Distress that Rests on Error

“If pardon were unjustified, you would be asked to sacrifice your right when you return forgiveness for attack. But you are merely asked to see forgiveness as the natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help. Forgiveness is the only sane response. It keeps your rights from being sacrificed. (T-30.VI.2)

1 – Pardon

Pardon is always justified, in the ultimate sense, because we live in an illusory world. So nothing has really happened to us when we are attacked. We are living a dream. Only the love that we feel is real in a real world. And in this world we more often, perhaps, experience undesirable things such as attack. Why, then, since the attack hurts our personal selves, our little selves, are we called upon to forgive?

2 – Forgiveness

Forgiveness helps us. When we fail to forgive, we are pointing one finger of blame at the other person or persons, but three fingers point back at us. And this is no way to live. We can forgive or pardon, therefore, because we first recognize that nothing has happened, being an illusion, but, more importantly, the person who is attacking us is actually calling for help. He or she is experiencing distress that is based on error, sometimes for things that we ourselves have done to him or her.

3 – Listen to Your Heart

Our hearts will always tell us to answer a call for help by running to the side of the person who is calling out to us. If doing so at a particular time would not be smart, we can wait, but sooner or later we will always be asked to answer that call for help. And in the answering, the forgiveness of the attack from him or her becomes easy. When we reach out to help another, we don’t hold anything against that person. We recognize his or her need, and we move to answer it.

4 – Personal Experience

“Distress based on error” is a enlightening concept. I have thought of this phrase often in the years since I began studying A Course in Miracles. Certainly when we live closely with another, there will be times when that person, as well as ourselves, will be overwrought. And being overwrought is a form of distress. The person is agitated and stressed, and when one is stressed, anger often follows as a result of the stress. Indeed, as I told mentioned previously in this blog, I never get angry unless I am stressed. Other people often have the same ego dynamic. And so we ought to recognize that what we know about ourselves may be shared by others with the same ego dynamics. Yes, it is not good to attack, but in this flawed egoic world, we may attack and we may know attack from our brothers and sisters. If we have enough love in our hearts (and all of us do), we will not hold against another what he or she cannot help at the time.

5 – Extend the Pardon

So extend the same pardon that you would want if you were distressed. There is no better way. Forgiveness is the hallmark of ACIM. And love closely follows. But never forget that the distress to which we are subjected need not be taken inward. We know enough now to know that anger and attack are never justified. We do not stuff downward our own anger and attack, but neither do we vent it. We take ourselves apart and commune with God until we are quiet once again. Then will all be well.

6 – Mari Perron

Mari Perron, the scribe of A Course of Love, believes that when we have walked further along the pathway, the pathway that ACOL points out, we are no longer living in illusion. Certainly ACIM’s “real world,” seen upon Awakening, is reality based in love and forgiveness. Thus this is not illusory. But when we are studying ACIM, many of us have not yet walked far enough toward Awakening to be catching glimpses of the real world. We may truly be caught in an egoic illusion, or maya (an Eastern concept). And at such times, we must have the will to apply forgiveness or pardon when we are attacked. The other person knows no better—yet. The time will come when he or she, and well as ourselves, will know better. And then the glorious truth of who we are will open up to us. We are Sons and Daughters of God, the Christ Self within (from ACOL). And we will, in that state, freely offer pardon to all our brothers and sisters, as well as to ourselves.

Affirmation: “Forgiveness is the natural reaction to distress that rests on error.”


Dear Father/Mother,

Sometimes I am confronted with people who seem to react irrationally. I can get myself all bent out of shape trying not to offend them. But if a person is truly neurotic, all of my thoughts are not helpful. They have gone deep into insanity, and for the moment may not be open to rationality.

I do not want to lose myself in the ego’s madness. I do not want to be troubled by things that I cannot help. It takes great learning to know when and where to help if the situation is difficult. The best that I can always do is to depend on You for guidance.

And I do so today. Thank You for the green light that will come on when it is time for me to act.


Author: Celia Hales

I intend "Miracles Each Day" to offer inspiration and insight into A Course in Miracles, A Course of Love, The Way of Mastery, Choose Only Love, Mirari, and similar readings.

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