Fear and Forgiveness
“The first corrective step in undoing the error is to know first that the conflict is an expression of fear. Say to yourself that you must somehow have chosen not to love, or the fear could not have arisen. Then the whole process of correction becomes nothing more than a series of pragmatic steps in the larger process of accepting the Atonement as the remedy. These steps may be summarized in this way:
Know first that this is fear.
Fear arises from lack of love.
The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.
Perfect love is the Atonement.” ACIM T-2.VI.7
Forgiveness is the key to freedom. It unlocks the heavy chains of guilt and sin that we have made real. Many of us have heard this and yet, we experience difficulties in forgiving someone for what we think they did? Why?
At the level of form, in this ego based dream we are all experiencing, there are many seeming reasons, all of them, just places where we hide our self attack in others. Essentially we have forgotten that we are one and that all the events this world seems to throw at us are merely our projections of unconscious guilt coming back to attack us.
We give each person and offense a name. Each different in intensity in terms of the pain and suffering they caused us!
Each seeming attack is in fact a sacred opportunity to forgive ourselves for wanting illusion to be real; to forgive ourselves for thinking that we are un-deserving of love, guilty and therefore, deserving of punishment.
We have to wake up to the realization that there is no one else in the room. We’re it, playing all these roles, in an attempt to make separation and specialness real!
ACIM teaches us that we cannot forgive what we have made real! If the act was real then so must the so-called perpetrator be.
A seeming hurdle to forgiveness is the trust we place in the “I” we believe we are. This “I” is the separated self, the ego, the will apart from God. This I, we call our self is incapable of forgiving. So if we (the ego “I”), are trying to forgive someone, it will be impossible because this ego “I” has an agenda – to perpetuate separation and duality to make itself God. It believes that salvation comes from seeing itself as innocent by seeing others as guilty. It believes that attack and defense are justified.
This ego tells us that our safety lies in our own hands. There is a fear of loss in letting go that accompanies the thought of forgiveness. It tells us that we need to remain in control, after all, “Look what happened the last time we gave over control?” What it doesn’t want us to do is question why we got hurt last time? Enquiry would reveal that we did give over control but to who…was it to the Teacher within or was it to another, someone outside of us? Did we get hurt because we set ourselves up by giving over control of your happiness etc to someone else? Did we also then set the other up by making up the scenario that would eventually lead to our getting hurt? In fact, have we projected all our previous hurtful situations in an insane attempt to prove our innocence through our victimhood? Have we used a seeming other to attack ourselves? Yes! We have all done this and continue to do this until we undo the ego.
The ego will tell us that letting go will mean loss but when we let go and give over our hurt and suffering and fear of loss to the Universal Inspiration, the only loss is of the ego itself… hence its fear and unwillingness to let go.
Guilt is another hidden weapon of the ego to keep us from forgiving. If we can’t forgive ourselves for what we though we did in the past, how can we ever forgive someone else? We use this guilt to separate ourelves and to imprison another. We want the other to apologize first before we can forgive them. Here we see projection at work in all its glory. The ego seeks forgiveness from outside itself in the vain attempt to prove this world’s existence and our innocence through our victimhood within it. Always innocence comes at the price of suffering.
In many cases, we know at some level that we set up the scenario of hurt, that we projected our self attack thoughts onto another to play the role out of hurting us but we simply do not want to acknowledge this as we would have to forgive the seeming other wouldn’t we? So we keep it hidden from our self and direct our anger at the seeming other in the name of un-forgivness.
When we have a hard time forgiving, there is always a fear to look within. The ego believes that if we did, we would be lost because we would find all these unforgivable ‘sins’ that would make us clearly unworthy of forgiveness. In fact, looking within will only reveal our sinlessness. All that ever happened is that we made an error or three but no sins. What makes our mistakes seem so serious and sinful is our refusal to let them go to the Universal Inspiration. We hold onto our mistakes, trying to make them into sins so that we can fulfill the ego’s desire for us to be unworthy.
If we could just let go of the need to judge our mistakes and allow Him who knows us to have our mistakes, we would experience real peace instead of the illusory peace we keep seeking outside ourselves. All we have to do is let the light of the Universal Inspiration shine them away and they are gone. In truth we didn’t even make a mistake because we are still home, safe, complete and whole. God doesn’t need our forgiveness but here at the level of form, we need forgiveness as our way of handing over our mis-perceptions to the Source. It’s only after we have let go and handed over our seeming sins that we experience as true, the statement that there was nothing to forgive. It is only after we let go and surrender our hurt and anger to the Universal Inspiration that we discover we have always been innocent and so has our brother.
As we forgive another, we realize we are really forgiving ourselves for using our brother to project our unconscious guilt. We can then truly see our brother as sinless and great healing takes place as we allow the miracle of healing of our perception to take place.
Where this takes us is to that place of grace. The place within where all our ancient hates melt away in the realization that we have not sinned, that our brother too is innocent and that in seeing his innocence, we see ours. Here can Perfect Love return. Here is our Atonement.