Akilah's Column

Forgiveness is not about Forgetting, but Remembering | August 15, 2013

Ocean with Rays of Light

I have been thinking about the role that forgiveness plays in the shift in consciousness. Before I became a student of A Course in Miracles, the only thing that I knew about forgiveness was what I had learned from going to the Baptist Church. From what I remember there was a relationship between sin, forgiveness and the crucifixion: Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and somehow, if I recall correctly, if I slipped up and stole something, coveted my neighbor’s husband, disobeyed my parents (which I did repeatedly), well…I was essentially covered. Jesus’ brutal death on the cross was like an insurance policy that guaranteed my entrance to heaven. Maybe I would have to do a little prison time for the theft, but that was okay. This life only lasts for a second. Heaven is eternal.


I found the teachings of the Baptist Church unpalatable. The Baptist Church and many, if not most, Christian denominations, reject the teachings of A Course in Miracles.


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First, they vehemently reject the voice of ACIM as that of Jesus Christ. That voice was channeled, or received, by Helen Schucmann, a medical psychologist at Columbia University, in New York. It is rumored that Schucmann never believed what she received from Jesus. I think in many ways, she was embarrassed by the role that she played in dictating the book that has been translated into as many of 27 different languages. She did not want her name associated with the book until after her death, in 1981.


Second, many Christians find much of the contents of ACIM to be at odds with the Gospels of Jesus Christ: Churches and religious institutions are considered creations of the separation (the belief that we are separate from the Universe or God), and theology is designed to reinforce that belief.  Jesus Christ is defined as “one” of the sons of God. We are the rest. Sin is considered impossible, and hell non-existent. The definition of forgiveness, the tool A Course uses for spiritual transformation, is one that has no semblance to anything that Jesus Christ was known to have preached.


As a matter of fact, while there are 31 chapters in ACIM, the chapter on forgiveness does not come until chapter 16. Why is it that a book on spiritual transformation using forgiveness as the medium, waits until chapter 16 to discuss it? It is because a spiritual transformation or a shift in consciousness must precede the use of forgiveness.


ACIM makes it clear that what we do comes from our thoughts/beliefs. What goes on in our relationships is a reflection of those thoughts/beliefs. We attract into our experience those people who believe and think like us. There are no chance occurrences or accidents. The Universe operates according to the laws of thought; thus, we create our own reality.


The experiences that result from our belief in being separate from God are experiences that make us feel bad. We are prone to project the blame for those experiences outside of ourselves, usually onto some other, be it a person, situation and condition.  We hold the other responsible for our lot in life. ACIM teaches that the other is our savior, the one that reflects the state of separation which is a belief system that is out of alignment with who we are in truth. We receive that reflection in order that our beliefs may be examined and corrected.


This is where forgiveness comes in. If what happens in my life is a result of what I think and believe, if I am cause and effect, then what I do, I do to myself. I only forgive that other for what I thought or believed it did to me.  In essence all forgiveness is about forgiving myself. I can lay aside blame, cease projection and make a correction at the only level where fundamental change is possible: the belief system.  ACIM promises that the practice of forgiveness will initiate a total shift in the consciousness of humanity.


Forgiveness takes on a totally different meaning from the one put forth by the Gospels. Many students of ACIM are challenged by this definition of forgiveness, even with 15 chapters of preparation. We often want to know how a child attracts rape and murder; how does a woman attract domestic violence. How did Japan attract a tsunami, or African people enslavement. ACIM, by its own admission, only takes us so far. It is our belief system that ACIM addresses and assists us in dismantling. We must be free from the belief in separation before we can come to terms, or even entertain, the answers to some of these seemingly perplexing questions.


Those are my words for this month. In the blog spot is Loreen Walker, an attorney and peace educator. I am impressed by her article on Restorative Justice, and she gave me permission to republish it here. I hope that you will be as interested as I was in understanding the role that Buddhism can play in restorative justice. Enjoy!


~ Akilah

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