Discussing Forgiveness – Motivated by “The Crown.”

In September of 2015 I posted an article about forgiveness, a key aspect of A Course in Miracles’ teaching. That concept differs substantially from common religious and secular thought. I outlined those differences in my rather dry and impersonal 2015 article. Here I focus on the 6th episode Season two Netflix series of “The Crown,” which dramatizes a personal dilemma the Queen had about forgiveness.

In the episode she had to decide whether to forgive her Uncle, the Duke of Windsor, for his abdication as King in 1936. Initially she was inclined to forgive him and end his exile so he could take a job in the British government. She changed her mind when she learned that he and his wife, for whom he gave up the thrown, collaborated with the Nazis before and during the first weeks of WW II. Queen Elizabeth then told him she could not forgive him for his contacts with Hitler, that he needed to find a way to forgive himself, and she revoked her permission for him to enter the UK. We all face similar dilemmas.

In the course we find a simple and basic premise: there is nothing to forgive because the world we think we live in is nothing. It’s an illusion.

The first word in the important Text passage: The New Lord’s Prayer at the end of Text Chapter 16, is Forgive. Then, the word forgiveness occurs in both sentences three and four.

1. Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter.…

3. What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect? 4 The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love.     (my emphasis)

These statements in the new Lord’s Prayer about forgiveness are on the level of God’s Heaven. The Queen’s withholding of forgiveness was on the level of our illusion in the separation. The Biblical Lord’s Prayer conveys forgiveness on that level.

Give us our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.

Thus, we are forgiven depending on how we forgive others. Where did that leave the Queen, who was brought up believing that? In the TV series she consulted American evangelist Billy Graham, who pointed out how Jesus forgave those who crucified him. That was not enough for her to ignore her uncle’s treacherous involvement with Hitler and other Nazis.

ACIM teaching about forgiveness is succinct and clear when it is about us being forgiven for believing we are in a world separate from God. However, forgiveness teachings about how we forgive others in that illusion are complex. With that in mind consider Part II of the Workbook for Students, where the first of 14 Questions is, What is Forgiveness? It begins with these three sentences.

Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin.

This is the forgiveness we extend when we agree that this world is an illusion; therefore, what we thought our brother did has not occurred because nothing here is really occurring. The five paragraphs build on this idea and the twenty lessons which follow provide thoughts and prayers which complement the concept.

Aspects about forgiveness in our separated world are found throughout the Course, and especially in “The Song of Prayer” pamphlet. Helen Schucman scribed it a few months after the Course’s first publication. The Pamphlet is in Three Parts; Prayer, Forgiveness, and Healing.

Section 2, FORGIVENESS, has three demanding but helpful sections: I. Forgiveness of Yourself; II. Forgiveness to Destroy; III. Forgiveness–for–Salvation. Following are very compelling sentences from each section.

                  Forgiveness of Yourself;
No gift of Heaven has been more misunderstood than has forgiveness. It has, in fact, become a scourge; a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God.

              Forgiveness to Destroy,
In this group, first, there are the forms in which a “better” person deigns to stoop to save a “baser” one from what he truly is. Forgiveness here rests on an attitude of gracious lordliness so far from love that arrogance could never be dislodged.

             Forgiveness-For-Salvation
1. Forgiveness-for-Salvation has one form, and only one. 2 It does not ask for proof of innocence, nor pay of any kind. 3 It does not argue, nor evaluate the errors that it wants to overlook. 4 It does not offer gifts in treachery, nor promise freedom while it asks for death.
7. …3 Rest a while in this; do not attempt to judge forgiveness, nor to set it in an earthly frame. 4 Let it arise to Christ, Who welcomes it as gift to Him.

We see in these excerpts how Jesus’ teaching progresses from discussing haughty and supercilious forms of forgiveness to positive ways which give us the means for constructive forgiveness.  The above are taken out of context, so for complete understanding do study the whole section from the Song of Prayer Pamphlet.

Queen Elizabeth, as portrayed in “The Crown” series, did not have the sophisticated concepts of forgiveness now taught in ACIM, nor was the advice offered to her by Billy Graham helpful.   A Course student might have said,

As your niece and friend who has benefitted from your advice, I forgive you. But as Queen of England I cannot, and I must withdraw my permission for you ever again to visit the United Kingdom.

This approaches but does not concur with a broad view of ACIM’s forgiveness teachings. In my next blog I’ll discuss: Text Chapter 30, Section VI, “The Justification for Forgiveness,” where Jesus conveys concepts which give us a very demanding way to view forgiveness.

