The Course uses the prominent theme of forgiveness in a way that is contrary to all our past experiences. We think of forgiveness as a means to absolve others of their bad behavior.

They did something that hurt us or others in some way. There was an offense committed.

But now, in the graciousness of our heart, we will forgive them “their trespasses”.

But what if there was no trespassing?

Here is how A Course in Miracles defines atonement: “Forgiveness separates the dreamer from the dream.”

That’s it. But what does that even mean?

We recognize that what we thought was an offense – some sort of grievance – was nothing but part of our dream. Forgiveness means that when we look at another person, we separate out the dreamer (which is who they really are) from the dream (which is what we think happened).

If someone hurts us in our dream at night – we feel bad in the dream. But when we wake up, we realize it was just a dream. It would make no sense to call the person up and ask them “Why did you do that to me?” They didn’t do anything. We clearly separate the dreamer from the dream.

And what we’re learning in the Course is to do the same thing with what we think of as “reality”. We are still asleep dreaming that this is all real. Forgiveness helps us separate the dreamer from the dream and experience a wonderful, non-judgmental calm.