Questions & Answers

Welcome to the Forays in Forgiveness Questions and Answers page. Please click here to submit your A Course in Miracles-related questions and  I will do my best to answer and publish them as time and space permits. That said, the VERY BEST RESOURCE for questions and answers about A Course in Miracles on just about every topic we can dream up remains the Question and Answers page at the Foundation for A Course in Miracles:

http://www.facimoutreach.org

(Below you’ll find a lengthy, excellent, heartfelt question about our resistance to practicing true forgiveness of the buried-in-our-mind belief in separation from our source we keep reliving in our relationships. I have broken it into three parts, and will attempt to answer each.)

It would be very interesting to hear your story about resistance, when practicing ACIM. How you met it, experienced it, dealt (are dealing) with it? Basically, it would be nice to read the process of your practice, where you thought you were practicing ACIM (forgiving this and that, saying the sacred ACIM lesson words, thinking ACIM would save you, etc.), and when you REALLY began practicing it. Meaning started to understand your resistance and how fearful you are (at least that’s my way) and then started really forgiving your fear?

I began with the Course about 10 years ago after many years of seeking and never finding a spirituality that helped me feel better about this “human condition” and this terribly conflicted world we seem to live in. All the paths I tried helped, in different ways, but none seemed to touch my yearning for a love not of this world, or soothe my secret sense of being forever flawed, unloved and unloving, that had led to so much disappointment, bitterness, and self-blame. I knew I was missing something, and, when I encountered the big, blue book and its emphasis on forgiveness, I thought I had found it!

Unfortunately, like most students, I tried to blend it with the world’s idea of forgiveness I had been taught, what A Course in Miracles refers to in The Song of Prayer pamphlet as “forgiveness to destroy.” The idea that I, in my special, spiritual advancement, forgive you for the horrible things you’ve done to me. 🙂 As you know, this kind of forgiveness does nothing to dissolve the unconscious guilt we carry over the secret belief that we have separated from our source, exist as distinct individuals vying for survival in a world of vicious “others,” and can never be accepted back into the one, loving fold. It only serves to strengthen the guilt in the one I’m forgiving, which inevitably nourishes the guilt I feel within, leading to a vicious and exhausting attack-defense cycle.

Suffice it to say, the more I tried to silently forgive my special relationships, begging the Holy Spirit to rescue me from my feelings of victimization, the more unsettled they became. After all, I was really just internally pointing a guilty finger at them, trying to prove (as we all unconsciously are) that I exist apart from God but it’s not my fault— it’s theirs. I knew I was not getting what the Course was saying, but my very unconscious resistance to its teaching and secret need to defend myself was preventing me from looking with our right mind at my wish to foist my guilt onto others.

Finally, as things deteriorated within and without, I began to admit—constantly—that I did not know the answer. I began to pray for help to understand and practice true forgiveness. I didn’t hear any specific advice, but I was suddenly drawn to Ken Wapnick’s videos on each chapter of the text. I began watching and listening to them over and over again while cooking, working out, etc, without any attempt to analyze. Simply immersing myself in Ken’s explanation of the Course’s underlying metaphysics, focus on ego dynamics, and forgiveness practice. I then began to read other books of his and listen to his recorded workshops while continuing to work with the first part of the workbook. We’re told we only need to do the workbook once, but I needed to do it quite a few times to really integrate it into my mind and life.

Gradually, forgiveness took on a new meaning. I began to really remember and recognize that the problem is never in anyone or thing else in an imaginary “out there.” Whether aware of it or not, and mostly I was not, the problem is in my decision-making mind’s choice for the teacher of guilty separation realized (ego). But I could and did begin to experience real peace if I merely chose again to look with Jesus at my desire to blame it on something external and forgive my mistake, and then patiently waited for my resistance to subside.

It took, and continues to take, a lot of work, a lot of silently recounting all the gory details of my miserable stories to Jesus and explaining how justified my feelings seem, and a lot of waiting! A lot of just riding out my pain, to begin to experience real shifts. Very often I would ask and ask to see from the perspective of the right instead of the wrong mind, and still feel terribly upset. But I began to realize, as Ken often told us, that this was simply my unconscious fear of letting go of a special self I thought I wanted but was learning had really cost me everything I want.

In time, I began to experience the welcome, deeply comforting release of a return to right-mindedness in which I recognized no one is guilty (including me!). In which my needs and judgments and separate interests—my self-ness–just dropped away. And I began to realize I had a teacher within I could turn to 24/7 to help me see differently, and that—however much Susan wanted to spin it—I really was never upset for the reason I think and could always choose peace when I was ready.  Even though I still grow fearful and run away, I am much more aware of the pain of that decision, and tend (most of the time, at least) not to stay stuck as long because I just can’t stand it!

That said; I am still encountering new, ingenious forms of resistance, and still experience periods of profound despair (usually following periods of kind-to-all right-mindedness) in which I seem to suddenly feel so angry and evil again, and truly hate myself for it. Times in which the ego’s harsh voice, recounting my many failures with this Course, seems so convincing, that I doubt anew I have made any progress at all, don’t deserve to write about or teach this Course, will never awaken, etc.  Fortunately, after a while, I get sick of it enough to remember the familiar nature of this pattern of flip-flopping from inner teacher-to-teacher and its fearful roots, and find myself back in my imaginary Jesus’ office/classroom. Resuming our conversation right where we left off as one does with an old, dear friend, and laughing at the silliness of it all.

In some of Ken’s workshops, I remember his saying to one of his students, “Resistance blocks you from looking at the resistance.” It’s when the pain is up and going and you just run wildly, afraid to stop and look at it. Or, resisting looking at the fear, you believe is inside. It’s like hiding the resistance or fear within, being afraid to show it to Jesus. Have you experienced that? 

I think that’s true. When I’m in the middle of an ego attack, (having no memory whatsoever of the fear of losing this individual identity that caused me to run away from Jesus/Holy Spirit/right mind), I’m so identified with the emotion I’m experiencing that I’m not immediately aware its cause lies elsewhere. I’m indulging it, but I don’t know it, and I don’t know how to stop doing it.

Sometimes that manifests for me as self-sabotaging behavior—spacing out, over-indulging, wanting to become mindless, unconsciously creating a problem, or provoking an argument with someone, for example. It’s as if I can only spend so many hours a day practicing forgiveness with Jesus before I’ve had enough and need to tune out in some way. The more guilty the method makes me feel; the better. 🙂 It’s good to remind ourselves it’s the guilt we really secretly crave, that’s what keeps the idea of me going, after all.

