Jun 10, 2009

“…do not attempt to judge forgiveness, nor to set it in an earthly frame”

It is easy if not unavoidable to look at A Course in Miracles through the lens of another spirituality or religion. Just because the language seems familiar, we assume we know what it says. I spent many years straddling between two paths unaware that I was doing it. There's nothing wrong with that except that it's difficult to make progress, especially if the goal of the two paths is conflicting.

There is enormous resistance to the message of A Course in Miracles because its practice threatens the existence of the ego that we think we are. Practicing forgiveness as taught by the Course is asking the ego to choose a though system that will result in its undoing. From the ego's point of view, true forgiveness equals death. As egos we are consciously or unconsciously terrified of losing who we think we are, so as a defense we practice forgiveness in a way that looks like forgiveness, but instead of fulfilling its purpose which is to undo the separation, it reinforces it. This kind of forgiveness doesn't aim to heal the cause of separation. Instead, it makes the error real and reinforces our identification with our separated self.

The Song of Prayer supplement uses pretty strong language to describe this ego-centered practice of forgiveness. It calls it "forgiveness-to-destroy." It is forgiveness as interpreted or judged by our "earthly frame;" our body. This practice, while it may bring us some relief within the world, won't take us home. In fact, it will keep us firmly rooted in the dream of separation.

Forgiveness is the means for your escape. How pitiful it is to make of it the means for further slavery and pain. Within the world of opposites there is a way to use forgiveness for the goal of God, and find the peace He offers you. Take nothing else, or you have sought your death, and prayed for separation from your Self. (S-2.II.7:3-7 Bold mine)

Forgiveness-to-destroy has many forms, being a weapon of the world of form. Not all are obvious, and some are carefully concealed beneath what seems like charity. Yet all the forms that it may seem to take have but this single goal; their purpose is to separate and makes what God created equal, different. (S-2.II.1:1-3 Bold mine)

It is very easy to slip into forgiveness-to-destroy. We fall into the practice whenever we are afraid of God's perfect Love in which we cannot exist as individuals. The most obvious form of forgiveness-to-destroy is forgiveness as understood by the world. As bodies or egos, we believe there are other guilty bodies that have to be forgiven. We blame people for disturbing our peace and then decide to overlook their sin and forgive them. This kind of forgiveness does nothing to undo the separation. Instead of joining, it creates differences between ourselves and others by establishing that we are innocent and they are guilty. In contrast, true forgiveness shines a light in our mind that shows us that what we experience in the world is nothing but a senseless dream and that the only reason we are ever upset is because we believe that the dream is real and can have an effect on us.

The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true. (T-28.II.7)

Similar to Forgiveness-to-destroy, "false healing" or "healing-to-separate," makes the separation real and increases our identification with the ego. False healing is concerned with healing the body and not the mind that projects the body. The Song of Prayer says that healing, "… can be false as well as true; a witness to the power of the world or to the everlasting Love of God."

False healing merely makes a poor exchange of one illusion for a "nicer" one; a dream of sickness for a dream of health. This can occur at lower forms of prayer, combining with forgiveness kindly meant but not completely understood as yet…. False healing can indeed remove a form of pain and sickness. But the cause remains, and will not lack effects. (S-3.II.1:1-3,5)

We practice false healing whenever our intention is to heal or to change anything in the world. For something to need healing, it has to be real first. Having established that the body, the world or a situation we are in are real, we then use prayer, or the power of our mind to try to change the situation to what we think is better. Whether we want more money, success, a healthy body, peace in the world, our wanting establishes that there is an "I' that needs things to be different in the world in order to experience peace. Many spiritual paths use this approach. It has become very popular to use affirmations, repeat mantras or pray to God for solutions to our problems. There is nothing wrong with that and it may even work; our health may become better or we may demonstrate abundance, but what we are actually doing is trading one dream for another while we root ourselves further into the dream of separation.

In false healing, having established that we are separate, we then ask God or the Universe to help us or tell us what to do. Instead of taking our illusions up to Him and asking Him to dispel them, we define the problem from the point of view of our body; our 'earthly frame' and ask Him to validate it. What we are doing is asking Him to acknowledge the separation.

In contrast, within the practice of A Course in Miracles our focus is never on healing or changing anything. Instead of trying to manipulate effects; the body or the world, we deal with cause, which is only in the mind. As we notice lack of peace within ourselves, we realize that we must be believing the dream is real. So all we do is forgive so that the Peace of God is restored to our mind. Forgiveness shows us that we are the dreamer of the dream and that a dream can have no effect on us. This doesn't mean that at this level we have control over what we see. Our eyes may still see injustice, sickness, or a poor economy, but through the lens of forgiveness, we will not experience lack of peace.

A miracle is a correction. It does not create, nor really change at all. It merely looks on devastation, and reminds the mind that what it sees is false. W.pII.13.1:1-3

We undo the dream of separation by withdrawing our support to it. It's our reaction to the dream that makes it real. Our lack of peace says that there is cause in the world so it must be real.

Without a cause there can be no effects, and yet without effects there is no cause. The cause a cause is made by its effects; the Father is a Father by His Son. Effects do not create their cause, but they establish its causation. (T-28.II.1:1-3)

All spiritual paths serve a purpose. They meet us where we are at and we should not judge them. As we become less afraid, we begin to see A Course in Miracles for what it is and not through the lens of another spiritual path. We begin to read it from the point of view of the mind that can choose again, rather than the body. But while we experience ourselves as a body, we don't try to change our thoughts because that makes them and the ego real. Becoming aware of them is enough.

Very often I notice myself falling into old thought patterns. I notice forgiveness-to-destroy and healing-to-separate prevalent within my thinking. It's automatic for me to deny error, for example. And I can't help but affirm truth when I'm hurt. I feel pain and the thought "There is no pain in matter," shows up almost as fast as the pain. I see myself trying to manipulate my situation by exchanging limited thoughts about myself for unlimited ones. But there is a calm forgiving presence in my mind that just watches it happen and does nothing. By not reacting to what happens in our lives (I mean mentally!) what we are saying is that nothing is happening in reality and that we are still in perfect Love as One with Him.

Forgiveness… is still, and quietly does nothing. It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not….. 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. He has forgiven you already, for such is His function, given Him by God. Now must you share His function, and forgive whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees, and whom He honors as the Son of God. (W-pII.1.5,4)