The Past and Forgiveness

The one wholly true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here. Very few have realized what is actually entailed in picturing the past or in anticipating the future. The mind is actually blank when it does this, because it is not really thinking about anything. (W-8.2)

What time but now can truth be recognized? The present is the only time there is. (W-164.1)

Until you have experienced Truth, it may be difficult to accept the Course’s definition of forgiveness, which is that nothing that happens in the world is real. Forgiveness recognizes that only God is real, and nothing can change God.

The purpose of time, from the point of view of the desire to be separate from God, is to make it seem as though God isn’t real. The past is what is real; it has happened and you cannot change that. If you have learned correctly in the world, you anticipate a future that will be just like the past. The present is where nothingness resides; it is but a brief transition from past to future. Because the past is real, your guilt over your own behavior and your anger at others is justified.

Yet, if you look honestly at the past you have to acknowledge it is not a fact. Let us look at the evidence:

The past is not here
The past exists only in your mind
The past can be revised as you change your mind about it
The past is never wholly shared with another

How can the past be real? What is real cannot change. What is real must, by definition, be shared by all.

Think of something in your past that is causing you pain. It may be something you seemed to have done and feel guilty for; it may be something it seemed that someone else did to you. Now think of it this way:

It is not here
It exists only in your mind
You can change your mind about it (and probably have, over time, seen it differently)
No one who was there remembers it just as you do

Do you know why you hold on to this memory? To help maintain a self-concept you have of yourself. This is also true, by the way, of your “good” memories. Without the past -- your “story” -- where is ego? Where is your identity apart from God? If you let go of the past and let yourself be wholly present only your True Identity would be left.


jandvig said…
Dear Liz,

Again and again I come back here for your plain words. Thank you for allowing the Light to shine through you.
in peace,
Anonymous said…
I know this is a course that targets a change of mind and not behavior but that sort of implies I can do anything to another body and then just remind myself that it's not real. In the extreme why couldn't one commit murder and justify it by recognizing it as an attack that could be forgiven?

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