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 Forward and Backward Thinking, Part 3
Taking a Closer Look at Forgiveness and Healing

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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.

Participant 5: For each of us, our main purpose is to forgive.

Speaker: It’s our only purpose.

Participant 5: Can you expound on that word because I think there’s a whole lot more to it than that?

Speaker: Well, forgiveness, when you first work with the Course, you notice in the Workbook that Jesus has lessons where he says, Picture someone you have a grievance against. You probably have thought of them already. Surround him in light, and then transfer the light to one whom you call a friend. (Lesson 121) So, he’s actually got guided visualization exercises that are helpful, right in the Course. I would call those more introductory. I think that if you really get into the Course, you start to say What is forgiveness, really? Then you start to see other things; for instance, he’ll say, You forgive your brother for what he has not done to you. Not for what he has. That’s not the way the ego sees it. The ego sees it as, I’ve got it right here, black and white. He frowned at me first. He screamed at me. He called me names, and he walked out. There’s the memory; there’s the visual memory. That’s a sin and it’s true, the ego says. Face it. It’s true. He did. He did it. There’s no denying it. You saw it with your own two eyes. Basically the ego’s forgiveness is to forgive what’s true. Here’s this perception of what somebody did to us, and the ego says, Because I’m a good Course student and because I’m elevated in spirituality, out of the kindness of my heart, even though you don’t deserve it, I’m going to forgive you. Jesus says, Get off it! That’s not forgiveness at all. That’s the ego’s version of forgiveness. Forgive your brother for what he has not done. You really have to get into the metaphysics of the Course. That’s where this whole thing, being a projection and being an illusion, is really important because what I can’t stand to look at in my own mind and see, I project out in the form of a behavior. These attack thoughts that we are holding in our minds, we project out, and we call forth witnesses to bring to us exactly what we think. So, we are thinking guilty thoughts; we’re thinking these attack thoughts, and we’ll call forth witnesses that will seek proof. You can see where forgiveness in the end comes down to letting go of the attack thoughts. That’s lesson number 23, “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.” That’s as clear as you can be. Jesus sets the ground work in the first 22 lessons, and then he really comes through with that one. Another thing is, forgiveness is described as the Holy Spirit’s Thoughts. I call them forward thoughts or real thoughts in our mind. You’re mind is very powerful, the Holy Spirit says, and your mind is causative. The backward thoughts are I’m a little victim in this world, and I’m tiny, and I’m helpless. Those are backward thoughts. So, the more we get clear on what forgiveness really is, we understand that it’s just turning cause and effect around in our mind. So, we let go of all the backward thoughts, and all we retain are the Thoughts of the Holy Spirit. Then we’re at Peace. It seems to be a process, and I would say that as you work with the Course, the most deeply rooted belief is the belief in linear time. As long as that belief is way down there, we’ll say that’s on the first floor of the World Trade Center, as long as that belief is anchored down there, it’s going to seem like it takes time to do this. Now the whole basis of the Course is to start to see that the master switch shows that all of the branches of the trees or all the floors in the World Trade Center are identical. They’re just different fragments of the same ego belief. As long as we belief that they’re different and that some concepts or beliefs are more valuable or more important, then we’ll hold a few back from the Holy Spirit. It seems like as we go through the tree, we’re saying, I’ll give you this one, this one, this one, this one, this one, not that one, this one, this one… As long as we retain some beliefs, it’s like saying that we want to hold onto some illusions, and the truth can’t be reconciled with illusions at all. Jesus says at one point pretty late in the Course, You either will learn this course entirely or not at all. It makes sense why he’s so non-compromising. He knows that if there are a hundred branches on the tree and we give up ninety-nine, we’re still not at peace because we’ll still have one twig dangling down there. It just takes one complete instant. That’s what the Course in Miracles is. It seems like a process, but the deeper you get into it, the more you see that you can recognize these backward and forward thoughts. All the backward thoughts - I don’t want any of them. I don’t want one of them. That’s where the release takes place. That’s kind of a deeper way of looking at forgiveness than just kind of, Well, I’ll say I’m sorry, or I’ll make amends. or something at a form level.

Participant 1: What does David Hoffmeister’s mind do all day?

Speaker: I watch.

Participant 1: How do you perceive the world? How do you think about things?

