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.”

Prayer:

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.

Amen.

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Distress that Rests on Error

“If pardon were unjustified, you would be asked to sacrifice your rights 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. (T638)”

Affirmation:  “I forgive distress that rests on error.”

Reflections:

1 – Distress and Error

The most memorable part of this passage is the phrase, “distress that rests on error.”  If this phrase is remembered, we will have a ready remark to call to mind if arguments happen in our environment.  We will then be more willing to take a timeout, and to begin the process of forgiving the lamentable encounter.

2 – Memorize the Quotation

I have memorized this brief quotation, to remember when I am being tested by something in my current environment.  It gives so precisely the reason that forgiveness will come easily:  the distress [that I see in another] . . .rests on error.  Or it might even be my own distress (though I personally use it in contact with a significant other).  We know that forgiveness has a solid foundation when we know that our loved ones are just making mistakes.  And, of course, so are we.  We do not feel that they have “sinned,” and that this sin does not deserve forgiveness.  Actually, if we entertain such a thought we are also saying that we too are sinning, and that we too do not deserve forgiveness.  This flies in the face of A Course in Miracles, A Course of Love, and the Bible–not to mention virtually all spiritual literature from any religious tradition.

3 – Is Pardon Always Justified?

This passage notes that pardon is fully justified.  This, regardless of how many times we reread the Course, may still be a sticking point.  Yet the bottom line is the dream, the “maya.”  Our brother has merely made errors, mistakes, and he, like us, deserves forgiveness for the poorest choices.  He has not “sinned” in eternity, and there is no time (ACIM tenets).

4 – Forgiveness (Pardon)

“Forgiveness is the only sane response.”  Of course!  We need the sanity of the Course, because our brother’s poorest choices have come out of insanity.  No one will find insanity hard to forgive, though we might wish in vain that it had never harmed us.  And actually, we are not harmed, regardless of what has happened in our lives.  The real Self remains pristine (paraphrased from A Course of Love).

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would not take offense at anything today.  I would, in a secular way, “consider the source,” and understand that there is some reason for my friend’s objectionable behavior.  Then I would forgive–as You would have us do, knowing that actually all are innocent, all are doing the best that they can, and so there is nothing to forgive in reality.

I would remember that what I see is my dream, my illusion, my maya.  I would not attempt to be a part of someone’s else dream, for I know that this is faulty thinking.  Help me to turn to You today if something happens that I immediately resent.  Resentment only hurts myself, and perhaps the other, if I act out my frustration.  Be with all my loved ones, and be with those whom I reach in this blog.  All of us need to know that You are there for us, all the time.  Thank You for Your felt presence.

Amen.

Peace = Forgiveness

“You who want peace can find it only by complete forgiveness.  (T13)”

 Affirmation:  “complete forgiveness”

Reflections

1 – Complete Forgiveness

This is a solemn statement, even a warning.  We do find forgiveness too hard to offer in this ego-centered world!

2 – Deserve Forgiveness?

Perhaps we don’t know how to forgive.  We may believe that the word or deed that someone did to us does not deserve forgiveness.  Certainly a belief like this is a bitter problem for us when we try to come to understand forgiveness.  We are actually denying ourselves forgiveness, of ourselves, and from others.  Forgiveness is always deserved.  The individual who perpetuated the word or deed against us has said to himself or herself that he/she was justified in what he/she did.  We all justify our ways of treating others.  Even the worst individual in our world would see himself/herself as a victim, free of blame.  We have seen this in some world figures.  Would there be any less among those of us who are unknown in the world?

3 – Peace

Complete forgiveness will offer peace.  Forgiveness is not hard to give when we realize that the bad effects have not really happened at all in reality.  And the perpetrator acted only in madness, in insanity, out of a mind controlled by ego.  These two truths, taken together, will lead us easily to pardon our brother.

4 – We Receive Peace

And we receive peace for this!  Can anyone choose another way when so much is held out to us?

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

When we are tempted today to hold something against our brother, help us to see, once again, that only in complete forgiveness is our salvation found.

May our brother know that we have forgiven him (or her).

Amen.

Distress Rests on Error

“If pardon were unjustified, you would be asked to sacrifice your rights 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. (T638)”

Affirmation:  “Distress rests on error.”

Reflections:

1 – Distress Rests on Error

The most memorable part of this passage is the phrase, “distress that rests on error.”  If this phrase is remembered, we will have a ready remark to call to mind if arguments happen in our environment.  We will then be more willing to take a timeout, and to begin the process of forgiving the lamentable encounter.

2 – Pardon Is Fully Justified

This passage notes that pardon is fully justified.  This, regardless of how many times we reread the Course, may still be a sticking point.  Yet the bottom line is the dream, the “maya.”  Our brother has merely made errors, mistakes, and he, like us, deserves forgiveness for the poorest choices.  We are said to have “sinned” in time, but we live in eternity, where we are innocent (ACIM tenets).  If this is not fully comprehended, it is our failure yet to adopt for ourselves the most basic of the tenets of A Course in Miracles.

3 – Forgive Insanity

“Forgiveness is the only sane response.”  Of course!  We need the sanity of the Course, because our brother’s poorest choices have come out of insanity.  No one will find insanity hard to forgive.

Prayer:

Dear Father/Mother,

I would rest in the thought that much that I observe that is negative is because my brother and sister are in distress.  And not only in distress, but actually living in an illusory world that is lost in insanity.  We who desire to share salvation need only to recognize that we and they are in pain.  A person who is insane is said to have diminished responsibility, and this characterization is true for the vast majority of our brothers and sisters in this world.  Nobody has to be locked up to be insane, in the interpretation of ACIM.

Be with me when I see insanity and fail to recognize the distress that prompted the poor behavior.  And may I forgive myself for my poor behavior over my lifetime.  May we all forgive not only our brothers and sisters, but also ourselves.

You have not condemned me when in eternity I have made mistakes.  Help me not to condemn myself.  May I just pick myself up and try to be a little kinder the next day.

Amen.