(Click here to read this series from the beginning)
Forgiveness is Acceptance
In an earlier post, I mentioned that A Course in Miracles defined a grievance as follows: “Each grievance you hold is a declaration, and an assertion in which you believe, that says, ‘If this were different, I would be saved’ [i.e., happy].” (WB-71)
Every grievance is a resistance to what-is. Or more precisely, it is a resistance to your egocentric IDEA of “what-is.” It defines and perceives “what-is” relative to whether the world seems to be meeting all of your imagined needs. And whenever you perceive that the world is not meeting your needs, you actively “hold” a grudge or grievance against it. You say, “If only this were different, then I would be happy.”
It is the mental tension in this resistance that is the cause of all your feelings of upsetness and all of your perceptions of an upsetting world. In effect, you are making a resistance between “you” and “the world.” You are defining “you” and “the world” in such a way that they are in conflict with one another.
An unreal conflict between imaginary conflicting ideas
Every feeling of conflict is experienced as a feeling of tension within your mind. You might interpret it as a conflict in the world – for instance, a conflict between you and the other person. But ultimately that FEELING of MENTAL TENSION in your mind is caused by an incompatibility of two of your own ideas. Namely, a tension between YOUR IDEA of a “needy you” and YOUR IDEA of “someone else who is not meeting your needs.” Or a tension between YOUR IDEA of “what-is” and YOUR IDEA of “what-should-be.”
You yourself have made up all of those conflicting ideas. And ultimately those conflicting ideas are simply untrue. And thus the conflict you feel is ultimately unreal.
In this context, forgiveness means giving up the imaginary conflicts your have made up. Giving up every IDEA of resistance between “you” and “everything else.”
In positive terms, forgiveness is acceptance.
Acceptance does not mean passivity
When most people hear about such ideas of forgiveness and acceptance, the first thing they say is “I don’t want to be a doormat.” Because from the perspective of a small needy self, it simply makes no sense to forgive and accept. Forgiveness and acceptance seem positively dangerous, and perhaps even morally irresponsible, to such a perspective.
But when you start from the perspective that your own peace and joy comes from within you as your own inner nature, then blame and resistance are seen as merely blockages to true self-awareness.
But forgiveness and radical acceptance does not mean being a doormat for others and the world. You can still take care of yourself. You can still lock your doors at night if that makes you feel safer. You can still take steps to stop someone from abusing or harming yourself or others. It’s just that you don’t have to make yourself unhappy, upset, angry and hateful in the process. Being unhappy and unloving never helps anyone, least of all you.
Up to now, we’ve looked at forgiveness as something that you “do.” But ultimately, forgiveness is really an “undoing.” (To be continued …)