Speaker: I was going through the Course today, and there was a quote that I found on teachers of God. It was one that really resonated with me because this is how I feel a lot. It says, “Awareness of dreaming is the real function of God's teachers. They watch the dream figures come and go, shift and change, suffer and die. Yet they are not deceived by what they see. They recognize that to behold a dream figure as sick and separate is no more real than to regard it as healthy and beautiful. Unity alone is not a thing of dreams. And it is this God's teachers acknowledge as behind the dream, beyond all seeming and yet surely theirs.”

That’s really what it comes down to. It’s becomes a natural detachment. The Zen, the Buddhists, and the Yogis talk about a state of detachment, but the ways of the world say you’ve got to do this, these rituals, meditate fourteen hours a day, and sit this way, and hold your hands this way. The Course is basically saying that all you have to do is hold onto the purpose of forgiveness and let go of these false beliefs, and you will become detached. It’s not like you are detached from the forms, per se, but you detach from your desire to judge the form because as soon as you judge some things good and some things bad, then you make the world real. It can’t be an equally illusory world if part of it is good and part of it is bad. Do you see how it denies that the world is an illusion, if I do that?

What about things such as likes and dislikes and opinions? Well, pretty soon you cease to have an opinion. You cease to take sides on issues because you can see the foolishness of opinions and judgments and taking sides. People say, What about preferences? How do you live in this world without preferences? They start to fade. They’re not yanked away. That was my old way of approaching things. It’s like, if you have desires and they seem to be so powerful and so strong, but instead of wrestling with them, the more you stay focused on your purpose, they seem to dry up. Then you can flick them off like some dandruff - instead of wrestling and battling with them which is the way it seems with addictions. Judgment is our only addiction, and really all we have to do is give up judgment. Then everything else will take care of itself. It’s good news.

Participant 2: Do you just clear your mind and just be there and just watch things as they go by and don’t get involved in them or what?

Speaker: It’s not so much passive in the sense that the Holy Spirit can work through us. With the eastern approach, people think of detachment and watching your mind as just sitting there and not doing anything, and in the ultimate sense, if you read a section in the Course called I Need Do Nothing, that’s literally what it comes down to. Literally, in the end, when you’ve given up your judgments and there’s nothing else to pursue, then you can sink down into the light and go down in the basement, and you literally need do nothing. That’s the happy realization at the end.

But, for the mind that’s not trained and is too afraid to go down to the basement, then what happens is you get into this purpose and the thing you would most want to do that comes to your mind from a place of nonjudgment, then you do. It just comes down to mind-watching, and there are times in the Course where it even says, “Search your mind.” There are other parts where it says, don’t search; just let the thoughts come bubble up. When they do, and if I start to feel a little out of peace, I do what Jim talked about. I bring it back to my identity attachment. I try to trace the string or the chord back into my mind. What happens is, when I really do that, whenever I’m feeling a little out of sorts, I find it’s because it has something to do with this personhood identity, not with my abstract mind, but with my identification with this person. That’s helpful because as soon as I can see it, I can say, Oh, boy. Oops! Then once you oops it, it’s out of there.

Participant 2: Do you analyze what it is, or do you just notice that it’s there and just give it up, or what?

Speaker: At the beginning I used to do that, but what happens with analyzing is - it is a breaking apart, and the more I get into the Course, the more its like, Is it backward or forward? If it’s backward, oops. That takes the analysis out of it. If I’m trying to compare this branch with that branch, it can be amusing to the ego to start doing that. It’s more of just backward and forward. We’ve covered a lot of ground there.

Participant 1: Can you talk a little bit in relation to health because that’s always a big thing for everybody, I think. It is for me to try to work my way through my feelings about it, my fears about getting older and about being sick or ill. I know the fear is for the body, but there seems to be a space between the theory and application, and I believe that there is a point in which you don’t have any questions, but sometimes there is still an area where you have questions. Maybe someone else is ill or dying. I’m trying to figure this out in my thinking in my Course work. It seems to me that there shouldn’t be illness because that’s in the mind. There shouldn’t be that, and then when you see someone die, then it’s very hard to reconcile. You know that they were seemingly in the world’s view a very right thinking person and then it appeared to you they could have brought illness upon themselves.

