Goodbye To Guilt

I believe the most important issue that all of us face in our lives is healing relationships. The purpose of this book is to show how relationships can be healed through forgiveness by saying good-bye to guilt and letting go of the fear and blame that keep us separate from each other.

Very simply, guilt can be defined as the feeling of self-condemnation that we experience after we do something we think is wrong.

And fear can be thought of as our feelings of anxiety or agitation when we perceive danger—in any form. In the context of this book, guilt and fear are closely related and frequently synonymous. Forgiveness means letting go of the past. Unless we forgive others for what we think they have done to us, we will be unable to forgive ourselves and experience peace of mind.

For most of my life, without fully recognizing it, I've had expectations that I wanted other people to fulfill. I wanted them to fit into a mold of my making. In a sense, I was saying that the world would be a wonderful place if everyone would just do things my way. If they did things my way, they became my friends, and if they did not measure up to my expectations, I no longer wished to have them around. The way I looked at things, it was always the other person who had to change if our relationship was to be healed—never me. Indeed, it has been quite astonishing for me to learn that it is only my mind that needs healing, and that to heal a relationship, all I have to do is release my guilt and fear from the past through forgiveness.

As I began to look at the unhealed relationships in my life and to explore why they did not work, the word seeker came to mind. I believe that most of us can be described as seekers. In my late fifties, as I look back, I realize that my life has been one of intense seeking without knowing what it was I was looking for. At times I sought after such things as

  • health,
  • self-esteem,
  • money,
  • material possessions,
  • prestige,
  • social status,
  • professional recognition,
  • security for the future, and
  • friends I could trust and love.

Despite my success in pursuing most of these, I never experienced the happiness they were supposed to bring. It never occurred to me that I had the wrong goal, and that by searching for happiness outside myself, I was looking in the wrong place. I had absolutely no conscious awareness that I was suffering from a self-imposed state of spiritual deprivation, that I was starving myself and suffering from spiritual hunger and thirst. (I recognize now that the condition of spiritual deprivation is not unique to me, and that everyone seeks for something constant and everlasting that can be found within.) Little did I realize that the love, joy, and peace of mind that I was looking for outside myself were already bountiful within me. They were simply blocked from my awareness by fear. It never occurred to me that I had become afraid of love. Rather, I had convinced myself that I was unworthy of love, unlovable, and destined to be alone and separate.

I began to change my way of looking at the world in l975. Until then I had considered myself a militant atheist, and the last thing I was consciously interested in was being on a spiritual pathway that would lead to God. In that year I was introduced to a set of three books, a self-taught course in spiritual transformation, titled A Course in Miracles. My resistance was immediate. I did not like the title, and I found the size and weight (three pounds) of the books both discouraging and threatening. Nevertheless, after reading just one page, I had a sudden and dramatic experience.

There was an instantaneous memory of God, a feeling of oneness with everyone in the world, and the belief that my only function on earth was to serve God. Because of my Jewish background, however, I found that as I got into the course, I developed a great deal of resistance to its Christian terminology. Since I had been an atheist for most of my life, the word God was troublesome to me. I protected myself from the fear and anxiety caused by the spiritual terminology by translating it in my own mind to higher state of consciousness.It has been an exciting experience for me at long last to begin to say good-bye to guilt and fear by learning how to apply the principles in A Course in Miracles in very practical ways in every part of my life.

One of its basic tenets is that we can experience only two emotions: love, which is our natural inheritance, and fear-guilt, which the ego mind has invented. ( In the course, as well as in this book, fear and guilt are regarded as negative twins that feed upon each other. Although both words are used throughout the book, the relationship between guilt and fear is symbiotic: one cannot exist without the other. Guilt reinforces fear, as fear reinforces guilt, in a seemingly endless cycle.) It is the goal of the course, and also of this book, to help us choose which emotion we want to experience. Rather than perceiving people as attacking us, we are encouraged to experience love by choosing to see others as loving, or calling for help or love.

The three key concepts of this book, and of the course that it is based on, are that relationships can be healed:

  • when we let of guilt and fear through forgiveness,
  • when we have peace of mind as our only goal, and
  • when we learn to listen to our inner voice as a guide for directions and decision-making.

Since becoming a traveler on the spiritual pathway in 1975, I am frequently asked to contrast myself now with the person I was then. It is not easy for me to do this without reinforcing the distortions of my ego. However, I would say that although I still get angry, depressed, and have feelings of futility and hopelessness, I do not hang on to these feelings for the interminable periods of times that I used to.

