Continuation of Chapter 3,  FEW CHOOSE TO LISTEN from

By Kenneth Wapnick, Ph.D.

Forgiveness As Correction within the Dream of Duality

It is because students of A Course in Miracles do not understand the dualistic framework of the Course's form as opposed to the non-dualistic framework of its content, that they misunderstand the meaning of forgiveness, believing that it is a process that actually occurs between two people; i.e. in a dualistic reality. To be sure, Jesus' language in the Course suggests this, for the reasons we have already explored, and thus A Course in Miracles seems in many places to be similar to other spiritual or religious paths that emphasize forgiveness of others. But as we have seen, the teachings of A Course in Miracles would be seriously distorted, not to mention misapplied in practice, if it is not recognized by its students that forgiveness can only truly occur within the mind of the student, although it is experienced within the belief system and perceptual dream that says that there is someone outside us to forgive.

The same is true of course with a holy relationship, which can only exist in the mind of the perceiver of the relationship. Relationships are not holy in form, but only in purpose. And purpose exists, once again, in the individual's mind, its source coming either from the ego or the Holy Spirit. But one often finds expression of the ego's unconscious arrogance when students claim that a specific relationship is a holy one. They know not what they say for the chances are that their egos have succeeded once again in repressing its true purpose of hiding guilt behind a shield of seeming holiness, expressed here in the form of spiritual specialness. One must never underestimate this need to defend against the repressed unholiness we believe is our true reality. It is so great that we need not only to deny its presence, but to assert its opposite. And so we seek to convince ourselves (and others) how holy our relationships are. We shall return to a discussion of this spiritual specialness in Chapters Four and Six.

The error has its root in the confusion of the nature of the Sonship. In the text, quoted in the previous chapter, Jesus explains that contrary to the famous axiom in Euclidean geometry, "The Sonship [the whole] in its Oneness transcends the sum of its parts" (T-2.VII.6:3). In other words, one cannot appreciate the pure wholeness and oneness of Christ by simply adding up the billions and billions of fragments that the world thinks is the Son of God, as if the Sonship were like a huge pie, a quantifiable entity consisting of a certain amount of separated fragments. Christ in His very nature is a perfect and undivided One, as Mind, and He loses that essential characteristic which defines His Being if fragmentation in any of its forms is acknowledged as real. Similarly, returning to our earlier example of the elephant and the six blind men (p. 8), if each man described his piece of the elephant to the others, and an outside observer recorded their observations, the sum total of their perceptions would not constitute the essence of the pachyderm. Thus, believing that a fragment of the Sonship -- for example, a human being -- is Christ, the true Son of God, would be as gross a mistake as one of the blind men examining the elephant's leg and proclaiming that the elephant is a tree! Again, even though the language of A Course in Miracles suggests that the Son is a member of homo sapiens, a proper understanding of Jesus' meaning beyond his words would keep students from reaching such an erroneous conclusion. Recalling the statement in workbook Lesson 93, "The self you made is not the Son of God" (W-pI.93.5:1).

Therefore, to summarize this essential thought, we may say that forgiveness is mediated by the process that is the holy relationship, and occurs within a dualistic framework of relationships with others. It must be so, for otherwise how could one correct the misperceptions that have been projected from within the guilt-ridden non-human mind onto someone else? Since the experience is the unforgiveness we have projected onto others, the correction -- forgiveness -- will likewise appear to be between oneself and this other. One cannot skip over the "little steps" and recall our true Self as Christ, as the fear of losing our special identity and individual uniqueness is too overpowering. As we have just seen, we first must experience the gentle dreams of forgiveness before we can awaken from the ego's nightmare dreams of terror. Thus, the Holy Spirit's dualistic correction of forgiveness undoes the ego's dualistic thoughts of attack. Only then can the world of duality fade away, its place to be taken by the truth of God that has always been present in our minds.

In this next very important passage, Jesus expresses in more depth the role of the dualistic correction -- i.e., forgiveness -- in helping to restore the Son of God to his non-dualistic Identity. There is no choice possible in a non-dualistic state, by definition, but there is the illusion of choice within the dualistic world of the dreams of fear which we believe to be our reality. And so, through the Holy Spirit, forgiveness is that choice available to us within the dualistic dream that undoes all the other choices, and restores to our awareness the non-dualistic reality of Heaven. What follows are excerpts from Lesson 138: "Heaven is the decision I must make," which expresses the inherently illusory nature of choice:

In this world Heaven is a choice, because here we believe there are alternatives to choose between. We think that all things have an opposite, and what we want we choose. If Heaven exists there must be hell as well, for contradiction is the way we make what we perceive, and what we think is real.