Meanwhile, follow the advice in number seven (above) in Forgiveness-for-Salvation. “Rest a while,” with those words to understand how to forgive our fellow travelers in this world.

Please check out my web site. www.god-jesus-course-in-miracles.com

Faith and I Am Not A Body

The term faith is mostly associated with religion but also is used in secular matters.

OED offers these aspects ─
religious; believing in truths of religions, validity of revelations, accepting revealed doctrines, using special features of the soul to accept unseen spiritual events;
secular; power to produce belief, credit, convincing authority,

In the last 20 years or so many organizations and social programs managed by religious institutions began to employ the term “faith-based” to define their groups to insulate them from the separation of church and state. This, I believe, is a sad distortion of the spiritual meaning of the word.

A definition of faith which provides us with a spiritual framework is in Ken Wapnick’s Glossary/Index to ACIM, page 69.

The expression of where we chose to place our trust; we are free to have faith in the ego or the Holy Spirit; in the illusion of sin in others, or in the truth of their holiness as Sons of God

We know we are choosing the Holy Spirit when we see others as Sons of God. We are choosing the ego when we see them as sinners. If we feel peaceful we are listening to the Holy Spirit, if we feel angry we are listening to the ego.
This concept permeates A Course in Miracles.

This succinct Course sentence (the Voice for God is the Holy Spirit), is one of many Course passages which teach this.

    The Voice for God is always quiet, because It speaks of peace.  T-5.II.7 

A full statement regarding faith is in Paragraph 5 In Text Chapter 19, The Attainment of Peace, Section I, Healing and Faith. This excerpt contrasts faithlessness with faith.

Faithlessness would always limit and attack;
faith would remove all limitations and make whole.
Faithlessness would destroy and separate;
faith would unite and heal.
Faithlessness would interpose illusions between the Son of God and his Creator;
  faith would remove all obstacles that seem to rise between them.
Faithlessness is wholly dedicated to illusions;
    faith wholly to truth.

I urge readers to study all of Section I of Chapter 19. It’s a combined review and consolidation of many Course teachings: faith, grace, separation, forgiveness, guilt, fear, mind and body, the Holy Instant, and the meaning of freedom.

Mind, body and freedom concerned Pierre, a main character in Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  The French took him prisoner and forced him to join their retreat from Moscow.  Pierre endured, and realized that even though his body was detained, his captors could not confine his real self.  One night, looking up at the stars, he laughed, and said aloud to himself, “…they’re holding me prisoner. Who Me? ME? ──my immortal soul! Ha, ha, ha!   ” *      This Course passage expresses that concept.

You can enslave a body, but an idea is free, incapable of being kept in prison or limited in any way except by the mind that thought it. [T-19.I.16.4]

In his monumental novel Tolstoy dramatized how peace and war are different forms of human egocentric behavior. His stories of life in Russian upper-class homes before and during the 1812 war dramatize that they differ only in form from battlefield conflicts.

The review ending Part I of the Workbook build on the above. The review is a series of 20 brief lessons (201-220) which all begin and end with this phrase.

I am not a body I am free. For I am still as God created me.

As Pierre’s story shows, this refers to our reality as spirit, not our body. Following are Lessons 201 and 220.

                                        LESSON 201.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.
I trust my brothers, who are one with me.

No one but is my brother. I am blessed with oneness with the universe and God, my Father, one Creator of the whole that is my Self, forever One with me.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

LESSON 220.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.
There is no peace except the peace of God.

Let me not wander from the way of peace, for I am lost on other roads than this. But let me follow Him Who leads me home, and peace is certain as the Love of God.
I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me.

These two lessons, the first and last of the series, have content similar to all of the other lessons ─ follow the Holy Spirit on the road of peace to be joined in spirit with all of our sisters and brothers.

The Course helps us to cope with our ego-centered tendency to focus on our body by teaching us to have faith in the Holy Spirit’s presence in our mind. That faith helps to remember our true relationship with God in Heaven, “in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter.”       (from new Lord’s prayer T-16, VIII)

Focusing on our reality as Sons of God in Heaven is no excuse to blithely ignore the insanity of this world.  So what do we do?   Find ways to be kind to all of our fellow travelers here, and remember Greek philosopher Philo’s time-tested advice.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is doing a hard battle.”

*Tolstoy, War and Peace, Translation Copyright, 2007 by R. Pevear and L.    Volokhonsky, Alfred A. Knopf, p.1020.