The past is gone; forget it

In order to maintain my sense of my special personality, my own unique individual self, I keep comparing myself to everyone around me. I especially focus on what makes me ‘better’ than someone else, especially those that I don’t really like. Unconsciously, I constantly manage of my list of arguments why I am right about something or someone, and others are wrong. The ego especially likes to emphasize situations that clearly illustrate that I have been treated unfairly. After all, such cases are plausible arguments for my unconscious plea to God that I am an innocent victim and should therefore be accepted back into Heaven, while the guilty ones should be punished and sent to hell.

From the perspective of A Course in Miracles, there’s a slight problem with that. Or better yet, a fundamental problem. After all, one of the central tenets of this non-dualistic message is that God does not condemn, since God is Love, and nothing else. Love does not condemn. See for example workbook lesson 170, which by the way states that not only there is no cruelty in God, but there is also none in you and me (W-pI.170). The ego has a big problem with that statement. Since the ego is the idea of condemnation, attack and separation, if this statement is true, this implies that the ego is not true. This is indeed the metaphysical premise on which Jesus’ entire curriculum rests. However, since you and I are still so thoroughly identified with this special individual ego self, we quickly read past such lines and primarily focus on how the Course can make us feel better in this dream world of time and space.

Again, the chief way of making myself feel better is to compare my own innocence to the faults (the Course says ‘sins’) of those around me. To do this, I must constantly focus on what happened in the past, or, better, on how I interpret what seemingly happened in the past. In fact, clinical research in the nineties showed that not only do we have some 50 to 60,000 thoughts a day, but also that over 98% of these thoughts focus either on the past, or on the future. Obviously, you and I plan the future based on our past experiences. And so I relentlessly clutter my thought stream with interpretations of the past, in order to be able to emphasize my special innocent self that may righteously condemn others, because their selfish egos keep treating me unfairly, preventing me from finding the Love of God that I want so much.

To find that Love, however, A Course in Miracles tells me that I should forget my brother’s past entirely. In workbook lesson 288, we read that this is the idea …”that leads the way to You [God], and brings me to my goal. I cannot come to You without my brother.” (W-pII.288.1:1-2). This is true because God is Love, and you and I, being the Son of God, were created in like fashion, and are therefore equally worthy of this Love. “To know my Source, I first must recognize what You created one with me [i.e., my brother]. My brother’s is the hand that leads me on the way to You. […] Let me not attack the savior You have given me [again, my brother]. But let me honor him who bears Your Name, and so remember that it is my own.” (W-pII.288.1:3-9).

This is of course directly antithetical to the ego’s dictum of one or the other. If I should regard myself as equally worthy of the Love of God as anyone else, then the ego is clearly out of business. This realization immediately fuels the fear of the disappearance of my very self. It is this realization that makes people close the dark blue book and forget about it for a long time. Until the pain of constant judgment gets too much, and the nagging notion resurfaces once again: there must be a better way. Once you and I become slowly willing to accept — with much reservations at first — that perhaps my essence is not a body, that time and space are a ‘vast illusion’ (W-pI.158), and that my perception and interpretation of the past only serves to keep up the illusion of false autonomy and individuality, real hope of salvation becomes possible.

A major form of forgiveness to this end is to learn to forget the past, since the past is gone. The past remains in my mind only as long I want to hold on to it, to nurture the ego. But the past is not here in and of itself. To recall once again lesson 288: “My brother’s sins are in the past along with mine, and I am saved because the past is gone. Let me not cherish it within my heart, or I will lose the way to walk to You. My brother is my savior.” (W-pII.288.1:4-6). This is true because, apart from form, the way I perceive my brother is the way I perceive myself, which is the content the Course always addresses.

The ego of course viciously objects: ‘That’s crazy! We cannot do without the past. If you forget the past, you wouldn’t know how to drink a cup of tea, or know how to brush your teeth. And we can learn from the past, for example to prevent world wars from happening again. This Course is obviously out of its mind!” Sounds plausible. The mistake here, however, is the ego’s perennial focus on forms: tea, tooth brushes, world wars. The Course never asks us to deny the forms in the world; the key is what the forms are used for. There are only two options: for attack (ego) or for healing (Love). We only hold on to the past because this way we can justify our condemnations. Once we choose to perceive everyone as equally worthy, the past becomes irrelevant except to serve as a classroom of the Holy Spirit in which we learn to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. So to say “forget the past” really means “forget my condemnations”. That’s the content.

The way to practice this is really quite simple (though not always easy). Try to sit quietly for a moment; close your eyes and pick someone whom you hold some grudge against. Try to imagine what would happen if this person’s past were completely gone, which really means: taking back the projections that you placed in the image you made of that person. In the resulting vacuum, you can now ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help you see the light of Love shine in that person. Stick with that for a while and make sure you mean it. The next time you meet this person, you may be astounded by the results this miracle has effectuated. You then realize that we are able to shift the ego’s purpose of time (“I’m innocent, you’re guilty”) to the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness (“You and I are the Son of God”). When I forgive (i.e., forget) my brother’s past, I am reminded of the oneness of all creation by a Creator Who is only Love. Always remember that we will awaken to the state of mind called Heaven together, or not at all.

See also my “Miracles or Murder: a guide to concepts of A Course in Miracles“. This guidebook, endorsed by Gary and Cindy Renard, was published in March 2016 by Outskirts Press and is available at


See also my Feb. 2019 Course workshop at called “Farewell to your self, to find your true Self”. (English captions/subtitles available)

Dutch visitors may also be interested in this Dutch page:

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