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Page references are from A Course in Miracles.
T = text W = Workbook M=Manual

S = Song of prayer P = Psychology (ACIM supplements)

A. Healing - miracle or magic?

B. Obstacles to truth

C. Peace of mind

D. How do I forgive?

E. The AAA approach to forgiveness

F. Our Resistance to Forgiveness

G. Forgiving Jesus

Other articles based on A Course in Miracles


When the ego tempts you to sickness do not ask the Holy Spirit to heal the body for this would merely be to accept the ego's belief that the body is the proper aim of healing. Ask rather that the Holy Spirit teach you the right perception of the body, for perception alone can be distorted. Only perception can be sick because only perception can be wrong. A Course in Miracles T146/157f

When our body is in pain or is not functioning properly, it is very tempting to focus our attention on the symptoms and seek a change at that level. This is an example of what the Course calls magic. Magic is an attempt to heal something at the wrong level. We might try pills, rituals, charms, crystals, Bach flowers, visualisation, surgery etc. The Course is not against us using magic to relieve our pain but tells us this is not healing.We seek to fix up something "out there" which appears to be the cause of the distress. "Out there" includes our body, other bodies (relationships) and situations in the world. Our magical belief is that something other than our thoughts is the cause of our pain and if we can change that sufficiently, we will be at peace. This is at the root of all our anger. We believe that attack will get us what we want. For example, you might have a difficult relationship with someone and find that you often develop a headache when you are with them. You might even get into the habit of carrying a pill with you to relieve your headache. Both the anger you use to try and change the person's behaviour, by attempting to make them guilty, and the pill you swallow are magical attempts by your ego to change something outside of your mind. Thus magic is an attempt to change on the level of effect as opposed to cause.

Cure is a word that cannot be applied to any remedy the world accepts as beneficial. What the world perceives as therapeutic is but what will make the body 'better.' ... He is not healed. He merely had a dream that he was sick, and in the dream he found a magic formula to make him well. Yet he has not awakened from the dream, and so his mind remains exactly as it was before. W263/270

The quotation at the beginning of this article stresses that the cause of all our pain - physical or psychological - is due to the way we perceive the world. What we see in the world is what we see in our mind - "projection makes perception" as the Course states it. We first look within before we look without. If we only perceive our fearful and attacking ego in our mind, this is all we can see in the world.

Trapped within our ego thoughts, we can only come up with ego solutions which will treat the symptoms but not the cause. Perhaps we will succeed for a while in changing our bodily condition or the way another relates to us. However, our success in tinkering with effects will be short lived and our problems will return in a similar or related form. Our ego will then suggest another solution and we are forced to start all over again.

To see the world differently and be at peace we must heal our perception. To do this, we need help from outside the ego system. It is a mistake to think we can heal ourselves without the help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit.

So do we lay aside our amulets, our charms and medicines, our chants and bits of magic in whatever form they take. We will be still and listen for the Voice of healing, Which will cure all ills as one, restoring saneness to the Son of God. No voice but This can cure. W264/271

As we begin to realise that our own magical efforts cannot bring us lasting peace, our prayers turn away from effects ("Please heal my body Jesus") to the cause ("Teach me how to forgive"). Realising that the cause of all our pain is in our mind and not the world, we start the process of taking our projections back off the world and begin to look with the help of the Holy Spirit at all that we have denied in our mind. We do not simply "give everything to the Holy Spirit" for first we must recognise and acknowledge the ego's thought system of attack hidden in our mind. The Course is not about affirming truth and love but discovering and ...."removing the blocks to the awareness of love's presence. (intro, text)

As we begin to discover the extent of the anger and hate in our mind, the ego will counsel us to feel guilty for in this way, we will continue our allegiance to it. We can only feel guilty if we still believe that what we discover in the darkness is really us. At these times, Jesus asks us to turn to him for help. Only his light can dissolve our darkness. He is ever waiting to stretch out his hand to us if we but call to him for help. As we start to allow his light to fill our mind, we too can help him heal others through us. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our mind reminds us that we are still children of God. In the same way, our example of peace will remind others who we meet that they can choose to see differently.

The only meaningful contribution the healer can make is to present an example of one whose direction has been changed for him, and who no longer believes in nightmares of any kind. The light in his mind will therefore answer the questioner, who must decide with God that there is light because he sees it. T160/172

This is not to say we do not continue to use magic for ourselves and others, for few have reached the stage where they can immediately change from wrong perception to right perception on every occasion. It is not a sin to have a toothache and a visit to the dentist would be a wise decision. However, our goal needs to be the healing of our mind and to do this, we must acknowledge the darkness - albeit illusory - of our ego mind and sincerely ask for the light of the Holy Spirit to shine it away. As we learn to hold the hand of Jesus more and the hand of the ego less we will be encouraged by the joyful results to trust him more and more.


