According to the book “Course in Miracles,” forgiveness is the key to inner peace. In fact, the book calls forgiveness a “miracle.” And it’s a miracle because it changes our perception of the world and gives us peace. It’s as simple as that.
But the book explains forgiveness in a different way than usual. It says:
“You forgive others for what they haven’t done.”
It says that if you believe that someone has done something wrong, you are not really forgiving that person. You’re being condescending, and you cannot forgive when you think you’re right and the other person is wrong.
When I first read that idea, it really sounded attractive and powerful. I could see how believing that the other hasn’t done anything wrong could give both of us real peace. It sounded attractive, but applying it to my daily life is challenging.
It’s hard to give up the feeling of superiority that comes attached to the idea that I’m right. Or, it’s hard to grapple with the idea that I’m wrong. Every time a conflict with someone arises, I feel the internal battle (that I externalize) in which I fiercely fight for my righteousness.
What helps me in these cases—when my blood is boiling and my brain is spinning and I’m trying to present all kinds of arguments to defeat my enemy—is to remember that I’m not seeing reality. I’m just seeing my personal story, the story I made up in my head, and the other person is seeing his personal story too.
In my story, I’m right and the other person is wrong. But that’s just my story. It’s not reality.
When I’m able to see that, that I’m just living my own story, I can see that in reality there’s no one who is right and no one who is wrong. All is fiction. My fiction.
It is only then that I understand the meaning of “forgive others for what they haven’t done.”
And I’m able to be at peace.