All things are lessons God would have me learn.
God does not know of learning. Yet His Will extends to what He does not understand, in that He wills the happiness His Son inherited of Him be undisturbed; eternal and forever gaining scope, eternally expanding in the joy of full creation, and eternally open and wholly limitless in Him. That is His Will. And thus His Will provides the means to guarantee that it is done.
God sees no contradictions. Yet His Son believes he sees them. Thus he has a need for One Who can correct his erring sight, and give him vision that will lead him back to where perception ceases. God does not perceive at all. Yet it is He Who gives the means by which perception is made true and beautiful enough to let the light of Heaven shine upon it. It is He Who answers what His Son would contradict, and keeps his sinlessness forever safe.
These are the lessons God would have you learn. His Will reflects them all, and they reflect His loving kindness to the Son He loves. Each lesson has a central thought, the same in all of them. The form alone is changed, with different circumstances and events; with different characters and different themes, apparent but not real. They are the same in fundamental content. It is this:
Forgive, and you will see this differently.
Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form. It is this sameness which makes learning sure, because the lesson is so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end. No one can hide forever from a truth so very obvious that it appears in countless forms, and yet is recognized as easily in all of them, if one but wants to see the simple lesson there.
Forgive, and you will see this differently.
These are the words the Holy Spirit speaks in all your tribulations, all your pain, all suffering regardless of its form. These are the words with which temptation ends, and guilt, abandoned, is revered no more. These are the words which end the dream of sin, and rid the mind of fear. These are the words by which salvation comes to all the world.
Shall we not learn to say these words when we are tempted to believe that pain is real, and death becomes our choice instead of life? Shall we not learn to say these words when we have understood their power to release all minds from bondage? These are words which give you power over all events that seem to have been given power over you. You see them rightly when you hold these words in full awareness, and do not forget these words apply to everything you see or any brother looks upon amiss.
How can you tell when you are seeing wrong, or someone else is failing to perceive the lesson he should learn? Does pain seem real in the perception? If it does, be sure the lesson is not learned. And there remains an unforgiveness hiding in the mind that sees the pain through eyes the mind directs.
God would not have you suffer thus. He would help you forgive yourself. His Son does not remember who he is. And God would have him not forget His Love, and all the gifts His Love brings with it. Would you now renounce your own salvation? Would you fail to learn the simple lessons Heaven’s Teacher sets before you, that all pain may disappear and God may be remembered by His Son?
All things are lessons God would have you learn. He would not leave an unforgiving thought without correction, nor one thorn or nail to hurt His holy Son in any way. He would ensure his holy rest remain untroubled and serene, without a care, in an eternal home which cares for him. And He would have all tears be wiped away, with none remaining yet unshed, and none but waiting their appointed time to fall. For God has willed that laughter should replace each one, and that His Son be free again.
We will attempt today to overcome a thousand seeming obstacles to peace in just one day. Let mercy come to you more quickly. Do not try to hold it off another day, another minute or another instant. Time was made for this. Use it today for what its purpose is. Morning and night, devote what time you can to serve its proper aim, and do not let the time be less than meets your deepest need.
Give all you can, and give a little more. For now we would arise in haste and go unto our Father’s house. We have been gone too long, and we would linger here no more. And as we practice, let us think about all things we saved to settle by ourselves, and kept apart from healing. Let us give them all to Him Who knows the way to look upon them so that they will disappear. Truth is His message; truth His teaching is. His are the lessons God would have us learn.
Each hour, spend a little time today, and in the days to come, in practicing the lesson in forgiveness in the form established for the day. And try to give it application to the happenings the hour brought, so that the next one is free of the one before. The chains of time are easily unloosened in this way. Let no one hour cast its shadow on the one that follows, and when that one goes, let everything that happened in its course go with it. Thus will you remain unbound, in peace eternal in the world of time.
This is the lesson God would have you learn: There is a way to look on everything that lets it be to you another step to Him, and to salvation of the world. To all that speaks of terror, answer thus:
I will forgive, and this will disappear.
