The Many Faces of Forgiveness: Summary of a Class Presentation

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

The subject of the class was that forgiveness needs a rational justification. Because emotion follows thought, an emotional change like forgiveness must follow a change in thought; specifically, a change in how we see our brother and what he did.

13 justifications for forgiveness in the Course

1. The past no longer exists

“The past is over. It can touch me not.” (Lesson 289)

“Whenever we move from one instant to the next, the previous one no longer exists.” (From early dictation on Edgar Cayce)

2. The attack on me was not really done; it happened only in a dream

“What is done in dreams has not been really done.” (T-17.I.1:5)

“It never happened in reality.” (T-18.IV.8:6)

“Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do.” (T-17.III.1:5)

3. That which was harmed (body, finances, job, image) is not real.

“If destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real. Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger.” (T-6.I.4:3-4)

4. I was not harmed; my real being cannot be harmed

“You cannot be hurt, and do not want to show your brother anything except your wholeness.” (T-5.IV.4:4)

5. I did this to myself, through how I interpreted it

“The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself.” (T-27.VIII.10:1)

“You cannot be unfairly treated. The belief you are is but another form of the idea you are deprived by someone not yourself.” (T-26.X.3:2-3)

6. My perception that he is sinful is the projection of my own sinfulness

“You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own.” (T-31.III.1:5)

7. I can see this differently—the power is in my hands

“I could see peace instead of this.” (Lesson 34)

“I will forgive, and this will disappear.” (W-pI.193.13:3)

8. That misbehaving body is not who this person really is.

You are the dreamer, not the dream figure. (Based on T-28.IV.2-3)

You are as God created you. You are His Son eternally.” (W-pI.94.4)

9. This person’s eternal worth and goodness are undamaged by his actions.

“Behold the Son of God, and look upon his purity and be still. In quiet look upon his holiness, and offer thanks unto his Father that no guilt has ever touched him.” (T-13.X.11)

10. God only loves my brother. He doesn’t even forgive, because He never condemned in the first place.

“God is the Love in which I forgive you” (Lesson 46)

11. My brother did not benefit from attacking me; he lost. His loss is a call for help.

“Forgiveness is the natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help.” (T-30.VI.2:7)

12. Underneath his outer behavior, my brother is always extending love to me.

“Let me behold my savior in this one You have appointed as the one for me to ask to lead me to the holy light in which he stands, that I may join with him.” (W-pI.78.7:3)

13. My brother and I cannot be truly opposed, for we are one

“Would it be possible for you to hate your brother if you were like him? Could you attack him if you realized you journey with him, to a goal that is the same?” (T-24.I.6:1-2)

Exercise based on the 13 justifications

Call to mind someone you are having difficult forgiving. This can be someone you  deeply resent, or someone you simply have trouble wholly loving (since real forgiveness leads to love). Think of the person, what you believe he or she did, and the kinds of loss you believe resulted. Then repeat the following italicized lines to yourself. Many of these are to be said (silently) to the other person, sometimes speaking that person’s name; you’ll readily spot where that is the case.

The past is over. It can touch me not. (W-pII.289.Heading)

Nothing can reach me here out of the past. (Based on T-15.I.9:6)

In your dreams you have betrayed me, but what is done in dreams has not been really done. (Based on T-17.I.1:5)

All the evil that I think you did was never done. (Based on W-pI.93.4:1)

I forgive you for what you did not do. (Based on T-17.III.1:5)

Think about what see as being damaged or destroyed (even if just your image) and say:

If destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real.

Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger. (T-6.I.4:3-4)

I cannot be hurt, and do not want to show my brother anything except my wholeness. (Based on T-5.IV.4:4)

I am not the victim of the world I see. (W-pI.31.Heading)

The secret of salvation is but this: that I am doing this unto myself. (Based on T-27.VIII.10:1)

I cannot be unfairly treated. For I am deprived only by myself. (Based on T-26.X.3:2-3)

I never hate my brother for his sins, but only for my own. (Based on T-31.III.1:5)

I will forgive and this will disappear. (W-pI.193.13:3)

I could see peace instead of this. (W-pI.34.Heading)

You are the dreamer, not the dream figure. (Based on T-28.IV.2-3)

You are not a body. You are free. (Based on W-pI.199.Heading)

You are as God created you.

You are His Son eternally. (W-pI.94.5:6-7)

I behold the Son of God, and look upon his purity and am still.

In quiet I look upon his holiness, and offer thanks unto his Father that no guilt has ever touched him. (Based on T-13.X.11:10-11)

Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God.

Nothing can touch it, or change what God created as eternal. (W-pI.93.6:4-5)

God has condemned you not. No more do I. (Based on W-pII.228.Heading)

God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name]. (W-pI.46.4:4)

You did not sin. You merely failed to gain. (Based on W-pI.133.9:3)

For no one thinks of attack and escapes the guilt the thought entails. (Based on T-23.III.1:8)

Your distress over your error is a call for my help.

Seeing this, my natural reaction is to forgive. (Based on T-30.VI.2:7)

You may not know who you are, but there is a light in your mind that does know.

This light can shine into mine. (Based on T-9.II.5:8-9)

Give me your blessing, holy Son of God. (W-pI.161.Heading)

Your holiness gives life to me, [name]. (Based on T-26.I.7:2)

Your mind cannot attack mine, for our minds are forever one.

What is all the same cannot conflict. (T-23.IV.1:6)

I trust you, brother, for you are one with me. (Based on W-pI.181.Heading)

You stand with me in light, [name]. (W-pI.rII.87.2:3)

You stand with me in light.