We are currently on ACIM text chapter 3, section V Beyond Perception. In this section ACIM further expounds on the idea that everything we think we perceive and think we are conscious of is subject to uncertainty as it is not the ‘knowledge’ and truth of God. One of the first steps in remembering knowledge and the nature of our true selves is to question whether I am really absolutely, positively sure of everything I think I believe and perceive in this world. Is my point of view the ‘one’ absolutely true point of view? Is someone else’s point of view the ‘one’ absolutely truthful point of view? Are my beliefs about what I perceive to be the past, present and future, the absolute truth as to how things truly are? Is my point of view, or even someone else’s point of view no matter how steeped in ‘tradition’ and dogma, the absolute ways of truth?
So, again ACIM asks us to consider all our beliefs about all things, including whom we think we are, and see if indeed, somehow, we could be mistaken!
Up until now, there have been a few references to forgiveness in ACIM. Here in this section it is brought up again for us to consider. ‘The prayer for forgiveness is nothing more than a request that you may be able to recognize what you already have.’[i] God only sees us as how he created us, as pure spirit endowed with the same creative abilities as him. So there is nothing we can believe that we have ever done for which God need forgive us. That remembrance is indeed the Atonement that ACIM talks about.
But with the point of view that we are a separated self, we indeed need to ‘forgive’ ourselves and each other for everything we believe we perceive about this separated existence. As this ‘separated’ existence is of our making, we must be the ones to forgive ourselves of this ‘separated’ universe with apparently separated minds and separated bodies. This ‘forgiveness,’ though, is not the usual forgiveness we think we have come to know in this world. It is not a forgiveness where I acknowledge what you or the world have done to me, then try to just cover it up. The forgiveness ACIM talks about is a ‘freeing’ of all the little separated parts I believe I perceive in this world. An ungluing of all the associations I have made and learned in this lifetime. A gradual remembering of the pure awareness which is my truer perspective so that right-mindedness can guide my decisions here.
One of these sticky gluey associations we have made is that ‘fear’ in any form says something bad happened, is happening, or will happen, and that punishment in some form will eventually follow to me or to someone else. ‘Fear’ is one of the many things that I have made that I can sit with and allow to be changed into a loving signal from my higher self. I like how Rupert Spira describes this when he writes “The experience of suffering (ie, fear) is like a red flag signalling us, ‘Stop, you have mistaken yourself for an object. You have consented to limit yourself to a mind and a body.’”[ii] This is really a prayer asking if there is a possibility of looking at fear in a different way.
‘Forgiveness is the healing of the perception of separation.’[iii] To heal the perception of separation is to ‘free’ all the little parts we believe to perceive from all the little associations we have made between them. Sitting with a friend the other day I experienced him going from the bodily impulse and associated story of an extreme anger to a story and associated bodily impulse of underlying abandonment and guilt. As this gradually passed he was left with encompassing feeling of peace and quietness. He then experienced this peace and quietness as underlying all his experiences in this world. For a brief period he was able to sit with and meet this ‘anger’ and some of the associations he had put together to ‘make’ it. While it may not be the last time he experiences ‘anger,’ he was for a moment able to ‘free’ and forgive some of the associations he made around the whole emotion. He was able to use the ‘anger’ he had constructed and see that it was indeed a pointer towards a deep peace reflective of who he truly is.
[i] ACIM Text Chapter 3, Section V, paragraph 6, Sentence 5
[ii] Rupert Spira, Essay, “The Disentanglement of the Self”
[iii] ACIM Text Chapter 3, Section V, paragraph 9, Sentence 9