To every apprehension, every care and every form of suffering, repeat these selfsame words. And then you hold the key that opens Heaven’s gate, and brings the Love of God the Father down to earth at last, to raise it up to Heaven. God will take this final step Himself. Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him.
INITIAL INSIGHT: First, Jesus paints a beautiful picture of our true nature. It is so different from our present experience that it is hard to take in. It brings tears to my eyes to think this is what I am meant for. It also strengthens my resolve to do what it takes to regain my memory of my Self and return to my true life.
Then Jesus assures us that happiness is God’s Will for us and so we will return to our true life. This makes sense to me as I consider that what God Wills must be, no matter how much it seems we have overcome His Will. Again, my resolve is made stronger than ever.
Next, Jesus tells us how it is that we are going to do this. We can look at each wrong thought, each effect of the thought, and forgive it and watch it disappear. He strongly encourages us to take this seriously and to practice it every day and night and in every hour. He reminds us of what is at stake so that we will pay attention to him.
He also talks about staying in the present moment. Let us forgive what has happened in the past hour so that we can move forward with a clean slate. I, like many people, maybe most people, dragged my past around with me and it was an unbelievably heavy burden. Eventually, I learned that the past is a mirage and that forgiveness does actually make it disappear. If it is still there, I have not actually forgiven it and I will look again with the Holy Spirit and forgive it now.
We have been told many times in the Course that forgiveness is the key to happiness and that it is our function here. This is not a new idea. My mind went immediately to things in my life that I can begin forgiving. It is not like I have never done this, but I feel on fire with the desire to forgive all things that seem to hurt me.
I have a few things that I apparently failed to forgive and the ego thinks this means forgiveness is limited in its scope or that I cannot do this simple thing. But I know this is not true. If I fail to see an effect of forgiveness it is because even though I do want to stop suffering from the belief. I still value the belief and don’t really want to let it go. I look forward to looking again at the beliefs in my mind I have been unwilling to release in the past and decide if they are more important to me than embracing my reality.
DAILY APPLICATION: “…He wills the happiness His Son inherited of Him be undisturbed; eternal and forever gaining scope, eternally expanding in the joy of full creation, and eternally open and wholly limitless in Him. That is His Will. And thus His Will provides the means to guarantee that it is done.”
I love this vision of the Son of God. It is not static, is it? It is forever gaining scope, eternally expanding. It speaks of the joy of full creation and limitlessness. It is a picture so compelling it brings tears to my eyes, and yet, I have noticed a little splinter of fear within me to think of myself as that. Of course, it is the ego-self that is afraid of such power and glory, that whispers it must be dangerous. That “I” doesn’t know how to be eternally open and wholly limitless. Luckily, I am at a place where I can listen to the ego or not listen to the ego.
Forgive, and you will see this differently.
4 Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form.
I get that. No matter what problem I might think I have the answer is always the same. Every distress, all grief, all rage, all fear, and all guilt the answer is the same. When I forgive it, everything looks different to me. I was thinking about my son this morning. I had been looking at a picture of him when he was on the brink between youth and manhood.
He had graduated from college and was about to embark on his first foray into true adulthood. He was very happy because he had done well with his life so far and knew what he wanted and how to achieve it. I was happy because he was happy.
And he did that. He got a job, he made a lot of money, he got another job and made more money. He was really good at his job and was proud of himself. He had a lovely fiancé and his future seemed exactly what he had planned. He was big on plans. He had a spreadsheet with five-year plan that he tweaked daily.
And then it started falling apart, a little at a time until it crashed all around him. He was suffering and so I was suffering. I was, for a long while, fully involved in his story and I thought the story was the problem and that he just needed to get his story back on track. But luckily, I am not in charge of his life.
Now I have a better perspective and I can see that his life is unfolding perfectly. His happy life was paper-thin and without substance. The life he is rebuilding has a firmer foundation and is made of stronger stuff. Little by little he is discovering what matters. It makes sense that first, you need to experience what doesn’t matter before you can know what does matter. As Jesus says, we learn through contrast.
So, even though he would not use this language, he forgave his life and is discovering a different way to see it. So am I. Before I forgave the trajectory of his life, I thought it was failing. Now that I have done so, I see that what wasn’t working had to be torn down so something new and better could be built.
