“When you forgive, you love. When you love, God shines on you.”
Introduction to Forgiveness
The focus this month is on healing our perception of separation. The tool we use for this is forgiveness.
We have started to recognise that we have two different aspects to our being that operate in completely different ways. We are a spiritual being that is unchanging. It is an interconnected being, which has always been connected to the rest of the universe. We are also a physical being which sees itself as separate and apart from everything else.
Our spiritual being is unchanged by anything our physical being has done, except that it has increased its awareness through the experience. God has never recognised this spiritual being as anything other than part of It. Therefore God has always seen this being as perfect.
Our physical being sees itself as apart and, because of this perception of separation, we feel an underlying sense of lack. Our physical being, having a separate view of the world, responds to this lack by creating an image of itself and projecting that image onto the world, trying to find things which support the image and denying things that don’t. The human self therefore perceives the world as right and wrong, good and bad. We do this to maintain our separate identity and make ourselves feel unique and special. However, this view of the world adds to our feeling of separation, which adds to our underlying dis-ease. We continue to seek and strive to maintain our image, while suppressing our true sense of inadequacy. This feeling is very subtle, it is deeply held and hidden and not at all obvious. The feelings caused by this sense of separateness are held within the physical body and are the cause of much internal stress and tension which results in physical or mental illness.
This cycle of separation is the natural result of being apart from source. This month we aim to start to break the cycle with the use of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the acceptance of our human nature and the start of returning to our true nature. With forgiveness, when we become aware of our needs, desires and issues arising from our sense of separation we accept it and return to our heart. Forgiveness is always for ourselves. While we project our fears and needs onto others and see the problems in them, the real issue is always our perception of separation.
It is the purpose of this course to help us to recognise our spiritual being and this means we need to return to our recognition that we are not separate from God. While forgiveness is the acceptance of our human nature, we also want to increase awareness of our spiritual nature. As a support for forgiveness we start to allow ourselves to be loved by God. This is the beginning of our awareness of our true nature, which is the next stage of this course.
Eventually we come to realise that there is nothing to forgive. Forgiveness is only needed while we perceive a sense of lack in ourselves and others. The purpose of forgiveness is to return us to a state where we recognise our, and everyone else’s, wholeness.
Forgiveness of Others
“As prayer is always for yourself, so is forgiveness always given you. It is impossible to forgive another, for it is only your sins you see in him. You want to see them there, and not in you. That is why forgiveness of another is an illusion. Yet it is the only happy dream in all the world; the only one that does not lead to death. Only in someone else can you forgive yourself, for you have called him guilty of your sins and in him must your innocence be found.” A Course In Miracles
We initially see forgiveness as forgiveness for others. We start by seeing forgiveness as forgiving others for what they have done to us. Yet we need to go beyond that to a deeper understanding.
Forgiveness of others is a start. It is a state of mind where we choose to move away from guilt, but we are still seeing the world as separate. Forgiveness for others is forgiveness at a human and separate level. It is forgiveness based on separation. By forgiving others we believe that we are separate beings capable of hurting each other. By seeing someone as needing forgiveness we are seeing them as guilty and ourselves as better or holier. Forgiveness of others may be a start but it also reinforces our belief in separation.
Forgiveness is not about feeling better or greater than someone else. It is an ego trait to forgive people who we perceive have done something to us. In this way forgiveness is used as an ego tool, to forgive on the basis that I am more holy than you. In this situation we are not seeing clearly. We are perceiving both the other person and ourselves as less than perfect. The other person, because we believe they have done something wrong and are in error and ourselves because we perceive ourselves as superior and apart, not the same and whole. This is not true forgiveness.
True forgiveness is about seeing the perfection. It is about right minded thinking. First it is realising that despite what has happened the other person is still perfect, still whole and complete. Second it is forgiving ourselves, for seeing the situation as anything other than whole. If any anger, fear and jealousy is within us, and the situation causes these emotions in us, we can start to feel guilty about not thinking correctly. We have to learn to accept ourselves as we are and to forgive ourselves. To accept that the experience of pain is not our true self, but our ego mind. We do not dwell in any feelings of guilt that these negative thoughts might impose on us.
While we forgive others we hold onto our perception of separation , we still see them as separate and therefore capable of being forgiven by us. Forgiveness is our way of not seeing the separation or of forgiving our selves for seeing separation We do not need to forgive others for there is really nothing to forgive and if others ask for our forgiveness we do not need to forgive them for we cannot forgive something that does not exist.
True forgiveness is forgiveness for our selves for seeing, and acting in, a world of separation. This is forgiveness for seeing the world as illusion and not as perfection. Forgiveness is seeing the lesson in the experience and changing our perception to one of wholeness and love. Forgiveness is once again seeing the perfection in the situation, in others and in ourselves. Of these the hardest is to see the perfection in ourselves.
The objective in any situation is to see clearly, and not to get caught up in the ego response. Seeing the perfection in any situation, is seeing the perfection in each person and identifying the lesson being offered by Spirit. Each time we feel negative emotion it is our opportunity to learn. Forgiveness in this sense is therefore seeing beyond the pain, anger and frustration to recognise the opportunity to learn that we have been given. The recognition of there being something to forgive in others becomes a tool for us to see the need to forgive ourselves.
Forgiveness of Ourselves
Everyone else is the tool for our forgiveness, for in seeing the light in them we recognise the light within ourselves. Everyone who stands before us is a gift, an opportunity to see ourselves as we really are. As long as we hold onto any judgement of others it demonstrates that we still hold guilt within ourselves. Guilt is recognition of our separation, forgiveness is the remembrance of our wholeness. Forgiveness is our salvation, awareness is our tool of recognition for in awareness we recognise our deeply rooted guilt.
