Ken Wapnick’s “Chart” on the fundamental metaphysics of the Course has helped thousands of Course students understand in a very short time (instead of what is sometimes a long rocky road), what the basic process of forgiveness in the Course really entails.
From Ken’s Foundation early days in Roscoe, New York, he began using this simple diagram as a way of presenting to students how the Course says we seemingly left Heaven and arrived here in the world. Then more importantly it points out schematically how we return our awareness to our minds, which is “the” stepping stone back to our true reality in Heaven.
Here then is a simplified representation of the basic ideas expressed on the Chart:
(This Chart is best seen ‘full screen’ on a computer.)
tiny mad idea of separation
Ego Decision*Maker Holy Spirit
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Sin…. I sinned! | Forgivenes
(I separated from Heaven)
Guilt…. I am guilty! | Healing
(I feel terrible now)
Fear…. I will be punished! | Holy Instant
(Uh oh…God is after me)
Sin…. You sinned (not me)!
Guilt…. You are guilty (not me)!
Fear…. You will be punished (not me)!
What we see in the above Chart is a depiction of three different levels expressed in the Course:
- Top level : Heaven… where our true identity as God’s One Son remains intact.
- Middle level: the mind… where we seemed to step outside of heaven and play with the idea of being separate from our Father in Heaven.
- Bottom level: the world… the entire physical universe of time and space, projected from the idea of separation in the mind.
The Course spends only a little time talking about Heaven, and what the experience of Heaven is like, but not too much… since that experience is beyond words, and time and space, and even the mind.
The Course also spends very little time discussing the bottom level, the world, with all its insane behaviors and judgements, which the Course insists are all illusory projections anyway and not the real problem.
However, what the Course does talk about the most is the place deep inside of us, called the mind, where we chose to believe in a separation from God in the first place. It is helpful to note (and note well!) that when the Course uses the word “mind” it never (ever) is talking about our brains and our bodies. Even more importantly, note the words “we chose to believe in separation.” It didn’t really happen. We simply chose to believe in it.
The mind is always the deeper internal “place” (not our brains and what our brains think), where we choose between one of two teachers. One the Course calls the ego or the voice for our belief in separation. The other is the Holy Spirit, God’s Voice for sanity that says separation is impossible.
The overall Course story (myth, if you will) goes something like this:
Once upon a time, we were all sitting around in Heaven as God’s One Son. The Course tells us that in Heaven there is no place where God the Father ends, and God the Son begins… whatever that oneness is, it’s not anything like what we experience in our world of time and space.
Then what seemed to happen is the Son of God pretended to step outside of Heaven, and play with the thought of separation. We say “seemed” because the Course’s Atonement Principle is that the separation never, and could never have, happened.
There were then two reactions to this “tiny mad idea of separation”. One, the part of our mind the Course calls the Holy Spirit (right mind), said that idea is impossible and silly and could not take place.
The other part of mind the Course calls ego (wrong mind), said yes: we want to pretend separation is true… take it seriously… believe it… and run with it.
And of those two reactions or voices, the part of mind that chooses between these two (Ken Wapnick uses the term “Decision Maker”), chose to listen to the ego. This all took place in the internal place inside of us that the Course consistently calls mind.
The Story of Sin, Guilt, and Fear
In choosing to take the TMI (tiny mad idea of separation) seriously and listen to the ego, we then made up an ongoing separation story, and chose to believe each part of its three part narrative: (1) sin, (2) guilt, and (3) fear. But it was all “make-believe.” In other words we made it up, and then distracted ourselves with each part of the story into believing it.
- We insisted that sin (or separation) was real, and that we did actually disconnect from our Father.
- We then made up the feeling of guilt, and told ourselves what we did and what we were feeling was really bad.
- Finally we told ourselves that God was also really upset at what we did, and we felt fear because we convinced ourselves that He was going to punish us.
These three steps (of sin>guilt>fear) mistakenly “proved” to ourselves that we had really separated from our Father in Heaven.
(Once again, mind is a part of us beyond time and space, beyond behavior in the world, and our identification as personalities with brains and bodies. The Course talks about and uses the word mind more than two thousand times.)
All this was the motivation for us to leave the realm of the mind and escape “God’s wrath.” This precipitated in what scientists today call the Big Bang, the beginning of the entire physical universe of time and space. The Course calls this universe of form “the world.” We basically took our awareness of ourselves as one gigantic separated Son of God, and then seemed to”explode” our consciousness into a billion billion parts. We fantasized an entire universe of tiny atoms, molecules, cells, and bodies… all the way up to star systems and floating galaxies.
In doing this we achieved two goals in our separation story;
- We totally forgot we even have a mind where all this happened and is even now still taking place. (Every moment that we feel or think any non-peaceful, judgmental thought, we are re-enacting this process.)
- The made-up pain of believing in separation doesn’t go away… but now we consciously blame the source of all our pain (which was, and is always, only coming from our belief in the sin-guilt-fear story in our minds), on the many seeming external sources of pain in the world. We now believe that it’s what others have done to us, whether its other bodies called people, or other bodies called germs or diseases that adversely affect our bodies. The Course calls this external blaming of the world for the now unconscious internal choice for sin and guilt (the true source of all our pain): “Projection.”
The “beauty” of this, from the ego’s point of view, is that now we are totally convinced we are individual bodies in the world… with no awareness at all that we have a mind and that we could actually go inside and choose another Voice (the Holy Spirit’s) and be taught that this is all made up.
Forgiveness: “The Way Back”
This is when the Course comes along and says things like Workbook Lesson #5: “We are never upset for the reason we think.”
And Lesson #34, “I could choose peace instead of this”… by going inside and asking the Holy Spirit for help to see it another way.
Meaning: It is possible for me to have an actual experience where I realize that all this separation and pain is made up. These separate identities and bodies are not who we truly are. And even though I’m still seeing images of separation in the world, I can experience peace right here, right now, by asking the Holy Spirit for help in realizing this. “I’m not a victim of the world I see.” (Lesson # 31)
And that, in a nutshell, is the Course’s process of “Forgiveness.” It is also synonymous with the words “Healing” & “Holy Instant” in the Chart under the “Holy Spirit.”
I don’t forgive you or myself for what either of us did behaviorally…
But I forgive: by asking for Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit’s help, I am willing to let go of believing we are separated minds living in separated vulnerable bodies that could attack each other and ourselves in the first place… I become aware that our real connection and innocence as One Son of God is still intact, no matter what you or I do behaviorally as bodies. Our holiness and wholeness as God’s One Son is, and always will be, who we truly are. (Click here for discussion of these “Three Steps of Forgiveness.”)
Then I can share that profound awareness with everyone I meet or think about… not necessarily verbally, but with a simple, gentle, and kind inner awareness.
Free Online Videos available on the Chart:
1) SFACIM on “Our Thoughts & the Chart” : click here
2) Ken Wapnick on the “Secret Dream & the Chart”, Part One : click here
3) Ken on the “Secret Dream & the Chart”, Part Two: click here