Speaker: This is from the Teachers Manual, How Are Healing and Atonement Related? It’s the third paragraph where it says, “The idea that a body can be sick is a central concept in the ego's thought system.” It seems that way in this world. It’s a commonly accepted thing that symptoms are seen in the body in this world, but this is just saying, once again, that it’s an idea. “This thought gives the body autonomy, separates it from the mind and keeps the idea of attack inviolate. If the body could be sick, atonement would be impossible. A body that can order a mind to do as it sees fit could merely take the place of God and prove salvation is impossible.” It gets back to our initial discussion about levels and believing that there is something causative in the world of form. That’s literally the way the deceived mind sees things. We’ll take something simple like, germs. Growing up, we learned that there are certain things that carry germs; roaches carry germs. There are germs if you leave food out, and in the bathroom if you don’t wash your hands, and so on and so forth. The basic view is that’s how one gets the flu - through germs. They even study it through sneezes in the air. You can see how that whole thing is saying that there is something that’s happening on the screen, that these germs are coming and somehow getting into this body, and that’s giving the body the flu. You can see how it still doesn’t jive with what the Course is saying. The Course says that only the mind can be sick, and when the mind is sick, it thinks that it’s made up a self concept that’s different than Spirit. It thinks that it’s this tiny, little self, and not only that, it wants to be right about this self. I’m unique. I’m special. I’m important, and I’m right about it. So, when the Holy Spirit’s light shines in the mind and reminds us, You are not unique, special, and important, you are the Holy Son of God; you are magnitude beyond any of this, the whole world, all the layers, just start to shake and collapse a little. The mind projects the guilt onto the body to call forth a witness to prove that it’s right, and it says, See God! I’m weak. I’m little. I’m frail, and I’ve got the flu now. I can’t be the Holy Son of God, and it’s not my fault. The germs did it to me. I even got my flu shot! But you can see the dynamic that’s going on here. It’s insane, admittedly. People would say to me, Who in their right mind would choose sickness? Right, who in they’re right mind! Aha! That’s the key. We’re back to the levels again. If you’re in your right mind, if you’re staying in the abstractness and staying with the Holy Spirit, you’re above the world and the body; you don’t see the body as causative.

Participant 2: Aren’t you saying that sickness and dying are how the ego perceives it. These backward thoughts are upside-down ideas and are actually right-side-up and straight forward.

Speaker: I would say that the Holy Spirit teaches that the mind is causative, and you can extend forgiveness. You can share the ideas of the Course, literally. That’s a forward thing, extension. I see extension as moving forward. Jesus calls it “false empathy” and “true empathy.” So, it’s kind of like, through the ego we’re used to empathizing with people saying, Oh, you poor baby, you poor thing. That’s supposed to be loving and comforting and concerning. Jesus is saying, Wait a minute. Don’t share those kinds of ideas (you poor thing); those are backward thoughts. But, there is a way in which we align with the Holy Spirit, and we can remind the patient in our minds that they are whole and complete, even if there’s nothing we can say with our mouths. Or, there may be an experience or an idea that we could share, and the Spirit would speak through us showing a different way of looking at it. That’s how I look at backward or forward. Forward is kind of a sharing or extending of our real thoughts. Those are the thoughts of the Course in Miracles.

Participant 1: I’ve got an example. A friend of mine said, “I think I really am sick, and I’m going to the doctor. I think I have chronic fatigue syndrome.” Without even thinking, because she’s a Science of Mind woman, I said, “That’s absolutely impossible that you have chronic fatigue syndrome. Do not go to the doctor. You know it’s impossible. It’s all right not to go to work. It’s all right to stay home. It’s ok to be lazy. Don’t get sick as an excuse. It’s impossible that you have this.” I wasn’t even thinking. It just came out. I wish people would do that. I want to project people doing that to me, but they say, Oh, you poor thing. I know how you feel exactly, and I get sicker and sicker. The Course says that it takes two people to agree that you’re separate before you can get sick. It only takes one to see that you’re whole, to take care of the healing.

Speaker: And in mind-watching, we’re the one perceiving calls for help. It really comes down to that. We can’t really teach salvation, we can’t extend the ideas of the Course until we believe them our self. That’s why it takes a real convincing. But, if you really stay with Jesus’ logic and reasoning, if you really stay with it in the Course, you just say, My golly, its sound. Every way, he comes at the very same thing.

