Forward and Backward Thinking,
The Function of Forgiveness Is Your Purpose
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
Editor's note: This transcript has been lightly edited to bring
clarification to certain points of the dialogue and for easier readability.
For this reason, it does not match the corresponding audio mp3 word-for-word.
However, the overall content and the expressed ideas remain unchanged.
Speaker: Of course, phase two is unlearn the world. Stop judging the
world. Stop trying to analyze and break apart. That can seem a bit scary
when you’ve been trained and taught. Literally, you taught yourself.
We say people who are intelligent and have maturity in this world are
good judgers. They know what to avoid in the world and what to pursue.
The Course says wisdom is not judgment. True wisdom is relinquishment
of judgment. That’s a profound idea.
I was in college for ten years, and finally right before the Course
came, I just hopped off. I just got to the point where I had studied
many different disciplines. I had searched so deeply, and I had seen
so many different underlying assumptions about the world. The physicists
and the sociologists had hugely different views of the world, as did
the chemists and the psychologists; the musicians, the artists. What
I saw was that there were all these different world views, and I wondered
how we could ever have harmony with all this variation in what the world
But, the Course cuts right through all that. It literally is helping
us train our mind to get to that true perception where we give up judgment.
That’s a lot of stuff. We’re throwing it out, but particular
things are coming to your mind which is good.
Participant 1: The thing that’s coming to my mind is in the Manual
it says that into this impossible situation, teachers of God are sent
out here. We’re in the maze.
Speaker: There we go. That’s us.
Participant 2: So what’s the solution? The mind is sort of stuck
in its pattern.
Participant 3: Just hope.
Participant 2: The mind is so stuck in its pattern. I was feeling great
for a long time, and then I had two days when I just couldn’t
get my mind to think, or it seemed that way. I just couldn’t get
it out of my pit or whatever it was in, and so I tried doing the lessons
and begging for help, and it just stood there. Then what? So, how do
you handle it from there?
Participant 4: I was talking to Zoë yesterday, and then today I
was studying the Course, and the answer came to me. I had given her
the answer yesterday! I was telling her, "I had been doing all
right except I really raised hell with my ego." I even talked about
the Bible where Jesus says to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan."
I figured it said, "GET BEHIND ME, Satan!" (spoken loudly
and firmly) It didn't. It said, `Get behind me, Satan."(spoken
softly with laughter) It doesn't mean anything. I have to not judge
my ego either. That was the thing. I feel like I always judge my ego
for thinking the wrong way. That's judgment, but there's no judgment
to it. It doesn't mean anything. I read it in "The Song of Prayer."
Speaker: When you believe you’re in this separated world, once
again, the guidance of the Holy Spirit may seem at times to take a specific
form. Some of us have had inclinations (or hunches, or maybe even heard
a voice, or seen a billboard, or heard something on the radio, or had
a friend call us) that seemed to be very specific and very helpful.
Really the only thing that you need to receive that is willingness,
but a lot of times the little willingness can seem like a lot when the
mind seems to be in a stuck spot and really seems to be blocked. The
Rules For Decision is a good place to go if you’re in a stuck
spot because Jesus goes through and gives little stepping stones to
help pull the mind back from it’s stuck spot. One of the middle
ones is “At least I can decide I do not like what I feel now.”
It’s like the mind is so closed to the light and so closed to
Jesus at that point, but at least we can go, Yuck! I can at least decide
that I don’t like how I feel now, and so I actually hope I have
been wrong. I’ve made a decision in my mind, and I want to see
this differently. It leads us out to that point. So that’s one
way of doing it. There isn’t any kind of formula, but when we
talk here and we continue going into it, there will be more clarity
that will inspire you to get over those stuck spots.
Participant 1: Do you get over them, or do you just wait them out?
Participant 4: It’s up to you.
Speaker: It’s really just a now kind of proposition.
Participant 4: When you were talking about the World Trade Center and
how many stories its got, the other thing that ego does is it keeps
building higher buildings.