The Course tells us that the truth cannot be taught, but will be revealed to us if we do our part of forgiveness. To forgive is to look past our perceptual errors and thus not judge ourselves or others. Truth was given to us in its entirety at our creation, it was not learned. Thus we cannot learn truth as this implies time, and our creation was outside of time. Our task is to accept truth back into our awareness again. As we meet the necessary conditions required truth will automatically start to dawn upon our minds all by itself.

All that is asked of you is to make room for truth. You are not asked to make or do what lies beyond your understanding. All you are asked to do is let it in ; only to stop your interference with what will happen of itself; simply to recognize again the presence of what you thought you gave away. A Course in Miracles T419/449

We are afraid of truth as it will dissolve our sense of separation by revealing the oneness of God's creation. When truth comes the ego is extinguished. Truth is of the mind and not the body. It resides with the Holy Spirit in our split mind. To avoid this threat to its existence the ego always counsels us to stay well away from the mind and focus on the physical world. Spirit cannot make connection with matter and thus the ego is safe.

"Sickness is a defense against the truth" (Lesson 136) the Workbook tells us. As truth begins to dawn upon our mind the ego counsels us that we are in great danger. He tells us that truth will reveal the depths of our sin against god and lead us back to his just punishment of us. To avoid this very fearful situation the ego may counsel us to get sick so we can divert our attention from the mind, where truth can be found, to the body. Now we are safe from god, back in the hiding place of matter.

The ego is always wrong. As we learn to hold the hand of Jesus and look without judgement and blame at the content of our mind we begin to learn that joy and not damnation await us. As we dismantle the barriers we have built to the presence of truth it will automatically flow into our mind with no help from ourselves.

Long ago we decided to block the awareness of truth so we could play our game of separation. Tiring of this painful game we begin at last to lift the barriers to its presence and find that its still there, unchanged, perfect and joyfully waiting to embrace us again.


Forget not that the motivation for this course is the attainment and the keeping of the state of peace. Given this state the mind is quiet, and the condition in which God is remembered is attained. A Course in Miracles T-24.Intro

Happiness is living in the space between two thoughts. Into that space the Holy Spirit is invited and guides all activities. In that space "I need do nothing".

To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. Into this place the Holy Spirit comes, and there abides.

The past and future no longer exist. Memories, knowledge - once thought essential to judge and evaluate each moment - are released to let this higher power take charge of your life. Decisions are gone to be replaced by certain knowing. The ego warns that all will be chaos without its help but instead, all is peace. We are told to resign as our own teacher as we have been badly taught (T-12.V.8). How humbling, and to the ego, how insulting. "Is not all my past experience of great value?," it cries. "No", replies the Holy Spirit, for every moment is fresh and requires a unique response and only the Holy Spirit knows which one. And this response will benefit all for He can only give to all. "But how can the future be safe!" cries the ego. "Future is your concept," replies Spirit. "There is no time, only the present moment, and I can tell you exactly what you need to do to give you peace and joy. But reliance on memory-based thought must cease before I am made welcome and this includes your so called 'good thought' as well as your attacking thoughts".

As students of
_A Course In Miracles should we be working for world peace? Is it selfish of us to only concern ourselves with inner peace? The Course tells us that this entire universe is but a projection of a thought of separation onto the screen of space-time.

The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love's absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts. W-pII.3.2.

It is built into the very structure of this planet that discord and problems must exist here. The ego is a murderous thought system, kill or be killed, and so it must be mirrored here. Just to exist at all means we must kill something to eat - whether animal or vegetable. All ideas of achieving a utopia must therefore fail. If there is a world there must be an ego projecting it. When all separated beings finally decide to let the ego go (the Last Judgement) there will be peace, but there will not be a universe left to project. So our concern is not achieving peace in the world, not sending light to troubled areas, but learning to find inner peace through daily forgiveness. When the mind attains peace the memory of God will return and we will become a healing presence in the world. Some people will be drawn to our peace and they in turn will be encouraged by our example to choose forgiveness instead of attack. We will have no motive to change and influence others, for the mere presence of a teacher of God has the potential to heal others. By being at peace ourselves the greatest good can be accomplished.