Participant 2: My husband had something in his mouth today. He was chewing something. His pocket on his coat caught on the door knob. It jerked him back; he bit his tongue, and he goes, “Aaaagh!!!” He made this horrible noise. He takes pain real well. I said, “What happened?” and he said, “I bit my tongue!” And I said, “Oh, I’m sorry you bit your tongue.” And then I went over, and I asked the Holy Spirit to heal him. Make him feel better. Now what really happened? Did he cause himself to bite his tongue? Was he doing some backward thinking that made it happen, and then did I verify that by sympathizing with him?

Speaker: Well, as soon as we ask the question about what he did, we get back to it’s always my lesson. It always comes back to our own perception, and so it’s always my lesson. It’s always my perception, and it even gets simpler than that. The Holy Spirit perceives only two orders of thought. Everything is either love or a call for love. By just staying back in your mind, you know when there’s a call for love, and it sounds like you were quick to recognize that and quick to ask for help from the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit always sees everything as love or a call for love, and He says Wouldn’t you answer a call for love with love? Wouldn’t you share it, if you could perceive it that way? The main thing is, it gets back to our perception. If there is only love or a call for love, then we would be in good shape. But the ego says, Wait a minute; we have another alternative over here – attack (whether I’m being attacked or I’m attacking somebody else). Ultimately, the Course is teaching us that this is not a real option, that attack is not real, that these attack thoughts in our mind are not from the Holy Spirit. They’re not from God, and they aren’t real. So you can see as we give up attack thoughts, we’ll cease to judge things as attacks. We’ll just see everything as love and a call for love. Another way to look at it, too, is this form/content thing. With form, it can seem so confusing at times because there are so many different forms. There’s a myriad of images, but behind all the images is only the love and the call for love. I think that’s why the more you study the Course and the more you get anchored in its thought system, you don’t get fooled by when Jesus talks about healing. The question is asked of Jesus, “Should healing be repeated?” and he answers, We just said that healing is certain. So, healing cannot be repeated. If you have continued concern for the patient based on symptoms that still may seem to be there, you need healing. You’re the patient now. Because you see it gets back to our question about continuing symptoms. If we ask the Holy Spirit, and we give it over, we see them as whole, and then we keep looking back and checking on how they’re doing, if they are recovering - did we really give it over to the Holy Spirit? Or, are we still concerned? Then you can see how we are the patient.

Participant 1: It’s probably part of our false belief system to think that death is not wholeness, isn’t it?

Speaker: That death is not wholeness? The thing about death is, once again, we get tied up on the screen. We believe in the death of bodies; it seems that animals die, people die, bodies die, and we define death at the form level. That’s what death is, or we call it transition. Somebody made their transition. Where did they go? Where is there to go? Where? A place is a concept in the mind. It’s different when you really get into the deeper realms of the Course. Instead of thinking of souls that come into the body and go away and come in and go away, it’s almost like you’re just a mind, and you’re watching a movie screen. As long as you believe in idols, you’re going to continue to see the movie screen. When you completely give up all the idols, the set’s off. That’s the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s a different kind of perspective. If you think about the perspective of souls coming into a little baby and leaving when he dies, it’s funny. A soul is supposed to be immortal and infinite, right? How does a soul fit into a little, tiny slab of flesh? Doesn’t it strike you as a little bit funny that something that’s changeless, that’s supposed to be immortal and infinite, comes into something that’s finite and tiny? After a while, you start to think, Oh that’s been a belief that’s been very helpful to me. And I believed in reincarnation in my path. It helped me have a sense that God didn’t turn anyone away, and everyone makes it back. But, as you start to get into the Course and you start having some of these experiences, even some of those [stepping-stone] concepts start to fall away a little bit, and you start to say, Yeah, I guess it is kind of silly to think of it that way. What Jesus does is he takes something like death, which we already said is defined in the body, and he defines it in psychological terms. If you read lessons 163 and 167, they’re great. He says, if you have a minor twinge of annoyance, if you’re a little ticked off, if you have any kind of pain, hatred, anger, jealousy, envy, my golly, he just rattles off all these different things, and he says, death; they’re all death. They’re all just sprays (like sprays of water coming from a hose) of fear. I don’t know about you, but that’s a little bit different from the definition I grew up with. My definition of death was, Somebody’s going six feet under. Once again we’re back to the mind-watching. If I’ve got all these backward thoughts, and those are thoughts of death and all my upsetting emotions, depression, anxiety, fear, a hang nail that’s bothering me, whatever it is, pain, - all those spring from the ego thought system. It simplifies it. Death is simply the ego, and all we have to do is to let go and see how silly the ego is. That’s how we transcend death. “Be of good cheer for I have overcome the world,” is just another translation for, The ego is silly and false, and has no power over the Holy Son of God. The Son of God can’t die.

