At its core, A Course in Miracles is about love. It’s about a state of peace where all you feel is love toward everything and everyone, and all you see in the eyes around you are feelings of love. One of the things that draws so many people to the Course is this message of love and that this love is our essence and our right and our destiny.
But the curriculum of the Course, the part of the Course which teaches us how to achieve this state of love, is not about trying to find more love in our lives. It doesn’t teach us how to love someone more or how to find only loving experiences in our lives. What it teaches us is how to find the obstacles the ego has built in our minds to prevent us from experiencing the love that is our Natural State.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false. (T-16.IV.6)
It’s very clear – looking for love is not the answer. The answer is in looking for the barriers. So what are these barriers the ego is putting in our way? They’re all the thoughts we have which are not loving thoughts. This includes every thought of attack, fear, pain, anger, sadness, guilt, discomfort, anxiety, unease – you name it. This includes thoughts about others and thoughts about ourselves. These are all the thoughts the ego feeds us to keep up the illusion of separation.
We all recognize these thoughts. We all know how to find them. They will raise their ugly heads every day of our lives. Right now you can stop and think about what has happened to you in the last day or so, and find many of these thoughts. When you consider a lifetime, there are more than enough for us to work with. This is the first step on the road to what is true – we have to seek for what is false.
Fortunately, the curriculum of the Course provides a cure for these non-loving thoughts. It’s the idea of forgiveness. Through forgiveness, we can begin to break through the ego’s barriers, to see those false thoughts as the illusions they are. Forgiveness is our path away from the ego and toward love.
Connecting with the Holy Spirit
Before we can apply this forgiveness, though, we need to connect with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is simply the part of our selves that remembers our connection to God, the part of us that knows only truth and knows only love.
The Holy Spirit is present within all of our minds and can be perceived in different ways. Some may see a loving God-like figure, others may see an inner guide, but no matter how you see the Holy Spirit, you must look within the mind. There is nothing real outside the mind, so the Holy Spirit, our connection to the Mind of God, must be found there.
Our first task on the path to forgiveness is to see this Holy Spirit, a little glimpse of the wonder of God. Take a moment and think on this place in your mind where you know there is peace and love available to you. You may initially only be able to feel this place for a fleeting moment, before the ego fills your mind with all of its non-loving thoughts, but by doing this regularly over time you will begin more and more to know and feel comfortable in this place.
Forgiving the Barriers
Once you’ve made the connection to the Holy Spirit, no matter how small it may seem, you can begin the process of forgiveness. This involves three steps – focusing on a non-loving thought, forgiving everything connected to it, and passing off to the Holy Spirit all the negative emotions associated with it.
So let’s try an example. Think about a non-loving thought you’ve had in the last day or two – any thought with feelings of fear, anger, guilt, etc. associated with it. Bring that thought to the front of your mind, focus on it intently. Feel all the emotions surrounding it. If possible, imagine those emotions as something physical, like a dark, roiling ball of ugliness.
Now holding that focus, begin to forgive everything associated with this experience. We’ve learned from the Course that all these feelings and thoughts are illusions presented to us by our egos. Knowing that, forgive each person with any connection to these thoughts, saying “I forgive…” followed by the person’s name, repeating it several times. Then forgive the experience itself, saying “I forgive…” followed by what you call the event, and then “… knowing this is just an illusion created by my ego.”
Next take that roiling ball of ugliness, with all the emotions tied into this experience and hand it off to the Holy Spirit, who remembers your place in the Mind of God and knows these emotions and thoughts are illusions with no power whatsoever. This releases the experience, the emotions, and the non-loving false thoughts. The ego loses some of its hold on you as your awareness of the Holy Spirit reminds you of where you belong.
As one final step, say “I forgive myself”, for it was you, as your ego self, that had all these thoughts and emotions originally. By forgiving yourself you release yourself from the heavy weight of responsibility for this negative experience, and because of this you will naturally feel closer to the Holy Spirit.
Committing to Continual Forgiveness
Once you have completed this, select another non-loving thought and follow the same procedure. In this case you might try something further in the past, perhaps something in a relationship that has bothered you for years. The process is the same no matter when the thought and associated emotions first occurred. It’s still an illusion and the Holy Spirit stands ready to release you from it.
If you can do this process several times a day, it will become more and more natural, and you may find yourself eventually doing it without having to think about it too seriously. The ultimate goal is for you to realize in real-time when non-loving thoughts occur and to instantly forgive them. This can lead to a state of continual forgiveness.
Think about it. All the fear, pain, anger, sadness, guilt that you’ve felt over the years being instantly forgiven. This state of continual forgiveness will lead to the state of Peace the Course talks about, for if all your non-loving thoughts are being forgiven, the ego has lost its hold on you, and all that will be left is love.