Forgiveness, Higher Awareness, or Christ Consciousness
What I find myself pondering since I learned that what I call Higher Awareness can be attained as a goal and not just as an effect of an awareness of Truth is where what A Course in Miracles defines as “forgiveness” comes into play. Is there a difference between Higher Awareness attained as an end in itself and Higher Awareness attained as the effect of forgiveness?
The easiest way for me to discuss this is to compare the two teachings that informed my spiritual path: ACIM and The Infinite Way. I was certainly aware of an incongruity between them as Joel Goldsmith (who wrote TIW and several articles and books related to it) never discussed Truth and illusion, so he never discussed forgiveness as ACIM defines it. But I also never gave this much thought as I used the teachings in different ways and ACIM always took precedence. What occurred recently for me is the exact nature of the incongruity became clear.
First, let me define what I mean by “Higher Awareness” in relation to these two teachings. I mean what ACIM means by “real world”, “happy dream”, “Vision”, “Christ’s Vision”, “Holy Spirit’s Vision”, “corrected perception”, etc. (In my translation of ACIM into plain language I streamlined these terms by simply using “True Perception” for all of them). In TIW, Goldsmith used “Christ Consciousness”. It is the sustained perception that arises when the ego (personal thought system) falls away. It is a state of wholeness, without fear or desire. It is the extension of Love, Peace, and Joy in one’s perception.
Second, let me remind you what ACIM teaches is true forgiveness: The recognition that only God (Truth) is Real. Everything else is an illusion and when you see this you have forgiven illusion.
To highlight this, ACIM makes a distinction between Creation and what is made. Creation is the extension of God’s Formless Being. Everything else (all form) is made. It also makes a distinction between God-the-Father/Knowledge/the Absolute and Christ-the-Son/perception/the relative. Knowledge is Truth; It is Real. All perception, no matter if it is the perception that only God is real (forgiveness/Christ), is an illusion. Forgiveness, and its resulting perception (Christ), is simply the only illusion that helps overcome illusion:
“Forgiveness, then, is an illusion, but because of its purpose, which is the Holy Spirit's, it has one difference. Unlike all other illusions it leads away from error and not towards it.” (C-3.1)
As I said in my last article, I always understood Christ Consciousness to arise as an effect of knowing only God is Real—an effect of forgiveness. So I felt Christ Consciousness (and the story of Jesus) pointed past itself to God (Truth). I felt it pointed past perception to Knowledge; past the relative to the Absolute. The ego falls from your mind because you see it is not real and you manifest an awareness of God-as-Reality instead.
But I was mistaken. It seems what I have understood to be Christ Consciousness can be attained without the awareness that there is Something Else beyond that consciousness itself. The ego can fall away and a Higher Awareness can manifest without pointing to God-as-Reality.
Joel Goldsmith was a Christian who studied the world’s religions and found their commonality. He distilled what he learned into The Infinite Way, which could be summed up by words attributed to Jesus: “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”. He taught that the perception of the world that we have from the ego is an erroneous perception. It is a miscreation. This is also what ACIM teaches. But TIW teaches that the world is God’s Creation and Christ’s Perception of it is how God intended us to see and experience it. So that perception is an end in itself rather than an effect.
This is the incongruity I felt between TIW and ACIM. Both ACIM and my own experience in Revelation had shown me that God (Truth) was beyond perception of any kind. Therefore, even the highest perception—Christ Consciousness—is an illusion.
“Yet even forgiveness is not the end. Forgiveness does make lovely, but it does not create. It is the source of healing, but it is the messenger of love and not its Source. Here you are led, that God Himself can take the final step unhindered, for here does nothing interfere with love, letting it be itself. A step beyond this holy place of forgiveness, a step still further inward but the one you cannot take, transports you to something completely different. Here is the Source of light; nothing perceived, forgiven nor transformed. But merely known.” (T-18.IX.10)
I wonder if there is indeed a difference between the awareness that Goldsmith and so many others teach and the awareness that ACIM teaches. Certainly, the description sounds the same. But is it a different thing to perceive correctly from Higher Awareness—which does come from an awareness of God within, after all—than to perceive correctly because one knows that there is Something beyond even that—which I thought was Christ Consciousness? Are they each forgiveness, as ACIM teaches it, approached from different angles, one pointing inward only and the other both inward and upward? Or is forgiveness simply another way to Higher Awareness?
The awareness that there is Something beyond the highest perception attainable feels significant to me. Forgiveness, as ACIM teaches it, feels significant to me. In fact, what sent the ego (personal thought system) in this mind into a tizzy was not the prospect of Higher Awareness, but what I’ve seen in Revelation: That nothing in this experience, not even Higher Awareness, resembles God (Truth). That’s why forgiveness, as ACIM teaches it, has always meant true liberation to me.
Is the difference between what I see as Higher Awareness and Christ Consciousness significant, beyond it being significant to me because how I understood the latter has been my path? I always come back to: It depends on what you want. It’s significant to me because I want the Truth because It’s the Truth. What could possibly be more significant than Truth? I call It Truth because It is What is. I have to teach what I know to be true, because I want to reinforce it in my mind. I must point both inward and upward, because I know What’s upward is the Source of What’s Inward. But… nobody has to be aware of Truth. And you can still attain a lovely Higher Awareness without It. So, perhaps, in the end, there is no difference. They are both illusions, after all!