Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
1. Let us review the meaning of “forgive,” for it is apt to be distorted and to be perceived as something that entails an unfair sacrifice of righteous wrath, a gift unjustified and undeserved, and a complete denial of the truth. 2In such a view, forgiveness must be seen as mere eccentric folly, and this course appear to rest salvation on a whim.
2. This twisted view of what forgiveness means is easily corrected, when you can accept the fact that pardon is not asked for what is true. 2It must be limited to what is false. 3It is irrelevant to everything except illusions. 4Truth is God’s creation, and to pardon that is meaningless. 5All truth belongs to Him, reflects His laws and radiates His Love. 6Does this need pardon? 7How can you forgive the sinless and eternally benign?
3. The major difficulty that you find in genuine forgiveness on your part is that you still believe you must forgive the truth, and not illusions. 2You conceive of pardon as a vain attempt to look past what is there; to overlook the truth, in an unfounded effort to deceive yourself by making an illusion true. 3This twisted viewpoint but reflects the hold that the idea of sin retains as yet upon your mind, as you regard yourself.
4. Because you think your sins are real, you look on pardon as deception. 2For it is impossible to think of sin as true and not believe forgiveness is a lie. 3Thus is forgiveness really but a sin, like all the rest. 4It says the truth is false, and smiles on the corrupt as if they were as blameless as the grass; as white as snow. 5It is delusional in what it thinks it can accomplish. 6It would see as right the plainly wrong; the loathsome as the good.
5. Pardon is no escape in such a view. 2It merely is a further sign that sin is unforgivable, at best to be concealed, denied or called another name, for pardon is a treachery to truth. 3Guilt cannot be forgiven. 4If you sin, your guilt is everlasting. 5Those who are forgiven from the view their sins are real are pitifully mocked and twice condemned; first, by themselves for what they think they did, and once again by those who pardon them.
6. It is sin’s unreality that makes forgiveness natural and wholly sane, a deep relief to those who offer it; a quiet blessing where it is received. 2It does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. 3And there they disappear entirely.
7. Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. 2It sees their nothingness, and looks straight through the thousand forms in which they may appear. 3It looks on lies, but it is not deceived. 4It does not heed the self-accusing shrieks of sinners mad with guilt. 5It looks on them with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, “My brother, what you think is not the truth.”
8. The strength of pardon is its honesty, which is so uncorrupted that it sees illusions as illusions, not as truth. 2It is because of this that it becomes the undeceiver in the face of lies; the great restorer of the simple truth. 3By its ability to overlook what is not there, it opens up the way to truth, which has been blocked by dreams of guilt. 4Now are you free to follow in the way your true forgiveness opens up to you. 5For if one brother has received this gift of you, the door is open to yourself.
9. There is a very simple way to find the door to true forgiveness, and perceive it open wide in welcome. 2When you feel that you are tempted to accuse someone of sin in any form, do not allow your mind to dwell on what you think he did, for that is self-deception. 3Ask instead, “Would I accuse myself of doing this?”
10. Thus will you see alternatives for choice in terms that render choosing meaningful, and keep your mind as free of guilt and pain as God Himself intended it to be, and as it is in truth. 2It is but lies that would condemn. 3In truth is innocence the only thing there is. 4Forgiveness stands between illusions and the truth; between the world you see and that which lies beyond; between the hell of guilt and Heaven’s gate.
11. Across this bridge, as powerful as love which laid its blessing on it, are all dreams of evil and of hatred and attack brought silently to truth. 2They are not kept to swell and bluster, and to terrify the foolish dreamer who believes in them. 3He has been gently wakened from his dream by understanding what he thought he saw was never there. 4And now he cannot feel that all escape has been denied to him.
12. He does not have to fight to save himself. 2He does not have to kill the dragons which he thought pursued him. 3Nor need he erect the heavy walls of stone and iron doors he thought would make him safe. 4He can remove the ponderous and useless armor made to chain his mind to fear and misery. 5His step is light, and as he lifts his foot to stride ahead a star is left behind, to point the way to those who follow him.
13. Forgiveness must be practiced, for the world cannot perceive its meaning, nor provide a guide to teach you its beneficence. 2There is no thought in all the world that leads to any understanding of the laws it follows, nor the Thought that it reflects. 3It is as alien to the world as is your own reality. 4And yet it joins your mind with the reality in you.
14. Today we practice true forgiveness, that the time of joining be no more delayed. 2For we would meet with our reality in freedom and in peace. 3Our practicing becomes the footsteps lighting up the way for all our brothers, who will follow us to the reality we share with them. 4That this may be accomplished, let us give a quarter of an hour twice today, and spend it with the Guide Who understands the meaning of forgiveness, and was sent to us to teach it. 5Let us ask of Him:
6Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
15. Then choose one brother as He will direct, and catalogue his “sins,” as one by one they cross your mind. 2Be certain not to dwell on any one of them, but realize that you are using his “offenses” but to save the world from all ideas of sin. 3Briefly consider all the evil things you thought of him, and each time ask yourself, “Would I condemn myself for doing this?”
16. Let him be freed from all the thoughts you had of sin in him. 2And now you are prepared for freedom. 3If you have been practicing thus far in willingness and honesty, you will begin to sense a lifting up, a lightening of weight across your chest, a deep and certain feeling of relief. 4The time remaining should be given to experiencing the escape from all the heavy chains you sought to lay upon your brother, but were laid upon yourself.
17. Forgiveness should be practiced through the day, for there will still be many times when you forget its meaning and attack yourself. 2When this occurs, allow your mind to see through this illusion as you tell yourself:
3Let me perceive forgiveness as it is. 4Would I accuse myself of doing this? 5I will not lay this chain upon myself.
6In everything you do remember this:
7No one is crucified alone, and yet no one can enter Heaven by himself.