- What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin, except a false idea about God’s Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God.
An unforgiving thought is one which makes a judgment that it will not raise to doubt, although it is not true. The mind is closed, and will not be released. The 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. What can come between a fixed projection and the aim that it has chosen as its wanted goal?
An unforgiving thought does many things. In frantic action it pursues its goal, twisting and overturning what it sees as interfering with its chosen path. Distortion is its purpose, and the means by which it would accomplish it as well. It sets about its furious attempts to smash reality, without concern for anything that would appear to pose a contradiction to its point of view.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, 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. He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive. But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.
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.
While I was in the hospital, there were only a few times that I lost my peace. I was disgusted with the lack of hygiene in the hospital and so I had a grievance against the personnel that didn’t see the need for that or couldn’t be bothered. I was also shocked at the lack of concern for the patients that I saw exhibited. I have been to hospitals where the level of care and the concern for hygiene was paramount and so I was comparing the two.
Reading this paragraph, I see my error. Yes, all of those things were true, I am not denying that. But, it was my error to judge and make guilty those who were involved. It is one thing to notice and error and quite another to judge and place blame. I am fully willing to see the sinlessness of everyone involved. No one hurt me, and if I was hurt it was my own doing and a result of judgment. I withdrew that judgment and made room for the Will of God, which is that His Son is innocent.
W-pII.1.2. An unforgiving thought is one which makes a judgment that it will not raise to doubt, although it is not true. 2 The mind is closed, and will not be released. 3 The 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. 4 What can come between a fixed projection and the aim that it has chosen as its wanted goal?
I don’t have any judgments I am not willing to raise to doubt. I have had some I considered longer than was comfortable or profitable, but even then, not for very long. I cannot tolerate the lack of peace when I do this. Because I have discovered that what Jesus says is true, the longer I hold onto the grievance, the harder it is to let go, I now let go quickly.
W-pII.1.3. An unforgiving thought does many things. 2 In frantic action it pursues its goal, twisting and overturning what it sees as interfering with its chosen path. 3 Distortion is its purpose, and the means by which it would accomplish it as well. 4 It sets about its furious attempts to smash reality, without concern for anything that would appear to pose a contradiction to its point of view.
The ego thoughts about the hospital when considered and believed, began to take on a life of their own. I would see more and more things to be concerned about. These thoughts were like vines in a jungle growing out of control and cutting off the light so that it became impossible to see the beauty and love of the beings in front of me. It became impossible to remember my purpose.
W-pII.1.4. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is still, and quietly does nothing. 2 It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. 3 It merely looks, and waits, and judges not. 4 He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive. 5 But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.
Now let me say that I did notice all of these things, and I did think it was a very poor way to run a hospital, but I didn’t dwell on them overmuch. It wasn’t like I was afraid I was going to catch something and die or that I would have a serious episode and no one would be around to help. It was just an unforgiven thought in the back of my mind. However, because I did not let it be, but kept giving it my attention, it could not leave.
We are not these bodies, we are the consciousness in which these bodies come and then go. Maybe they stay a number of years or a number of days, but they are not eternal and therefore not real and so will go. We are not that. We are the place through which they pass. This applies to thoughts as well. They come into our minds and if we let them be and don’t place our attention on them, they go. Our Self is unaffected by either the body, the world, or the thoughts. It simply remains as God created It.
Those ideas that come into the mind and that we give attention to, however, hang around and soon other similar thoughts join them. When I began to notice how unhygienic the hospital was, I felt vulnerable even though I didn’t realize that was what was happening. From there, the ego had a field day, finding proof I wasn’t safe.
The only reason it wasn’t more upsetting to me is that I was no longer fully insane. I knew what was happening and I rejected it. If I had been more firmly established in the truth, I would not have even noticed them. I would have been willing to merely look, and wait, and judge not. But once I had judged and failed to forgive, I had to justify my failure to forgive by finding little things to prove I was right. Even though this was a minor irritation to me, it was a block to the awareness of love’s presence and so not something I want to ignore.
W-pII.1.5. 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. 2 He has forgiven you already, for such is His function, given Him by God. 3 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.
Fortunately, it is never too late to forgive. Time is not real so it doesn’t matter when one decides to forgive, it is simply done as we will. I am so relieved to be free of judgment that I cannot even consider not doing what is needed. I think of the people involved and the condition of the hospital, and I can’t find any judgment anymore.
I want them to be perfect because we are not separate and if they are condemned so am I. I saw that very clearly through this experience. The more I blamed them, the worse I felt. I am reminded of what Byron Katie often says, “That’s me over there, having that experience.” Would I choose to condemn myself? No. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to forgive and see sinless whom God honors as His Son.
The Introduction also says, “We will not consider time a matter of duration now. We will use as much as we will need for the result that we desire.”
Each one must find the time he/she needs for adequate contemplation and meditation.
