Forgiveness is the key to happiness.
1. Here is the answer to your search for peace. ²Here is the key to meaning in a world that seems to make no sense. ³Here is the way to safety in apparent dangers that appear to threaten you at every turn, and bring uncertainty to all your hopes of ever finding quietness and peace. ⁴Here are all questions answered; here the end of all uncertainty ensured at last.
The very title of the lesson tells us how important this lesson is and the first paragraph reinforces that message. We want to pay close attention to this lesson. If done with the desire for happiness and with resolve, this lesson will change your life and bring you to awakening. If practiced until there is nothing left to forgive… well, I don’t know what else could be needed to be at peace and to be happy, but most of all, to end the idea of separation in the mind.
2. 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. ²The unforgiving mind is sad, without the hope of respite and release from pain. ³It suffers and abides in misery, peering about in darkness, seeing not, yet certain of the danger lurking there.
3. The unforgiving mind is torn with doubt, confused about itself and all it sees; afraid and angry, weak and blustering, afraid to go ahead, afraid to stay, afraid to waken or to go to sleep, afraid of every sound, yet more afraid of stillness; terrified of darkness, yet more terrified at the approach of light. ²What can the unforgiving mind perceive but its damnation? ³What can it behold except the proof that all its sins are real?
Jesus paints a pretty awful picture of our mind when it fails to forgive. It might seem at first glance that this is an exaggeration, but I assure you it is not and if you consider carefully what he is telling us in this lesson, you, too, will recognize the truth in it. I didn’t see it myself until I was past it and looking back. Once I had forgiven enough to shift, I was able to see clearly how really awful life was before forgiveness. I was able to see how holding grievances had been holding me in hell. It’s strange how one can be in hell and not realize it until one is free.
4. The unforgiving mind sees no mistakes, but only sins. ²It looks upon the world with sightless eyes, and shrieks as it beholds its own projections rising to attack its miserable parody of life. ³It wants to live, yet wishes it were dead. ⁴It wants forgiveness, yet it sees no hope. ⁵It wants escape, yet can conceive of none because it sees the sinful everywhere.
The unforgiving mind sees no mistakes, but only sins. Is this true? Have you ever read an article about a person who has raped a child? Did you condemn him in your mind? I did. I thought what an evil person this was. I remember reading about a father who killed the sexual predator he caught raping his child and thinking, “Good! That guy deserved what he got.” It never occurred to me at that time to pray for all concerned, the one who was hurt and the one who did the hurting, that we cannot leave any part of the Sonship unhealed.
It also never occurred to me that the world, being a projection of the collective consciousness of the sleeping Son, that all that happens in the world is a reflection of my mind. I wanted to think that my mind was separate from other minds and it was only the evil that projected evil. But our minds are not separate and the world was not made by some of us but not all of us. I am responsible for all that is made and so I am able to forgive all that is in my awareness.
In order for us to return our awareness to our real life, we must forgive this miserable parody of life we made with our desire for specialness. We do want to remember our Self and to take our place in God where we live. We must do this as one and to do so, we must forgive. As long as our minds are filled with unforgiveness, we will suffer and we will not remember Who We are because we are Love and there is no hate in love. If we want freedom we must forgive and realize there is only innocence.
5. The unforgiving mind is in despair, without the prospect of a future which can offer anything but more despair. ²Yet it regards its judgment of the world as irreversible, and does not see it has condemned itself to this despair. ³It thinks it cannot change, for what it sees bears witness that its judgment is correct. ⁴It does not ask, because it thinks it knows. ⁵It does not question, certain it is right.
It feels funny to me now to think about it, but I used to think that I was right in my judgments and that the world I saw all around me proved how right I was. I decided what a person should be like to be innocent and I held onto that judgment like it was my salvation and I dared not let it go. For instance, I knew someone who was a bigot and was mean about it. I knew that he was guilty of this and really unpleasant to be around.
Anyone would have agreed with me. How could I change my mind about that, how could I see him as innocent? I certainly didn’t want to see him as one with me. As long as I kept that belief in my mind, I was seeing the world as condemned and irreversible. As long as I see one person as condemned and unforgiven, the world is held hostage to my judgment and thus so am I. If I believe in judgment, I will judge myself. If I believe in judgment, no one will be safe from my attack.
Questioning my judgment is the first step to my freedom and to the freedom of the world. But if I am certain that I am right, I will not take that first step. What I did was to realize that if I am judging, I am wrong no matter what the circumstances and no matter how apparent it seemed that I was right this time. Here is what Jesus tells us in the Manual for Teachers about judgment.
It is necessary for the teacher of God to realize, not that he should not judge, but that he cannot. ²In giving up judgment, he is merely giving up what he did not have. ³He gives up an illusion; or better, he has an illusion of giving up. ⁴He has actually merely become more honest. ⁵Recognizing that judgment was always impossible for him, he no longer attempts it. ⁶This is no sacrifice. ⁷On the contrary, he puts himself in a position where judgment through him rather than by him can occur. ⁸And this judgment is neither “good” nor “bad.” ⁹It is the only judgment there is, and it is only one: “God’s Son is guiltless, and sin does not exist.”
