Here is the article about Section VI from, The Justification for Forgiveness Text Chapter 30 I promised at the end of my last Blog, “Discussing Forgiveness: Motivated by The Crown.” Because I wrote a chapter about section VI in my book, “There is…’another way,’ A Companion Guide to A Course in Miracles: Jesus’ Gift to Humanity,” I use some of that Chapter here. It begins with the following about Eugene O’Neill’s, The Iceman Cometh.
In Act IV O’Neill dramatizes an aspect of forgiveness which concurs with course teachings in section VI. In the scene traveling salesman Hickey, in a deadly, long, gut-wrenching speech tells the patrons of Harry Hope’s bar why he murdered his wife. The scene dramatically shows how forgiveness can be, “a scourge a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God.” [S-2.I.2.2] Consumed with guilt from his boozing and womanizing Hickey tells how he became distraught because his wife forgave him – over and over and over again.
It got so every night I’d wind up hiding my face in her lap, bawling and begging for forgiveness. And, of course she’d always comfort me and say, “Never mind Teddy, I know you won’t ever again.” Christ, I loved her so, but I began to hate that pipe dream! I began to be afraid I was going bughouse, because sometimes I couldn’t forgive her for forgiving me. I even caught myself hating her for making me hate myself so much. There’s a limit to the guilt you can feel and the forgiveness and pity you can take! You have to begin blaming someone else, too.
He pauses, then says ─ “So I killed her,” telling the people in the bar that he shot his wife while she slept to escape his dilemma. *
Also in The Justification for Forgiveness Jesus introduces a concept which foresees his teachings in The Song of Prayer. Shakespeare dramatizes them in, “Much Ado About Nothing,” in a scene when Claudio was deceived about his fiancée, Hero’s, fidelity. Ultimately he pardoned her because he believed the deception that justified his pardon, thus he forgave her for something that did not really happen. It was not pardon because he based it on a response to a misconception; therefore, pardon was inappropriate because it responded to an illusion: thus Shakespeare’s title “much ado about nothing.”
The Justification for Forgiveness focuses on situations similar to those dramatized by O’Neill and Shakespeare. It is a complex discussion of how pardon/forgiveness in the separation can be granted, but can also be self-damaging and hypocritical. A key to understanding the section is that the first sentences in paragraph one and two are parallel but opposite statements. (also in this section pardon and forgiveness are the same)
Paragraph one. “Anger is never justified. Attack has no foundation.”
Paragraph two. “Pardon is always justified. It has sure foundation.”
In Paragraph two the “paragraph one” concept is stated in stronger terms. Further, we are not expected to forgive/pardon what seems to be an unforgivable attack, because everything on the level of the separation is an illusion. Our return to God is not based on responding to perceived wrongs that are unreal, I.E. part of our illusory world. Therefore, pardon/forgiveness is an inappropriate response to worldly attacks. Jesus asks that we view forgiveness as “a natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help.” [T-30.VI.2.7]
When pardon/forgiveness is viewed this way, it is justified as a sane response, and does so without sacrificing our rights and freedom. Attack is impossible when fear disappears. If it were possible; pardon would be impossible. We gain the real world when we view pardon/forgiveness as being, “quite real and fully justified.” [T-30.VI.3.3]
On the other hand, if we believe (like Hickey) that pardon/forgiveness is unjustified; that is attack. When we see forgiveness as justifiable, minds are changed. That allows miracles and healing to occur. This dynamic underscores our need to forgive ourselves for believing that this dream is real. That gives us the way to be able to accept that, “There can be no appearances that cannot be overlooked.” [T-30.VI.5.4] Therefore, a sin could exist that is beyond forgiveness, some form of our illusion that a miracle could not heal.
Therefore, there is no order of difficulty in forgiving seeming attacks. The most horrible actions in this world can be forgiven when viewed this way. We keep ourselves in our dream-world when we believe that some kind of sickness or attack is beyond the reach of miracles (changes of mind). Either a miracle can heal everything or nothing. When we believe otherwise we retain the belief that we, or anyone, are beyond forgiveness and healing.
This situation is portrayed in the movie “Mona Lisa’s Smile.” Soon after a newly married Wellesley student found out that her husband is unfaithful she verbally attacks a promiscuous classmate. She listens for a short time, then steps forward and forcefully and lovingly embraces her attacker, who then bursts into tears and cries out, “he doesn’t want me anymore.”
The verbal abuse of one student was a call for love – the other student perceived it as such – and answered it with forgiveness and love.
Between Section VI in Chapter 30, and the discussion of forgiveness in The Song of Prayer is Question one of Part II of the “Workbook for Students;” What is Forgiveness? Following are paragraphs one and five from there. These words are very helpful for all of us to be able to forgive first ourselves and; therefore, our sisters and brothers with whom we share this illusion.
1. What Is Forgiveness?
1. 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. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin, except a false idea about God’s Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God.
In the following the pronouns refer to the Holy Spirit.
5. Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do, through Him Who is your Guide, your Savior and Protector, strong in hope, and certain of your ultimate success. He has forgiven you already, for such is His function, given Him by God. Now must you share His function, and forgive whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees, and whom He honors as the Son of God.
Here is a prayer to help us to forgive everyone and everything:
no matter who, no matter what.
I thank You, Father, for Your perfect Son, and in his glory will I see my own. [T-30.9.4]
It’s tough to do but worth it!
* O’Neill, Eugene, The Iceman Cometh, (N.Y. Random House, 1st Vintage Int. Ed. Nov.1999,) 180-182.