The ego mind is constantly thinking, planning, scheming, defending and attacking. This is a very effective smokescreen for obliterating the thoughts of God. We cry out "Where is God?" whilst all the time making sure we do not leave Him a gap to enter. Can we give God a gap? Or do we believe God can't hit a moving target so let's live a life of constant thought and action and then we will be safe from Him.

I am willing to recognize that my thoughts do not mean anything, and to let them go. I choose to have them be replaced by what they were intended to replace. My thoughts are meaningless, but all creation lies in the thoughts I think with God.

To find the peace of God we must reach the point when we see "The world I see holds nothing that I want". (Lesson 128) Whilst we still believe we know what's best for us we will continue to scheme and plan for the ultimate relationship, career, etc. Peace, and therefore the memory of God, will elude us whilst we pursue the idols of the world. A point must come when we willingly surrender to the fact that we don't know anything about how to be truly joyful and at last step aside and let the Holy Spirit lead the way.

Only be quiet. You will need no rule but this, to let your practicing today lift you above the thinking of the world, and free your vision from the body's eyes. Only be still and listen. W-p1.125.9


It is impossible to forgive another, for it is only your sins you see in him. You want to see them there, and not in you. That is why forgiveness of another is an illusion.
_The Song of Prayer. S-2.I.4:2-5

What is forgiveness?
We can only begin the process of forgiveness when we start to realise how much alike we are to the person we wish to forgive. When we cannot forgive someone it is because we cannot forgive ourselves for the same problem, albeit in another form. For example, a woman may hate her husband for his loud aggressive outbursts of anger whilst she may never have made him suffer in this way. However, her anger is just as strong as his but is given a different expression by her. When she feels angry she may withdraw herself and cut off from him emotionally. Her husband's anger but mirrors her own which she has not forgiven in herself.

The Course teaches that forgiveness recognises that what we thought was done to us we truly did to ourselves, for we can only deprive ourselves of the peace of God; therefore we forgive others for what they have not done to us, not for what they did. True forgiveness recognises an attack as a call for love and correction (T-12.I.8). Forgiveness is letting go of the past, is letting go of whatever we think people, the world, or God has done to us as well as whatever we think we have done to them. Forgiveness is a shift in perception. Everyone is our brother or sister coming from love or fear. Their attack, which comes from fear, is a plea for our love. Our only problem is the belief in separation from God, our only healing is by joining with each other through forgiveness.

The three stages of forgiveness

Kenneth Wapnick has identified in the Course three stages or steps on the path of forgiveness which I find helpful in understanding what true forgiveness is.

1 - Firstly we must take back our projections onto the world and take responsibility for our own pain. We must stop pointing our fingers at people and situations and accusing them of hurting us and see that they are mirroring to us the areas we have not healed/ forgiven in ourselves. In fact these people and situations merit our thanks for showing us what is in our unconscious for without them we would not see the forces that drive us.

The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself.

2 - After realising that there is nothing to blame "out there" we normally fall into the trap of feeling guilty on finding that the problem is in us. Our ego believes it has separated from God and wants to stay that way. It tells us we should feel guilty for our sins for in this way we come to take this world of separation seriously. Guilt always demands punishment and this prevents us from releasing our pain. During this second stage of forgiveness we come to see how deeply attached we are to our guilt. Guilt is the sum total of the negative thoughts we have about ourselves. It appears as a sacrifice not to feel justified in being a victim and the desire is to hang onto our anger, jealousy, greed etc. Although guilt is painful it is what we are familiar with and we prefer it to the increase in self-responsibility we know will come to us when we lose our attachment to being a victim. We can now choose to decide that guilt no longer serves us and that we would like it to be undone. This shift needs help from outside the ego thought system for we cannot do it by ourselves. Our little willingness to change, to shift our perception, opens the way for the third stage of forgiveness.

3 - In this final stage our guilt is undone by the Holy Spirit, Who was always there behind the barrier of our guilt, and peace returns to our mind. However, until we perform the first two steps He cannot take the third. Our steps can be likened to making a hole in our protective barrier we have erected to God's love allowing His love to pour in and dissolve our guilt.

The following prayer from _A Course In Miracles contains within it the three stages of forgiveness. The Course urges us to use it whenever we are not joyous.

I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the
consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.


At the deepest level of experience we will come to realise that we are not our ego but still "at home in God dreaming of exile" (T-10.I.2:1.) We will discover that we are still as God created us, the one Christ, perfect and eternal and that nothing can harm us. What then will there be to forgive?

