The growing suffering we experience, journeying through this dream of a physical universe in bodies able to feel emotional and physical pain, will eventually force us into making different choices. This is the gift of “dream living” in a physical environment where every mistaken choice we make has painful consequences. Without the experience of these painful consequences, we would never know or desire to look for “a better way.” In this light, it was the growing pain of the relationship conflicts in their Psychology Department that led Bill Thetford and Helen Schucman into their readiness to ask for “a better way.” “A Course In Miracles” was the answer the Holy Spirit gave them.

By experiencing the escalating and painful dramas of our own relationship conflicts and other’s, I hope we will all be more powerfully pressed to choose “this better way.” “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. Perception is a result, not a cause.”T.C.21.1. In this article, I hope to explain the difficulties, methods and reasons for choosing this “Better Way.”

Our ego and the universe it projected were born from the pain and fear of separation from God, the loss of our Spiritual Identity. Until the unconscious pain, fear, blame and guilt within us, born from this initial error, are exposed, experienced, faced without defense, and released, we cannot forgive or find the peace of God within. “Your task is…to seek and find (release) all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” (Our Love or Spiritual Identity) T.C.16.IV. These “barriers” are the defenses, pain and fear housed within the mind-body-emotion, or ego self that act like clouds to hide from us our real identity as Unified Spirit.

Because we have attached ourselves to these layers of ego for our identity, security and protection for so long, even though they are illusions and have not worked, giving them up means losing our identity and support as we know it and thus holds great terror for us, a terror known as “suffering our death.” “YetGod can bring you there, (to the Love or Spiritual Identity beneath) if you are willing to follow the Holy Spirit through seeming terror,trusting Him not to abandon you... You are severely tempted to abandon Him at the outside ring of fear, but He would lead you safely through and far beyond.”T.C.18.IX.3.

“The healing of God’s Son is all the world is for.”T.C.24.VI. Into every relationship, we bring the unconscious body of pain and fear that is within us. When we are ready, at the request of our Soul Self, these “pain body” vibrations will attract to us those situations and relationships of like vibration that can best serve to activate, reflect and bring to the surface, for healing and release, this inner pain and fear. We cannot heal what we cannot see and feel. This unconscious body of pain and fear, born from the terror of the first moment we forgot our identity as Unified Spirit in the Consciousness of God, has grown and been locked deep within our mind and its projections for years, even lifetimes, waiting, for our readiness, to be released. “Everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.”(From the level of Soul Self) T.C.21.II

Without the mirror and challenges of these difficult and painful relationship experiences, the pain and fear we need to release would remain trapped and unknown within us, separating us further from our Source, causing more sickness, suffering and disease. Keep in mind that only courageous and loving members of our Soul Family have agreed to play these difficult roles in our healing dramas here. Because they mirror or activate the feelings, fears and pain within our own consciousness, at the request of our Soul Self, in truth, there is only gratitude to give and nothing to forgive. Our ego, however, until we are well advanced on our spiritual path, becomes very threatened with the activation of this hidden pain and quickly reacts to shut it down any way it can, through mind-body-emotion attacks and defenses.

The upset, anger pain and fear we experience in our relationship conflicts provide some of the most important healing opportunities and difficult forgiveness lessons we will ever learn. We judge the integration of these healing and forgiveness lessons through our actions, not words. If we trust that, “all events, …are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good,” W.L.135.18 we must then accept our current relationships and their dramas as “lesson God would have us learn.” WL.193 Any relationship conflict dealt with correctly, can help release the pain and fear within us, teach us the futility of fighting with shadows that are ourselves, and bring us peace. “The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more… the outside picture of an inward condition.”T.C.21.I “If I attack, I suffer. But if I forgive, salvation will be given me.” W.L.216.

Any time our peace is disturbed, an aspect of our ego (mind-body-emotion self) is feeling hurt or threatened in some way, resulting in a judgment against a brother and further separation and suffering for us. “All that I give is given to myself.”W.L.126. There will come a time of readiness through this suffering when we will turn and face our pain and fear without defense. Through this trembling and courageous act, we will find our freedom and Inner Peace. Until we gain the readiness and courage to feel and willingly release to the Holy Spirit these fears and wounds within us, without defense, we will remain locked in cycles of conflict, pain and suffering that will grow in strength every time we react or resist in any way. “What we resist will persist and strengthen.” Law of Attraction “Whatever is (willingly) given Him (the Holy Spirit) that is not of God (Love) is gone.”T.12.II.10.

By experiencing (suffering) the pain and fear within our emotional body, releasing it and surviving, we eliminate the catastrophic fear that somehow, by experiencing this hidden part of ourselves, we will become lost, hurt or die. Much of the tiredness, depression and illness we experience comes from the stress of defending ourselves against unknown forces within and without we think will overwhelm or harm us. Without this fear, we travel through the world far less defensive, much lighter and brighter. By releasing stored emotions and their fear, we can then deal with current ones, when they arise, as a natural and non-threatening part of our human experience. This gives us the readiness to begin practicing “Authentic Forgiveness,” whenever we are not at Peace.