Speaker: Going in the other direction.
Participant 4: Yes, It’s building higher buildings, more floors.
Speaker: What I can do is share some experiences from my life. For me
it’s been a process of, so I see that my mind is filled with judgments.
So I see that my mind is full of attack thoughts. It’s like, Yuck!
When you really start to pull away from the distractions, maybe even
using entertainment or drugs or just busyness (you’ve made your
body so busy because you don’t want to look at your mind), when
you really start to pull back from it, usually the first experience
is Yuck! My mind is a mess. This is a big job. I want to go back out
to the distractions. The mind feels so attached to these attack thoughts.
That’s where the guilt comes in. It’s not attached to the
real thoughts. Those are buried over in the basement.
So really, forgiveness is what we need to talk about. What is forgiveness,
and how do we come to a clearer understanding of forgiveness? That’s
the way we come out of this thing. One way of coming at forgiveness
is through the idea of purpose because remember, we just talked about
the form/content distinction. Purpose is always in the mind, and what
happens is, when we perceive ourselves as these little tiny bodies in
this vast world, we’ve just splintered our mind into hundreds
and thousands of different functions for purposes. I’m a wife.
I’m a mother. I’m a medical technician. I’m on the
board of such and such. I’m a grandmother. I’m so many years
old. It just goes on and on. We all have these different things. Then
it goes even further. I’ve got good reasoning ability. I’m
not terrible athletically. My right arm is a little bit stiff and sore.
We see the body in different lights and different functions, and it
gets even more minute. We’ve just taken these images, and we’ve
fragmented. What’s a hand for? What’s a leg for? If you
think about different body parts, you can think about different functions.
So, we’ve splintered this idea called purpose into many, many
functions. Now the good news is that forgiveness is so simple. Jesus
says many times in the Course that this is a very simple course. If
you do not understand it, you are interpreting against it. It’s
a very, very simple course. That’s what I’ve discovered.
As I’ve studied the Course for years, the deeper I’ve really
gone into it and looked at the these false concepts in my mind, and
let go, let go, let go, it just gets simpler and simpler. It’s
crystal clear because what happens is your life merges into one purpose,
and that is the purpose of forgiveness. In the Workbook he says that
you have a function here. You are here for a reason. You might have
seen Oprah Winfrey where she says, “I think I’m here for
a reason! To bring love and to bring healing…” and literally
that’s our function. Forgiveness, healing, that is our one purpose.
That’s what’s going to lead us out of the maze. For me,
it’s been something that has grown and grown and grown. The deeper
I’ve gotten in touch with this purpose and the more it’s
been the center of my life, it’s become my joy. The more I really
hold on to this one purpose, the simpler things get and the more things
almost start to magically click in.
Probably the most complicated my life got - I think back to when I was
in college for ten years - I was in grad school, and grading papers,
and trying to do all these things; I had a relationship going, trying
to juggle ten things at once…. And I think what’s happened
since the mid eighties, for me, is that my life has just gotten very
simple, but it’s a simplicity that’s come from shifting
my mind. It’s not like I tried to change the form first and then
got a simple mind because that’s been tried for centuries. Give
away all your possessions. Do this, do this, do that, fast. Somehow,
magically, if we do certain behaviors or rituals, our minds will immediately
get clear, and we’ll be in the Kingdom of Heaven. But it doesn’t
work that way. It is almost the reverse of that. We have to look at
all of these concepts that we hold of ourselves, and we have to see
the falsity of the concept and then kind of leap out of it. The experience
for me has been that I’ve kind of withdrawn my identity from,
the idea of career and professions, for example. I started examining
that in the mid eighties as a concept, really looking at it. It was
very linear. It was very much projected into the future. The Course
is teaching me that the future is imagined and to give up your pursuits.
It was like, Wait a minute. Everybody has to have a career! This is
not a concept. This is important. I started to really look at it, examine
it and question it. Then I was able to start to just say, Ok I don’t
know where this is going but I’ll trust. That’s the key
word: Trust. I don’t know how You’re going to use me or
how this is going to work out, but I feel this purpose starting to grow
in me, and I want to follow it. That was one example.