Creation knows no opposite. But here is opposition part of being "real." It is this strange perception of the truth that makes the choice of Heaven seem to be the same as the relinquishment of hell. It is not really thus. Yet what is true in God's creation cannot enter here until it is reflected in some form the world can understand. Truth cannot come where it could only be perceived with fear. For this would be the error truth can be brought to illusions. Opposition makes the truth unwelcome, and it cannot come....

You need to be reminded that you think a thousand choices are confronting you, when there is really only one to make. And even this but seems to be a choice. Do not confuse yourself with all the doubts that myriad decisions would induce. You make but one. And when that one is made, you will perceive it was no choice at all. For truth is true, and nothing else is true. There is no opposite to choose instead. There is no contradiction to the truth.

Choosing depends on learning. And the truth cannot be learned, but only recognized. In recognition its acceptance lies, and as it is accepted it is known. But knowledge is beyond the goals we seek to teach within the framework of this course. Ours are teaching goals, to be attained through learning how to reach them, what they are, and what they offer you. Decisions are the outcome of your learning, for they rest on what you have accepted as the truth of what you are, and what your needs must be....

Heaven is chosen consciously. The choice cannot be made until alternatives are accurately seen and understood. All that is veiled in shadows must be raised to understanding, to be judged again, this time with Heaven's help....

The conscious choice of Heaven is as sure as is the ending of the fear of hell, when it is raised from its protective shield of unawareness, and is brought to light. Who can decide between the clearly seen and the unrecognized? Yet who can fail to make a choice between alternatives when only one is seen as valuable; the other as a wholly worthless thing, a but imagined source of guilt and pain? Who hesitates to make a choice like this? And shall we hesitate to choose today? (W-pI.138.1-2; 4-5; 9:1-3; 10; italics mine)

This choice between truth and illusion (Heaven and hell), is reflected in the rhetorical question that closes Chapter 23.  Indeed, the entire Course is Jesus' attempt to join with us so that we could make, finally, this one choice that would save us and all the world:
Who with the Love of God upholding him could find the choice of miracles or murder hard to make? (T-23.IV.9:8)
This next passage, from the text, provides still another very clear example of how Jesus contrasts the non-dualistic reality of God and His creation with the Holy Spirit's world of reflected reality, "the real world." It is an important passage, for it helps to summarize our discussion of the need for students of A Course in Miracles to recognize the uncompromising nature of its non-dualistic metaphysics, yet a metaphysics which is integrated with a gentle approach to our experiences within the dream of duality. It begins with a two-paragraph restatement of this non-dualistic foundation: Only God is real and sane; everything else is illusory and insane. These lines, incidentally, should be read carefully and thoughtfully, again and again, by every student of the Course:
Let us go back to what we said before, and think of it more carefully. It must be so that either God is mad, or is this world a place of madness. Not one Thought of His makes any sense at all within this world. And nothing that the world believes as true has any meaning in His Mind at all. What makes no sense and has no meaning is insanity. And what is madness cannot be the truth. If one belief so deeply valued here were true, then every Thought God ever had is an illusion. And if but one Thought of His is true, then all beliefs the world gives any meaning to are false, and make no sense at all. This is the choice you make.  Do not attempt to see it differently, nor twist it into something it is not.  For only this decision can you make. The rest is up to God, and not to you.

To justify one value that the world upholds is to deny your Father's sanity and yours. For God and His beloved Son do not think differently. And it is the agreement of their thought that makes the Son a co-creator with the Mind Whose Thought created him. So if he chooses to believe one thought opposed to truth, he has decided he is not his Father's Son because the Son is mad, and sanity must lie apart from both the Father and the Son. This you believe. Think not that this belief depends upon the form it takes. Who thinks the world is sane in any way, is justified in anything it thinks, or is maintained by any form of reason, believes this to be true. Sin is not real because the Father and the Son are not insane. This world is meaningless because it rests on sin. Who could create the changeless if it does not rest on truth? (T-25.VII.3-4; italics mine in paragraph 3)



Index Link Box For All parts of THE COURSE'S USE OF LANGUAGE

 I, part 1  I, part 2  I, part 3  I, part 4  I, part 5  I, part 6  II, part1  II, part2  II, part3  II, part4

Miracle Studies Navigation Table

Index of Resources Discussion Group FAQ about ACIM 50 Miracle Principles
Biographical: Helen, Bill, Ken Unauthorized Manuscripts The Story of A Course in Miracles The Psychology of ACIM
The Course's Use of Language What is Forgiveness?  Copyright Related Info Question/Answer Service