When we look at the world outside our eyes, we see guilt in every direction. We see those who are guilty of inflicting pain on us and those who inflict pain on others. We know some people are more guilty than others. We identify with the ones we perceive as the victims in the world, and feel triumph when the guilty are finally punished.
We also see those upon whom we have inflicted pain, and who therefore remind us of our own guilt. These are the ones we get angry with, the ones we sometimes yell at or worse, and the ones we might avoid so we can try to hide from this guilt. The reminders of guilt are everywhere in that outside world, the world we believe we live in.
The True Nature of Guilt
Where does all this guilt come from? Ultimately it comes from us. We learn in the Course that what we are observing in the outside world is a projection from our ego/separated self. What appears to happen to others, whether inflicted by others or by ourselves, is an illusion we project and then perceive. What appears to be happening to our bodies occupying this external world is another illusion, and the hurtful things we seem to do to others are also illusions. The reality is that it is all taking place within the mind.
The guilt we think we see is the guilt we actually create through our thoughts. Guilt serves a purpose for the ego. If we believe we are guilty or that others are guilty, then a world of Pure Love and Peace and Perfection can never be possible. It is the ego’s job to keep us looking at the guilt in this world so we will remain in fear, fear for the survival of our bodies. It is also the ego’s job to keep us believing we are guilty in order to hide Love from us.
This all started at the beginning of the original thought of separation. In order for the separated self to distance itself from thoughts of God, it had to create the ideas of guilt and fear so we would fear what had been our Natural Place in the Loving God. We would then feel guilty for believing we separated from God. It never really happened, but through guilt and fear, the ego keeps telling us it did, and unfortunately we do keep listening.
Freedom from Guilt
But fortunately for us, the Course offers us a way to shut out the ego and begin to see the Love that exists when the guilt and fear disappear. This is the way of forgiveness. Through the practice of forgiveness, we can remove these layers of guilt one by one until what is left is the Peace we have always sought. This Peace can become our way of life as the ego fades away.
You can start by forgiving all those you believe are guilty because of attacks you’ve perceived coming at you. These attacks can be emotional or physical, or judgments others have made of you. In all these cases you perceive yourself as a victim. Take your anger, your hurt, your upset, and pass these to the Holy Spirit, the one who knows you were never attacked, the one who will make these emotions disappear.
Next you can forgive the guilt you project out onto the world, where both the attacker and the victim are outside you. Take your outrage, your righteous indignation, your judgments of these people, and again contact the Holy Spirit to feel the release of these emotions. It’s all your projection and the Holy Spirit knows that.
Then look deeply within yourself at your own feelings of guilt. Look at all the times you believe you have hurt or judged someone. Look at the guilt you feel for what you believe you have done. Gather up every instance of this guilt and call again on the Holy Spirit to release it. One by one these instances of guilt can be forgiven, and the separation you feel from others because of your guilt will melt away.
Finally go as deep as you possibly can and look at the guilt you feel for believing you are a part of the separation, the guilt you feel for trying to reject God. Here comes your ultimate freedom and here the Holy Spirit can help you as well. God is simply waiting for you, never judging, only Loving. If you can forgive this guilt, you will truly be ready to return to God, and to express only Love in your life.
If we truly follow this practice, we are on the road to becoming guiltless. The Course discusses being guiltless often, and Chapter 13 of the Text is dedicated to this idea. To be guiltless is to be completely free of the ego. If we truly have no guilt, then we have never sinned or transgressed or separated. Guilt is entirely a creation of the ego, and without guilt we will be without the ego.
The more we practice forgiveness, the closer we come to living in a state of continual forgiveness. In this state we constantly forgive the guilt we see in the world and in ourselves. Eventually we no longer see guilt in the world, we see only Love. Eventually we no longer see guilt in ourselves, and we realize we can be free of all the pain and fear we felt, because we have become free of guilt.
The Course promises that guiltlessness is not only attainable, but inevitable. We were guiltless before we started believing in the idea of separation, and we will be guiltless when we stop believing in it. Without guilt, without judgment, without fear, without the ego, all that’s left is our Home within the Loving Mind of God.