The term forgiveness as defined by A Course in Miracles is likely one of the most difficult words to understand. Its comprehension can be illusive. First, we get it. Then, we don’t. Sleight of hand.

The well-respected Circle of Atonement website provides a meaningful definition of forgiveness.

In part, it states:

The ultimate rationale for forgiveness is that “the separation never occurred” (T-6.II.10:7, see Atonement), that “I am as God created me,” that “God’s Son is guiltless.” Attack, then, has no effects. It is a harmless mistake, a call for love. Thus, what caused you to feel hurt was not the other’s attack, but your own misperception of his attack. Forgiveness lets this misperception go. As a result, it heals the other person of guilt, and can even heal his body. It also heals your mind of guilt and fear, for these came from your anger and resentment. It also heals you of your sense of separateness, for it takes away the perception of sinfulness that made you recoil from your brother. Forgiveness is the source of extension and the way to joining. Forgiveness is salvation. It is the central theme of the Course, and (according to the Course) of the Holy Spirit’s entire plan for salvation. See W-pII.1.


Since I often think in terms of analogies or metaphors in my attempts to both understand and teach a concept, I offer the following visualization:

Picture two rooms, which are separated by a door. On one side of the door, in this dimly lit space, you stand across from another person. You are experiencing anger and resentment. You have the impulse to verbally attack him because you believe that he has hurt you, embarrassed you; diminished your worth in front of others. You feel your heart racing. Your breathing quickens and becomes shallow. Looking down you notice your fists are clenched. Thoughts are erratic and unsettling and move with epic speed through your mind. The walls appear to be closing in on you. Your eyes are fixed on the person you perceive as your enemy.

Without notice, the other person walks away from you. He places his hand on the doorknob, turns it, opens the door and walks over the threshold. He closes the door behind him.

IMG_1021 door in dark room

Rage races through your entire being. Out of your mouth comes a resounding, “How dare you!” To the other side of the room you race and fling open the door.

You are immediately transfixed and transformed. This room is brightly lit, almost as though it were bathed in sunshine. A warm, gentle breeze moves over your entire body. You can’t help but notice yourself taking slow, deep breaths. The sound of your heart no longer blares in your ears. Instead the presence of Peace engulfs your Self. Without effort, you smile.

You sense another presence. Across the room, your brother stands in the Light, arms wide open. With Christ Vision, you view him as radiant. Your desire is to extend love to him and join with him in this place of peace. In a loving voice, he calls to you, “Welcome Home.”

This Holy Instant inspires you to embrace him. At your joining the two of you become one.

“I love you,” is uttered in unison.”

Some readers might be disturbed by this illustration, feeling as though “you” just forgave someone who publicly humiliated and insulted you; attacked you. If you think this way, you are falling back on the worldly definition of forgiveness: absolving someone of their “sins,” insults, actions, behaviors, words, etc. because you believe they committed them. Doing so is from the point of view of the ego who revels and rejoices as he holds you in bondage.

But, let’s remember that what we perceive out there is the result of what we believe (in our wrong mind) to be true. Cause and effect. The cause = our thoughts. The effect = our perceptions.

In my example above, I asked you to take on the role of the character of “you.” “You” believe you were wronged. As Course students we are compelled to ask of the situation:  What is going on in “your” mind? What are “your” fears? What are “you” projecting on to “him?” Is “he” even real? What needs to be healed in “your” mind? In what ways are “you” calling out for love?

How do you explain the transformation that occurred when you each walked through the door and into the Light?

If we truly desire to rise above the chaos of this world we have to make choices. One, we can continue to wander aimlessly in the dark, or we can choose the Light of Love, true forgiveness and rise above the worldly fray. Two, we need to remember that, until we heal our minds, what we believe is what we perceive.

Yet, we can always choose again.


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