[acimlessons_list] LESSON 134 - MAY 14
sue at circleofa.org
Thu May 13 05:28:02 EDT 2010
LESSON 134 - MAY 14
"Let me perceive forgiveness as it is."
Purpose: To practice true forgiveness, that you may free your brother, free
yourself from the chains you've wrapped around you, and lay down footsteps
to light the way for those who follow you.
Longer: Two times, for fifteen minutes.
This exercise requires some explanation. First, "Would I condemn myself for
doing this?" does not mean "If I did this, would I condemn myself?" Rather,
it means "Do I really want to condemn myself for doing this (because if I
condemn him I will condemn myself)?" This sort of "would you?" is found
throughout the Course. For instance, "Would you know the Will of God for
you?" (T-8.V.5:1), which means "Do you want to know the Will of God for
* Ask the Holy Spirit, Who understands the meaning of forgiveness, "Let me
perceive forgiveness as it is."
* Then choose a brother to forgive, under His direction.
* Now catalogue this person's "sins," one by one (but keep from dwelling on
any one of them). With each one, ask yourself, "Would I condemn myself for
doing this?"-because when you condemn this brother for this specific "sin,"
you hold yourself to the same standard. You search your mind for a similar
"sin" in you, and then condemn yourself for it, just as you condemned him.
To really make this meaning go in, you may want to do an expanded version of
Say, "Do I want to condemn myself for [name the 'sin' you see in him; e.g.,
being overly judgmental of others]? I will not lay this chain upon myself. I
will not condemn him for doing this." As you name his particular sin, make
it general enough that it covers something you tend to do.
* If you practice well, you will feel a burden lifting from you, perhaps
even from your chest, as if chains are being lifted from your chest. Spend
the remainder of the practice period feeling liberated from the chains you
tried to lay on your brother, but laid instead on yourself.
Frequent reminders: In everything you do.
Remember, "No one is crucified alone, and yet no one can enter Heaven by
himself." This means, when you crucify your brother, you crucify yourself as
well. And when you set him free, you open the gates of Heaven to both of
Response to temptation: Whenever you are tempted to attack yourself by
Say, "Let me perceive forgiveness as it is. Would I accuse myself of doing
this? I will not lay this chain upon myself."
This is obviously a miniature version of the longer practice period.
This lesson contains a very focused discussion about what it means to
"forgive." It deserves not only careful practice as a Workbook lesson, but
careful study, as a separate exercise when you have more time. Several of
these longer Workbook lessons fall into that category.
The main teaching of this lesson is that forgiveness, to be true, must be
fully justified. It applies only to what is false. Sin, if real, cannot be
forgiven (5:3-4). True forgiveness sees the nothingness of sins. "It looks
on them with quiet eyes, and
merely says to them, 'My brother, what you think is not the truth'" (7:5).
The lesson itself explains that main idea very well. I want to focus instead
on the results of forgiveness: the relief it brings to us. Forgiveness is "a
deep relief to those who offer it" (6:1). It wakens us from our own dreams.
Even if you don't understand all the Course theory behind forgiveness, when
you forgive, when you let go of your grievances against someone, you can
experience the lifting of a tremendous burden from your own heart. You may
not understand why that happens, but you can know that it is true. As the
lesson puts it: "You will begin to sense a lifting up, a lightening of
across your chest, a deep and certain feeling of relief" (16:3).
Forgiving is a very happy feeling. Why is that? Because, without realizing
it, when we condemn someone else for their sins we are secretly condemning
ourselves. By condemning another, I am saying, "Sin is real and deserves to
be punished." If I subscribe to that principle, then I must also believe
that when I sin, I too deserve to be punished. My form of "sin" may not be
the one I condemn in my brother; indeed, I may be accusing him, or her, of
something I think I would never do, and I imagine that because I am free
from that particular fault, somehow my condemnation of another will purchase
my salvation. But I have supported the principle that sin is real and
deserves punishment. Inevitably I know, deep within me, that I, too, have
"sinned" in some way. And if I have, I have nothing to hope for but
punishment. What I apply to my brother applies to me as well.
When we are tempted to condemn someone, the lesson advises us to ask
ourselves, "Would I accuse myself of doing this?" (9:3) or "Would I condemn
myself for doing this?" (15:3). The words "would I" are meant in the sense
of "do I want to?" The question is not "If I did what this person has done,
would I judge myself for it?" Because, if I am judging the other for it, I
definitely would judge myself if I did the same thing. We usually reserve
our sternest judgment for things we think we would never do, precisely
because we would condemn ourselves for doing them. When we read this
question, for instance, and think of a child molester, if we understand the
question incorrectly we may answer, "I certainly would condemn myself if I
What the question is really asking is, "Do I want to make sin real and
insist it must be punished? Because if I do, I am condemning myself to
punishment also." We are laying chains of imprisonment on ourselves when we
lay them on anyone (17:5; 16:4).
This is why releasing my brother from his chains brings relief to me. I am
liberating myself from the principle that "sin is real and must be punished"
when I liberate this other. And what a relief it is! The one who forgives,
and offers escape to this other, now sees that escape is possible for
himself as well:
He does not have to fight to save himself. He does not have to kill the
dragons which he thought pursued him. Nor need he erect the heavy walls of
stone and iron doors he thought would make him safe. He can remove the
ponderous and useless armor made to chain his mind to fear and misery. His
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. (12:1-5)
Forgiveness is a deep relief.
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