What is “adequate?” Whatever time it takes to realize genuine wisdom and/or shifts each day.
I contemplate until contemplation feels complete, which means I have received my “daily bread.” And then I meditate for as long as the day will allow, meaning I meditate until I need to move into my workday.
For me, the total time spent in contemplation and meditation is typically
3 – 4 hours per day. To do this, I get up at 5am each day. When I was a new student, I typically spent 60-90 minutes per day in focused spiritual time. As you can see, my focused time has increased over time.
Now our format for the workbook lessons is this:
1 – Each day read and contemplate the “special theme” that we are currently working with. The first one is, “What is Forgiveness?”
2 – Contemplate the day’s workbook lesson.
3 – Spend time in meditation.
4 – Recall the day’s workbook lesson hourly.
5 – Spend at least a brief time with the workbook lesson and/or meditation before going to bed at night.
One time I spent the day with one of those customers that you cannot please no matter what you do for them. I recognized that I was judging and that I was resentful toward her. I used a forgiveness process and thought that I had done my work. But then I noticed that I was still having judgmental thoughts about her. I searched my mind for those thoughts and asked for another way to see. Again I thought I was through. Then when I got ready for bed and was putting the day to rest, I noticed that I felt very uncomfortable about this issue. Now not only was I unforgiving toward her, but I was unforgiving toward myself as I felt guilty for holding onto the grievance.
I thought about it and decided that this was one of those blessings in disguise. There was something within myself that needed healing and I just wasn’t getting it. So I asked the Holy Spirit to work with me in my sleep where I might be less resistant. The next morning I saw that I was at the Forgiveness page in the workbook and thought how appropriate that was. And I am sure that it was no coincidence that the CD I was listening to the day before was on forgiveness. Once we commit to awakening, what we need to awaken is provided. This customer is a perfect example of that, and the fact that what would help me to deal with it was right there at hand is another example.
I love Jesus’ discourse on forgiveness. I have read it with different ears at different times in my life, each time bringing me a little deeper into the meaning. That morning it was perfect for my forgiveness lesson. I read: Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. I have read that many, many times over the years. At first, it was meaningless to me, then as I became more open to hearing it I began to understand. It has opened to me as a rose, each petal offering awareness that is perfect for my immediate need and ability to understand. As I grow, another petal unfolds, bringing me deeper into the meaning.
On that particular day, I was hung up on the idea that my customer really was wrong. I kept trying to forgive her for something she clearly did. I don’t know why I couldn’t see that while it was happening. I guess I just didn’t want to be the one responsible for my anger. I didn’t even want to admit I was angry. I found it so easy to find evidence that she was wrong. She was acting selfish and self-centered. She cared only about herself. She was unappreciative. I attributed my “annoyance” with the heat, and lord knows it was hot! I was dehydrated and exhausted. I was frustrated in not being able to fix her problem. I had so many reasons for how I felt and so much proof that she was the problem.
But no matter what it looked like, I knew that I was kidding myself, and the energy of blame and accusation was so unpleasant that by the next morning I was more than ready to get serious about forgiveness. In the end, it was just so simple. I looked at the situation knowing, really KNOWING, that my customer is completely innocent. The weather is completely innocent. The situation is innocent. Starting from that absolute and unassailable truth, I was able to look at the feelings the situation differently. I started looking within instead of without.
I began this by thinking that she was selfish and self-centered. I know that I have been selfish and self-centered myself. I thought of times when I have acted in this way. I paid attention to how it made me feel when I thought of those instances in my life when I acted in a self-centered way. It didn’t feel good. It felt heavy and dark; not at all like the joy and lightness I had been experiencing before this came up. I knew that I was willing to forgive myself for being selfish in the past, for being selfish now, and for any selfish behavior in the future.
I don’t know how to forgive, but I know that the Holy Spirit will step in and accomplish forgiveness if I come to Him with willingness. I have learned that it is not a matter of logic; it is not a job for the thinking mind. It is easy to read the lesson and know what it means intellectually. But those words are just pointing me in the right direction. They do not cause forgiveness. For forgiveness to happen, I must want it wholly. I cannot want forgiveness and also want to be right about my grievance. If I expect to forgive and to reap the rewards of forgiveness then the way to have that is to want forgiveness above all things.
To forgive I must be willing to see that it is always myself I forgive. The more quickly I move out of the idea that someone or something outside of me is the cause of my discomfort, the more quickly I can allow forgiveness. I don’t have to do anything to make forgiveness happen, but only be fully willing for it to happen. On the day in question, while I was distracted by my need to see my problems as caused by something outside of me, I couldn’t forgive. I was trying to hold two completely opposing thoughts at the same time. I was trying to forgive and at the same time judge. The next morning, all I wanted was forgiveness and suddenly I was laughing at my obstinacy of the previous day. What seemed impossible then, suddenly seemed inevitable.