This is such a great lesson. And just like many of the others, it presents us with a challenge.
Most of us think of forgiveness as something we do to take the high road after we’ve been offended or aggrieved in some way.
“You did this bad thing to me. But in the graciousness of my heart, I am going to forgive you.”
Of course, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, that’s not real forgiveness. We don’t really forget about the offense. And we don’t really let them off the hook completely.
The Course has a completely different definition of forgiveness, and it is this: returning the mind to the awareness of God. And when we do that, we realize that nothing happened.
And if nothing happened, then there is nothing to forgive.
This lesson starts off with this line: “God does not forgive because He has never condemned.”
That is wonderful news for us, but it also means that when we return our awareness to God, we, too, see no condemnation in anyone else.
So, you could say that forgiveness means nothing and no one needs to be forgiven. And that’s how we go about forgiving others from a place of love.
Lesson 46: God is the Love in which I forgive.
W-pI.46.1. God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.
W-pI.46.2. Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.
W-pI.46.3. Today's exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today's idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter "how much" you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.
W-pI.46.4. If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:
God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].
W-pI.46.5. The purpose of the first phase of today's practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:
God is the Love in which I forgive myself.
Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:
God is the Love with which I love myself.
God is the Love in which I am blessed.
W-pI.46.6. The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:
I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.
The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today's idea as originally stated.
W-pI.46.7. The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:
God is the Love in which I forgive you.