Forgiveness is the key to happiness.
A Course in Miracles can be narrowed down to the simple choice between love or fear, forgiveness or judgement. As we will see in our coming steps, post Review III, forgiveness is now our main theme. We have corrected the mind in regards to the art of giving and receiving, recognizing that we never lose by giving, but only gain. This concept will now be translated to the main focus of the course, forgiveness.
There is a familiar sentiment in the beginning of today’s lesson as the Course outlines the unforgiving mind. The mind that is sad, fearful, feels stuck, attacked, picked on, full of pain, and feels as though it has made so many mistakes that it is utterly and irreversibly damned. This mind is in search for peace but shall not find it, if it is still identified with the false notion that it is doomed to an unforgiving life. This mind tells us, “Why bother? What is the point if we will never be forgiven? Or what if we continue to do things that need forgiveness, we are human after all?” However, the Course gives us a compelling answer to such dire questions and the answer is this, there is no such thing as bothersome or effort, there is only opportunity to receive the love we are guaranteed. We are never doomed to be unforgiven.
“The unforgiving mind is full of fear, and offers love no room to be itself; no place where it can spread its wings in peace and soar above the turmoil of the world. The unforgiving mind is sad, without the hope of respite and release from pain. It suffers and abides in misery, peering about in darkness, seeing not, yet certain of the danger lurking there” (ACIM Lesson 121 2:1-3).
The unforgiving mind is the biggest trick of all in the entire rolodex of schemes the mind can play, making you believe that you are a damned, unforgiven soul, left to just deal with it. Do you know this sentiment or something similar? Today, our walk in miracles takes us deeper into correcting this unforgiving mind by integrating our previous teachings and by having the courage to question the validity of an “unforgiven soul.” Trust the Course when it says this is not your Truth, this is not your Way, this is not Who or What You Are. We are only waking up to a Truth that effortlessly presents itself to us in each moment. It is that simple. Each moment, each thought, each interaction, and each situation is a call to choose between love or fear, forgiveness or judgement.
“Yet it regards its judgment of the world as irreversible, and does not see it has condemned itself to this despair. It thinks it cannot change, for what it sees bears witness that its judgment is correct. It does not ask, because it thinks it knows. It does not question, certain it is right” (ACIM Lesson 121 5:2-5).
Many years ago, prior to my introduction to the Course, I was practicing Nichiren Buddhism, which is known for chanting the mantra, Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō. According to Buddhist teachings, the purpose of this mantra is to eradicate suffering and negative karma, leading one to a fully awakened life. I have always enjoyed a good chant and/or kirtan, thus when I came across this mantra at that point in my life, I used it to focus my energy as I bathed those that I felt hurt me in a bright light.
I recall how difficult I found the first few applications and seeing the person who hurt me in light. Like the Course suggests, I started small and let the light gradually grow. In the end, it did not take long. As my practice progressed, my visions of these people were brighter and lighter and in return I was brighter and lighter. I remember sharing this story years later to a woman who was dealing with forgiveness, herself. She could not grasp how she would be able to see another who hurt her in a bright light. Yet at the same time she was curious because not only did it work for me to do this sort of meditation but others she knew as well. However, that is what the mind will tell us, that forgiveness of others, and even ourselves, is not possible. But it is actually more than possible and more real than anything our minds know. It is also actually a lot easier than we think as well. Such an opportunity can only be a true gift.
“Try to perceive some light in him somewhere; a little gleam which you had never noticed. Try to find some little spark of brightness shining through the ugly picture that you hold of him. Look at this picture till you see a light somewhere within it, and then try to let this light extend until it covers him, and makes the picture beautiful and good” (ACIM Lesson 121 11:1-4).
In Lesson 46, “God is the Love in which I forgive,” we were introduced to the concept that God’s love envelops everyone, both you and me and even those who appear to hurt us, because we are all Children of God. A few steps later in our journey, in Lesson 62, “Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world,” we came to experience our true purpose and means for demonstrating that we are the light of the world, through our capacity to forgive. In order for this concept to be experienced, we surveyed our mind for those we had not forgiven, calling them our “weighty ghosts” that were keeping us bound to this world of suffering, making unforgiven brothers and sisters the imaginary chains that were waiting to be released.
Prior to even being introduced to the concept of forgiveness, we came to an understanding that there is technically nothing to forgive anyone for. I am not saying nothing was done to you but what I am saying is to think of it in terms of something that was done for you…to awaken to the remembrance that you, along with your bothers and sisters, are as God created you. Just take a moment to review the statements from some of our first lessons in A Course in Miracles, in order to loosen any strings that bind you to an unforgiven mind. Let these statements remind you to question the authority of such a misguided mind.
Lesson 2: I have given everything I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] all the meaning that it has for me.
Lesson 5: I am never upset for the reason I think.
Lesson 9: I see nothing as it is now.
Lesson 10: My thoughts do not mean anything.
Lesson 22: What I see is a form of vengeance.
Lesson 25: I do not know what anything is for.
Lesson 32: I have invented the world I see.
Lesson 34: I can see peace instead of this.
As you have noticed, the Course will continue to come around full circle until every part and parcel of the mind is united with its Creator. Today, we witness how seeing the light in another is also a means in which we recognize the light in ourselves. We are all Light. As you are the Light of the world, so are your fellow brothers and sisters. To deny him or her that Light is to deny yourself. You came to this Course to no longer deny yourself the happiness that is rightfully yours but to also release your means of suffering. Forgiveness is the way.
We often say, “Give peace a chance.” Today, go one step further in your own world and give forgiveness a chance. Forgiveness is the absolute key to happiness. Experience how this key unlocks all the doors you have built around you heart, releasing you to extend love to all, which is what you were created to do. Thus, as you do, in return you will be met with that same limitless, boundless love. Once more, you lose nothing. There is only gain.
“Here is the answer to your search for happiness” (ACIM Lesson 121 1:1).
What we do for ourselves we also do for others. In your extension of forgiveness and love, you are not only remembering but you are also reminding those around you the choice we all have; love or fear, forgiveness or judgment. Do you see how you are the Miracle Maker? The Trailblazer of Light? It can never not be so. You are the Savior of the world.