is the key to happiness."
Purpose: To learn to take and use the key to happiness.
Longer: 2--morning and evening for 10 minutes
* Think of someone you dislike or despise or overlook or find irritable. The one that has already come to your mind will do.
* Close eyes and look at him a while in your mind. Try to find some little spark of light somewhere in him. Once you find it, let this light expand until it covers your picture of him. Look at this changed picture a while.
* Now think of one you call a friend. Try to transfer the light you saw around your "enemy" to this friend. Let that light reveal him as more than friend, as your savior.
* Then let your friend and "enemy" unite and offer you the light you offered them. Let them bless you with the forgiveness you gave to them. Now you are united with them.
Shorter: every hour--do not forget
Say: "Forgiveness is the key to happiness. I will awaken from the dream that I am mortal, fallible and full of sin, and know I am the perfect Son of God."
COMMENTARYThe longer I study the Course the more this lesson makes sense. When I first read it, it seemed unlikely to me that forgiveness was the key to happiness. I could see it being a key but not the key. As the Course's explanation of the root of our problems began to sink in, however, I began to see that in one way or another, unforgiveness was behind every problem. Then, it began to make sense that forgiveness would solve them all.
Look at the litany of ills that comprise this description of "the unforgiving mind" (2:1-5:5). Fear. A cramped, constricted mind-set that offers no room for love to grow and thrive. Sadness, suffering, doubt, confusion, anger. The pairs of conflicting fears. The one that speaks to me most eloquently is: "afraid of every sound, yet more afraid of stillness" (3:1). And the distortion of perception that results from unforgiveness, making us unable to see mistakes as what they are, and perceiving sins instead. Babbling terror of our own projections (4:2).
I recognize myself, or at least memories of myself, in so many of these phrases: "It wants to live, yet wishes it were dead. It wants forgiveness, yet it sees no hope" (4:3-4). I've felt like that. These paragraphs describe us all. I think that if someone does not recognize themselves somewhere in here, they are not being honest with themselves. And the most awful thought of all is, "It thinks it cannot change" (5:3). Hasn't that fear struck at your own heart at one time or another? I know it has struck at mine.
When we admit to ourselves that these descriptions fit us, that we find ourselves in one or another of these states of mind, the very word "forgiveness" sounds like an oasis in the Sahara. Cool, soothing and refreshing. As we were told in Lesson 79, we have to recognize the problem before we realize what the solution really is.
"Forgiveness is acquired. It is not inherent in the mind..." (6:1-2). This states a fundamental principle that explains much of the methodology of the Course, and explains why some sort of transition is necessary between where we think we are and where we already are in truth. If we are already perfect, as God created us, why do we have to learn anything at all? Because the solution to the problem of guilt is forgiveness, and forgiveness was not part of our mind as God created it. There was no need for it. Without a thought of sin the concept of forgiveness is meaningless. Because we taught ourselves the idea of sin, now we must be taught the antidote, forgiveness. Forgiveness has to be acquired.
But the unforgiving mind cannot teach itself forgiveness. It believes in the reality of sin, and with that as a basis, forgiveness is impossible. Everything it perceives in the world proves that "all its sins are real" (3:3). Caught in unforgiveness, we are convinced of the correctness of our perception of things. We do not question it. From that perspective there is no way our minds can even conceive of true forgiveness. This is why we need the Holy Spirit: "a Teacher other than yourself, Who represents the other Self in you" (6:3). There has to be a "higher Power" Who represents a different frame of mind. The source of our redemption has to be outside of the ego mind-set, apart from it, untainted by it. And so He is.
He teaches us to forgive, and through forgiveness, our mind is returned to our Self, "Who can never sin" (6:5). Each person "outside" of us, each representative of that unforgiving mind crowd, "presents you with an opportunity to teach your own [mind] how to forgive itself" (7:1). Our brothers and sisters, manifesting their egos, full of the fear, pain, turmoil and confusion of the world, snapping at us in their terror, are our saviors. In forgiving them we forgive ourselves in proxy. As we teach salvation we learn it. As we release others from hell, we release ourselves. As we give, we receive.
This is what the Course is all about. As we practice today, let's realize that we are engaging in the central exercise of the Course, we are learning "the key to happiness." And let's not think we already know forgiveness; let us come with humility, ready to be taught by One Who knows.
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