The Illusion of Worldly Comfort and the Unreality of Sin Below are the affirmative statements from the Course's "What is Forgiveness?" from part II of the Workbook for students.
The page clarifies what forgiveness is, by emphasizing what it is not. Aware that students are coming with mixed motivation and very mixed beliefs from many different traditions Jesus once again aims at exposing our misunderstanding.
I was raised a Catholic and remember thinking when I was a very small child that in principle, the act of confession and the forgiveness of mistakes was a very powerful thing. To be given a clean slate. This was the teaching of Jesus I had heard read in the Gospels on Sunday. I was blown away by the Message of Love that came to redeem all by it's sheer Presence.
I used to sit; age 8 or 9 waiting my turn to expose "my sins." I watched the old people exit the confessional looking relieved, delighted to be saying a few "Hail Mary's." There was always a queue for the "kind" priests. I too was hooked on the "go and sin no more." A second chance to get it "right." To not "blot my copybook" that was all I wanted! But the guilt of the setup meant that my fallibility always got in the way of the unconditional Love. Something was amiss in the earthly construct and I made a decision to keep the forgiving God but to ignore the guilt by finding ways to minimize it while maintaining I didn't believe in it.
"God does not forgive because He has never condemned." —A Course in Miracles (W-pI.60.1)
Thankfully a decade later, A Course in Miracles came into my life and later became my path. A few years into my devotion to it's teaching I discovered how that short term compromise was still costing me peace of mind.
This lingering belief when confronted with a Course in Miracles now meant there was no "personal" heaven waiting for "me" when "I" died. I felt robbed of a soothsaying from my youth. Like finding out there was no Santa Claus. I was in a tragic no mans land with a foot in both camps. What cost is that which seems to brings us comfort but which is not of God?
I came to discover that seeking for comfort in this world is synonymous with "sin" which I also thought I didn't believe in. This was a radical insight for me because I hadn't yet seen just how deep my preferences ran or how they bound me to this "ever missing the mark" I was so determined to hit! I was in error, I was mistaken and in need of Correction. "And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth?" (T-21.VII.5.14) I vowed to see clearly.
The following passages floored me...
"It is essential that error be not confused with sin, and it is this distinction that makes salvation possible. For error can be corrected, and the wrong made right. But sin, were it possible, would be irreversible. The belief in sin is necessarily based on the firm conviction that minds, not bodies, can attack. And thus the mind is guilty, and will forever so remain unless a mind not part of it can give it absolution. Sin calls for punishment as error for correction, and the belief that punishment is correction is clearly insane." ACIM (T-19.II.1)
"The children of God are entitled to the perfect comfort that comes from perfect trust. Until they achieve this, they waste themselves and their true creative powers on useless attempts to make themselves more comfortable by inappropriate means. But the real means are already provided, and do not involve any effort at all on their part." ACIM (T-2.III.5)
"I am the means by which God's Son is saved, because salvation's purpose is to find the sinlessness that God has placed in me. I was created as the thing I seek. I am the goal the world is searching for. I am God's Son, His one eternal Love. I am salvation's means and end as well."ACIM (W-pII.318.1)
Means and end are together which explains why "Forgiveness offers everything I want." ACIM (W-pI.122.1) Any other means of "comforting" that don't come from the Comforter and are not eternal are a shabby substitute at best and a betrayal of Christ at worst because they rob us of awareness of our true Identity. We do not seem to be consistently Sourced. We pacify the guilt that arises so swiftly there is no spaciousness to question it. This addiction to minimizing guilt and fear while maintaining it has us hiding in shame from the true Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Magic is not inherently wrong, it is just not "right minded." Yet given to the Holy Spirit all misdirected miracle impulses—desire and attraction can be harnessed for Acceptance of the Atonement. It becomes vitally important for the mature student to begin to notice the purpose she has given to everything. What is it for? "Approach it not lightly, for it is the choice of hell or Heaven." ACIM (T-19.II.8.5) Sin is a temptation to make real what is not true (of God) and yet all true comfort comes from our remembrance of being God's Son in Whom He is well pleased! Seen correctly then forgiveness is Acceptance of our true identity in Christ. Forgiveness is an acceptance that sin is not just unreal but impossible. Forgiveness is the release from our hierarchy of illusory needs. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." Psalm 23 KJV
Exquisitely comfortable "I need do nothing!" So once more from the Master—What Forgiveness IS:
"Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred ... Forgiveness, on the other hand, is still, and quietly does nothing ... It merely looks, and waits, and judges not ... he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.
Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do, through Him Who is your Guide, your Savior and Protector, strong in hope, and certain of your ultimate success. He has forgiven you already, for such is His function, given Him by God. Now must you share His function, and forgive whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees, and whom He honors as the Son of God." A Course in Miracles (W-pII.1.1-5)
King James Version
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The complete text--------<3
A Course in Miracles – Workbook – 1. What Is Forgiveness?
"Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin, except a false idea about God's Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God.
An unforgiving thought is one which makes a judgment that it will not raise to doubt, although it is not true. The mind is closed, and will not be released. The thought protects projection, tightening its chains, so that distortions are more veiled and more obscure; less easily accessible to doubt, and further kept from reason. What can come between a fixed projection and the aim that it has chosen as its wanted goal?
An unforgiving thought does many things. In frantic action it pursues its goal, twisting and overturning what it sees as interfering with its chosen path. Distortion is its purpose, and the means by which it would accomplish it as well. It sets about its furious attempts to smash reality, without concern for anything that would appear to pose a contradiction to its point of view.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, is still, and quietly does nothing. It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not. He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive. But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.
Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do, through Him Who is your Guide, your Savior and Protector, strong in hope, and certain of your ultimate success. He has forgiven you already, for such is His function, given Him by God. Now must you share His function, and forgive whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees, and whom He honors as the Son of God." ACIM, Workbook: What is Forgiveness?
It turns out there is nothing more comforting than Accepting the last judgement! :)