Whenever I am disturbed in a situation, I look for a painful emotion like loss, separation, aloneness, failure, helpless, worthless, etc., beneath the outer challenge. “I am never upset for the reason I think.” W.L.5. Then I breathe and relax into the feeling of this pain, (located somewhere in my heart area) on every out breath. Don’t rush this part! Finally, I release it to the Holy Spirit with these words. “Holy Spirit, I willingly give you the appearance of this pain and fear to dissolve into the nothingness from which it was born,” and then I let it go!

If you are interested in a more detailed approach to releasing painful emotions and practicing “Authentic Forgiveness,” within relationships, please read my article, “Waking From The Dream,” found on the “Additional Articles” page of my web site: There, you will also find this article along with its two color illustrations for undoing the ego.

The entire “Course In Miracles” is devoted to training and reprogramming our mind to the point where we can meet all situations, with the potential to disturb our peace, without resistance or judgment of any kind (forgiveness). Whenever we resist, defend or attack any discomfort, upset or challenge we meet in our ego’s dream (world), we strengthen our belief in its reality, give it more power, and thus anchor ourselves more deeply in its suffering and insanity. “Forgiveness is the means appointed for perception's ending.” W.L.336.1. “Authentic Forgiveness,” from ACIM perspective, means to accept without resistance or judgment and overlook with compassion the parts of our own consciousness not of love, first projected from us, then activated in us, or reflected to us in our dream of separation here.

“The ego effects can be dispelled merely by denying their reality.” T.C.11.V.2.4.

This is why “learning Forgiveness is our only function.” T.C.26.VII.8. Denying, overlooking, not reacting to the seeming painful, fearful or disturbing perceptions of our ego, seeing them as “appearances only” and not the truth, will eventually dispel all ego effects that attach us to the dream of separation here. Then we are free to awaken into the “Mystical Experience of God Presence,” at Home within the consciousness of God. Keep in mind, however, the ability to achieve "Authentic Forgiveness" within any relationship, or situation is a gift given to us through the Grace of God at the appointed time of our individual "readiness."

ACIM and its lessons have been delivered to us to help in the reprogramming of our minds for this readiness. Offering "Authentic Forgiveness," the kind that Jesus demonstrated on the cross, is the same as seeing with "Christ or Spiritual Vision. This can only be accomplished through readiness with the help of the Holy Spirit, not through our will alone. “The Holy Instant does not come from your little willingness alone. It is always the result of your small willingness combined with the unlimited power of God's Will.”T.C.18.IV.4.

When anything arises within the worldly dream to disturb my peace, lately I have been using the following mantra as an ongoing readiness practice to prepare for this “Holy Instant,” or the awakening of “Authentic Forgiveness” within my mind. It is taken partly from the Joel Goldsmith, “Infinite Way” teachings, and partly from ACIM. “You are an appearance only, not the truth, with no power over me. Holy Spirit, help me accept without judgment and overlook with compassion this part of me not of love being reflected/activated here and Forgive!”

“There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach. Not everyone is ready to accept it, and each one must go as far as he can let himself be led along the road to truth…But healing is the gift of those who are prepared to learn there is no world, and can accept the lesson now.” W.L.132.7

Remember, whenever we respond or react to the perceptions of the ego, we give it life and power. By overlooking or denying the reality of these perceptions, (forgiveness in ACIM terms) we dispel the ego effects, eventually awakening from its dream of separation and fear and reclaim our Spiritual Identity. It is the ever growing suffering and loss of peace that eventually creates the readiness and motivation to feel and heal our pain and fear and begin the practice of “AUTHENTIC FORGIVENESS.” This means denying the ego effects, seeing them as appearances only and not the truth. This is the “Better way!” “Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world. I would fulfill my function that I may be happy.” W.L.62.

I have worked with ACIM over three decades and offer Recovery Counselling, as well as talks and workshops on Healing, Peak Recovery, Forgiveness and ACIM. If you are interested, wish to question or comment further, please visit my web site where you will find my approach to healing and recovery, mp3 guided meditation files, a power point “Peak Recovery” presentation, workshop feedback, additional articles, detailed background and contact information.

David Ott, M.Ed.

Author's Bio: 

David Ott, M.Ed., Director
Peak Recovery Program, Victoria,B.C.

Trained at the Gestalt Institute of Toronto
Student and Teacher of “A Course In Miracles”

Former guest workshop facilitator at
“The Orchard Recovery Centre” on Bowen Island.

Former Employee Assistance Program Director
for Panorama Ski Resort, Invermere, B.C.

Former Life Skills Coordinator
for the Canadian Military, Baden, Germany