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What Is Forgiveness?

1. Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. ²It does not pardon sins and make them real. ³It sees there was no sin. ⁴And in that view are all your sins forgiven. ⁵What is sin, except a false idea about God’s Son? ⁶Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. ⁷What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God.

This first paragraph explains what forgiveness is and what it does for us. It is basically saying that there is nothing to forgive. What someone has done that seems offensive to us has not actually occurred. There is no world and there are no bodies except in our mind and not in our true mind, but in our ego-mind. It is all imagination and projected out it is a hallucination. What is not real has no real effects. There is nothing to forgive because nothing has happened. As Jesus tells us: ⁷Much has been seen since then, but nothing has really happened. (ACIM, T-3.VII.5:7) So, what is there to forgive.

2. An unforgiving thought is one which makes a judgment that it will not raise to doubt, although it is not true. ²The mind is closed, and will not be released. ³The thought protects projection, tightening its chains, so that distortions are more veiled and more obscure; less easily accessible to doubt, and further kept from reason. ⁴What can come between a fixed projection and the aim that it has chosen as its wanted goal?

That first sentence is enough to pull me up short if I were tempted to not forgive. An unforgiving thought is one which makes a judgment that it will not raise to doubt, although it is not true. May I always question every unforgiving thought. Let me bring it to the light so that I can see that it is not true. Otherwise, I will close my mind to the truth so that I can keep believing the judgment. Maybe I want to be right more than I want to be happy. Maybe I want to protect my perceptions in spite of the suffering they cause. 

The more I defend my misperceptions, the more tangled my thinking becomes until I am unable to let anything come between my fixed projection and the aim that it has chosen as its wanted goal. It is easy to see this happening if I am willing to open my mind even a little. Suppose someone has decided that I don’t know what I am talking about and makes a public attempt to discredit me. I can see this as confusion and conflict in the mind and let it go without any concern whatsoever.

What if, on the other hand, I feel a strong need to defend my point of view? What if my need to be seen as right is stronger than my desire to be at peace? If this is the case, then no amount of common sense is going to get in the way of my goals of being right and being seen as right. I will argue and protest, I will lose friends, I will win whatever the cost because I have set my goal to be right. If I set a different goal, perhaps the peace of God, then the other cannot say anything to me or about me that is not immediately forgiven because only forgiveness will cause my goal to be met.

3. An unforgiving thought does many things. ²In frantic action it pursues its goal, twisting and overturning what it sees as interfering with its chosen path. ³Distortion is its purpose, and the means by which it would accomplish it as well. ⁴It sets about its furious attempts to smash reality, without concern for anything that would appear to pose a contradiction to its point of view.

As I am reading this, I am reminded of the political dissension in our country of late. People taking sides and holding tight to their beliefs about the situations, so tightly, that they will not even read about what the other side thinks and believes. Many will defend their point of view without regard to facts and will look for facts only where they expect agreement with them. Which side is right? Neither. 

Neither is right because both sides believe in the world and in the separation ideas that are being accepted as truth. Anything that adds to the burden of separation thinking is false simply because separation is not the Will of God and therefore cannot exist. Believing in separation is an error that causes suffering and keeps us from knowing who we are because who we are is whole, is one.

4. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is still, and quietly does nothing. ²It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. ³It merely looks, and waits, and judges not. ⁴He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive. ⁵But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.

Returning to the idea of the divisiveness encouraged in politics recently, this divisiveness is the error. It offends reality and it seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. Not one side or another, but both sides are doing this in that many are taking a side and thus must now defend against an aspect of Self and thus defend against wholeness. Today’s politics is a clear image of a mind divided against itself. 

5. 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. ²He has forgiven you already, for such is His function, given Him by God. ³Now must you share His function, and forgive whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees, and whom He honors as the Son of God.
(ACIM, W-pII.1.1:1–5:3)

So, what do I do about the unforgiven thoughts in my mind and their effects? I do nothing. I let forgiveness show me what to do. I let the Holy Spirit give me words where words are needed, and prompt me to silence when words would be a break in actual communication. I remember my purpose and I use the situations to achieve that purpose. I am forgiven and everyone else is forgiven, I simply choose to accept that this is true.

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