Ask: Why didn't forgiving work?

I feel angry at "Joe" and I'm attacking him in my mind. Then, I remember to choose again and follow ACIM steps of forgiveness. First, I recognize my anger or attack thoughts. Then I recall that ideas leave not their source e.g. my rage is actually a projection of my belief that I'm separate from God and take responsibility. Third and last step, I ask the Holy Spirit to take it from here by healing a grain of my mind. Twenty minutes later I feel angry at Joe again about the same issue. Did forgiveness fail to work? Could it be that since my anger is really about my own guilt over thinking God is still separate, that it's irrelevant whether I project onto Joe a 1000x or a 100 different people 10x, it's all the same. Each attack thought episode is an opportunity to "bring home" to my mind projected attacks and give them over to the Holy Spirit. Or am I just making excuses for Course forgiveness that really doesn't work and I'm just deluding myself? If I'm not kidding myself and these described decisions are in line with ACIM forgiveness, why can't I forgive "my" whole personal self world by saying "I withdraw all projected guilt and turn it over to the Holy Spirit" at once and experience immediate and lasting peace? Can you comment on this whole scenario please? - J

What you are experiencing is very common for new, practicing students of A Course in Miracles. Let’s look at each of the issues that you bring up:

1. It is good that you stop to recognize that you are experiencing anger and attack thoughts, and that these, not what another says or does, are the source of your rage. But, it takes a long time to learn to generalize and really understand that the real source of your anger comes from deeply-rooted guilt and fear over a belief that you have separated from God. At first, it is best to focus on only what the personal thought system (ego) is telling you right now is the justification for anger. Those thoughts will tie into the story that it has for you as a personal self. In fact, their purpose is really just to reinforce your identification with a personal self. The deeper thoughts about guilt from separating from God will come up later, after you have worked through layers of false beliefs about yourself as a personal self.
2. When you give something to the Holy Spirit, what you are really saying is that you are turning away from the personal thought system, and turning your mind to the thought system in your mind that comes from Truth. For this to really work for you, the Holy Spirit has to be a real experience for you, not just a nice idea. Only from the Holy Spirit within you can you look on the personal thought system’s story for you with detachment.
3. True forgiveness means recognizing that only God is real. Until the Holy Spirit is real to you, you will not be able to let go of (forgive) the personal thought system’s story for you, because you will think that it is your identity. So, if anger returns, this indicates that you have not really let go of (forgiven) an idea that you have about yourself, either because God is not yet a real experience for you, or because you do not want to let go of the personal story that you have for yourself. Before you can truly forgive, you will have to develop enough of an awareness of God to be willing to release your attachment to a personal story. This may mean working through layers of fear of God first. Then, when God is real to you, forgiveness will happen naturally.
4. Yes, all projections of guilt and anger are really the same, whether they are over the same person or situation or over many different people or situations, because at the core they come from your guilt and fear over the belief that you have separated from God. And, yes, each episode of unforgiving is an opportunity to turn your mind to your True thought system, the Holy Spirit.
5. The Course’s method of forgiving does work, and you are not deluding yourself; you probably just do not yet experience God as real, or trust God enough yet, to be willing to let go of the personal story that you have for yourself. You are never really attached to a particular incident of unforgiving thoughts, but to the story about yourself that they support. So, instead of struggling to forgive, work instead on building your awareness of God first.
6. When God is real to you and not just a nice idea, and you are truly willing to let go of the personal identity and its world, then you will indeed let go of it all, all at once, and have lasting peace. You can prepare for that moment by becoming aware of God, working through your guilt toward and fear of God, and rooting out of your mind all of the ways that you are attached to a personal identity. Peace first comes and goes, then comes to stay, then comes to be all that you experience.

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Hal Seeley said…
Hi Liz:

I often take an accounting of where I am at on my journey to awakening and am always changing my focus on one subject or another only to find myself discouraged once again. And as I sit in my discouragement I once again come to the realization that my true Self cannot ever be discouraged and I am simply back into my ego (personal self). But the advice you gave J in this answer was spot on for me because as I read the answer I immediately knew this was also my issue that I have hidden from Myself. I am not aware of God, plain and simple. My question is, "how does one become aware of God?"
Ny said…
Excellent post! The most gentle, loving energy was evident. I could feel the agreement between your articulation & the truth of the way of Spirit. The truth of your words felt safe & invited the reader to be boldly courageous to release the story, and trust the Divine process at every stage; to trust Source. Thank you. Your call and answer to service is appreciated!
Kopa said…
Acim has never worked for me.

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