‘Forgiveness is the key to happiness.’
Here is your answer to your search for peace. Here is the key to meaning in a world that seems to make no sense. Here is the way to safety in apparent dangers that appear to threaten you at every turn, and bring uncertainty to all your hopes of ever finding quietness and peace. Here are all your questions answered; here the end of all uncertainty ensured at last.
Today we practice learning to forgive. Begin the longer practice periods by thinking of someone you do not like, who seems to irritate you, or to cause regret in you if you should meet him (or her), one you actively despise, or merely try to overlook. It does not matter what form your anger takes. You probably have chosen him (or her) already. He will do.
Now close your eyes and see him in your mind, and look at him a while. Try to perceive some light in him somewhere; a little gleam which you had never noticed. Try to find some little spark of brightness shining through the ugly picture that you hold of him. Look at this picture till you see a light somewhere within it, and then try to let this light extend until it covers him, and makes the picture beautiful and good.
Look at this changed perception for a while, and turn your mind to one you call a friend. Try to transfer the light you learned to see around your former ‘enemy’ to him. Perceive him now as more than a friend to you, for in that light his holiness shows you your saviour, saved and saving, healed and whole.
Then let him offer you the light you see in him, and let your ‘enemy’ and friend unite in blessing you with what you gave. Now you are one with them, and they with you. Now you have been forgiven by yourself. Do not forget, throughout the day, the role that forgiveness plays in bringing happiness to every unforgiving mind, with yours among them. Every hour tell yourself:
Forgiveness is the key to happiness. I will awaken from the dream that I am mortal, fallible and full of sin, and know I am the perfect Son of God.
THIS IS A POWERFUL LESSON. When I turned the page and saw Forgiveness in the title of the lesson my heart sank. Not this again. How much more forgiving can there be for me to do?
As I read through the kind of person I was supposed to imagine I was stunned to find that the person I find most irritating is the one I was about to spend the day with. Then I understood the significance of the timing of the lesson. I’m sure everyone, when they come to this stage of the course, will also have at least one person in mind.
I couldn’t remember the full quote for the day, but my shortened version of ‘forgiveness is everything’ got me through the day. Whenever I felt the niggles of irritation building I repeated quietly, ‘forgiveness is everything,’ and felt the irritation ebb away, to be replaced with the reminder that ‘giving and receiving are the same’. What I was giving I was also receiving – because at the end of the day forgiveness is about letting go of grievances and its grievances that generate illness, malcontent and despair.