All that I give is given to myself.
1. Today’s idea, completely alien to the ego and the thinking of the world, is crucial to the thought reversal that this course will bring about. ²If you believed this statement, there would be no problem in complete forgiveness, certainty of goal, and sure direction. ³You would understand the means by which salvation comes to you, and would not hesitate to use it now.
Jesus has talked about giving and receiving several times now and in this lesson he tells us that as alien an idea this is to the ego, it is crucial to the thought reversal this Course will bring about. We do know by this time that the Course is teaching us to see the world differently. It is teaching us that everything we believe is completely upside down. This is why for a while we can feel unstable as we adjust to viewing the world as it is. It is as if we are discovering that up is down. It feels pretty weird at first, but ultimately good to know. Today we are being shown how giving is receiving applies to forgiveness.
2. Let us consider what you do believe, in place of this idea. ²It seems to you that other people are apart from you, and able to behave in ways which have no bearing on your thoughts, nor yours on theirs. ³Therefore, your attitudes have no effect on them, and their appeals for help are not in any way related to your own. ⁴You further think that they can sin without affecting your perception of yourself, while you can judge their sin, and yet remain apart from condemnation and at peace.
Jesus begins his explanation of how the true law of giving and receiving affects forgiveness by pointing out just how backwards we have everything. Let’s take the first error, that we are apart from others and their behavior has no bearing on your thoughts and ours have no bearing on theirs. My first thought was that this is not true. I know that if I behave badly or altruistically people will have thoughts about this. But then I reconsidered.
I read about someone who committed murder and I have a thought that probably falls somewhere between they are evil and they need love. Before I learned from A Course in Miracles, I had no thoughts about this attitude affecting them or anyone else. It was a thought in my mind and thus walled off from the rest of the world. It was my private thought. I certainly didn’t think my thought about them affected me.
Jesus also points out that I would not believe that their appeals for help are not in any way related to my own. In other words, their problems were their problems and had nothing to do with me. I believed that they could commit murder without affecting my perception of myself and that I could judge them without judging myself. After all, we are separate from each other, our own little kingdom walled off by these bodies.
3. When you “forgive” a sin, there is no gain to you directly. ²You give charity to one unworthy, merely to point out that you are better, on a higher plane than he whom you forgive. ³He has not earned your charitable tolerance, which you bestow on one unworthy of the gift, because his sins have lowered him beneath a true equality with you. ⁴He has no claim on your forgiveness. ⁵It holds out a gift to him, but hardly to yourself.
Jesus is now describing forgiveness as we think of it before we learn better. Later in the Course, he calls this forgiveness as he describes it in this paragraph “forgiveness to destroy.” This kind of forgiveness is so common in the world that it seems normal to us and yet, it is completely unrelated to true forgiveness. If we make the sin real, we cannot forgive it, and if we try to, we are simply offering charity to one who is undeserving of it and how is that forgiveness? It just makes the other guiltier and it makes a liar of the one “forgiving.” I can forgive or not forgive according to my mood, I guess. And certainly, forgiving in this way seems to be a gift to the guilty party, but how could it be a gift to me? After all, I am not like the murderer. I’m not guilty and don’t need forgiveness and anyway, how is it that giving forgiveness to him could benefit me?
4. Thus is forgiveness basically unsound; a charitable whim, benevolent yet undeserved, a gift bestowed at times, at other times withheld. ²Unmerited, withholding it is just, nor is it fair that you should suffer when it is withheld. ³The sin that you forgive is not your own. ⁴Someone apart from you committed it. ⁵And if you then are gracious unto him by giving him what he does not deserve, the gift is no more yours than was his sin.
Forgiveness seen in this way is based on a charitable whim and not something that can be depended on, not something real. We can forgive or not and whichever we choose, we are not affected by the choice. I am apart from the murderer, and not the one guilty of his sin, and who I am is not affected by his sin. Just as we think that our bodies insulate us from the thoughts of others and do so for our thoughts about them, we think that forgiveness has little effect. After all, if I forgive the murderer, how does this help me?
5. If this be true, forgiveness has no grounds on which to rest dependably and sure. ²It is an eccentricity, in which you sometimes choose to give indulgently an undeserved reprieve. ³Yet it remains your right to let the sinner not escape the justified repayment for his sin. ⁴Think you the Lord of Heaven would allow the world’s salvation to depend on this? ⁵Would not His care for you be small indeed, if your salvation rested on a whim?
6. You do not understand forgiveness. ²As you see it, it is but a check upon overt attack, without requiring correction in your mind. ³It cannot give you peace as you perceive it. ⁴It is not a means for your release from what you see in someone other than yourself. ⁵It has no power to restore your unity with him to your awareness. ⁶It is not what God intended it to be for you.
If forgiveness is the key to happiness and forgiveness is as we believed it to be, a flimsy eccentricity, unreliable and an undeserved reprieve, then how could it be so important to our salvation. Jesus asks us to reconsider. After all, would God allow the world’s salvation to depend on this? God loves us and cares for us. He would not let our salvation rest on a whim. So, we must be mistaken as to what forgiveness is. Our version of forgiveness does not bring us back to union. It does nothing to change our minds. It doesn’t bring us peace. It is not what God intends for us, His beloveds.