As soon as I become aware of how I’m beating myself up again, I try to remember that loving presence of our inner Teacher, still right beside me, hand ever-extended, whether I feel it right now, or not. He never judges us. He will never side with our self-judgment.  He never takes our seeming defections personally. He knows we’re afraid, he knows we all made it home, and he has infinite patience. He will wait with us in our fantasy hell until the fear subsides and we’re ready to take another step toward the innocent, all-inclusive Love we are gradually remembering is all we could possibly ever want.

Also, it would be nice if you touched on the twisted resistance strain (if I can say so) about having a “quality time with Jesus,” but at the same time running from your curriculum. I can relate to you, because I was running emotionally from the world almost all my life (found it not to be safe), and find it “safe” to be in ACIM metaphysics or spirituality, where I don’t really practice it, but just run from my life. Taken to the extreme, one can even take ACIM words like “there is no world” and take them to mean that if there is no world, there’s no need for me to deal with the world, which is very unlikely that the Course teaches. 

I have experienced the kind of flight from our inner Jesus you describe in many ways, but will just give you one example. I am a co-founder and one of the original students of something here in Denver called the School of Reason, then targeted toward immersing students like me who wanted to formally teach A Course in Miracles through selected readings and Ken Wapnick’s teachings. It involved a lot of study and presentation, and I would often sequester myself in my home office on weekends, growing annoyed when frequently interrupted by my daughter and husband, and having to practice forgiveness.

At some point, it thankfully dawned on me that here I was barricading myself up in seclusion to learn forgiveness when the real curriculum was those very interruptions–my relationship with my daughter and husband–and really had to laugh. It changed everything. I continued to study, but I also built in more time to spend with my family, and changed my focus once more to our real work: changing the purpose of our relationships to healing our one split mind.

As you point out, as Course students we can unconsciously delay our awakening process by taking the Course’s teaching that there is no world (a reality we can only embrace at the very end of our journey, when all the hidden guilt in our mind is undone through forgiveness) to mean we don’t need to engage in the world. We don’t need to relate to others, contribute, vote, work, take care of our bodies, etc.  But that would be counter to the Course’s teachings and unkind to ourselves and others who still believe we are bodies. It would also deny our inner Teacher his/our learning tools.

A Course in Miracles meets us in the seemingly embodied condition we think we’re in. It asks us to use all our relationships, all our interactions in the world, as a curriculum in which we learn from a new inner Teacher (Jesus/Holy Spirit/right mind) that we are not many bodies vying for survival in this hell of a dream world, but one dreaming mind that can learn to awaken by making practicing true forgiveness our new purpose as we go about doing whatever “normal” things we need to in the world. This will undo the hidden guilt in our mind over believing we separated from our source, and gently lead us to awaken to the “oneness joined as one” of our true nature, at home in God.

 

I am studying the course for a year now. I love it and I’m getting more involved this year as well. I love God and Jesus so much (I am not of Christian thought). But I can’t seem to get over my addiction with weed. My husband uses weed and so it is always in front of my nose! First I realized I wanted change (because I want to feel balanced, energetic and I was feeling guilty), so I attacked myself. Then I realized that is not helping and I am resisting even more, so I am to love myself unconditionally and trusting that Love will get me through. No change yet, but there is a daily confusion, feeling guilty and sinful and down. I have constantly periods of forgiving myself and then falling back into a deep hole. Don’t know what to do. I pray. I ask God to take over and help me. What can I do more? Any advice?

Thank you for reaching out about your struggles with addiction and how to apply the Course’s teachings to it. I can relate. We are all addicted to something–food, substances, money, approval, success, power, control, etc. The dependency we feel on what the Course calls our “special relationships” to meet our needs as we see them is, itself, a form of addiction. But none of the substitutes for God’s Love we believe we forfeited in exchange for these unique, mortal selves is ever enough. We keep needing more and more and more and none of it works to fill the lack we feel within. It only reinforces our guilty emptiness.

Since our belief that we actually managed to separate from God is completely repressed, we’re completely unaware that our real addiction is to the guilt we feel over this belief we’re constantly trying to pin on something external. So the addiction to whatever becomes a way for us to reinforce that guilt. If there is no guilt, there is no separate me. That scares the hell out of us, having forgotten our true, invulnerable reality, forever fused with God. And so, we continue to find ways to feed the guilt, seeing it in others and seeing it in ourselves, experiencing ourselves as victims of our dependencies.

A Course in Miracles teaches that the answer to this and every other “problem” we seem to be experiencing is forgiveness. The process of reminding ourselves when we feel guilty, angry, upset, victimized and victimizing that we are, as workbook lesson 5 tells us, never upset for the reason we think. And, as we’re reminded in lesson 34, could choose peace instead of this. We need to ask for help from a part of our mind that knows the separation from our source never happened, but also knows we think it did. This part of our mind sees only our prevailing innocence, completely unsoiled by our wild imaginings. When we’re feeling guilty because of our addictive behaviors, we need to invite this non-judgmental presence in. To take our inner Jesus’ always outstretched hand and forgive ourselves, allowing him to gently undo the guilt in our mind.

Try to treat yourself as you would a lost and frightened child afraid she will never find her way home, as patiently, gently, and kindly, as our inner Jesus always treats us in this Course. Ask for help to see yourself as completely loved and supported, the way he sees us. Nothing we could ever do, or have done, could ever change God’s love for us. (Even though a part of us we’re not aware of is working 24/7 to prove otherwise. :)) That’s where our only self-worth really comes from. Ask for help in looking at your addiction, your attraction to guilt, and allowing the light of the right mind we share to see the innocence forever shining behind its dark cloud.

And don’t try to judge whether healing (of the mind) is happening, based on whether or not the behavior changes in form. I would highly recommend Ken Wapnick’s CD set, Overeating: A Dialogue http://www.facim.org/bookstore/p-32-overeating-a-dialogue-an-application-of-the-principles-of-a-course-in-miracles.aspx. Although it focuses on addiction to food, its teachings are applicable to all addictions, regardless of form.

Finally, please remember the Course is never telling us not to seek help in form. That can be a very kind and helpful step. Don’t hesitate to seek external help if it feels right. Just remember the real problem and solution lie in the mind, and continue to practice going within, reaching out to Jesus, and forgiving yourself. You may also want to look at any feelings of judgment or victimization that may arise toward your husband’s use of weed, and apply the Course’s forgiveness to these reactions, too.

 

The Course says that all action is either an expression of love or a cry for love. And it says that we are always acting out our grand guilt scenario when we find ourselves in conflict of any kind. The guilt referred to is the guilt we feel about the seeming separation from God.