..... in complete forgiveness, in which you recognise that there is nothing to forgive, you are absolved completely. T-15.VIII.1:7


Awareness - Acceptance - Asking for help.

AWARENESS - The Undoing of Denial

Conflict must be resolved. It cannot be evaded, set aside, denied, disguised, seen somewhere else, called by another name, or hidden by deceit of any kind, if it would be escaped.
A Course in Miracles W-pII.333.1:4

For the process of forgiveness to begin we need to realise the problem is in our mind and not in the world where our ego asserts it is. If we get upset at dictators like Hitler it is because we have a Hitler in our own mind. It is uncomfortable and painful to realise what we have kept covered in our minds and we resist this process. However, until we realise what needs to be forgiven we are destined to keep our problems. Further, if we allow our ego defences to be undone, the Holy Spirit would enter our minds and shine away the ego, and this is our greatest fear - the end of our uniqueness and specialness.

It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false. TT-16.IV.6:2

The main thrust of the Course is not in affirming the light and love within us but discovering and forgiving the ego blocks we have built to love's presence. When they are removed in the process of forgiveness the light and love of God will automatically dawn upon our minds. Jesus asks us to use our relationships as mirrors to discover all that is unhealed in us. For this we need awareness and this is our responsibility. As Jesus reminded Helen Schucman You are much too tolerant of mind wandering, and are passively condoning your mind's miscreations. T-2.VI.4:6

ACCEPTANCE - Not Taking Our Ego Seriously

It is sin's unreality that makes forgiveness natural and wholly sane, a deep relief to those who offer it; a quiet blessing where it is received. It does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. And there they disappear entirely.

When we discover, through awareness, that the problem is in us, the ego tries to regain its lost ground by using our newfound insights to accuse us of our sin. There is a great temptation to believe this and our accusing finger now points at our own head. Our response makes the ego's world real again. However, this drama of ours is still occurring in the dream of separation from God and nothing is really happening. Just as you awake from a nightmare to realise nothing actually occurred,so Jesus asks us to learn to laugh gently at our ego dreams. Nothing we do can harm our Christ nature - otherwise sin would be possible.

To look at our guilt with acceptance is the shift of perception the Course calls a miracle. Anything we resist persists, but that which we accept will be healed. The Course is asking us to look into the darkness of our minds and accept without judgement what we find there. We are not asked to suppress our anger or transform it but to simply to watch it with gentle acceptance, waiting patiently for the time when it will no longer be there.
The cause of all our pain comes from our desire to maintain the seeming separation from God and thus keep our individuality preserved.

He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. T-27.VIII.9:3-4

- Offering Our problems to the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit asks of you but this; bring to Him every secret you have locked away from Him. Open every door to Him, and bid Him enter the darkness and lighten it away. At your request He enters gladly. He brings the light to darkness if you make the darkness open to Him. But what you hide He cannot look upon. T-14.VII.6:1-5

When we decide to be happy and not right we are inviting the Holy Spirit into our minds to shine away the guilt we have been grasping onto.

It is important to realise that it is not ourselves that heal our mind - we simply allow the blocks to God to be removed by the Holy Spirit. We don't need to understand how this happens. Our work is in the first two stages of this process - Awareness and Acceptance. To be healed we need help from outside our ego thought system. This help must wait until it is called for as it would never force itself upon us against our free will.

Next time you feel you have lost your peace it can help if you stop a moment and become aware of where in your body you feel uncomfortable. This area is a reflection in your body of an unforgiveness in your mind. Place your hand on this area in a gesture of simple acceptance and tell yourself it all right to feel this way. When you feel ready, ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the problem in your life a different way.

F. Our Resistance to Forgiveness

It is often thought by people new to studying A Course in Miracles that their lives will become more peaceful as they begin to practise its teachings. However this does not always follow. In fact things may seem to get worse, not better. Before practising the principles of the Course, they will probably have heeded the egoís counsel and denied the guilt they feel and projected it onto others. Now they attempt to bring their unconscious mind to consciousness, which starts the process of undoing denial, bringing their guilt to the light of the Holy Spirit to be forgiven. To become aware of the ego's darkness in the mind is not an easy process.

The principles of forgiveness as described in the Course are relatively simple to understand and bring us great rewards if we apply them. It is also true that most of us find it very difficult to own our pain and ask for help. To help us understand why this is so, the Course goes to great lengths to show how subtle and devious the ego really is. We are largely unconscious of the way it operates owing to the wall of denial we have constructed. The Course encourages us to look behind that wall and learn to laugh gently at what we find there.

