not perceive our own best interests. We do not know what this Course is really saying. We must actively ask for help from the part of our mind that does know. And then do nothing but wait for the light of our one right mind to shine away our dark hallucinations, the barriers to Love’s presence we have erected in our guilt and selfishness to push the awareness of eternally present, all-inclusive Love away.

“You are not misguided; you have accepted no guide at all. Instruction in perception is your great need, for you understand nothing…Perceptions are learned, and you are not without a Teacher. Yet your willingness to learn of Him depends on your willingness to question everything you learned of yourself, for you who learned amiss should not be your own teacher.”

I realized with growing relief that I had once more convinced myself I knew what and where the problem was. Insisting on seeing it outside myself where it can never be solved. Instead of as the outward picture of the inner, repressed condition of guilt in the mind over believing I had thrown God’s Love away by indulging my impulse to experience myself as a separate individual competing for survival with other individuals under the influence of the same painful delusion. Completely forgetting that the purpose of transforming my life into a forgiveness classroom was to allow another Teacher to show me what’s really going on in all my interactions and how to heal my mind of the belief that there is anything but perfectly uninterrupted union going on.

My sudden-onset Course amnesia had ironically helped me realize once more that I know nothing unless I turn away from the ego’s 24/7 broadcast of attack and defense and tune in instead to the silent voice of universal inclusion and common interests. Wherein I admit anew I know nothing and simply listen until I can hear and answer only my own call for love emanating from every nook and cranny of my forgiveness classroom.

“To love yourself is to heal yourself, and you cannot perceive part of you as sick and achieve your goal. Brother, we heal together as we live together and love together.”

Amen to that, and Happy Easter to all.

I have made a few additions to this site. You’ll find several reviews of my new book on the Book Reviews page. I have just posted some new Q & A’s on my Questions & Answers page; please feel free to submit ACIM-related questions. I have also added a Media page where you can now find a couple of recent radio interviews. (I will soon be adding audio and video recordings about ACIM’s forgiveness here.) I have started offering individual ACIM Mentoring sessions by phone. Mentoring can be very helpful in working through our resistance to allowing the ego’s undoing and accepting the unwavering loving presence of our one inner Teacher.


  1. Excellent reminders to ‘resign as our own teacher’; I particularly like this quote: “I know nothing unless I turn away from the ego’s 24/7 broadcast of attack and defense and tune in instead to the silent voice of universal inclusion and common interests.”

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