When we look at our conflicts and patterns from a psychological perspective, it is very clear that we act out our personal childhood stories of hurt and pain, deprivation and abandonment, conditioning and brainwash. For example when someone grows up to become a very aggressive, violent adult who intentionally abuses and hurts other beings, it is usually easy to trace his or her behavior back to childhood experiences. Usually the outcome of his or her life makes a lot of sense in retrospect.

Now the Course says that nothing is ever really the way we think it is and that our explanations are faulty. And it states that our unconscious guilt regarding the seeming separation is the only cause. Does this mean that on the level of form our science and psychology are not valid? Is the ego making up such complicated stories to hide its guilt in? Do we create our reality in a way that triggers this guilt constantly? Or are our explanations of our pain and misery (i.e. childhood experiences) completely untrue?

Is it wrong to interpret someone’s pain by looking at his or her childhood problems, or is it correct on the level of form, which has been created by us so ingeniously that it contains validity within its own system and transports the separation/guilt at the same time?

I know that Kenneth Wapnick (and probably Jesus himself) advises to use psychotherapy as a means of magic to make things easier on the level of form. But the expression “magic” says that it has nothing to do with the truth. In our system it is very true, though, that the connection between childhood and adult psyche is obvious. Again: Is this “truth” the reality which our ego creates ingeniously to hide the real source of our despair? And so science is true on our dream level but untrue on the level of truth?

And is this what Jesus is talking about in the Course when he speaks of us being great creators? Is he saying that we create our dream to be this perfectly logical and complex world, because we have the power to do so? I often wonder how I could have created this world in its complexity since obviously it was not God who made it.

Your questions about whether or not our personal “stories” from childhood that seem to explain our adult behavior are true goes back, as it sounds like you’re beginning to see, to the way the Course speaks to us on two levels. On Level 1, the level of our true, non-dualistic nature, only our reality as one Child of God seamlessly, eternally fused with our creator exists. But because we took the idea of separation from our source resulting in a world of individual identities seriously, we believe we reside in Level 2, as individual bodies vying for survival in a world of drama and conflict in which we have forgotten we even have a mind outside this dream.

In truth we have never left our one loving source in the mind. But because part of our mind believes we are separate (ego/wrong mind) and part remembers we are whole (Holy Spirit/Jesus/right mind), we need to remind ourselves that even in the dream we are capable of returning to the mind and choosing again for the inner Teacher of forgiveness/Love over the teacher of fear/ego.

So, when we’re dealing with stories of childhood issues (our own or another’s) we have identified as the cause of our present suffering, we can take the compromise approach the Course talks about, treating the problem on the level of form while recognizing that in reality the cause remains in the mind. There is always, in truth, only one problem: the belief in separation and one solution: taking the seeming specific problem back to the awareness of the abstract Love in the mind.

It is fine to treat the physical or psychological body with what the Course calls “magic”–the remedies we use to solve external problems in an illusory world–but we need to keep in mind that’s not where the problem or solution lie. We are never upset for the reason we think, however elaborate our dreams of victimization, and can always choose to see with the part of our mind that knows only peace. As we practice forgiveness: taking the projection back to the one mind outside time and space, choosing again for the Teacher of Love’s viewpoint, and remembering our innocence (this last step is done for us by the part of our mind that knows nothing happened/no one’s guilty) our split mind begins to heal, our guilt is gradually undone, and our need to get rid of it by attributing it to external causes begins to dissolve.

Personally I have found that my grievances from childhood have simply dropped away as I focus on forgiving what seems to be in my face right here, right now. In my daily life I try to focus on the practice of forgiveness rather than getting too caught up in trying to analyze it because for me, that just seems to strengthen the dream. In our present willingness to change our mind about what seems to be happening to us at any given moment (which means changing which inner teacher we’re perceiving with) the idea of sin in the past we are always trying to pin on someone or thing else just begins to melt away. Our trust in a loving inner perception that will never fail us grows and our belief in external causes weakens.

In terms of whether psychology, science, etc. are true on the level of form; sure they are in the sense that they are consistent within the hallucination of the ego thought system. But that doesn’t make it real. It’s still an illusion; we have not left our source in the mind, we are awake in God, merely dreaming of exile. As Ken Wapnick would say, it may make sense in a “2 + 2 = 4 world but 2 + 2 = 5.” Meaning the laws of time and space are fictional (although consistent within the fiction); merely an elaborate fantasy resulting from an imaginary problem that never existed.

As for our ability to create, in truth we share the limitless power of God to continually extend the one Love of our true nature. On the level of form we can conjure imaginative, complex dreams to keep us mindless but they still mean nothing and affect nothing. At some point it just becomes too exhausting and frustrating to keep making up a world to block our awareness to the Love that continues to call us home and we recognize as Bill Thetford famously did that there must be another way. A better, gentler, saner way of living in this world. That is the opening we come to from moment to moment that allows us to return to the mind, choose again for real Love and peace, and thereby eventually remember our true, innocent, eternally united Self.

Would you help me out with the subject of your recent post–compassion? According to the Course, one would not feel the kind of empathy we know, which means to feel what the other feels and to go along with their suffering. Jesus says to step back and do nothing, but how does that work? When I am confronted with, let’s say, the suffering of animals who are abused cruelly by people or the brutal abuse done to children; what form does compassion take if I am compassionate in a Course-kind of way?

If I am convinced that all of this is not real, will I lean back and do nothing to improve the situation, to change the world? Many animal rights movements have helped to improve the situations for animals in many countries, and people got involved because to them the suffering was very real, and their compassion was probably very emotional and full of attachment.

I know this is really a beginner’s question, but I am having such a hard time wrapping my head around it. You mentioned in your book that you are also one of those people who have always been full of compassion and empathy for the meek and defenseless, for all “innocent” creatures on this planet (and I am aware of the implicit distinction I am making here between innocent and guilty, but I think you know what I mean?).

So how did you deal with this part of yourself when you began to get involved with the Course? What advice would you give me on how to handle my mind and how exactly to practice forgiveness in regard to the phenomenon of cruelty and violence toward defenseless beings? I know that there is a shift in the form of compassion once we have begun to let go of the ego perceptions but I have no clue what this new compassion would be like. Could you help me out here, please?

This is such a heartfelt and important question. And not at all a beginner’s question but something we all struggle with I think, again and again, until all the guilt in our mind is undone for us through practicing this new kind of forgiveness. We are all beginners, really, challenged from moment to moment to observe which inner teacher we’re listening to: an ego that is always advocating for a tale of separation realized or a right mind always quietly certain that we all remain eternally whole and at home in boundless Love, regardless of how horrible the dream details may appear.