Whenever we are aware of any judgement of others, we remember it is only in some way, a recognition, a remembrance, of our own lack. We do not keep any special cases, remembering that all judgements are a reflection of ourselves. Even the most obvious failings of others, even those that all others seem to judge, every judgement is our own.
We cannot stop judging others until we stop judging ourselves. When we still find ourselves judging others it means that we are still judging ourselves. Whenever we find ourselves criticising or blaming someone else then we are still criticising and blaming ourselves.
Masahisa Goi founder of the World Peace Prayer Society describes how fundamentally important forgiving ourselves is “Here let me say a few words on one of the tenets: To Forgive Ourselves and Forgive Others. Most people talk about forgiving other people, but seldom we say we have forgiven ourselves. And in the world of religion it is even believed that to reproach and chastise ourselves is a good deed. The reason why I have taken up as one of my tenets the act of forgiving oneself is that according to the basic cognition that man is God’s spiritual offspring endowed with consummate integrity, any act of reproaching and chastising ourselves, who are the spiritual offspring of God, is tantamount to finding fault with God and passing judgement on Him as if we are accusing and penalizing other human beings. How can we, by means of carnal ideas and notions sit in judgement on ourselves and others who are the very life of the Divine Being? In the idea of accusing and judging ourselves there lurks the idea of accusing and judging other persons. So long as the idea of adjudication on human beings persists, no peace can prevail in this world. May Peace Prevail on Earth”
How do we forgive?
How do we see the perfection in ourselves when all we can see are the faults of others? How do we change our mind?
We should respond to any situation by once more finding our peace and stillness inside so that we can see it as it truly is. We learn to bring love to the situation, to bring heart felt love to everyone concerned, including ourselves. We return once more to our experience of truth. We return to love and heart centred thinking.
The very action of returning to our centre is enough to recognise our wholeness, for in this state of being, we only need to ask, and it is done. We ask that the guilt is taken away and it is removed. Prayer is always answered, we only have to ask. In the stillness of prayer or meditation we are as close as we can be, once more, to that state of completion. Close but not there, because the final step is a permanent step. In that state we are once more healed, we are once again whole and together again. In that state we are not separate we are one, and all seeming faults within us, and perceived in others, fade away to nothing, which is what they really are.
We return to our centre and in our holiness see ourselves and others as we truly are. We see them in love and we feel ourselves in love. We know each other as we really are. When we fail to be able to return to our centre we use a prayer, over and over, until its song raises our hearts once again to God. When we fail to see our perfection, or see the perfection in others, then we call upon the Spirits of God’s helpers to be with us.
Exercise – Forgiveness
This exercise is not about guilt. When we become aware of some of our behaviour it is easy to sink into a sense of guilt about it. But the purpose of this exercise is about clear sight and recognising that despite what we believe has happened, both we, and the other person, remain perfect at a spiritual level. Therefore any feelings of guilt deepen our feelings of being separate.
This exercise is not a one off exercise. This is an exercise that will deepen and develop throughout your life. Try to tackle petty issues first as you strengthen and develop the heart centre and the ability to return to it. The deeper issues with relationships and families will come over time. Do not ignore these, in the same way bring love to them, but do not force yourself into deep emotional examination.
In daily life as you find any situation or person where you see people in a bad light, a spiteful remark, a judgmental thought or an old hurt, come to your heart and feel love. Focus your mind on the feeling of love in the heart while looking at or visualising the person involved. If you cannot do it immediately return to it later.
In contemplation, spend time thinking of all the people you have ever met and visualise them with love.
In meditation, use the technique we have practised to open up to the heart centre. Allow the heart to expand and be filled with love. Allow people to enter the mind and see them in light, do not judge or question who is there.
Apply this technique whenever and wherever you can. There is no need to involve yourself in the story or the issue. Try not to have any exceptions. If you find any situation where you cannot bring love to it then use the mantra exercise.
Our spiritual side is our connection to the universe. The universe looks on us without judgement. We are loved unconditionally. Whatever we have done does not matter, we are still loved unconditionally. This never changes. Everything we have ever done does not matter because the source only sees the spirit of light within us, not our darkness. The universe only sees us in truth, unclouded by our humanity. If we can feel this unconditional love and realise that there is nothing that we have to do to deserve it. There is nothing we have done that we need to change and there is nothing that we have to do to earn it. In this lies true peace.
Exactly as you are right now, with everything that you have ever done, even the very worst thing makes no difference, you are completely and wholly loved. This is the nature of forgiveness. The universe only sees our light.
We may not have the knowledge yet. We may not yet know the perfection in others and in ourselves, but we can have the intent. That is all that is asked of us, to have the intent to forgive. The rest follows.
Meditation Exercise – Unconditional Love
Sit comfortably. Spend a short time preparing and rooting to the earth. Now focus on the feeling of being drawn up, as though a light above the crown is gently pulling upwards. Feel that part of you that is drawn upwards towards the light. Feel as though the light shines down and connects behind the eyes. Feel the warmth of a smile in the eyes. Sit with this warmth for a while.
Imagine the warmth behind the eyes comes down to the heart. Allow yourself to feel that you are loved completely. Imagine that you are loved by God, no matter what. Whatever you have done in your life you are loved. There is nothing that you have to do. You are loved unconditionally. Now there is nothing to do, nothing to achieve, nothing to strive for and no need for pretence. Really feel the sense of being loved by God and that there is nothing you have to do for that love. Feel the peace that this brings. Just sit in the peace.
To finish, before closing down, just let this peacefulness extend out from your heart, don’t direct it or force it, let it expand naturally. Become the peace.