Part 1 Undoing the Way We See Things Now
LESSON 126 All I Give is Given to Myself.
- 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. If you believed this statement, there would be no problem in complete forgiveness, certainty of goal, and sure direction. You would understand the means by which salvation comes to you and would not hesitate to use it now.
- Let us consider what you do believe, in place of this idea. It 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. Therefore, your attitudes have no effect on them, and their appeals for help are not in any way related to your own. You 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.
- When you “forgive” a sin, there is no gain to you directly. You give charity to one unworthy, merely to point out that you are better, on a higher plane then he whom you forgive. He 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. He has no claim on your forgiveness. It holds out a gift to him, but hardly to yourself.
- Thus is forgiveness basically unsound; a charitable whim, benevolent yet undeserved, a gift bestowed at times, at other times withheld. Unmerited, withholding it is just, nor is it fair that you should suffer when it is withheld. The sin that you forgive is not your own. Someone apart from you committed it. And 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.
- If this be true, forgiveness has no grounds on which to rest dependably and sure. It is an eccentricity, in which you sometimes choose to give indulgently an undeserved reprieve. Yet it remains your right to let the sinner not escape the justified repayment for his sin. Think you the Lord of Heaven would allow the world’s salvation to depend on this? Would not His care for you be small indeed, if your salvation rested on a whim?
- You do not understand forgiveness. As you see it, it is but a check upon overt attack, without requiring correction in your mind. It cannot give you peace as you perceive it. It is not a means for your release from what you see in someone other than yourself. It has no power to restore your unity with him to your awareness. It is not what God intended it to be for you.
- Not having given Him the gift He asks of you, you cannot recognize His gifts, and think He has not given them to you. Yet would He ask for a gift unless it was for you? Could He be satisfied with empty gestures, and evaluate such petty gifts as worthy of His Son? Salvation is a better gift than this. And true forgiveness, as the means by which it is attained, must heal the mind that gives, for giving is receiving. What remains as unreceived has not been given, but what has been given must have been received.
- Today we try to understand the truth that giver and receiver are the same. You will need help to make this meaningful, because it is so alien to the thoughts to which you are accustomed. But the Help you need is there. Give Him your faith today and ask Him that He share your practicing in truth today. And 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.
- Give fifteen minutes twice today to the attempt to understand today’s idea. It is the thought by which forgiveness takes its proper place in your priorities. It is a thought that will release your mind from every bar to what forgiveness means, and let you realize its worth to you.
- 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. Repeat today’s idea and ask for help in understanding what it really means. Be willing to be taught. Be 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.
- 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. Do not let your mind forget this goal for long but tell yourself: All that I give is given to myself. The Help I need to learn that this is true is with me now. And I will trust in Him. Then spend a quiet moment, opening your mind to His correction and His Love. And what you hear of Him you will believe, for what He gives will be received by you.
Notes and Personal Application: Today when we were having our devotional, I read today’s lesson and my devotional journal notes from last year. James said that he was happy that I had shared what I wrote (even though I was tempted not to share it!), because the lesson today sounded like gobbly-gook to him. He said that it did not make sense at all and he was happy to note that it had not made a lot of sense to me either the first time through.
We had a lovely discussion in which I expressed how deeply meaningful and life-transforming I found the lesson today. I realized that studying the Course over the past 17 months, has reversed my thoughts to the point in which I did understand today’s lesson and pray that I can find the words and illustrations to help others understand it was well.
It struck me the other day how I am experiencing a calm and gentle mind lately. I realized with happy surprise that when I think of people or situations which have formerly caused me to worry, fret, yearn for, or criticize, I have peace of mind. I even tested myself. I purposefully brought some hurtful situations to mind, read through some of my blog posts in which I was struggling with grudges, and realized that they are gone. A little superstitious part of my mind is saying, “Oh you better not share that or back they’ll come,” but I am going to take the leap of faith and say they are gone for good. The reason that I have this faith is because I finally believe that what I give is given to myself. I finally believe and understand with my mind and heart the way to salvation, to peace of mind, to oneness with God, to everlasting happiness.