I can so relate to your confusion about how true empathy works on a worldly level here in the condition we think we’re in. When I find myself in judgment over perceived attacks on the “innocent” such as animals and children, I try to recognize that it is my mind in need of healing and ask for help at looking/experiencing/interpreting what’s really happening with Jesus/Holy Spirit; whatever symbol of that quiet knowing that no one is guilty works for you. And then I try to wait patiently for my resistance to that awareness to wear itself out, at last opening to the understanding that there is really only one split mind—one decision maker, one ego, and one right mind–in need of healing. Eventually my desire to distance myself from the abusers I see “out there” begins to dissolve and I can do whatever would be kindest and most loving in form without judging the abusers or feeding my false sense of a superior little s self.

It helps me to remind myself again and again that the Course is always beckoning us back to the one mind. We can’t understand this kind of compassion with a brain made to defend against real Love. But we can ask for help in changing our perception, asking to see differently through the lens of the inner teacher of Love instead of fear. When we align with that vision we see that everyone here is hurting, abuser and abused, and that we’re all walking around secretly begging to be let off the hook from this heavy burden of unconscious guilt we all carry over a crime that never really happened.

The Course is not asking us to give up the world or our involvement in it but only to change its purpose from prison to classroom. When my right-mindedness returns, I can provide help in form if I feel called to without the self-righteousness that would strengthen the ego’s case for differences. I still donate to charities and volunteer to help others. I try to look at it as just another curriculum so that when my judgments arise as they inevitably do I can simply return to that beginner’s state of mind, recognizing that I have become afraid again and need to realign with our inner Teacher/Comforter.

I hope this is helpful to you.

Thank you so very much for answering my question in such length and with so much love. Yes, it is definitely helpful, as it reminds me that it is not the abused I should neglect or the abuse I should deny but the abusers I should perceive with my right mind. Is that correct?
When Ken Wapnick tells us that we should be normal; is this what he means? Go out there, help those who are in need, but do not get attached to the victim story and do let the seeming abusers off the hook by practicing forgiveness?

Gosh; it is so very difficult to do that. At this point I do not believe that I will be able to stick with it, because I myself feel so victimized (being chronically ill and chronically financially needy) and perceive so much victimhood all around me.

Your narrations of your conflicts with for instance your (beautiful!) teenage daughter do help me a lot by showing me that others have been there before me and actually had the strength to drop their stories. But nevertheless it feels like such a difficult task to perceive “abusers” as being innocent (or to forgive my own stories that obviously mean so much to me). What does help me is the thought of my having made the abusers all up. But then I am not sure whether I have the right understanding of the metaphysics.

Sorry about the whining, Susan. I am REALLY confused at the moment and since I have never had any direct spiritual experiences in my life, it really takes faith to go through with this. Sometimes I don’t even believe the “tiny mad idea” and all the rest of the metaphysics of the Course but I guess that is just my ego trying to keep me in its grip.

Do you have phases or moments in which you doubt the whole thing? And do you actually feel more peaceful after more years of working with the Course?

Thank you so very much.

Yes, the answer lies in what Ken Wapnick calls being normal in the illusory world (which you’ve described beautifully) even as we forgive at the level of the one mind. And, yes, it is difficult to do because it goes against all we have been taught and believe. We can’t understand or practice this by ourselves in the bodily condition we think we’re in. We think we’re a body forgiving another body that is doing something real but in truth we’re making the whole thing up and have never left the one mind. It’s impossible to wrap our heads around it and useless to try. All we can do is admit we don’t know from moment to moment, ask for help to see truly, and then wait for the quiet memory of innocent wholeness to come. It always does eventually but our resistance is so strong and unconscious, it can take a long time.

I have had many times in my practice with the Course, especially in my relationships with my husband and daughter, where I wasn’t sure I could get through it. The Course does bring our feelings of judgment and fear to the surface to be looked at, and that can be a very uncomfortable process to say the least. But it does get easier over time because you begin to experience a greater contrast between the awful way you feel when you’re listening to and looking with the ego versus the peaceful release and comfort you feel when you’re listening and looking with the right mind. And you learn you always have a choice that will make you feel better no matter what seems to be happening in your dream.

It really has helped me to consciously cultivate an ongoing dialogue/relationship with what I call my “inner imaginary Jesus”–the non-dualistic Jesus of the Course. I try to bring all my illusions in great detail to that loving presence. I usually start out trying to bring him around to my way of seeing but eventually always end up seeing with him and usually getting a good laugh out of it. Really, that’s what’s helped me the most; along with trying to remember to treat myself with the same gentle compassion Jesus treats us with in the Course. We’re merely frightened and frightened people deserve kindness, not judgment and condemnation. It doesn’t matter if it’s the person or situation we see “out there” that seems to be causing us pain or if it’s the person we see in the mirror. The answer is still forgiveness and we can’t do it by ourselves.

The ego tries to scare us and convince us we’ll never heal because it fears its own eventual demise. But the ego is crazy and not our friend. If you have asked for help from Jesus/right mind, try to trust that healing is happening regardless of what seems to be going on in form. This is a time for faith. I have faith in you!

I do not want to be a nuisance, but I have one last question. We are always telling ourselves that we are not experiencing reality when there is conflict and distress. We are trying to become aware of the fact that we are dreaming and thereby we want to detach from our stories. But what about the good part of duality? I know that in the end there will be no good or bad, that we will be independent of both sides of the coin. But for now, may I still enjoy the earthly, human love I feel for my children, the warm, small body of my beloved dog, tear-jerking movies about love and devotion, the beauty of nature, etc.?

This kind of joy is clearly attachment. And while I am sucking it in, I am making the dream real, just as I do when I am indulging in my pain and distress. So, what do I do with the good stuff? Do I forgive it too? Because how can I become aware of the dream while I hold on to the good part of being a body? I often feel like I am not doing the Course right when I feel myself embracing those intense, mushy feelings that make life (the dream) so worthwhile.

First of all, you’re not being a nuisance at all! This is another important, sincere question that we all have and it helps us all learn!

From my understanding the Course isn’t asking us to give up the world or our relationships but to change their purpose from reinforcing the ego’s belief in specialness/separate interests to revealing the underlying abstract, all-inclusive Love still thriving in our one mind. So when we’re feeling love well up for our children or pets (I have similar emotional moments with my daughter and little dog) we can experience it fully while also watching how we believe it exists between bodies–special bodies. And observe with compassion (which means looking with Jesus/Holy Spirit/right mind) the ways in which we want to keep it for ourselves rather than sharing it with everyone and everything.

