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Part 1 Undoing the Way We See Things Now

LESSON 121 Forgiveness is the Key to Happiness

  1. Here is the answer to your search for peace. Here is the key to meaning in a world that seems to make no sense. Here 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. Here are all questions answered, here the end of all uncertainty ensured at last.
  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. The unforgiving mind is sad, without the hope of respite and release from pain. It 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 its 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.  What can the unforgiving mind perceive but its damnation? What can it behold except the proof that all its sins are real?
  4. The unforgiving mind sees no mistakes, but only sins. It looks upon the world with sightless eyes, and shrieks as it beholds its own projections rising to attack its miserable parody of life. It wants to live, yet wishes it were dead. It wants forgiveness, yet it sees no hope. It wants escape yet can conceive of none because it sees the sinful everywhere.
  5. The unforgiving mind is in despair, without the prospect of a future which can offer anything but more despair. Yet it regards its judgment of the world as irreversible and does not see it has condemned itself to this despair. It thinks it cannot change, for what it sees bears witness that its judgment is correct. It does not ask, because it thinks it knows. It does not question; certain it is right.
  6. Forgiveness is acquired. It is not inherent in the mind, which cannot sin. As 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. Through Him you learn how to forgive the self you think you made, and let it disappear. Thus you return your mind as one to Him Who is your Self, and who can never sin.
  7. Each unforgiving mind presents you with an opportunity to teach your own how to forgive itself. Each one awaits release from hell through you and turns to you imploringly for heaven here and now. It has no hope, but you become its hope. And as its hope, do you become your own. The unforgiving mind must learn through your forgiveness that it has been saved from hell. And as you teach salvation, you will learn. Yet 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. If you are willing, you can learn today to take the key to happiness and use it on your own behalf. We 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. Yet 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. And as you learn to see them both as one, we will extend the lesson to yourself, and see that their escape included yours. 
  10. Begin the longer practice periods by thinking of someone you do not like, who seems to irritate you, or calls regret in you if you should meet him; one you actively despise, or merely try to overlook. It does not matter what the form your anger takes. You probably have chosen him already. He will do.
  11. Now close your eyes and see him in your mind and look at him a while. Try to perceive some light in him somewhere; a little gleam which you had never noticed. Try to find some little spark of brightness shining through the ugly picture that you hold of him. Look 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. Try to transfer the light you learned to see around your former “enemy” to him. Perceive 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. Now are you one with them, and they with you. Now have you been forgiven by yourself. Do not forget, throughout the day, the role forgiveness plays in bringing happiness to every unforgiving mind, with yours among them. Every hour tell yourself: Forgiveness is the key to happiness.  I will awaken from the dream that I am mortal, fallible and full of sin, and know I am the perfect Son of God.[1]

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Notes and Personal Application:  There is this about the world we live in – we will have opportunity after opportunity to practice forgiveness.  In our study group, we are all beginning to grasp a concept of the unreality of the world; the impossibility of its existence; the phantomic characteristics of time, bodies, egos that denote, not life and light, but death and darkness.  In the New International Version of the Bible, Jesus is quoted as saying: The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.[2]

The only thing of value that we can offer ourselves and each other in the flesh is forgiveness.  Flesh will always fail us; in fact, Jesus tells us that forgiveness is the closest to love that we can come in this realm.  We will always have an excuse to withhold love; we will always have opportunities to forgive.  Today Jesus is asking us to use these opportunities to choose forgiveness, to become one, to experience giving and receiving as one. 

When our friends forget our birthday, forgive!  When we are not invited to the party, forgive!  When we find out our uncle was talking trash about us, forgive!  When a lazy colleague gets the credit for our hard work, forgive!  When a lusty little ball-tickler steals our husband’s affections, forgive!  When our mates grow old and fat and can barely hobble around, forgive!  When our kids ignore us when we are sick or need their help, forgive!  When we forgive others for their faulty flesh, we learn that giving and receiving are one.  We are forgiven.  We are set free.  When we learn that flesh is nothing; we can no longer be disappointed in it.  Now we know.  It can no longer shock us, break our hearts, or give us sleepless nights.

The Course teaches us that there are two levels of being.  In the ego realm, the world made of lies, illusions, and separation from God, we are made of flesh.  In the flesh, we do not fair well.  We simply run out of speed, gumption, and interest.  No matter our sense of fairness, we have favorites.  We seek undue attention in any way we can get it!  We want pity and condolences when we are hurting; we want a doggy bone when we do something nice.  We begrudge the inconvenience.  We sigh and moan and complain to others, making martyrs of ourselves.  We boast and brag; we tease and torment; we preach and promote ourselves.  We make fun.  We eat too much; we watch too much TV; we play too many games.  This week we love this one; despise that one and next week, we turn on the one we love and love the one we despise.   We act out of jealousy, envy, grudges, evil imaginings, lust, and suspiciousness.  We manipulate others to do things for us.  We name-drop.  We gather allies to go to war against our enemies.  We deny our own ill motives and hide behind a front of goodness.  We fight for our flesh.  We take pictures of it and lick our chops over it and take it for walks and give it baths.  We live for it.  This is you and me in the flesh.  This is what needs forgiveness – the alter reality – what we have traded in for the real deal.

When Jesus asks us to do these exercises today – to choose an enemy to stand for them all, to choose a friend to stand for them all, to become one with both of them to experience forgiveness, He is simply asking us to recognize and then forgive our flesh, our egos, our split minds, our false identities in ego and bodies.  This is the way we can experience, now, our reality.

In the Spirit, we are God’s creation.  We are one with God, we are one with each other.  Giving and receiving then are one.  When I give to you in the Spirit, I am giving to myself because we are one.  Your joys and triumphs are my joys and triumphs. Therefore I do not give you jealousy, I give you gratitude.  We live in mutuality, what you do for me, you do for yourself.  There is no begrudging.  Nobody wears out because we are one; we are everything.  No body is doing it on their own, friendless and afraid.  We have no flesh; we are invulnerable.  We cannot be manipulated by our need for food, for water, for clothing, and shelter.  We cannot be left out.  We do not build cases.  We are not damaged, traumatized, neglected or abused.  We are invulnerable.  We are and always will be cherished, loved, and devoted. We are not just made by and with Love, we are Love.  We are the perfect Sons of God. 


[1] A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 121 Forgiveness is the key…Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992). p.

[2] John 6:63.