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.


Bring Love to Every Circumstance

monet - bridge“Remain who you are and continue to live by the laws of love in every circumstance, and you bring love to every circumstance. Be neither dismayed nor discouraged by those who do not see and have no willingness to offer. Just know these aren’t the ones given you to bring to love and trust that none will remain forever lost to his or her own Self. (Treatises of A Course of Love: Treatise on the Personal Self, 20.17)”

Affirmation: “I ask to reflect only love today.”


1 – Poor Example

We make a poor example of our faith, and we reflect poorly on A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love, when we do not live in love. It is easy to let anger take over when someone baits us, or when we are threatened, or when we are simply stressed and have had all that we think we can take. But the answer is not to live this neurotic mess. The answer is to turn to the best that we know, which is love.

2 – Timeout

Take a timeout! That is the best advice. If we can’t escape the temptation, then get quiet. Just don’t say anything, unless that will antagonize your significant others even more. Usually we can turn aside a negative comment by a positive one of our own. If we don’t let the pain-body (as Eckhart Tolle describes in A New Earth) take over. The pain-body is our almost out-of-touch reactions to negativity, a need that the ego has to sound off from time to time. And we are very out of control when the ego is in charge.

3 – Be Present

How do we refrain from letting the pain that is within find an outlet? We can get very present, very poised. And don’t react at all to what someone else is saying. Try not to react, even, to what you are thinking. Just look within, to the inner Self, though we may not have actualized that Self in the way that Jesus hopes we will eventually. He hopes for us to arrive at Christ-consciousness, and we can ask for a glimpse of that bright moment when things are going awry for us.

4 – Live in Love

We need to live in love, for ourselves as well as others. We need to recognize that the good that we do lives on in other people. One quiet thought, expressed, will have waves of influence on other people, to say nothing of ourselves. We live in love when we express the best that is in our nature. And we know that even before the blessing of Awakening, or Christ-consciousness, has descended upon us.


Dear Father/Mother,

I would live in love today, regardless of whether or not there is any baiting going on around me. I do not have to retaliate; I can stay quiet, I can pray, and I can answer softly. I know that I always feel worse later if I reply angrily to any supposed attack. The attack can always be reframed as distress based on error, and, knowing this, I can forgive.

May today go smoothly for all of my brothers and sisters. They are filled with pain, sometimes, that I cannot comprehend. Knowing that, I can do no better than to offer solace—but reinforcement. Help me to walk the fine line between solace and reinforcement.

Thank You for help. You have never failed me. The times that I have had to wait for an answer have been few and far between. Thank You for the swiftness of Your responses.