Realistically we can’t share our bodies with everyone and thing but at the level of the mind the Course is asking us to learn that excluding others from our love through our judgments, anger, preferences, and belief that it exists between certain people and not others prevents us from healing and experiencing the eternally whole, boundless Love we’re really seeking. Our belief that we destroyed that Love through the “tiny, mad, idea” of separation is the root of all suffering. Healing that belief calls for willingness to bring it to the kind light of the right mind that sees it not as sinful, only as silly. After all, finite bodies that in the end always fail us cannot limit real Love. Love belongs to everyone. It is our identity in truth as the one Child of God we remain. It has never, could never, and will never fail us.

Although the ego frantically tries to convince us that returning to our mind and choosing to look with an inner Teacher that knows we are equally loved and loving will destroy all we hold most dear, in truth we have nothing at all to lose and only more Love—infinite Love, in fact—to gain. The Course says the Holy Spirit doesn’t take away our special relationships, but transforms them, using them as teaching devices to help us learn that the real Love in our mind we see reflected in our relationships embraces us all.

We can feel and rejoice in our special relationships while also paying attention to and forgiving our impulse to credit them for our happiness, blame them for our lack of it, or demand they meet our individual needs. As we do, the fearful blocks we created to keep real Love at bay gradually dissolve, allowing us to experience and extend more and more of that abstract, unconditional, infinite, all-inclusive Love of our true nature. As the barriers (resistance) dissolve, we eventually feel more love, cling to it less, and allow it to generalize to all, becoming kinder and more compassionate with everyone and thing including ourselves as we recognize that we’re all terrified  we have destroyed Love and will never be welcomed back into the loving fold. Baby step by step, more and more willing to follow the inner Teacher of Love instead of trying to lead, we begin to demonstrate another, better way of living in this world. In so doing we help–through our moment-to-moment choice for the inner Teacher of forgiveness–heal all guilty, frightened minds.

 

People have contacted me about how challenging it is to “live the Course” when your friends and family members are not Course students or even interested in hearing about the Course, and also how to talk about the Course with people unfamiliar and/or uninterested. I’ll attempt to address those issues here.

As Course students, it’s very tempting to believe our lives/forgiveness curriculums would be so much easier if only our significant others were also hooked on awakening through practicing the Course’s unique forgiveness. But as A Course in Miracles emphasizes throughout; it only takes one mind to heal and that would always be mine. We only need to focus on our own secret wish to be unfairly treated and deny responsibility for it by blaming it on someone or thing seemingly “out there” in an illusory world born of the thought of guilt arising from the unconscious, false belief that we separated from our creator.

As I’ve said before, my husband would rather eat glass than open the big, blue book :). He has zero interest in reading or hearing about the Course and I have never tried to foist it on him in any way. But I have, at times, entertained little fantasies about having a partner similarly committed to this path; doing the lessons together in the morning, engaging in penetrating conversations about its metaphysics, “talking out” 🙂 our forgiveness issues with each other; perhaps over a candlelight dinner. I can’t indulge them for very long, though; because I recognize through doing the daily work of forgiveness that the only mind in need of healing when I’m arguing with the form of my external “reality” really is my own because there really is only one mind.

I’ve also learned from my experience in the Course community that our ego will use the Course as a weapon to compare itself with others, congratulate itself for superior Course understanding, tally subtle and not-so-subtle differences in Course interpretation, and condemn those it thinks misunderstand the Course. And I know couples where both partners are Course students who have just as much conflict in their relationships (often around the Course) as anyone else in this dream of exile from the all-inclusive, undifferentiated Love we continue in truth to share.

The bottom line is this: there’s no hierarchy of illusions; no order of difficulty in miracles (changing my mind about all I think is happening to me with help from an inner teacher that remembered to smile at the “tiny, mad idea” that we could separate from eternal oneness). Whenever I (the decision maker in our one mind) am tempted to blame anyone or thing external for my unconscious internal condition of guilt and fear, I have chosen the inner teacher of guilty differences (ego) and need to choose again for the inner teacher of innocent wholeness (Holy Spirit/Jesus/right mind) if my goal is peace. To remind myself from moment to moment that the cause of my experience is always only in my mind and I can—whenever I’m willing to admit I don’t know what’s really happening—choose peace instead of this.

No one can practice forgiveness for me or make it easier or more difficult. Only my decision to look at my desire to relieve the nagging guilt in my mind by perceiving it in someone or thing else with my right mind will deliver the universal innocence I am really seeking. And, over time–choosing from moment-to-moment to hold others harmless—heal our split mind of the belief in separation that causes all pain and suffering.

As far as how to talk about the Course with people unfamiliar and/or uninterested in it I can only speak from my own experience. If people ask me what the Course is about, I say something like: a spiritual psychology that emphasizes forgiveness in our relationships and leave it at that. If they’re really interested, I’ll sit down with them and answer any questions they may have. Otherwise, for best results, I don’t discuss the Course on a superficial level with non-Course students. You can’t expect people to understand a non-dualistic teaching from a dualistic perspective. Besides, there’s no need to try to persuade others to this path. To quote musician and poet Leonard Cohen: “every heart to love must come …” We’re all going home to the eternal oneness we share because—in truth—we never left.

A Course in Miracles is only one of many paths home. I only need to recognize it is my path and practice what it says. That means learning to see that everyone and thing seemingly “out there” is the same despite myriad differences in form, to recognize we all suffer from the same mistaken, unconscious belief that we have pushed real, all-inclusive Love away and will never be accepted back into the loving fold, and therefore attempting to respond compassionately to every perceived expression of fear in the dream. And, when tempted instead to attack or defend; reminding myself that my anger is never justified and asking for help in looking at my desire to make it someone else’s problem with the right mind. The part of my mind that knows beyond all the shadows of doubt the ego continues to cast that only my real identity as one with God prevails. And reminds the terrified individual I still think I am that I will awaken to a Love that will never fail—the unwavering certainty of my true nature–as practicing forgiveness dissolves my faith in a fearful, silly lie and strengthens my trust in all I really want and really have.

“Like walking on a fun house floor.” When I read, text or lessons, and plunge right back into everyday activity, I find that the everyday seems to win out but for some faint echoes of principles remembered but not really lived. That’s when I bore even myself with words (twice removed from reality). See, that’s what I mean. But the fun house floor can and does become solid and reliable when I give myself the chance to deeply connect with what’s REAL. As a teacher (please consider me your student) could you come up with a homework assignment, a framework, for the individual to get and stay with the point so that I might graduate, as you have, to lessons lived and not just reviewed. Thanks.

