Going through the text of the Completed and Annotated Edition of A Course in Miracles with the year-long reading program from the Circle of Atonement in their Course Companions program, I just read the retitled section “Forgiveness is Always Justified” which was called “The Justification For Forgiveness” in the Foundation for Inner Peace Editions. I like the new title, but they both connote the same thing.
I don’t think I have mentioned this before, but it took me more than fifteen years to read through the Text of ACIM in the FIP edition. I finished that, two January’s ago. Last June, I started the CE Edition which Circle of Atonement founder Robert Perry was the lead editor of along with other teachers from the Circle. I started that Text which has a lot of new material that was taken down in Helen Shuchman’s notes originally before they were edited out of what became the FIP Edition. Most of that material is in the first seven chapters.
I wanted to comment on Text Chapter 30 (“The New Beginning”), Section Six, “Forgiveness is Always Justified”, as I mentioned above. In this material is the classic rollout of ACIM-based forgiveness where we are called to pardon our brothers and sisters no matter what the circumstances so as to offer them a miracle and thus heal them of any guilt they might have felt over seeming to attack us. The section starts out by saying that “Anger is never justified. Anger has no foundation (1.1-2).” If what the author of the Course is saying is to be taken as true, then we have some major shifts to undergo in our interpersonal dealings with others.
When we feel attacked, we feel as if the other person should pay or that we should imprison them. But, we as spiritual people, tell ourselves “We need to forgive. We need to love so I can ascend or become more holy, even though you did something wrong and I am letting you off the hook for it.” This, the author of the Course says is not real forgiveness. Its as if, as Robert Perry said in his commentary on this section, we forgive through “gritted-teeth”, and with questionable willingness. Our motives under these conditions are not really about releasing the other person from something we thought they did to us, but trying to make an “error” we think they did to us “real” and try to pardon it. But what the author of the Course is trying to do in getting us to shift our perception about what ‘true forgiveness’ is, is to look at the supposed ‘sin’ they committed, then see that is wasn’t a ‘sin’ at all, and then even more, to look on a brother as innocent of any and all crimes we could have thought were perpetrated against us.
In the Course’s teachings on forgiveness, we are not just letting a person off the hook for something we thought they really did because we think it is the right thing to do. We are looking through “True Perception” and seeing that we could not be attacked and that we are called to pardon, what in actuality, never happened at all to us. How can this be so? Because according to the author, we were never harmed in the process of what may have looked like attack, therefore, anger is, as we mentioned earlier, never justified. Our only true response is to look upon the one we thought hurt us (tried to), and see that they are still innocent and there was no attack. I’ve heard people in Course circles call this “Quantum Forgiveness”.
What we are really doing under these pretenses, is healing the person who appeared to have attacked us of their guilt over the choice they made to try and hurt us. We all carry primal guilt over the first error, of trying to attack God when He didn’t respond to our request to seek special favor from him (to be elevated above others who He created). The guilt we feel when we attack another (though it may be repressed), is really the guilt we feel from having repeatedly rejected the Divine. Hence, when we judge, attack, or blame, we are in effect, really hurting ourselves, not the other person. So, we as the attacker, therefore need a miracle to be healed and released from guilt. This is where our brother or sister in spirit becomes our “savior”.
When we feel attacked, we are told by the author to say: “I thank you, Father, for Your perfect Son, and in his glory will I see my own.” By pardoning or forgiving, and seeing the glory and perfection of our brother or sister in spirit, we are seeing the Father’s glory in us. This is a remedy for sickness and distress, pain and guilt we carry around with us. It’s a hard thing to employ, but when we do, we both heal and are healed.