Jesus asks us to consider what our egos, our flesh, and the physical realm believe in place of this idea that is a law of God’s kingdom. In the flesh, other people are separate from me. What they do, the places they go, the things they say, the clothes they wear, the habits they form should be none of my concern. They should have no bearing on my thoughts, and they should keep their nose out of my business as well! My attitudes are my attitudes – and if someone does not like the way I think and run my life, let them have their opinion – it should not affect me in any way at all. If I need help, and they help me, they lose that time tending to their own business. If they need help, and I help them, then I do not get my own things done. This is the way the world operates. This is simply the way it is here in this realm. The things you do in the privacy of your home, as long as it does not affect me and mine – is your business and nobody should have the right to point fingers, forbid your pleasures, or steal your joy. You do your thing; I will do mine! Live and let live. Mind your own business. Pull the weeds in your own garden, do not worry about the weeds in mine. This is the way of the world. It is the way we operate. It is the way we think. This kind of thinking is what seems to direct and most effectively work in this realm of separateness.
Jesus explains in today’s lesson that even when we forgive in this world, it is a sacrifice. We do not experience forgiveness as a gain. It is more like charity, doing someone a favor. When I forgive you for using me to express your own hostile feelings and bad attitudes, I am offering you a reprieve and it costs me something. I am saying you do not deserve my friendship, my trust, my goodwill, but I am going to do my best to continue with you. I put myself on a higher plane than you when I forgive you – I am the better person; I will forgive you. I will give you another chance even though you did not earn it. You have no right to ask me to forgive you, but I will do it anyway as a gift to you, even though I would be better off never speaking to you again.
This kind of forgiveness is what we have in the world of separation. We can choose to forgive and give people second and third and fourth chances, or we can decide not to. We may choose to forgive this one for pulling the same stunt, but this one over here, we are going to hold accountable and put them in the proofing box. After all, what we are forgiving in someone else is their failure, is their lack, is their sin and not our own. We are good; they are bad. They do not deserve it, but we will give it to them anyway because we are so kind, so good, so pure.
Jesus tells us that this kind of forgiveness is undependable. There is no truth to this forgiveness simply because it is nothing more than a peculiarity. There are some things I will forgive you for and other things I will hold a grudge until the death. This kind of forgiveness does not heal. It does not bring oneness or develop trust. It does not give us peace; it blinds us to the real state of our being and fails to teach us what we need to know.
Jesus tells us today that what we call forgiveness here is not forgiveness. When we practice ego forgiveness, we do not recognize the gifts of God; we think that God is withholding His gifts from us. We say we forgive so and so for breaking our hearts, for cheating on us, for stealing our treasures, for misusing our goodwill but this kind of forgiveness is an empty gesture because when we forgive others with an unhealed mind, with the forgiveness of the world, it does not work.
All of us know that this is true. We forgive, we forgive, we forgive again; it makes us weary. It makes us wary. We get our defenses up. We say, “They better not cross that line with me again!” Forgiveness takes and does not give back. We feel under attack. What could Jesus possibly mean to demand that we forgive seventy times seven? We feel like a doormat. We keep taking them back, giving them another chance, and they take us for granted. I am sick and tired of this forgiveness bit.
But that is because we have tried to practice a Kingdom principle in the ego realm. We have failed to recognize that what we are forgiving is the illusion, the world the ego made up, the separation. In the flesh, when we offer forgiveness, we are doing someone a favor; in the spirit, when we offer them forgiveness, we are forgiving the separation; we are forgiving the ego; we are forgiving the flesh. We forgive them; we are forgiving ourselves. Father forgive them for they know not what they do, Jesus cried upon the cross. This is the forgiveness we offer.
Father, forgive us, we do not know what we are doing. We are lost, confused, and afraid. We get jealous, we are greedy, we spread rumors, we cheat and mooch and manipulate. This is who we are in the flesh. This person we would hold a grudge against is no different than me. We forgive those who have been spiteful, uncaring, withholding, and mean. We forgive the whiners, the weirdos, and wise guys, Lord. The child molesters, the abortionists, the rapists, sadists, and things that go boo in the night – we forgive them all. For that is what we are without You. We thought we could make something better when we took what could only belong to You, and this is what we got. And we forgive it, we forgive each other, we forgive ourselves.
Only when we recognize this truth can God welcome us back to His Kingdom where Love, Joy, and Peace are eternal and never disturbed. If there is one sinner left, we are all sinners. Nobody is saved until we recognize our oneness in Him.
 A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 126 All that I give…Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992). pp. 227-229.
Audio credit: http://www.eckiefriar.com