This is a great question! All Course students experience the kind of dissociation you’re referring to when we read the lessons or a passage in the text and then go about our days completely forgetting to apply them to the conflicts that inevitably arise here in a world made to prove the existence of a conflict with perfect union that actually had effects. I like your metaphor of walking on a fun house floor in reference to our unstable, distorted experience here in a dream of our own making in which we wage our lives disguised as individual bodies with separate agendas. And the idea that the fun house floor becomes once more reliable when we “deeply connect with what’s real.” For me, that connection with our true nature/non-dualistic, eternally loving Self is restored only when I recognize that insisting on having people meet my perceived needs and having external circumstances go “my way” is preventing me from inner peace.

I am learning that when I oppose (react to, internally whine, complain, argue with, etc.) my daily experience in an imagined world of duality–focused on my individual expectations and preferences—I am not a happy camper. Because nothing goes exactly the way we want it to in this dualistic dream. After all, it was designed to fail us to prove we pulled off the impossible, separated from our Source, and now exist at God’s expense vying for survival in a world of exile from perfect wholeness.

What works for me to begin healing my split mind is simply paying very close attention throughout my day to what I’m thinking and feeling. If I’m feeling competitive, different than, judgmental of, attacked by, misunderstood, misunderstanding, unloved or unloving (and I could go on ad nauseam :)) I know I’ve fled the mind again and invested in a dream. That means I must have made an unconscious choice for the inner teacher of separation (ego) and will feel peace again only if I return to the mind and choose the inner teacher of forgiveness/healing (Holy Spirit/right mind/Jesus); the part of our mind that remembered to smile at the tiny mad idea of separation and is always available to share its comfort and certainty that we remain simply one.

My experience with living forgiveness has changed over the eight years I’ve been practicing A Course in Miracles but lately involves admitting from moment to moment that I don’t have the slightest clue about my best interests or what will really make me happy. But a part of my mind does. Any feeling other than peace throughout my day becomes a lesson in learning to love myself and others by simply giving up my childish, ego-fueled investment in being right or having my way.

Unless it would cause harm to myself or others, I pretty much try to focus on admitting I don’t know, asking for help from the part of my mind that does, and being as kind as possible, living from moment to moment this way as best I can. When I find myself again feeling unfairly treated (as I still so often do), I simply try to redirect back to the mind, avail myself of the Holy (Whole) Spirit’s quiet certainty that all is well, and surrender all frantic thoughts of fixing or solving. Then—when my resistance and unconscious fear of losing my own specialness ebbs; however long it may take–kindness simply flows to others and an innocence beyond my understanding returns, an innocence that includes everyone and thing—even the sorry self I think I am :).

This is not an easy path but, for me, the mind healing and deep comfort it brings over time is well worth the effort. I hope you find this helpful and thank you for such a great question and for sharing this journey home to the place we never left.

How does a person know what is truth in this reality versus “real” life? I am 64 years old and have been searching for the truth since I was 6 or 7 years old. I lost the person that meant the most to me at that time and was afraid that she might not go to heaven since she was not going to church at the time. My beliefs have radically changed over my lifetime and I have become more and more skeptical of religion. I was raised a Catholic and still wrestle with guilt associated with all their doctrines. I have always wondered how a God who was supposed to be so loving; could be so brutal and insensitive to the struggles of humanity. This is why over the past year I have been studying Gary Renard’s books and really enjoy his teachings.

First, my heart goes out to you in the loss you experienced as a young child, and in the searching you’ve been doing ever since. I lost someone very close to me at that age, too, and experienced the same fear you describe. I think everyone here can relate to those childhood feelings of fear and doubt in one way or another, and I really appreciate you sharing them here.

I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “reality” versus “real” life … But it sounds like you’re asking about the difference between the loss and brutality we all experience as seemingly separated selves here in what A Course in Miracles refers to as a “dream of exile” from eternal, all-inclusive Love versus the endlessly loving Truth that lingers unscathed beyond our current understanding.

To gently lead us back to that understanding, A Course in Miracles invites us to consider a new creation myth that explains the pain of duality we experience throughout our seemingly separated lives. According to the Course, in the beginning there was only one Father/Creator with whom the one Son of God was seamlessly, eternally, joyfully, and peacefully fused. For reasons that defy current perception; there arose in the one Child’s mind the “tiny, mad idea” that it could separate itself from perfect oneness (and would possibly want to). In and of itself the idea had no effect. But because we took it seriously, we now imagined ourselves cast out of the Heaven of perfect wholeness, plunged into duality. Our terror and guilt over believing we had squandered everlasting Love was so great that the one Child’s mind then appeared to split into the ego (the part of our mind that took the separation seriously and rallied to protect us from inevitable punishment) and the Holy (Whole) Spirit or right mind, the part of our mind that retained the memory of perfect wholeness we in truth never left.

Had we immediately chosen to believe the Holy Spirit’s interpretation from the beginning; we would have immediately experienced the correction of our mistaken belief, and merely smiled at the folly of it all. Instead–in our crushing guilt and fear (and ongoing curiosity to explore what individuality might yet offer)–we sided with the ego’s interpretation and chose to follow the ego’s plan for salvation. A strategy that involved “getting rid of” our guilt by projecting it into an entire universe of imaginary fragmented forms, assuming bodies within that projection to identify with, and then repressing the whole thing. Including the awareness that we are not the ego, but the decision maker that made an unfortunate (but imaginary) choice. Or, to use the Course’s imagery, we figuratively fell asleep to prevent us from ever returning to the decision-making mind that in truth can always choose again to join with that memory of wholeness and begin to remember its true nature.

We now find ourselves firmly rooted in a dream and thoroughly identified with a body vying for its very survival, pursued by other dream figures out to get it, and exclusively bargaining with specially selected dream figures to relieve our guilt and pain, temporarily at least. And when the nagging thought of that repressed guilt begins to resurface in our minds, we reenact that original projection of guilt by trying to get rid of it; blaming others for how we’re feeling. Holding everyone and thing “out there” responsible for the lack of love we feel inside and futilely trying to find love in a dream specifically created to defend against the real, non-dualistic, capital L Love we in truth never left and now erroneously perceive as our enemy.

There is no reality here in the dream. It is all based on the lie of separation. Everyone who comes here feels secretly guilty and is unconsciously grieving. Even the God of most organized religions—created in the ego’s image—is dualistic. He has his good days and his bad days. He excludes, punishes, toys with us, and plays favorites, just like we do! His love is conditional, predicated on our ability to make amends for the many ways in which we continue to fail him. But according to A Course in Miracles—unlike most organized religions–the real God (with whom we remain seamlessly fused) knows nothing about this bad dream we’re having. He knows only the Truth about us; that we remain embraced within the endless circle of his ever-expanding Love, completely unaffected by a momentary hallucination.