I should have seen this before. It is certainly the story of my life. I have built a life and watched it crumble over and over. Each time, the next version is a little better, a little stronger. Each version has more substance. However, that is in retrospect. While it was happening, I felt like I was failing over and over. It wasn’t until I started using the idea of forgiveness that I was able to see how perfect this life has been.
“Forgive, and you will see this differently.”
“These are the words the Holy Spirit speaks in all your tribulations, all your pain, all suffering regardless of its form. These are the words with which temptation ends, and guilt, abandoned, is revered no more. These are the words which end the dream of sin, and rid the mind of fear. These are the words by which salvation comes to all the world.”
I know this is true now. I still slip into fretting over one thing or another, but I slip right back out now. Just last night my daughter texted us to let us know little Eleanor had a temperature of 104. She has some kind of flu and is miserable. The thought came into my mind was of a recent news story about children dying of flu this year and very quickly that thought was followed by others and I felt my body contract and my stomach cramp up as I considered life without Eleanor in it.
This all took only moments. But it stopped as quickly as I realized I had decided to listen to the ego and I didn’t have to. I said out loud that I’m not interested in those thoughts. I shifted my attention to what was actually happening. I continued to wash dishes, giving it my full attention. I felt the water run over my hands, the soap slippery on the plate. I was at peace because I was living the moment in front of me rather than the virtual reality of the mind run amok. That was how I forgave and saw the situation differently.
“How can you tell when you are seeing wrong, or someone else is failing to perceive the lesson he should learn? Does pain seem real in the perception? If it does, be sure the lesson is not learned. And there remains an unforgiveness hiding in the mind that sees the pain through eyes the mind directs.”
Pain and suffering are not natural to the Sons of God so they are the telling signs of unforgiveness in the mind. When I become aware of a lack of peace, even if it seems minor to me, I ask myself what it is I have been thinking. I let the thoughts come to my attention so I can forgive them and see differently. It is such a habit now that I do it automatically. Catching these errors so quickly makes the correction easier and the period of discomfort so much shorter.
Jesus wants us to know that God sends His Teachers to help us forgive ourselves. He says this: “All things are lessons God would have you learn. He would not leave an unforgiving thought without correction…” Everything is in our best interests because all things are for our healing, they are simple lessons given us so that we can wake up and return to God. I am not going to throw these precious opportunities away.
“We will attempt today to overcome a thousand seeming obstacles to peace in just one day. Let mercy come to you more quickly. Do not try to hold it off another day, another minute or another instant. Time was made for this. Use it today for what its purpose is. Morning and night, devote what time you can to serve its proper aim, and do not let the time be less than meets your deepest need.”
I am willing to remember anything that I have set aside to handle on my own. Holy Spirit, please bring to my attention whatever it is that I have not yet forgiven. I am ready to do that now. I want to overcome any seeming obstacles as quickly as I can. You know me. You know what I am ready for, and I have absolute trust that I am not alone, that I am being helped.
INSIGHTS FROM HOLY SPIRIT: Here is a message I received years ago when I was still judging myself for not doing better. It was helpful to me in beginning to let go of the judgment which was impeding my progress.
Holy Spirit: This was a good day, Myron. When I say it was good, I mean that it was a day that you used to practice replacing anger with love. It is a day that you chose to walk steadily toward God and your own salvation. It can be difficult to understand the value of beginning each moment fresh and free of the last moment’s grievances because you have had so little experience of it. But in this clean and perfect instant you are exactly as you were created to be; free. That space you made in your mind as you forgave is instantly filled with the Love of God, and in that moment you experience yourself as you were created.
Me: Holy Spirit, I have trouble holding onto that. I find that another moment brings another grievance and I am right back where I started.
Holy Spirit: No, you are not back where you started, precious one. You are simply allowing more grievances to rise to the surface of your mind for the purpose of healing. The correction you received was not lost because you asked for more correction. Even in this moment, your heart sings in gladness for what you did during the day. You feel lighter and freer. Is this not the case?