It takes place in all areas of our lives, too. Relationship is another
one. Everyone who comes to this place forms special relationships, the
Course says. But what are special relationships? A modern, good John
Bradshaw word, codependency - that’s what a special relationship
is. It’s a good ol’ codependent relationship where you need
that other person. You want to get your needs met. A lot of the workshops
now days are still about codependent relationships. If you listen to
the words, “How to Get Your Needs Met From Your Partner,”
that’s still a codependent relationship because when the partner
up and leaves or decides they’re not going to meet those needs,
then where are you? You’re back to, What am I going to do now?
What the Course does with this new purpose, when we start to shift our
purpose and give it to the Holy Spirit, even our perceptions of relationships
start to alter and start to shift - in a big way. We probably could
go around and talk about the different ways that it happens. Sometimes
there’s a lot of upheaval because if you’ve been in a heavily
rooted pattern for a long time and then you start to pull your mind
away from it, the ego has fits.
Participant 1: It’s great work! I’ve lost myself. I have
nothing to live for. It used to be this way, and now I have nothing.
What can I do? Oh! (Said dramatically with laughter.)
Speaker: Yes, unless we have a function. That’s why I keep bringing
back forgiveness or purpose because we have to have something positive
to grab onto. As we start to lay aside these self concepts that we’ve
constructed, these little tiny false selves that we’ve made to
be so important (we’ve forgotten Spirit; we’ve made these
self concepts), as we really start to work with the Course and we start
to examine these concepts, the ego is shrieking in there. The ego is
saying, Well, you gave up that. If you keep letting go of your concepts
there will be nothing left. The ego’s version is that when you
go into the basement, you’re going into the void. The ego describes
light as nothingness. That’s why, when you start doing your inner
work, it can be so painful when you really start looking at your mind
because you start looking at these concepts and these false beliefs,
and the ego is in there advising that you better stop: Don’t go
within. Stay outside. Stay distracted.
Another thing he says is that a single, unified purpose will stabilize
your perception. As long as you have a hundred million different purposes,
you’re going to see a very wobbly discombobulated world of victims
and victimizers, and pain and pleasure - duality. But, as you start
following a single purpose, your judgments of the world will fade away
because duality literally doesn’t exist on the screen. The duality
is the split in the mind between the right mind and the wrong mind.
That’s the way that the mind dealt with the split.
If you come back to the metaphysics of it, imagine this - in the Kingdom
of Heaven the mind is whole. It’s singular. It’s one. It
has nothing but integrity and union, and once it believes in this crazy
idea of the ego, now there are two completely irreconcilable thoughts
systems: the Holy Spirit’s thought system of love and the ego’s
thought system of fear, and they’re in the same mind! This mind
is used to union! Now, there is not one single point where the Holy
Spirit’s thought system touches the ego. They’re completely
unlike each other in every way, so the mind can’t stand this.
So, what does it do? It projects it out on to the world. That’s
where the world of duality comes from. That’s why we’ve
got hot and cold, fast and slow, big and little, male and female, high
and low; it could go on forever. The world seems to be a world of duality
and extremes. Really, what it comes down to is, if you could pull it
back and see that the conflict is just within my wrong mind, that the
conflict just comes about when I’m trying to hold on to the ego’s
thought system, then there is no longer a reason to project. You can
let go of the ego. We’re getting into really theoretical stuff
here. Let’s bring it back to a concrete example because we need
to keep doing that so we can be clear.
Participant 2: I had an experience a while back where I had a grievance,
and I wouldn’t let go of it. And so I had this inner dialogue:
“Well you’ve got to let go of this.” “No.”
“Well, you always have in the past.” “No.” I
couldn’t. So, I’m doing this dialogue, and it came to me
just like that - this grievance is my identity. I’m this. I’m
not that. It was like, whoa, so it’s been really sticky for me
for a while.
