God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.
Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.
Today's exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today's idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter "how much" you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.
If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:
God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].
The purpose of the first phase of today's practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:
God is the Love in which I forgive myself.
Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:
God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.
The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:
I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me..
The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today's idea as originally stated.
The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:
God is the Love in which I forgive you.
Commentary by Allen Watson
The whole of the Course's teaching on the Atonement principle is contained in the first sentence: "God does not forgive because He has never condemned." Over and over the Course emphasizes that God is not a God of vengeance, that God is not angry with us, that He knows nothing of punishment. God does not condemn; He never has. His heart remains eternally open to us all. To me specifically.
In this world of illusions, where mutual condemnation has become a way of life (or death?), forgiveness is necessary-not God's forgiveness, but our own. Forgiveness is the way we release ourselves from illusions. All condemnation is self-condemnation; the guilt we see in others is our own reflecting back at us, and as we release others from our condemnation, we are released. "As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself".
As later lessons will make clear, our whole purpose in this world is to bring forgiveness to it, to release it from the burden of guilt that we have laid upon it. This is what returns our mind to the awareness of God. We find God by liberating those around us, lifting our judgment from them, and acknowledging them as worthy creations of God along with ourselves. "God...is approached through the appreciation of His Son".
Lifting the chains of judgment from everyone that I know puts me in a position to forgive myself. It brings a warm feeling inside when I can say, "God is the Love in which I forgive myself". I may not even be aware of any guilt consciously, but when I bless myself with forgiveness, something melts, and I know that the forgiveness was needed. There is a subliminal self-criticism that is nearly always going on; and when I break into it, picturing the Love of God pouring over me like molten gold, knowing and accepting (maybe just in that moment) His total acceptance of me, I rarely escape the moment without tears of gratitude.