7. Not having given Him the gift He asks of you, you cannot recognize His gifts, and think He has not given them to you. ²Yet would He ask you for a gift unless it was for you? ³Could He be satisfied with empty gestures, and evaluate such petty gifts as worthy of His Son? ⁴Salvation is a better gift than this. ⁵And true forgiveness, as the means by which it is attained, must heal the mind that gives, for giving is receiving. ⁶What remains as unreceived has not been given, but what has been given must have been received.
The reason why forgiveness our way doesn’t work and doesn’t gift us is that it doesn’t take into account the universal law of giving and receiving. To be true forgiveness it must heal the mind that gives as well as the mind that receives. Here is an example of what Jesus is telling us.
When I was still working, I had a customer who was difficult to deal with. No matter what I did for him it was never enough. I began to question if he was worth the effort to keep as a customer. I knew that I had to forgive but he was constantly behaving badly so that I would have to forgive over and over. I began to wish he would quit his job and move on. I received nothing for my forgiveness efforts and neither did he.
But I was studying A Course in Miracles and so eventually, I began to realize that I wasn’t practicing true forgiveness. I was forgiving as the world forgives without regard to who he really was and seeing only his ego flaws. In other words, I made him guilty in my mind and then tried to forgive this guilty person. When I realized what I was doing, I asked the Holy Spirit to heal my mind. I wanted to see him differently and that desire to see differently was the way to true forgiveness.
I cannot say that my forgiveness of the ideas I had about him changed his behavior a great deal, but it did change the relationship. He began to see me differently when forgiveness allowed me to see him differently. When I stopped seeing the problem as him being guilty and me endlessly pardoning his guilt, the relationship was no longer adversarial. When he would want more than I could give, he didn’t see it as an attack and so he was more reasonable.
He became more appreciative of my help. He began to see me more as a partner in his work than as a salesperson out to take advantage of him. I didn’t change what I was doing for him, but I changed how I thought of him through true forgiveness, and this changed the relationship. We actually became friends. I realized how forgiven the relationship had become when one day when we ran into each other at Walmart, he smiled and gave me a hug. It surprised both of us!
8. Today we try to understand the truth that giver and receiver are the same. ²You will need help to make this meaningful, because it is so alien to the thoughts to which you are accustomed. ³But the Help you need is there. ⁴Give Him your faith today, and ask Him that He share your practicing in truth today. ⁵And if you only catch a tiny glimpse of the release that lies in the idea we practice for today, this is a day of glory for the world.
When I first started this study and for a long time after, I had to be continuously reminded of what true forgiveness means and what it means that I receive as I give. It was, indeed, a foreign concept to me and took practice. One thing that helped me was to work in absolutes. I did not compromise on these truths. I decided that there was never a time when seeing another person as guilty and then trying to forgive would work or was what I wanted. I decided that I would always receive what I gave without exception and so I strived to give only what I wanted to receive.
Today, as I write about wrong-minded forgiveness and the belief that what I think does not affect others, I have to make myself remember what that was like. With the help of the Holy Spirit and in practicing what we are told in A Course in Miracles, my mind changed so much that remembering the old way of thinking takes effort.
9. Give fifteen minutes twice today to the attempt to understand today’s idea. ²It is the thought by which forgiveness takes its proper place in your priorities. ³It is the thought that will release your mind from every bar to what forgiveness means, and let you realize its worth to you.
Because we are the first receivers of everything we give, true forgiveness becomes the key to our happiness just as Jesus says it is. In realizing that we are all perfect creations and perfectly innocent, I forgive another of my belief that he could be anything less than what God created, and in doing so, I automatically forgive myself that I could be less than perfectly innocent. If I teach guilt, I learn guilt, and if I teach innocence, I learn innocence. What I learn is as true for me as it is for anyone. Let that be truth not ego illusions.
10. In silence, close your eyes upon the world that does not understand forgiveness, and seek sanctuary in the quiet place where thoughts are changed and false beliefs laid by. ²Repeat today’s idea, and ask for help in understanding what it really means. ³Be willing to be taught. ⁴Be glad to hear the Voice of truth and healing speak to you, and you will understand the words He speaks, and recognize He speaks your words to you.
11. As often as you can, remind yourself you have a goal today; an aim which makes this day of special value to yourself and all your brothers. ²Do not let your mind forget this goal for long, but tell yourself:
³All that I give is given to myself. ⁴The Help I need to learn that this is true is with me now. ⁵And I will trust in Him.
⁶Then spend a quiet moment, opening your mind to His correction and His Love. ⁷And what you hear of Him you will believe, for what He gives will be received by you.
It is not enough that we learn a new concept about forgiveness and the law of giving and receiving. First, we must allow the Holy Spirit to make this true in our minds that have been so confused from listening to the ego. This is why we need to sit in silence and allow the mind to be healed. Then we must practice what we are learning. When we judge we must recognize that we are making someone guilty and from that first error only more error can occur. Instead, we must ask the Holy Spirit to show us who the other is so that we can learn who we are. Then true forgiveness is the most natural thing in the world. Who wouldn’t want to forgive the other when they recognize they are one with the other and both are healed through true forgiveness.