“… Before complete forgiveness you stand unforgiving,” I read, from paragraph 11 of ‘The Lifting of the Veil,’ the final subsection of the final section of ‘The Obstacles to Peace’ in Chapter 19 of A Course in Miracles. “You are afraid of God because you fear your brother. Those you do not forgive you fear. And no one reaches love with fear beside him.”
The landline on my desk rang, caller ID revealing the name of someone with whom I had recently experienced a recurring grievance. Although I had reminded myself again and again that their behavior was not the cause of my lack of peace, I had not really chosen peace instead, had simply put the whole thing out of my mind because I didn’t want to deal with it. Until that shrill ring, that concealed weapon of a name I had used to justify my anger, suddenly unveiled. I was afraid to answer the phone, afraid of another seeming demand, afraid my unkind thoughts were about to deliver the counterattack I believed I deserved. Yikes!
I had been listening to Ken Wapnick’s recently released CD set, Forgiveness Now, in which his discussion of this crucial section in A Course in Miracles’ text completely blew my mind on ego out of the imaginary water. Driving me back once more to the gossamer pages of the big, blue book for closer inspection in an effort to find what I had missed the first gazillion times. Allow me to explain.
As a co-founder and among the first class of what is now called the “Course Immersion Program,” a then 18-month, now one-year curriculum in the metaphysics and practical application of A Course in Miracles (based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings) in Denver, Colorado, we tackled The Obstacles to Peace and were assigned sections to present in class. For reasons that still defy the understanding of everyone involved and humorously recalled the movie Groundhog Day, I was asked to present “The Lifting of the Veil” multiple times, as if divinely invited to finally “get it.” 🙂
I lived with this section, slept with this section, inhaled this section; became certain I completely understood this section. And yet, as I considered Ken’s explanation and thought about my reaction to this phone call now, I realized that living with this section was not quite the same as actually living it. The realization drove me thankfully back to the only conviction I really want to hold as a student of this Course. The nonjudgmental awareness that I know nothing on my own, but, resistance aside, really do want to know. I can be taught, provided I realize I need a teacher. Provided I choose to step back and let the loving, truly knowing part of our one mind lead the way.
As I did so now, I recognized I had considered this section solely in the context that the “journey without distance” to the home we never really left appeared to take time because we needed to generalize forgiveness to everyone and everything before we could completely join with Jesus/right mind/Holy Spirit’s awareness that the “tiny, mad idea” that we could separate from our source never happened. Thereby allowing the lifting of the imaginary “veil of forgetfulness” that appears to block our awareness of the reality that we remain one ever-loved and loving child of God, seamlessly, irrevocably fused with our creator in undifferentiated love.
What I hadn’t completely gotten? That the journey is not an endless highway stretching out in front of me. An ego-driven notion that keeps me comfortably enough tooling along the road, while completely forgetting the journey’s purpose/destination of awakening from the “hero of the dream’s” belief in a journey away from God, now simply perpetually reversed. In truth, the journey starts, and ends, just as it began. Right now, in every moment. At every intersection with “my brother,” in whatever form that imagined “other” that keeps the illusion of an imagined me intact seems to take. The abandonment, insensitivity, invasion I attribute to a human relationship, the virus or parasite infecting my body, my aching foot, the food or substance I think will bring me pleasure or relieve pain, the person who’s attention or praise I crave to make me feel worthy, the money or medicine I think will keep me safe.
“… This is the place to which everyone must come when he is ready. Once he has found his brother he is ready. Yet merely to reach this place is not enough. A journey without a purpose is still meaningless, and even when it is over it seems to make no sense. How can you know that it is over unless you realize its purpose is accomplished? Here, with the journey’s end before you, you see its purpose. And it is here you choose whether to look upon it or wander on, only to return and make the choice again.” (From paragraph 10)
Right here, right now, in this very moment, with this very “brother” that seems so much in my face, I can choose to look at my false belief in our disturbing differences with the inner teacher that sees only our loved and loving sameness. The brother I would sooner eat glass than walk home with. The brother whose guilty offenses I expend so much energy trying to distance myself from in a futile effort to prove my relative innocence; paradoxically nourishing the unconscious guilt within my own mind in the process, is, in truth, my ticket home to the experience of our shared, eternal innocence.
In any moment in which I catch myself believing in good guys and bad guys of any kind, I can instead remember that my only real purpose on this seeming flight from love in which I travel the looped road of separation realized and sin, guilt, and fear endlessly perpetuated is to stop, and forgive. Calling on the part of our mind that knows our present salvation lies in seeing only my own split mind in the ones I love to hate, in so doing healing a fracture that never really occurred and experiencing the innocence I’ve been futilely chasing in an endless dream of separation that never was.
I can wander off again and again and again, but delay will only prolong my pain. I am afraid of God because I am constantly trying to pin the guilt I feel within over believing I separated from him on my brother. And I fear my brother because my anger against him for what I blame him for means he will attack me back, just as I deserve. I am acting out in all my relationships the same mistaken scenario I believe I pulled off with God, and I expect the same punishment I believe God owes me.
But the separation never happened! The tiny mad, idea was corrected the moment it arose, despite an endless illusion of separation realized that came and went in the same instant. God doesn’t know about me or my brother or this world. God knows only our true nature, only our eternal present, that oneness joined as one I can’t wrap my brain around but can glimpse in any moment in which I choose the holy perspective of right mind over the ego’s unholy perspective of unique personal interests. I don’t have to raise my eyes on a God I made up and still fear to awaken from this dream. I only need to kindly meet the eyes or answer the phone 🙂 of the brother that stands before me in whatever form. While calling on the same right mind we share to see through the eyes of compassion for all who walk this world feeling guilty, terrified, and alone, secretly begging, like I am, to be absolved of an imaginary crime right now.
“Free your bother here as I freed you. Give him the selfsame gift, nor look upon him with condemnation of any kind. See him as guiltless as I look on you, and overlook the sins he thinks he sees within himself. Offer your brother freedom and complete release from sin, here in the garden of seeming agony and death. …” (From paragraph 18)
We return home “together or not at all.” My absolution depends on offering it to everyone and everything I use to justify my recurring loss of peace, and the journey begins and ends right now! If I make this my purpose, if I return to it again and again and again whenever my unconscious fear tempts me to once more wander off, if I try to remember that all my personal perceptions and interests are opportunities to take another, and another, and another step toward lifting the veil on all illusions right now. Then my days become a beautifully braided lifeline of holy instants that will surely lead me home to the one loving God and brother, within whom I remain eternally, lovingly, all-inclusively fused, forever need-free, completed, and whole.
“Together we will disappear into the Presence beyond the veil, not to be lost but found; not to be seen but known. … This is the journey’s purpose without which is the journey meaningless. Here is the peace of God, given you eternally by Him. Here is the rest and quiet that you seek, the reason for the journey from its beginning. Heaven is the gift you owe your brother, the debt of gratitude you offer to the Son of God in thanks for what he is, and what his Father created him to be.”
Susan Dugan’s books Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, Forgiveness Offers Everything I Want, and Forgiveness: The Key to Happiness are available at RMMC and on Amazon. She writes about ACIM based on Ken Wapnick’s teachings at ForaysInForgiveness.com and teaches Tuesday nights at RMMC.