121. “Forgiveness is the key to happiness.”
Here is the answer to your search for peace. Here is the key to meaning in a world which seems to make no sense. Here is the way to safety in apparent dangers which appear to threaten you at every turn, and bring uncertainty to all your hopes of ever finding quietness and peace. Here are all questions answered; here the end of all uncertainty ensured at last.
The unforgiving mind is full of fear, and offers love no room to be itself; no place where it can spread its wings in peace, and soar above the turmoil of the world. The unforgiving mind is sad, without the hope of respite and release from pain. It suffers and abides in misery, peering about in darkness, seeing not, yet certain of the danger lurking there.
The unforgiving mind is torn with doubt, confused about itself and all it sees, afraid and angry, weak and blustering, afraid to go ahead, afraid to stay, afraid to waken or to go to sleep, afraid of every sound, yet more afraid of stillness; terrified of darkness, yet more terrified at the approach of light.
What can the unforgiving mind perceive but its damnation? What can it behold except the proof that all its sins are real? The unforgiving mind sees no mistakes, but only sins. It looks upon the world with sightless eyes, and shrieks as it beholds its own projections rising to attack its miserable parody of life. It wants to live, yet wishes it were dead. It wants forgiveness, yet it sees no hope. It wants escape, yet can conceive of none because it sees the sinful everywhere.
The unforgiving mind is in despair, without the prospect of a future which can offer anything but more despair. Yet it regards its judgment of the world as irreversible, and does not see it has condemned itself to this despair. It thinks it cannot change, for what it sees bears witness that its judgment is correct. It does not ask because it thinks it knows. It does not question, certain it is right.
Forgiveness is acquired. It is not inherent in a [the] mind which cannot sin. As sin was an idea you taught yourself, forgiveness must be learned by you as well, but from a Teacher other than yourself, who represents the other Self in you. Through Him you learn how to forgive the self you think you made, and let it disappear. Thus you return your mind as one to Him Who is your Self, and Who can never sin.
Each unforgiving mind presents you with an opportunity to teach your own how to forgive itself. Each one awaits release from hell through you, and turns to you imploringly for Heaven here and now. It has no hope, but you become its hope. And as its hope do you become your own. The unforgiving mind must learn through your forgiveness that it has been saved from hell. And as you teach salvation, you will learn.
Yet all your teaching and your learning will be not of you, but of the Teacher Who was given you to show the way to you. Today we practice learning to forgive. If you are willing, you can learn today to take the key to happiness, and use it on your own behalf. We will devote ten minutes in the morning, and at night another ten, to learning how to give forgiveness and receive forgiveness too.
The unforgiving mind does not believe that giving and receiving are the same. Yet we will try to learn today that they are one through practicing forgiving towards one whom you think of as an enemy and one whom you consider as a friend. And as you learn to see them both as one, we will extend the lesson to ourselves [yourself], and see that their escape included ours [yours].
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; one you actively despise, or merely try to overlook. It does not matter what the form your anger takes. You probably have chosen him 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 which you hold of him. Look at this picture until [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 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 are you one with them, and they with you. Now have you been forgiven by yourself.
Do not forget, throughout the day, the role 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.”