I now seem to be able to take responsibility more frequently for what I see and experience, and I no longer see value in suffering and pain. The greatest obstacle that I have, and that I suspect most people have when they become more spiritually alive, is that I have a personality-self, an ego, which wants to control, predict, and be in charge. It is an ego that doesn't want to relinquish itself, and that sees peace of God as its enemy and conflict as its friend. Yet I find, more and more, that I am content with just being, rather than interpreting the behavior of myself and others. More and more, the purpose of joining with everyone I meet has become my goal. More and more, I see the importance of being still, of giving all my needs to the voice of love within me, and experiencing the peace and love of God. I am now more willing to choose peace rather than conflict.

A Course in Miracles

A Course in Miracles is a self-study program for personal and spiritual transformation that emphasizes the necessity of relying on our own internal teacher for guidance rather than looking for teachers outside ourselves. It consists of a text, which sets forth the concepts on which its thought system is based; a workbook for students containing 365 lessons, designed for practical application of the course's principles to daily life; and a manual for teachers written in questions and answer form to clarify terms and issues related to the course. 

The goal of the Course is to lead us from the world of the ego to the world of love.

Once we are caught in the world of the ego, which is the world of perception, it is as though we are imprisoned in a dream. We need help to awaken from this dream since what our senses reveal to us merely reinforces our belief in the reality of the dream. The course stresses that as long as we identify with our ego and believe we are limited by the boundaries of what we perceive in the physical world, we cannot experience our true reality.Until we challenge the reality of our ego, we will continue to go through life more concerned with getting than giving, feeling guilty, separate, and afraid. We will make condemning judgments, blaming ourselves and others. With the ego as our guide, guilt and fear will rule our lives; conflict will never totally disappear, and we can anticipate that our reality will be destroyed by sickness and death.

If we are willing to detach from our ego, it is then possible to correct our perceptions. The world of corrected perception is the world of love. It is a world that is seen through the filter of spiritual vision, the vision of love, rather than through the distortions of our ego. Like a cloud obscuring the sun, the guilt and fear that we carry within us block our ability to experience the presence of love, which has never left us. We are all miracles of love, but we are blind to that truth. A miracle can be thought of as a shift of perception that removes the fear and guilt that block our awareness of love's presence, which is our reality.

I would like to share with you some quotations from the course that are the underlying themes—heartbeats—of the philosophy expressed in this book.

When you feel guilty your ego is in command, because only the ego can experience guilt.

Only your mind can produce fear.

I can be hurt by nothing but my thoughts.

Love holds no grievances.

I will not be afraid of love today.

Love and guilt cannot coexist, and to accept one is to deny the other.

To love yourself is to heal yourself.

All healing is release from the past.

Only my own condemnation injures me. Only my own forgiveness sets me free.

Forgiveness ends the dream of conflict here.

The Effects of Guilt

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a close friend that replayed for me some unpleasant moments of guilt from my past. For the next twenty-four hours, I was so overwhelmed and paralyzed by these guilty memories that I felt as though I were under the influence of drugs. The effects of guilt are, indeed, like taking too many sleeping pills or painkillers, or having too much alchohol or sun. I felt as though my brain and body were immobilized, and I was locked in a vise or confined in a prison cell with no hope of escape.

Holding on to guilt is guaranteed to:

  • make us feel under attack;
  • justify our feelings of anger toward ourself or someone else;
  • destroy our self-esteem and confidence;
    make us feel depressed, hollow, and empty;
  • destroy our sense of peace;
  • make us feel unloved.

It is not an exaggeration to see guilt as a self-made poison, which we administer to ourselves frequently. It is the most effective tool the ego has for insuring that we will remain hopelessly bound to our past and therefore not recognize each opportunity the present offers us for our release. There is only one known antidote for guilt: complete forgiveness, starting with ourself and extending to everyone who shares the world with us.

 

 

Goodbye To Guilt by Jerry Jampolsky, M.D. As I look back, I realize that my life has been one of intense seeking without knowing what it was I was looking for. At times I sought after such things as health, self-esteem, money, material possessions, prestige, social status, professional recognition, security for the future, and friends I could trust and love. Despite my success in pursuing most of these, I never experienced the happiness they were supposed to bring. It never occurred to me that I had the wrong goal, and that by searching for happiness outside myself, I was looking in the wrong place. Little did I realize that the love, joy, and peace of mind that I was looking for outside myself were already bountiful within me. I had absolutely no conscious awareness that I was suffering from a self-imposed state of spiritual deprivation, that I was starving myself and suffering from spiritual hunger and thirst. I began to change my way of looking at the world in l975.

 
Related Excerpts:

EGO'S THOGHT SYSTEM

ACIM'S UNIVERSAL CURRICULUM

RETURN TO LOVE

ENLIGHTENMENT
ARISING NEW CONSCIOUSNESS
SPIRITUALITY VS REALITION

AWAKENING

SEARCH FOR WISDOM

 

 

 

   

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