Saturday, October 24, 2015

Specialness, Forgiveness and Failure

There is a section in Chapter 24, the Goal of Specialness, in the text of A Course in Miracles (ACIM) that is very significant for me. I have witnessed many times the use of “forgiveness” as a tool to extract as much pain as possible from someone. I have been guilty of doing it myself. If I believe I’m better and more “spiritual” than you, then I can afford to forgive you. I am special and you are not. It is insidious, cruel and as opposed to the Gospel of Jesus as one can get. It happens with all of us.
The initial paragraph of Section II (The Treachery of Specialness) reads as follows:
“Comparison must be an ego device, for love makes none. Specialness always makes comparisons. It is established by a lack seen in another, and maintained by searching for, and keeping clear in sight, all lacks it can perceive. This does it seek, and this it looks upon. And always whom it thus diminishes would be your savior, had you not chosen to make of him a tiny measure of your specialness instead. 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.”
So what is specialness and forgiveness, as described in ACIM?
From the Glossary of Terms from a Course in Miracles by Robert Perry, [2nd Edition, Circle Publishing, 2005]: Specialness is the “… idea of being set apart from others and set above others. Having more or being more than others. Specialness is the great payoff promised by the ego…. All ways of seeking it involve attack, for specialness requires that others must be beneath us. It causes us to look for and rejoice at any sin [or weakness] we see in others. It makes everyone our enemy and so makes us feel attacked from every quarter. Because specialness is a form of separateness, it makes us feel weak, frail, isolated, and alone.  And because it is a form of attack, it makes us feel guilty and afraid. A Special Relationship is a “… relationship based on the pursuit of specialness, in which we try to a) have a special arrangement (an exclusive relationship) with and b) receive special treatment from c) a very special person, so that d) we can feel more special.”
In Miracles magazine [date unknown] is an article by Louis Bourgeois entitled, The Five Faces of Forgiveness. Bourgeois describes these faces in the following way: FACE ONE – Our typical understanding of forgiveness “… begins with a belief in vulnerability. The possibility of attack appears very real, and to forgive one’s attacker requires a series of complicated ego maneuvers. The deception includes a core belief in victimization [and that the perceived world is truly real].”
FACE TWO – “The second face of forgiveness begins with a student’s willingness to admit that he or she does not truly know their own best interests. They become willing to explore the idea that their judgments of anything they see in the world are not sound…. A core ACIM teaching … states that all things are lessons God would have me learn. This means very simply that everything I look upon, everything I experience, is for my highest good.”
FACE THREE – “The third face of forgiveness rests upon the foundation of this acceptance. I do not have to understand how this circumstance, situation, or encounter is serving my highest good. I do, however, have to trust that this is so…. The third face of forgiveness recognizes that even though the ego judges a situation, circumstance or encounter, there is another part of your mind that listens to the whispers of a guiding Spirit. Just by saying to oneself, in the middle of some ‘problem,’ “Help me see this differently,” a doorway opens to another whole realm of consciousness. Awakening has begun….”
FACE FOUR – “The fourth face of forgiveness is where things really start to shift. This level of consciousness is dominated by gratitude. Gratitude is the most appropriate response we can offer in a moment described by the Course as the holy instant…. In this holy instant an amazing series of mind shifts occur…. The first shift, already mentioned, is the reliance on a power greater than ourselves. The second shift is acceptance that that power can and will show us another way of seeing the world. The third shift in our mind is the willingness to experience gratitude.”
The three shifts Bourgeois discusses in the 4th face of forgiveness reminds me of AA’s first three steps as summarized by old timers: I can’t. He can. I think I’ll let Him. Old timers in The Fellowship of AA also told me that forgiveness is quite simple – just don’t blame. If I remove egoic blame, then forgiveness is unnecessary. Without blame, acceptance can take its place and acceptance is the key to serenity.
From my readings in many books/articles about ACIM, I concluded, for me, a description of a 3-step process for forgiveness:  
1. I forgive the images I've made or projected, and I forgive the people in these images from the judgment I have pronounced against them.
2. I forgive myself for making my projections and judgments.
3. I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see another way of looking at this situation or person – and then I still my mind and listen for the Holy Spirit's whispers.
I must always remember: Step 3 is not my job. It will just happen!
The most difficult part of this process for me is the last part of the 2nd step – stilling my mind and listening. After an argument tonight, I might do this step tomorrow. But to do it in the midst of my snit is very difficult for me. However, those times when I have accomplished it, the results have been palpable.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#4 Oct 2015

Copyright 2015

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