As we practise forgiveness, at the same time we shall be lessening the importance we have given to the ego. Having identified so strongly with the ego's thought system, it seems as if we are sacrificing something very dear to us. As we bring our darkness (illusions) to the light (truth) the Course states that we will experience "periods of unsettling". These are times of discomfort and anxiety that we must inevitably feel in the process of shifting from the ego's thought system (wrong-mindedness) to the Holy Spirit's thought system (right-mindedness).

First, they (God's Teachers) must go through what might be called "a period of undoing". This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognised.
A Course in Miracles M8; M-4.I.3:1-3

This quotation is taken from a section which describes the six stages in the development of trust. Jesus cautions us that four of these stages are normally experienced as difficult and thus we should not underestimate the challenges involved in spiritual growth.

It would be helpful to take a closer look at our investment in the ego and what it seems to offer us. As we start to question the 'gifts' it holds out to us, our practice of forgiveness will become easier. Our ego will tell us that we are the most important person in the world. We have special needs which must be fulfilled and we feel justified in using whatever means are necessary to achieve this. The Course tells us that the source of this justification comes from an insane belief stored in our unconscious mind. This belief states that we are lacking the things we need because they have been stolen from us. (See 'The Laws of Chaos' in Chapter 23 of the Text) This thought justifies the use of any means to get back what we feel is rightfully ours in the first place. Forgiveness teaches the opposite of this and states that we have given away our remembrance of our spiritual reality in exchange for the experience of individual uniqueness ó the need to feel special and different from others.

When we decided to forget our true state of unity within the One Mind of God, competition and judgement had to follow. To maintain a sense of individuality we must continually compare ourselves to others and look for differences. If we meet someone who seems better than us in some way, then we must make them into our enemy or put them onto a pedestal and appear to look up to them. However, at a deeper level of our mind we will hate them for being better than us. The Course states: "Only the special could have enemies, for they are different and not the same. And difference of any kind imposes orders of reality, and a need to judge that cannot be escaped." (T465; T-24.I.3:5-6) When we come across someone whom we judge as inferior, there will be a desire to keep this person the way they are so we may appear superior by contrast. The Course describes this dynamic as follows:

Against the littleness you see in him you stand as tall and stately, clean and honest, pure and unsullied by comparison with what you see. Nor do you understand it is yourself that you diminish thus. (T466f; T-24.II.1:6-7)

This quotation reminds us that when we compare and attack our brothers we are also attacking ourself. Our attacks are always centred on another's body or their behaviour and thus our belief in the reality of the body is strengthened and our awareness of spirit is weakened.

The Course states: "You would oppose this course because it teaches you you and your brother are alike." (T466;T-24.I.8:6) Forgiveness teaches us that our egos are all the same, as is our Christ nature. This is the last thing our ego wants to hear. For the ego to retain its desire for specialness, it must perceive differences between itself and others. If someone goes to a party, the last thing they want to find is someone else wearing the same outfit as them.

Our original desire to be separate and different from God is perpetuated in our continuing desire to be separate from others. Forgiveness would undo this thought and eventually return to our awareness our oneness with each other and God. This is perceived by our ego as an act of treachery which deserves punishment. To welcome the state of unity back into our awareness means the death of the ego and this it must fight with all its resources.

The ego is deceived by everything you do, especially when you respond to the Holy Spirit, because at such times its confusion increases. The ego is, therefore, particularly likely to attack you when you react lovingly, because it has evaluated you as unloving and you are going against its judgement. The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased. (T164; T-9.VII.4:4-7)

We might experience a day when we feel open to the love of the Holy Spirit and feel a deep sense of peace and well-being. We may even think this state could last forever. However, we might wake the following day feeling depressed and alone and wonder why things have changed so much. To allow this shift to occur, we must be persuaded by our ego that to continue listening to the Holy Spirit is dangerous. The ego reminds us that it is safer to stay as we are as change will involve sacrifice and, even worse, there is an avenging god awaiting us at the end of our journey ready to punish us for our many sins. We are told that if we follow the path of forgiveness, we shall have to look at all the horror and darkness within our mind, and that we shall not survive this experience. The journey of forgiveness is not an easy one, but its success is guaranteed by God, for it is His will that we return to Him.

Reprinted from 'Healing the Cause - A Path of Forgiveness' by Michael Dawson.

(Copyright) Michael Dawson

Portions from A Course in Miracles®1975, reprinted by permission of the
Foundation For A Course In Miracles® 41397 Buecking Drive, Temecula, California 92590-5668, USA

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