Once I made up my mind that I cannot judge and I am never right when I see sin rather than error, it became easy to forgive. I saw that I was only forgiving my judgments.
6. Forgiveness is acquired. ²It is not inherent in the mind, which cannot sin. ³As sin is an idea you taught yourself, forgiveness must be learned by you as well, but from a Teacher other than yourself, Who represents the other Self in you. ⁴Through Him you learn how to forgive the self you think you made, and let it disappear. ⁵Thus you return your mind as one to Him Who is your Self, and Who can never sin.
As we forgive others, we move closer and closer to forgiving the self that we made because in forgiving, we are forgiving the idea of sin and the idea of a world outside our mind. The self we made is part of that world thus we forgive that idea as well, and the idea that it was a sin that we tried to usurp God as the prime creator by becoming our own creator.
That sounded strange to me the first time I read it, but as I started paying attention, I saw that we are trying to create ourselves. God did not create bodies, we did. Then we told ourselves that the bodies were us. He did not create His Son as separate from Him and each other. We did that. In the world, we try to make ourselves special and we do all sorts of things to make ourselves worthy. That has nothing to do with God. The Holy Spirit will help us to undo all that we have done as we allow our minds to be healed of these ideas. This is forgiveness.
7. Each unforgiving mind presents you with an opportunity to teach your own how to forgive itself. ²Each one awaits release from hell through you, and turns to you imploringly for Heaven here and now. ³It has no hope, but you become its hope. ⁴And as its hope, do you become your own. ⁵The unforgiving mind must learn through your forgiveness that it has been saved from hell. ⁶And as you teach salvation, you will learn. ⁷Yet all your teaching and your learning will be not of you, but of the Teacher Who was given you to show the way to you.
We have all met someone who is unforgiving. It might be a parent who never saw the good in you, only your errors. It might be a sibling who blamed you for everything that went wrong in her life. Or someone at work, a coworker or boss who blames you when something isn’t going right even if you had nothing to do with it. Maybe it is a friend who thinks you are guilty of not spending more time with her.
They suffer from an unforgiving mind and we are their hope. If we will forgive all their projections onto us, we teach them forgiveness and become their savior. In doing so, we teach ourselves forgiveness and we, too, are saved from Hell. ⁷Yet all your teaching and your learning will be not of you, but of the Teacher Who was given you to show the way to you.
8. Today we practice learning to forgive. ²If you are willing, you can learn today to take the key to happiness, and use it on your own behalf. ³We will devote ten minutes in the morning, and at night another ten, to learning how to give forgiveness and receive forgiveness, too.
9. The unforgiving mind does not believe that giving and receiving are the same. ²Yet we will try to learn today that they are one through practicing forgiveness toward one whom you think of as an enemy, and one whom you consider as a friend. ³And as you learn to see them both as one, we will extend the lesson to yourself, and see that their escape included yours.
Jesus wants us to do this practice so that we can take the key to forgiveness in hand and use it to save ourselves and our brothers. In forgiving others we learn that we are forgiven. In practicing forgiveness on one who is our enemy, and one we see as a friend, we learn that they are one. And then we extend the forgiveness to ourselves and we see that we are one with them. It takes more than understanding, it takes practice.
10. Begin the longer practice periods by thinking of someone you do not like, who seems to irritate you, or to cause regret in you if you should meet him; one you actively despise, or merely try to overlook. ²It does not matter what the form your anger takes. ³You probably have chosen him already. ⁴He will do.
11. Now close your eyes and see him in your mind, and look at him a while. ²Try to perceive some light in him somewhere; a little gleam which you had never noticed. ³Try to find some little spark of brightness shining through the ugly picture that you hold of him. ⁴Look 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.
12. Look at this changed perception for a while, and turn your mind to one you call a friend. ²Try to transfer the light you learned to see around your former “enemy” to him. ³Perceive him now as more than friend to you, for in that light his holiness shows you your savior, saved and saving, healed and whole.
13. Then let him offer you the light you see in him, and let your “enemy” and friend unite in blessing you with what you gave. ²Now are you one with them, and they with you. ³Now have you been forgiven by yourself. ⁴Do not forget, throughout the day, the role forgiveness plays in bringing happiness to every unforgiving mind, with yours among them. ⁵Every hour tell yourself:
⁶Forgiveness is the key to happiness. ⁷I will awaken from the dream that I am mortal, fallible and full of sin, and know I am the perfect Son of God.
Jesus is very specific in the instructions for this practice so I assume it is necessary that I follow them as they are set out in order to get the results he promises. The payoff for doing this exercise with everyone for whom I have a grievance? Only awakening from the dream and remembering what I am.