Here in the condition we think we’re in, on the contrary–completely unaware that we even have a Mind outside the dream–we continue longing and seeking for that real, undifferentiated Love (our true nature) where it can never be found. But A Course in Miracles offers us a road home. Through the dynamic practice of the Course’s forgiveness—learning to catch ourselves blaming external causes for an internal condition in our daily lives and asking for a different interpretation of what’s really going on from that memory of wholeness that remains in our one mind–the guilt in our mind is undone. Our split mind begins–from moment to moment as we choose for the right mind–to heal.

As we take our feelings of victimization, frustration, grief, loss, disappointment, exhaustion, etc. back to our right mind we experience what the Course calls the “holy instant” of release, a moment outside imaginary time in which we perceive our true innocence by first recognizing it in the one we had blamed for our distress. We begin to see our lives as a classroom in which we are learning from this new inner Teacher how to forgive all the blocks to Love’s awareness we have (unconsciously) made to defend against this imaginary, punishing God. And we begin to develop true compassion for each other as it dawns on us that everyone here is suffering under the same delusion that they threw God’s love away and will never be accepted back into the loving fold.

As we learn to forgive all our mistaken perceptions, offering them one by one to our right mind for translation, we become (over time and with lots of practice!) kinder, gentler, more patient, and less reactive. We begin to rely on a new strength within we never knew existed; a strength the Course assures us remains “so close to you we cannot fail.” Gradually learning to apply this unique, dynamic forgiveness to everything seemingly “out there” that seems to upset us, our one split mind heals, our guilt and fear dissolve, and we eventually awaken to find our one Self happily embraced in our Father’s Love, completely unaffected by a painful dream about running away from home, and beyond all ideas of pain and loss.

At times the words of the text seem to flow directly to what I’ll call my “center of knowing,” creating a sensation of being awash in Truth. Shortly, I put the text down, like I can’t bear to go on. At that point, am I choosing illusion over Truth?

I can really relate to what you’re describing. The Course itself is a symbol of our one, eternally loving right mind. It reflects the Truth that we remain innocent–despite the ego’s bitter tale of sin, guilt, and fear–and have never left the all-inclusive, loving fold. Reading the text, spending time with the material, often touches that little lost child within us, reassuring us that we have never left the source that loves its one child unconditionally and knows nothing of a “tiny mad idea” of running away from home.

But then we become afraid because this threatens the very existence of the ego, that champion of individual selves and interests vying for survival here in the dream. Its entire thought system relies on our repressed belief that we are guilty of the crime of throwing God’s Love away at the very beginning. That’s why we’re constantly trying to exonerate ourselves by seeing that guilt in someone else, thereby preserving the idea that there IS someone else. 🙂 And so we can only take glimpses/memories/reflections of our true nature in small doses. Our fear of what that means for the separate selves we see when we look in the mirror is simply too great.

That’s why the Course is not just about reading the text and spending time with the material. It’s about the work of practicing, practicing, practicing forgiveness in our daily “classrooms.” Learning to watch our attraction to blaming or crediting everyone and thing seemingly “out there” for destroying or enhancing our inner peace. Taking our reactions, judgments, victimized and victimizing feelings back to the Holy Spirit/right mind we share for a second opinion. An opinion that is always something like: nothing happened. You did not destroy perfect Love at the beginning and you’re not destroying it now. Ego “evidence” to the contrary; you’re innocent, and so is every other seeming lost child “out there.”

In the “holy instant” of release and relief in which we accept the right mind’s viewpoint, we merely smile, accepting the gift of True Vision from the part of our one split mind that can truly see. As we practice changing our mind about what’s really happening in the classroom of our lives–checking in with our loving inner teacher–our one split mind begins to heal and we become kinder and gentler with ourselves and others. We begin to develop true compassion–knowing we all share the same split mind—and grow more willing and able to choose for the inner teacher of innocence, thereby healing all minds in ways that defy our current understanding.

But back to your question about whether you’re choosing illusion over Truth when you put down the text after feeling you can no longer bear to be “awash in Truth”? I think it’s just the ego’s fear rising, resisting. It’s OK to put down the big, blue book and just watch how the ego wants you to take your fear and resistance seriously. Call on the right mind for help in looking at your fear. And allow yourself to be exactly where you are with this Course. Your fear is slowly dissolving as you forgive. All is well.

What does A Course in Miracles have to say about grief?

We grieve because we believe we have lost something (a person, pet, role, substance, material possession) in the “outside” world that temporarily made us feel less alone, served to fill the emptiness within us for a while. But nothing in the outside world can ultimately satisfy the deep longing we feel as a result of believing we destroyed the eternal, all-inclusive, non-dualistic Love we are and can never be accepted back into the loving fold.

Whether aware of it or not (and most people are not), we are all grieving here. As A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 182, “I will be still an instant and go home,” tells us:

“We speak today for everyone who walks this world, for he is not at home. He goes uncertainly about in endless search, seeking in darkness what he cannot find; not recognizing what it is he seeks. A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents his restless mind. He does not understand he builds in vain. The home he seeks cannot be made by him. There is no substitute for Heaven. All he ever made was hell.”

It is hell to believe, as we do, that our salvation, protection, and happiness lies in a fragile, finite body, our own or another’s. Bodies change their minds about what they want. Bodies weather, sicken, and die. Roles change and disappear. Substances offer only temporary relief and eventually imprison. The worth of material possessions diminishes. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the pleasures of this world, we will not find ourselves in them or satisfy the deep longing for a Love we can count on always and a home where we are forever welcome.

And so as grief arises in the classroom of our lives, we learn to treat it like every other emotion of the psychological body. To identify it as a symptom of our inner loneliness and investment in a world literally created by a silly idea that we could separate from our source. We are not asked in any way to deny the despair we feel when a loved one passes, a marriage or a phase of life ends, but to begin to see how much it appears to threaten our sense of an individual self. To open to the possibility of another, shared, eternally invulnerable self that holds us close, will never fail us, and completes us all.  As we mourn what we believe we have lost in our lives, we can learn to turn our pain over to a different inner teacher for a kinder, more compassionate interpretation and in doing so remember that the one Love we (all the seemingly separated ones who walk this earth in loneliness and fear) continue to share can never be diminished or annihilated.

Regardless of our experience in bodies literally designed by an ego thought system to keep us so invested in protecting our short time here that we forget we even have a mind, we can learn to choose again for the memory of truth and the comforting certainty that Love is still here, even if its form in our lives has changed. Learn to awaken to the one child within, the home we never left, the eternal innocence we share and could not possibly have squandered by practicing forgiveness; turning to the inner teacher of gentle sanity every time we find ourselves blaming outside circumstances for an internal condition of guilt and loss. And discover how much better it feels to rely on our inner strength, comfort, and certainty than the ego’s story of individuality purchased at the price of conflict, loneliness, vulnerability, loss, and fleeting solace.

