What Lies Beyond Forgiveness?

We appear to live in an unforgiving world. There are several reasons for this. Many do not understand what forgiveness really is. They falsely believe it is about the other person or that if they offer clemency, they put themselves at risk.

Others don’t know the benefits of true forgiveness. Still, others forgive some things but get stuck when it comes to offering mercy to certain people or circumstances.

In Chapter 2 of The Power of Forgiveness, I discuss in detail the psychological and physiological benefits of forgiveness. Here I would like to highlight some of the spiritual implications of practicing this most powerful act of compassion.

Before we discuss the experience of living on the other side of forgiveness, consider if you have genuinely forgiven. Until we get to that place of choosing our common humanity over judgment, this new world cannot emerge.

Here are a few questions to help you decide if you have true forgiveness in your heart.

When you think of most painful moments in your past, do you consistently have compassion for the people involved and emotional neutrality around the events? Can you speak about the things that have happened with ease? Do you see the rhythm and purpose in those moments?

When you think about society today—about politics in America and around the world—do you experience fear or do you watch with wonder and curiosity knowing everything that happens has its function in the world as it is today?

About what are you surest? Why are you so certain? Does that certainty come at a cost? A payoff? Perhaps you feel superior to or more enlightened than those who lack the understanding you believe you possess.

Forgiveness demands we drop our certainty about the world and why things happen. It asks us to stand in the void of not knowing and find our bearings. To stand on the edge of oblivion where knowing serves no purpose and contribute to the world with an open heart and mind.

In the prelude to A Course of Love it says:

While forgiveness and the release of guilt are necessary, and while recognition of gifts and what leads to joy cannot be done without, they are the point only to the extent of making one ready for a new choice. Prolonged interest in the self can be… damaging. Rather than leading to knowledge of God, prolonged interest in self can further entrench the ego.

This passage is compelling for two reasons. It says there is a new choice to be made beyond forgiveness. “Forgiveness is the point only to the extent of making one ready for a new choice.

This implies first that getting beyond forgiveness is possible and, unlike the current interpretation of some teachings that seem to suggest that forgiveness is the point – so why rush, right? – that forgiveness leads to something greater. It leads to a new possibility beyond the limited view of our perpetual need for healing.

Secondly, the passage posits that to not fully forgive is actually damaging. It isn’t status quo. When we resist absolute forgiveness, which is the realization there is nothing to forgive, we entrench our perceived separation from God. And, as we know, it is the illusion of separation that is the source of all suffering. By not forgiving we are choosing to suffer, and we are choosing to sacrifice the greater gifts that live on the other side of forgiveness.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a correction. It is seeing the same events and the people in our lives differently. Forgiveness is about seeing the world as it is, without judgment. That doesn’t mean we don’t take action. It means we act from love.

Only your heart can lead you to the forgiveness that must overcome judgment. A forgiven world is a world whose foundation has changed from fear to love. Only from this world can your special function be fulfilled and bring the light to those who still live in darkness. – A Course of Love

A Forgiven World

With the hard work of true forgiveness done, what is next? What are we asked to do in this human expression to facilitate the continued evolution of our collective consciousness? Let’s explore three specific paradigm shifts that take place when we have forgiven all we perceive other than it should be.

The Nature of Relationship

All that is real lives in the space between form. What purpose does the pencil hold in the absence of something to write on? Or, the love of God without us to receive? It becomes clear as we relinquish our false beliefs about ourselves as other than we should be that the form we perceive serves no purpose in the absence of relationship.

We are asked to be in relationship with others (and the world) differently. Until now, we have engaged in relationship based on use. We exchange what we have to offer for what we perceive we need…love, security, sustenance, and so on. We care for the planet so that we can continue to live safely. We engage in spiritual community to receive spiritual food. We meditate to feel better. These actions are not bad or wrong. They are use based. We are giving what we believe we should to gain what we want. This does not mean we don’t do these things. Instead, we do them for no reason. Imagine going for a walk in the forest without thinking about how much exercise you’re getting or what insights you might gain from the universe. Imagine simply walking to walk. Suddenly, we are simply there, present and fully available to give and receive. We interact naturally, without effort, based on honoring the soul of that which we engage. The “exchange” simply happens.

The End of Time as We Know it

As articulated in A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love, the perception of time serves (as does the body) as a tool for learning and unlearning. Living in an effortless state of forgiveness changes our experience of time. As our energetic attachment to the past fades so does our clinging to the future. With this, the present moment emerges as the only relevant state.

Expansion Beyond the Self

Firmly grounded in knowing that we are exactly as we should be in this moment and that we have our experiences to thank for who we are, we have the opportunity to embody selflessness in a manner not previously understood. Imagine a life that is about more than yourself. About more than simply healing the past. What does that look like? For most, this question is like asking us to imagine the texture of the moon. We have little more than abstract notions to use as a frame of reference. As the passage from A Course of Love highlights, life becomes not about the self—the self humbly fades into the background and works as a vehicle for the expansion of love in the universe. We become free to be a pure instrument of peace by being of service to others in the truest sense of the word.

From The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer:

The inner breakthrough to complete freedom is traditionally depicted by the overused or generally misunderstood term “enlightenment.” The problem is that our views of enlightenment are either based upon our personal experiences or upon our limited conceptual understanding. Since most people have never had experiences in this realm, the state of enlightenment is either scoffed at completely or viewed as the ultimate mystical state accessible to almost no one.…

 With the understanding that thoughts, emotions, and sensory objects are simply passing before your consciousness, it becomes reasonable to question whether your sense of awareness need be limited to this experience. What if consciousness were to remove its focus from your personal set of thoughts, your personal set of emotions, and your limited sensory input? Would you become untethered from the bonds of the personal self and be set free to explore beyond?

What the author is describing—the untethered or unburdened soul—is what a forgiven world looks like.

These revolutionary truths about what lies beyond forgiveness—beyond the perpetual need to heal the past—are just the tip of the iceberg. It is time to move forward on our journey of understanding of spiritual truths and recognize that until we heed the calls of every great spiritual luminary to forgive we cannot change the world. It is time to embrace a new consciousness that allows for expansion beyond the self. This new paradigm can only be accessed by the mastery of forgiveness.