It is a perception
that is, in fact, already present in our minds. It is
the way we naturally see things when we are in our right
minds, when we are aware of and experiencing our connection
with love, with God.
In true forgiveness
we do not try to force ourselves to feel loving and
open-hearted toward someone whom we inwardly continue
to fear or resent.
occurred when we literally see the person and see what
happened differently—when we see in such a way
that our natural feeling response is one of peace, connection,
and love, for one whom we recognize as our brother or
sister, a beloved child of our Father.
Emotions Are Not a Sin
The Course makes
clear that feelings of anger, depression, hatefulness,
and fear are the inevitable consequence of accepting
the belief in separation, of buying the ego's bill of
goods and choosing the ego in place of God. Because
everyone in this world has done that, those feelings
are a part of everyone's life experience and journey
It is so easy
for students of the Course to fall into the trap of
thinking that choosing for the ego is a sin. If this
were so, it would follow that feeling negative emotions
would also be a sin—which would mean we should
feel guilty about feeling angry, hateful, depressed,
This in turn would
lead to being afraid of these feelings and would reinforce
our need to defend against them through suppression,
denial, or projection. Employing these defenses serves
only to delay the process of correcting the faulty perceptions
and beliefs in our minds that gave rise to these emotions
in the first place.
It cannot be stated
to emphatically or too often that this is not what the
Course teaches. In fact, this very way of thinking is
the basic mistake the Course seeks to help us correct.
We need to remember
that only the ego would condemn our choosing to side
with the ego—because only the ego condemns anything.
The Holy Spirit
does not condemn. The Holy Spirit sees our choice of
the ego's way of seeing as a mistake, not a sin—and
sees all mistakes as calls for love.
We need not feel
guilty about our feelings of anger, fear, depression,
We do need to
be willing to see them as our own call for love—as
a sign that we have temporarily lost sight of our connection
with God, temporarily forgotten the perfect love within
us that is our true nature and the perfect peace that
is our inheritance.
Question of Expression
A question that
often arises with respect to "negative" emotions
is whether or not we should express our upset feelings
to the person they seem to be directed toward. There
are widely varying theories and opinions, both in psychology
and folk wisdom, concerning the value of expressing
What would be
the perspective of the Course?
The Course asks
us to think of everything in this world of form as neutral.
The only question
it makes sense to ask of anything in the world, the
Course teaches, is
it for, what is its purpose?"
The meaning or
value of anything depends entirely on the purpose we
choose for it, on whether we give it over to the ego
or to the Holy Spirit to use.
Whatever is placed
in the hands of the ego will further reinforce our experience
of separation, guilt, and fear.
Whatever is given
over to the Holy Spirit will serve healing.
Behavior is a
part of the world of form, and expressing emotion is
It can serve either
the purpose of attack, the ego's basic purpose, or the
purpose of communication, the Holy Spirit's sole rule
about whether or not we should express our emotions
in a given situation, because it is not the behavior
itself, but the purpose of the behavior that matters.
We all know from
experience that sometimes the expression of painful
emotions serves only to reinforce and strengthen those
emotions in us.
Other times expressing
our emotions is a helpful and essential step in letting
Our job is not
to decide on our own what is right to do. Our job is
merely to decide between serving the ego and serving
the Holy Spirit.
Looking for rules
for behavior,such as it is always good to express our
upset to the person involved, or it is never helpful
to express our anger directly, is most often an ego
device to prevent us from turning to the Holy Spirit
to guide us situation by situation.
If we think we
already know what to do, we will not bother to ask for
When we are upset,
we certainly need to be truthful with ourselves about
what we are feeling.
We need to recognize
that we are upset because we have already sided with
our ego and that we need to join with the Holy Spirit
if we want to regain inner peace.
We need to bring
our feelings and thoughts to the Holy Spirit, to be
willing to look at them with neither judgment nor justification.
We need to ask for healing and help, for a miracle,
for another way to see.
And then we do
whatever seems right to do, trusting that the Holy Spirit
will direct us toward healing of all concerned and trusting
that if we do make a wrong choice of action the Holy
Spirit will help us recognize our mistake and correct.
All healing, the
Course teaches, is release from fear and guilt.
People who have
been afraid of their feelings may well need to learn
that they can get angry or upset and that God will not
abandon or punish them.
Getting in touch
with negative feelings and expressing them can be a
necessary and important step in our healing process—not
for its own sake, not to glorify or increase our investment
in these feelings, but because it is essential to learn
that our ego thoughts and emotions do not destroy God's
love for and in us.
They simply block
God's love and peace from our awareness at a given moment
because we cannot hold two opposing perceptions simultaneously.
But the loving,
healing perception of the Holy Spirit remains available
to us as an alternative—always.
And the joy and
peace of God remains but a choice away.
In a practical
sense, there may be lots of times on our healing journey,
in the course of a day, when we are able to work with
this approach to our upsets and fairly easily make a
Yet there are
also experiences and challenges that seem much greater,
that strike closer to the core of our ego identifications
and attachments, where the prospect of changing our
minds and letting go of the painful perceptions seems
much more difficult.
In these situations
our subjective experience is often like peeling an onion.
We release one layer of pain or anger or grief only
to find another waiting below.
We have, in fact,
developed layer upon layer of defenses to keep the core
of the ego thought system intact. And our healing experience,
even in a given situation, may seem to move through
thing from the standpoint of the Course is simply to
remember that the basic principles of healing remain
the same, whether the situation is tiny slight or a
profound loss at the level of the world.
The Course teaches
that fear brought to love will always yield to love.
All of our painful
emotions are expressions of fear, whatever outer form
they seem to take.
And only love
can heal them by correction them at their source.
Little by little
we bring our pain to the Comforter given us, and little
by little we let His unconditional acceptance and love—rather
than our own efforts at manipulation and control—work
the healing in us. Weeping may endure for the ego's
night, but joy comes with God's dawning.