A UNIQUE VERSION OF FORGIVENESS


Peter Solon, Ph.D. (BIO)

Years ago, I was teaching A Course in Miracles in Dharamsala, India and as the class was winding down, a middle-aged man stood up and demanded to know, “How does A Course In Miracles differ from other nondual traditions?”  I found myself replying, “If the Course offers one unique contribution, it’s the practice of forgiveness.”


In the paragraphs to follow I’ll convey a cursory description of  forgiveness as taught by A Course In Miracles. Readers who would like to acquire a more comprehensive grasp are referred to the source material itself.


We practice forgiveness to realize, our grievances never had any basis in the real world. One line in the Workbook––thirteen words ––convey the entire model: “Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred.” 1


The practice of forgiveness is composed of three stages. First, we withdraw our projection that other people are the cause of our anger. In some small fashion, we have to arrive at the realization that our anger isn’t caused by others but rather, it’s inside us. Most of the time, the mind does a great job at deceiving us into the belief that other people and external events are the cause of our grievances; but in fact, this isn’t true. The mind is masterful as it tricks us into the mistaken belief that other people are guilty––and thus separate.  The goal of the initial phase is to withdraw the delusional belief that external events and other people cause our anger and suffering. The first stage is the most labor intensive of the three.


In the second phase, we invoke (what the Course terms) a “little willingness.” We offer a little willingness to the Internal Teacher––that more deeply loving, intuitive component of one’s own psyche. As part of this second stage, we follow the Course’s prescription to “Resign now as your own teacher” 2 and allow the Internal Teacher to take control of our perceptions of other people, particularly those people who (appear to) annoy us.


Once this second phase is complete, we’ve laid the groundwork for the third and final stage of forgiveness: The shift to a loving perception of others. This shift is the core of A Course In Miracles. It is the miracle. A miracle is defined as a perceptual shift from a judgmental to a loving view. To achieve it, we ask the Internal Teacher for a new perception so that we may see other people as they actually are.


To be clear: We don’t do the forgiving. The Internal Teacher does. Our job is to (1) withdraw the mind’s projection, (2) offer a little willingness and (3) ask for help in the form of a new perception. The Internal Teacher does the rest.


It would be convenient if the three stages were discrete steps, sort of like a cooking recipe. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. In the real world the three stages intertwine as we strive to heed the Course’s prescription: “Be willing to forgive [another] 3 for what he did not do.” 4  We’re all capable of practicing forgiveness but we have to absorb the underlying principles and make them our own. Forgiveness becomes a way of life as we apply the practice to every relationship.


The practice of forgiveness ultimately leads us to the experience of the “happy dream,” a life characterized by joy, loving relationships and a genuine sense of peace; and while the happy dream is an accurate reflection of reality––at least, more so than the nightmare most of us wallow in––it too is still a dream. However, once we’ve entered this particular dream, we’ve successfully positioned ourselves to move on to our final goal, which is to wake up out of the dream altogether.


The Course’s teachings on forgiveness are sophisticated, practical and remarkable effective, offering the most invaluable gift imaginable: The opportunity to become a more loving human being.


References


  1. 1.A Course In Miracles (W-pII.1.1:1)

  2. 2.A Course In Miracles (T-12.V.8:3)

  3. 3.The Course  uses the term, the “Son of God,” a phrase with multiple meanings, depending upon the context. Rather than confuse the reader, the author takes the liberty of using a synonym.

  4. 4.A Course In Miracles (T-17.III.1:5)



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