Participant 4: Yes, once I start thinking that I’ve got it all
set, boy I get hit. Wonder why I’m depressed. Wonder why I’m
Speaker: That’s the key core. It’s identity. That’s
what it really comes down to. I’ve noticed all these years, every
time I’ve had an upset, if I’ve really sat down and gone
within, it’s been my identity - my identity attachment to being
an intellectual or a Cincinnati Red’s fan.
Participant 4: Or being a good parent.
Speaker: Yes, parent, brother, the family kind of thing, identity attachments
to maleness and femaleness. You could do a whole workshop on male/female
seeming struggles, the whole thing about equality. What we do is we’re
still looking for solutions out in the world of form - equal pay and
quotas, when really the solution comes from a whole different perception
of the whole world. You can see that as long as we believe there is
conflict going on out in the world, whether it’s abortion or gun
control or the male/female thing or just pick one of a zillion issues,
those are all ego distractive devices. The ego is saying, Take a side.
Take one side. Good, as soon as you’re on one side, then you can
be against the other side. Or like you were saying about identity attachments
- as soon as it’s me, this identity person, against you, that
other person, it’s important to be right. It’s important
to hold on to it. As long as I’m into that image, defending that
image of who I think I am. It’s painful. That’s where the
grievances come in.
Participant 4: Just think if we quit doing that, just think how many
talk show hosts would be out of business.
Speaker: The world would be out of business, literally.
Participant 1: There’s so many things that theoretically I can
really understand, but then at times when you think of the real application,
I sort of drift in and out. Some days as far as forgiveness and everything,
I can do that. I can understand it, but then it gets down to judgments,
and you think you can’t judge anything. It almost seems like you
can’t really live. You can’t really be alive because you
have to judge. How do you just do away with all of it? It’s not
just a decision to do away with it, is it? There has to be some way
to apply it.
Speaker: Yes, Let’s address that one part of your question - how
do you live and how do you survive? That was my thing. As I went along
and started really plunging into the Course and meditation, I had some
moments of fear. At one point, the guidance I got in line with the whole
career thing, for example, was to delete my resume. Well, my resume
was my security! My resume was my past, my image, and take it off the
word processor??? I spent ten years doing that - all the workshops,
all the grade point averages! But I could tell, at that point in my
life, that it was one of those trust issues, too. I had to trust that
there was something greater than me that was going to run the show,
that would literally be able to judge through me and be able to tell
me where to go, who to see, and literally more and more be able to speak
through me. I had to trust that there was something else because otherwise,
that’s my security. If we give up our judgments... We believe
that our good judgment is what keeps us going in this world. That’s
why we go for more education. That’s why we keep going for retraining.
That’s why we constantly watch the news. We think, Keep up with
this. Got to move my house. Have to move to a better neighborhood because
the crime is starting to get worse over here. Oh, gambling on the river
now. Let’s move out here. Our judgment is always trying to say
that we should change something on the screen to make it safer. The
Holy Spirit is saying, Trust me. I’ll guide you. You’re
in a maze, but every time you come to a place where you have to turn
left or right I’ll be there. I’ll tell you go left here,
go right, and go left” Literally, that’s how I feel in my
life; I’ve gotten specific kinds of guidance. When I’ve
let go of all my investment in how it should go, something really clear
has come through. The only way that we can really go and follow the
Course is to trust that that’s there.
The Holy Spirit is evaluative. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit does
judge for us while we believe we’re here in the world. While we
believe we’re here in the world, there are definitely decisions
to be made and usually lots of them. He’s not saying to go blank.
He’s saying, Hold on to my purpose. Remember that your function
is forgiveness. Try to, in every encounter, try to hold onto that. For
example, the reason I am here at the laundry mat is for forgiveness.
The clothes will get washed, but holy encounters/forgiveness is my purpose.
The reason I’m here at the restaurant, here comes the waitress,
is for forgiveness, to really look the waitress in the eye and to really
connect. Yes, food will be eaten. Waitresses will get tips, and we’ll
Even when I go to my job, it doesn’t matter what you’re
job is. What’s my purpose? Am I a data processor? Forgiveness.
