PART II. SECTION 3: WHAT IS THE WORLD
Lesson 249 Forgiveness Ends All Suffering and Loss
- Forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss becomes impossible and anger makes no sense. Attack is gone and madness has an end. What suffering is now conceivable? What loss can be sustained? The world becomes a place of joy, abundance, charity, and endless giving. It is now so like to Heaven that it quickly is transformed into the light that it reflects. And so the journey which the Son of God began has ended in the light from which he came.
- Father, we would return our minds to You. We have betrayed them, held them in a vise of bitterness, and frightened them with thoughts of violence and death. Now would we rest again in You, as You created us.
Notes and Personal Application: In my first year through the lessons, I had no words for this lesson. I had no real understanding of it. I knew that forgiveness was critical to my return to God and I was willing and able to forgive myself and others as the Son of God, and yet I didn’t understand how the simple act of forgiving would end the world’s suffering, how it would bring back the dear ones in which death and estrangement had snatched away, how the madness of the world would stop. Though my individual experiences with forgiveness gave me a deepened sense of peace, joy, and understanding, the hurts still lurked between times. I still missed our daughter, our parents, our friends and family members who had bit the dust in one way or the other. There were moments, even days, that the sense of pain and misery would send me into a spiral of self-condemnation, depressing thoughts, and a flopping about feeling as if I had no where in which to put the gloomy shadows that darkened my mind. Growing old with this miserable sense of loneliness and despair, depleted my life of all meaning. It did not seem a bad thing to die, to let my life be essentially over. Temptation came at such times in the form of making lifestyle choices that would hasten my own death, such as overeating, becoming lethargic, developing a penchant for watching TV shows, reading novels, and shutting myself off from others in order to stop spreading the affliction that seemed to infect everything I touched. Forgiveness did not seem to be working for me.
Yet forgiveness is the key to end all suffering and loss. Sticking with our Course and letting each day’s lesson teach us more, get through the willful resistance in our minds, taking down our defenses against the truth, letting the world teach us its falsity and lies all works together to bring this truth home to our minds. When we develop the heightened sense of forgiveness, when it completely takes over our mind, we see the world for what it is. We see ourselves for who we are in the flesh and we are filled with pity. We are filled with tenderness. We are filled with mercy.
We are not called to deny that good and evil exist on this level of existence, we are called to deny that this level exists at all! We are not called to despise our flesh and punish ourselves forever for choosing a realm of opposites, we are called to see the realm of opposites for what it really is – not a place of punishment, sin, and shame, but a virtual reality placed in time that teaches us the most important thing we will ever learn – we are nothing without the Everything of God.
Forgiveness is the key because as long as we believe that death and estrangement, divorce and betrayals, murder, war, rape, cynicism, disease, decay, and death define our reality, we are in a state of constant offense or defense against that which is only a made-up story. We are here to play our parts – parts that must be forgiven because we all took part in making up this story. We all had a hand in making up the story of separating from God and from each other. No matter how small or how large our role is in this story, no matter how seemingly insignificant – Jesus teaches us that those who are born here chose to take God’s Creation and put their own twist on it.
For those of us who are fond of blaming Satan on everything evil in the world, the Course teaches that the devil is our own egos. There is no outside force involved. The story of the world is the story we make up about it. It is the lies we have believed about Creation that make our perceptions of the world seem real. When we forget our Sonship, when we put aside our Brotherhood, we are floundering about lost and lonely in a world of shards, fragments, and pieces searching for a way to put it back together again in a place that harbors opposites and division, rather than wholeness, unity, and love. The best we can hope for here is the special relationship, a tricky alliance complete with rules, expectations, and obligations that foster neediness, stress, and an ongoing sense of sin, shame, and fear.
Once we see the world for what it is, we can forgive it. We free ourselves from special relationships and seek only holy relationships, which focus on love, forgiveness, freedom, mutuality, and oneness with God. We stop holding grudges toward this one or that one for failing us. We stop holding ourselves accountable to the obligations and tiresome expectations that others would demand from us. We forgive the past and all that it holds because we understand it is only a story, a chapter in our lives that is over, that we revisit only for purposeful exercises in understanding, illustration, and wisdom.
This is how forgiveness paints a picture of a world where suffering is over, loss is impossible, and anger makes absolutely no sense. We see it as the inglorious story of man, not the story of God. God’s Kingdom has never and will never go to war because there is nothing to fight against. A Kingdom with all power, glory, and honor cannot and will not seek more power, glory, and honor. God’s kingdom is love, joy, and peace because it is Everything. God’s Kingdom has no interest in this false kingdom except to bring His prodigals home. Leave his-story, God says, and come back to My Story, which is your story, which is Our Story, which is the One Story that ever was, which ever is, which ever will be.
Today forgiveness leads us to return our minds to God. In holy humility, we admit to ourselves and to our Father how we have betrayed our holy minds. We have filled them with bitterness. We have cherished soured and perverted thoughts against Creation. We have preyed upon and gorged upon that which was meant to be loved and cherished, held in reverence and awe. We have infested our minds with thoughts of bloodshed, cruelty, derision, and death. Forgiveness frees us of our blame and shame. Our minds return to God – no longer riddled characters in the story of man – but beloved, everlasting Sons as God created us to be.
 A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 249. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
Audio credit: the friar patch @ http://www.eckiefriar.com