“You have not lost your innocence. It is for this you yearn. This is your heart’s desire. This is the voice you hear, and this the call which cannot be denied. The holy Child remains with you. His home is yours. Today He gives you His defenselessness, and you accept it in exchange for all the toys of battle you have made. And now the way is open, and the journey has an end in sight at last. Be still an instant and go home with Him, and be at peace a while.”

Some who know me have called me an intellect. How can I tell if my study of ACIM is just another intellectual pursuit promoting separation or is, as I wish and pray, the truth based discovery of this lifetime?

Thank you for this great question! An intellectual grounding in A Course in Miracles metaphysics and creation myth is necessary to understand the condition we think we’re in here in the dream and begin to allow its undoing. The myth maintains that the one Son of God was (and in truth remains) seamlessly, eternally fused with his creator until he took the “tiny mad idea” that he could (and would want to) exist as a separate individual seriously. The guilt over that belief in separation realized was so enormous that the one mind appeared to split into the ego/wrong mind that believed in separation and the Holy (Whole) Spirit/right mind that remembered to smile at the impossibility of the “tiny mad idea.”

The illusion would have ended right there if we had listened to the Holy Spirit. Instead, fearful of God’s punishment and still attracted to the idea of individuality the Son of God chose to follow the ego into an entire projected universe of the thought of guilt in the mind. We then assumed separate bodies in competition with each other for survival and began individually reenacting that original projection by blaming or crediting others seemingly “out there” for our inner state of mind. And to insure we never got back to the scene of the crime the decision maker that first chose for the inner teacher of separate interests  but can learn to choose again for the inner teacher of uninterrupted wholeness metaphorically fell asleep, forgetting it even had a mind outside the brain to turn to for a second opinion.

Enter the process of forgiveness A Course in Miracles style that teaches us to question what’s really going on every time we feel victimized or enhanced by another. By beginning to look at our lives as a classroom for learning to change our mind about what’s really happening in our relationships and accept the Holy Spirit’s loving certainty that we remain awake and united in God merely dreaming of exile, our split mind begins to heal. Over time–practicing, practicing, practicing—we learn through experience that we feel better when we choose to look at our relationships with the Holy Spirit rather than with the ego. We begin to experience holy instants of release, moments when we turn away from the ego’s interpretation of separate interests and accept the Holy Spirit’s certainty that we are one.

Forgiveness is the essential teaching of A Course in Miracles. Our intellectual understanding is a beginning but only vigilantly embracing forgiveness as a new way of living in this so called world will begin to undo the crushing, unconscious guilt in the mind we keep projecting onto others. It is not enough to wrap our mind around this Course. We need to wrap our heart around this Course. To honestly witness and feel the pain our continuing choice for the ego thought system of separation brings us versus the deep comfort and relief choosing again for truth offers.

If you “wish and pray” and honestly commit to resigning as your own teacher, making forgiveness your new life’s purpose, and choosing again for help from your right mind every time you find yourself blaming outward circumstances for an inward condition, your mind will begin to heal. Over time, you will become more gentle and tolerant with yourself and others, recognizing that everyone here shares the same split mind and suffers from the same unconscious belief that they have destroyed all-inclusive Love. You begin to see that no matter how it manifests there is always only one problem—our unconscious belief in separation—and only one solution—choosing again for the inner teacher of wholeness.

Is forgiveness unconditional love?  I have so many romantic notions about love and none of them support sustaining love. They all seem like conditions–you do this and I’ll do this…

To understand the Course’s forgiveness we have to first understand the Course’s metaphysics which tell us the world is an illusion or projection of the unconscious inward condition of guilt in the mind. A condition we try to deny by making someone or thing seemingly “out there” responsible for our inner pain or pleasure.

According to the Course’s creation myth, in the beginning we were one child of God/Love, seamlessly fused with our creator in eternal, non-dualistic wholeness and harmony. At some point we wondered what it would be like to exist as individuals separate from infinite oneness. That “tiny mad idea” would not have had any apparent effects except that we forgot to laugh at its impossibility. Believing it we experienced ourselves figuratively cast out of Heaven and no longer able to access our source.

Our guilt over thinking we must have therefore destroyed real, enduring Love was so enormous that our one mind seemed to split into the ego, the part of our mind that believed in separation and the Holy (Whole) Spirit or right mind, the part of our mind that retained the memory of our true nature and continued to smile at the silly idea of separation. In our fear over God’s retaliation and still curious about experiencing individuality we chose to believe the ego’s story that we must flee the mind and project our guilt into an entire universe of differentiated form to hide out in. We then assumed individual bodies to identify with, began competing for survival, and forgot (repressed) that we had chosen this but could choose again at any moment for the right mind/memory of truth.

Forgiveness is the process of learning to recognize in our continuing impulse to blame others for our problems (or credit them with our happiness) our original, guilty, fearful choice for the ego. And learn to choose again for the part of our mind that remembers our enduring invulnerable wholeness and merely smiles at the tiny mad idea of separation we continue to act out in our relationships. This part of our mind enables us to see beyond the ego’s “serious” issues with others to the silly nothingness of the drama we call our lives.

As we do this from moment to moment, our fear begins to dissolve and we start to understand that everyone here is operating from the unconscious belief that they are fugitives from real Love and will never be allowed back into the fold. This understanding allows us to hold others harmless–recognizing in their behavior the same fear of Love we share. By practicing a forgiveness in which we take responsibility for our inner pain back to its source in the mind, we eventually become more kind, tolerant, and gentle with others and ourselves. We learn to smile at ourselves and tread more lightly in this world as we allow our split mind to heal by choosing the inner teacher of healing every time we perceive ourselves unfairly treated or exclusively blessed. When we have applied forgiveness to every situation capable of upsetting or thrilling us, we will awaken to the one Love we never left, a Love that includes everyone who perceives himself in exile here.

So, you could say that unconditional love is the byproduct or result of forgiveness. A forgiveness that has nothing to do with the world’s idea of pardoning the awful thing someone has done to, or failed to do for us. A forgiveness that recognizes the problem for what it is (my continuing choice to make the separation real) and accepts the one solution; choosing again for the part of our mind that sees only uninterrupted, eternal, all-inclusive, unconditional Love. When we choose that part of our mind the ego’s bargaining for love you describe (“giving to get”) dissolves in the eternal presence of the only relationship we really have, our enduring relationship with what we are, unalterably united with each other and our creator.