Participant 2: So here you are in the kitchen, and you’re ready to go for a glass of whatever or a cigarette. What do you do at that moment? You perceive that as you’re an alcoholic, or you’re hooked on cigarettes, or whatever. What do you do in that moment?

Speaker: Well, you just ask the Holy Spirit. What I found in my life when I first started having changes and shifts, it was like in alcoholics anonymous; they say quit drinking. That can help, or quit smoking, or quit eating or this or that. Whereas obviously, a shift at the symptom level is not a permanent shift, but it can be very conducive and helpful. If you’re a candyholic, don’t keep walking by the candy store. Just ask for a prayer, or ask for some strength, maybe. But, I would say that’s why AA works so well because there is such a fellowship, and there is such a sense of getting out of your self. Call someone up. If you want to get into the purpose of forgiveness, then you want to be used by the Holy Spirit to be of comfort and healing to someone. Boy, that short circuits the ego, all the feelings of craving a cigarette or alcohol, drugs or sex, or feeling empty or lonely, or something like that. If we turn within ourselves, and we identify with this little body identity, that just kind of keeps it going that way. Then we feel like we need whatever it is. We feel like we’re bound to something physically. That’s why AA and a lot of those things work. Go out; help a friend; visit someone; call someone; or reach out and say, “I need to talk.” A lot of times it can seem easier just to isolate. Probably, if I were to say one thing, that (reaching out) would be the most helpful thing you could do. As you go along, you get better at watching your mind and helping.

Participant 1: Because the Course teaches it’s in joining that creates the healing.

Speaker: And it really is an intention. Even with joining, the ego tries to get in. Remember, the ego uses special relationships, so it’s like, Join with my brother, and then you get into physical stuff. It can go really quick into the physical stuff, and then you’ve got to get something. Hey, I spent so much time with you, and you’re not meeting my needs, and you should be around more. It happens with Course groups, even. The ego will try to get into anything. The ego will try to make a special relationship with the Course group where you become addicted. I can’t go without my Course group. I can’t miss a meeting. Actually, you can see where the specialness comes in. The Course group in itself is nothing, but it’s like it becomes part of the self concept. I’m better now because I’m with this special group of people. It happens with Course in Miracle conferences. Oh wow, a national conference. I’ll go there and have this big healing event. The more conferences I can go to the better. Or, My friends are going to the Conference; If only I had enough money, then I could go to conferences and get as healed as they are. The ego is going to try to use anything in the world of form to latch onto, to say that you’re not doing it right. Once you get wise to its game, you find that this is our national conference. We’re having it right here, this instant. You start to see that holding the purpose of forgiveness is where it’s all at. Then all of a sudden, you’re not co-dependant about, I’m not in the right place at the right time. I should be doing this better. Or, I should be doing this differently. That’s the ego’s way of solving a grievance - do something different. Jesus’ way is the miracle. Think something different. If you think something different, then it doesn’t so much matter what’s going on. The behavior will flow automatically, and then it’s no big deal. This makes perfect sense, too. When you really think about it, it works. It’s the good news. We are really getting a blast of the good news. The gospel was given 2,000 years ago. We are getting a really clear explanation of it through the Course.

Participant 2: Now the thought that occurred to me earlier was about the first time when Jesus was here and the gospels were written, about the New Testament. Did he teach the same thing and it wasn’t heard? It certainly wasn’t passed down through the ages.

Speaker: It’s identical, but as he described it in the Course, basically, the apostles still had their egos, so to speak, in a metaphorical sense. They still had upside-down perception.

Participant 2: Did he try to teach them like this?

Speaker: Oh yes, he came at it from every different angle that he could.

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