My function is forgiveness. And you can tell that there is a conflict
that goes on in the mind because the next thing the ego usually comes
up with is, Well, I work at such and such a job. I’m different
than most people. I’ve got a job where I’m a manager. I
have to judge people. The Holy Spirit takes us right where we are. He
doesn’t make us sit under the eucalyptus tree for enlightenment.
This is a very practical course, and wherever you seem to be, whatever
your job situation, whatever your relationship situation, if you just
make a commitment, make a determination that I’m going to turn
my life over to You. I’m going to hold onto this purpose of forgiveness,
hold on to this purpose of healing, that will have immediate changes.
I noticed when I first started doing it in a grocery store that I had
a whole agenda of how time was a big factor, price, all these things
that you see. You’ve got a whole little script - grocery store
scenario, and Jesus is saying, Just hold it off there to the side, that’s
right, forgiveness. It’s really simple. It doesn’t seem
that way at times because when you’re starting off, you have all
these functions. You’ve split your whole life into all these functions.
But, if you’ll just practice holding that one function, it will
start to grow and gain momentum. The more it happens, it’s an
adventure of a lifetime. I’ll guarantee it, if you start to follow
Participant 1: Theoretically, again, I can follow all that, but then
how do you apply it? I mean I can see how you can apply it if you’re
in a grocery store, and you’re standing in a long line. You begin
to be impatient, and you forgive it. But how do you apply forgiveness
as far as the fact that you have to know prices, and you have to choose
between prices, and the time factor. How specifically does forgiveness
come into play in that every day situation where you’re not actually
confronting someone that you’re projecting on? These are items
or these are just situations. Do you know what I mean?
Speaker: Yes, if you run it down into the mind, suppose you’re
a really good bargain hunter, and you can price. Let’s use this
specific example. If you really get down to what’s behind that,
if you really follow that way down into the mind, it is the scarcity
principle. What’s the big deal about pricing if you believe you’re
the holy Christ, you’re abundant, and you have everything? Pricing
kind of fades away as important. You can see how the belief in scarcity
is way down in your mind. That has to be looked at.
Green paper strips went, and green paper strips came. That’s what
Jesus calls money in the Course. It’s pretty casual, but it seems
big time down here. He calls it green paper strips and little metal
discs. But you can see how when you really get into the flow of it,
you just hold on to forgiveness. What’s my function? What’s
my purpose? That helps the pieces of the puzzle to just come together.
That’s what makes it flow. There’s another part in the Workbook
where Jesus says, Your “happiness and your function are one.”
By holding onto the Holy Spirit’s purpose and remembering your
function, you will be indescribably happy.
Now that’s not what the ego believes. The ego believes that if
I get this better relationship, if I get this better job, if I get to
live in a better place, if I get my body built up better, if my cholesterol
level goes down, one of zillions of things, then I’ll be happy.
And the Course makes it so simple. It just says that you’re happiness
comes from fulfilling your function. That makes it simple. The ego will
once again say that you don’t want to do God’s Will because
the ego tells us that God’s Will is pain and suffering. It believes
that God is a vengeful God, so it teaches that if I do God’s Will
I’m going to have to sacrifice things. I’m really going
to have to sacrifice. But, really it’s the flip side. It makes
sense that if the Holy Spirit is going to use all the skills and everything
we have in this world, that he would just retranslate our perceptions
and just use our skills and abilities in a way that would be most helpful.
It’s not a matter of, Well, I learned how to drive a car. Now
I’m going to have to unlearn how to drive a car. I’m going
to have to unlearn how to grocery shop. It’s not that He’s
going to take away the skills of the world. He’s saying, Give
them to me. If you have speaking ability, writing ability, or artistic
ability, whatever the abilities may be, if you just shift purposes and
give them to the Holy Spirit that will make you indescribably happy.
Now, to me that makes sense.
Continue to Part 3