Forgiveness Comes Wholesale

A student has asked me to write about how I let go of anger and resentment in relation to the holy relationship I experienced when I first became a student. She wants to know the process I went through to get over the anger and resentment I felt over E leaving my life and over my losing the special relationship as it was replaced by the holy relationship.

The ego's plan is to have you see error clearly first, and then overlook it. Yet how can you overlook what you have made real? By seeing it clearly, you have made it real and cannot overlook it. (T-9.IV.4)

When you focus on a grievance it is very real to you. Your looking at it at all indicates you think it is significant. If you try to pretend you do not think so just because a book tells you it is an illusion, you are practicing denial, not forgiveness. The only choice of “forgiveness” you are left with is the ego’s “forgiveness”, what A Course in Miracles calls “forgiveness-to-destroy”: Condescension (I’m better than you), martyrdom (I deserve this), false humility (you’re better than me) or emotional blackmail (you must meet my demands, then I will let this go).

You hold on to grievances – past, present, toward you, toward others -- because they validate your ego-identity. The particular form of the grievance doesn’t matter; its message is always that the ego is real. Grievances help to define your specialness, your separateness. They help define your individual personality from “other” personalities. As long as you identify with ego you will have grievances because the ego is insecure and feels under constant attack and in need of defense. The ego always sees its "self" as a victim, misused and misunderstood by the world, and so it pouts and feels sorry for itself and rages against its attackers.

Reason will tell you that the only way to escape from misery is to recognize it and go the other way. (T-22.II.4)

For years I tried to forgive people or situations, or my own behaviors or attitudes that I didn’t like, by looking right at them and trying to see they weren’t real. I would dig around in my own mind for my own motives for projecting, for holding on, for my own guilt and fears. And I found them. I got really good at identifying ego and understanding how it works. This was important, because I needed to know this to sort out what is ego and what is the Holy Spirit. But understanding how the ego works did not bring forgiveness. Finally, I just stopped trying to forgive because I seemed to only be able to “forgive” the ego’s way. I looked away from my grievances and developed my relationship with the Holy Spirit. I eventually started practicing the
Four Habits For Inner Peace. As I did so, I was more easily able to detach from ego, whether it seemed to be in me or in others. In time, when something would remind me of old grievances, I’d find they were gone. I had stumbled upon forgiveness simply by “going the other way” – away from ego-identification and toward Holy Spirit-identification!

What I feel toward E now is gratitude for the part she played in making me aware that the Holy Spirit is always with me. This is what I learned when she left and I found I could still experience Oneness just by thinking about her. Obviously, the Oneness didn’t come from her; it was always within me. I felt this from the beginning, but it did take time for me to accept it because I still thought the special relationship had something of value to offer me. But as I allowed myself to feel the Presence of the Holy Spirit more and more, even the special relationship fell away. What could it offer me when I already had the only relationship I need? True forgiveness recognizes that only God is real.

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