Me: Yes it is! I am having trouble wiping this silly grin from my face. People will wonder what I am up to.
Holy Spirit: I share in your joy. People will be in wonder at your peace and your joy and it will draw them to you. The peace that is in them will recognize the peace in you and whether they realize it or not, that peace will long to express itself. This is your gift to your brothers, and to yourself because what you give is strengthened in yourself.
GRATITUDE: Once I understood the debt of gratitude I owe my brother for playing the part I assigned them in my life, I became aware of a powerful feeling of love rather than the anger and resentment I would have felt before. Thank you, Holy Spirit for your help and I ask that you step forward in my mind all during this coming day and again, help me to see differently.
The main point of today’s lesson is of the utmost importance to those who truly want to heal the mind (i.e., undo conditioning that is based on false premises).
The lesson teaches that all distress (all upset) is because of unforgiveness. The key word in that sentence is “all.”
Most people who study A Course in Miracles accept that some upsets are due to unforgiveness, but few accept that all upsets are due to unforgiveness. If you really want to heal the mind, this is a teaching you must accept, because where you decide this lesson does not apply is where your mind will not heal.
As today’s lesson stresses, “[Unforgiveness] is the content underneath the form. It is this sameness which makes learning sure, because the lesson is so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end. No one can hide forever from a truth so very obvious that it appears in countless forms, and yet is recognized as easily in all of them, if one but wants to see the simple lesson there. … How can you tell when you are seeing wrong, …? Does pain seem real in the perception? If it does, be sure the lesson is not learned. And there remains an unforgiveness hiding in the mind …”
This is where the lesson gets very exciting to me.
First it says, “Morning and night, devote what time you can to serve its proper aim, and do not let the time be less than meets your deepest need.”
I often used to journal twice a day, morning and night, just as this lesson recommends. The purpose of journaling was to look at my mind and practice forgiveness.
What is forgiveness?
It is letting go of every thought process that causes even the tiniest feeling of upset in you.
How do you let go?
Through one or another form of self-inquiry. Through right-reason. Through rest, accept and trust. These are all tools that are used to let go.
I love that the lesson says, “do not let the time be less than meets your deepest need.” That means, take all of the time you need to make sure forgiveness is complete. Forgiveness doesn’t always happen fast. That’s okay. Speed is not the issue. Genuine release is what is most important. (According to the Book of Mark, Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane to pray three times before he felt complete.)
I also love this:
“Each hour, spend a little time today, and in the days to come, in practicing the lesson in forgiveness in the form established for the day. And try to give it application to the happenings the hour brought, so that the next one is free of the one before. … Let no hour cast its shadow on the one that follows, and when that one goes, let everything that happened in its course go with it.”
This is how you become a master of forgiveness, a master at reprogramming the brain so it is based on truth instead of based on falsehood. You look at each upset. You don’t let any slide by.
Today’s lesson recommends a really good practice. Since most people let many upsets pass everyday without looking at them, it is a good idea to pause each hour, look at the upsets that occurred in that hour, and practice forgiveness on them. Eventually you will become very sensitive to even the smallest upset, and you won’t be able to wait until the end of an hour to practice forgiveness, so you will practice it immediately. However, in the beginning your body is not well tuned to your purpose of forgiveness. Its sensitivities are dormant, and you are likely to miss hundreds of opportunities to practice forgiveness if you do not actively pause and look regularly.
Several Gentle Healing participants have told me that this group takes a lot of time. Yes, it does. But as this lesson points out, this is the purpose of time.
The way that I got to the current state of healing that I have achieved is by making healing my fulltime job and the most important thing in my life. It is what everything else is about. If you really want to achieve healing, your commitment cannot be less than this.
When healing is a priority in your life, something in you is motivated toward the tools and practices that help you heal. It isn’t something you have to do because someone outside of you told you to do it. It is something you are intrinsically motivated to do.
That doesn’t mean it’s always easy. It isn’t. There can be great resistance during this process. But remember what NTI said. The means for overcoming great resistance is great willingness, and great willingness comes from remembering what you want.
- This is a sample day from my 2005 forgiveness journal.
- This is the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as told in NTI.