What Is Forgiveness?

“An unforgiving thought does many things. In frantic action it pursues its goal, twisting and overturning what it sees as interfering with its chosen path. Distortion is its purpose, and the means by which it would accomplish it as well. It sets about its furious attempts to smash reality without concern for anything that would appear to pose a contradiction to its point of view.”

A Course in Miracles Workbook Part II, 1. What Is Forgiveness?

A sudden death in the family; moving my daughter to college for the first time; becoming an empty nester while relocating my father-in-law to a retirement home in Denver. Lately, my dream has been filled with complicated endings and beginnings, unexpected forks in the road, and 180-degree shifts in plot and direction so distracting that I am often seduced into forgetting I am the dreamer of this dream of so-called life rather than beleaguered protagonist. That—for better or worse—this is my dream. I am dreaming it precisely (albeit unconsciously) to prevent me from remembering I collaborated with the ego in crafting and projecting every detail of its production, but can always hire a new, lucid director.

Forgiveness ACIM-style means taking responsibility for my experience back to the mind that made it up in the first place and looking at its concealed purpose with a different collaborator, the Holy (Whole) Spirit or right mind, the part of our one mind that remembered to smile at the “tiny mad idea” of separation from our one, eternally loving, unified source. The part of our mind that continues to know that nothing that happens in a dream of exile from perfect Love–based on repressed guilt over the false idea that we pulled off celestial homicide–could possibly threaten our awakened reality; just as nothing here in our seeming sleeping dreams affects our reality upon awakening.

I have been acutely aware lately of just how much my decision-making mind would like to make the dream real, would like to get lost in the ego’s script in which no one could possibly blame Susan for feeling victimized by forces completely beyond her puny control. But as I have said in these pages before and will likely say again: I know too much. Having asked for a better way of living in this world and made awakening through forgiveness my primary goal there is really no going back. Having experienced (however intermittently and briefly) the deep release and relief from the crushing bondage of guilt in the mind we all secretly share by choosing the Holy Spirit’s vision, I can no longer completely deceive myself that the dream is happening to me. Even given the current rapid-fire scenario of seeming loss and complexity I can’t quite swallow it all for long, without remembering that peace of mind is only a decision away despite the conflicted images on the screen.

I need to remind myself that this world we made—a literal projection of the guilt in the mind over believing we traded eternal oneness for individuality and could never be accepted back into the loving fold—could not possibly hold any lasting comfort. It appeared to arise from a finite lie, and will never ultimately offer us anything we truly want. But unwavering solace and a gentle, knowing, smile is only a change of mind away.  As we are further reminded in the beautiful description of forgiveness in the second half of A Course in Miracles’ workbook:

“Forgiveness… is still, and quietly does nothing.”

Forgiveness, for example, does not curse out Jesus or the big, blue book for failing to deliver when shit happens as it inevitably will. 🙂 It does not quote A Course in Miracles workbook lesson titles to the objects of its projection that appear to be going ballistic. It does not berate the decision maker on having chosen for the ego again or indulge in senseless musings about how much time this Course seems to be taking or why the one Son of God wanted to separate from its source in the first place if he had it so good.

“It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not.”

Forgiveness does not argue with reality, jump in and try to fix it, or dig in its heels and try to resist it. Forgiveness takes Jesus’ figurative hand and looks straight on at just what a sneaky little bastard the ego can be. How it will use anything and anyone to improve its ratings with the decision maker. How no story on a micro or macro level is too bizarre, brutal, or fantastic for its purposes. How brilliantly it has mastered its special effects to persuade us to suspend our disbelief and enter and invest in its smarmy world. And how funny that is, really; given the fact that—you know–it doesn’t actually exist.

“It merely looks, and waits, and judges not.”

Forgiveness–unlike the decision maker’s mind on ego–is patient. It does not measure the success of its ability to forgive and eventually awaken by plot twists and turns in the movie. Its peace does not depend on the behavior or fate of co-stars, or the fate of its own role. It merely looks compassionately on the decision maker’s continuing identification with fear over true Love–aware of its insane confusion of fiction and reality—while certainly awaiting the inevitable return to sanity.

“But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.”

Forgiveness reminds us that we are always forgiving only ourselves because there is—in truth–only one Self, always forgiving what never was because nothing ever happened as a result of the tiny, mad idea that we could differentiate ourselves from the indivisible or would possibly want to. When I, the decision maker, choose to join with the ever-available and patiently waiting one right mind within, my perception of what seems to be happening to me or you heals, and I recognize it is all but a movie of my own making. And that after the credits roll–only the Love that is all I’ve ever wanted, only the one Love we share–remains.

“Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do, through Him Who is your Guide, your Savior, and Protector, strong in hope, and certain of your ultimate success.”  

Okey, dokey. I’ll have what he’s having, please.

NOTE: Hope you enjoyed the interview with Gary Renard, now archived on my Interview page.
Gary Renard will be offering a workshop in Colorado Springs September 24, 2011. For information and reservations, go to: Miracle Promotions Contact: Kathy Scott Perry


  1. I love this succinct summary of our mind’s power to choose (again): “peace of mind is only a decision away”; it’s not light-years away or even across the room, it’s eternally here, now and available. … I’ll have what he’s having, too, please! 🙂 BTW, the quoted page (401 in the workbook) is a joyously familiar one, as it was (and I imagine still is) the weekly preamble to every meeting of an ACIM study group (which I attended for several years, whenever I could) in southern Oregon hosted every Tuesday by Beverly Beck. A happy ‘shout out’ to all of you! 🙂

  2. Yes, the description of forgiveness on page 401 in the workbook is what I come back to again, and again. So, very helpful!

    Thanks for your always insightful comments, here, Bruce!

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