True Forgiveness vs. Regular Forgiveness
Some of us come to know about the Law through a desire to manifest an apology from another person. In most cultures, forgiveness is considered a virtue; we are rarely told the truth that there is nothing to forgive.
An apology will superficially makes you feel better because it perpetuates your ego identity and not your true identity — it validates that someone else did something wrong and that you are right, and therefore you must be apologised to. Although we can manifest whatever we want, focusing on an apology or the need to forgive someone is a misunderstanding of Neville’s teachings. In his lecture “True Forgiveness”, he explains the difference between forgiveness as we know it and true forgiveness which is akin to forgetfulness. The former is forgiveness that comes from the egoic level, and the latter is forgiveness that sees the difference between the person who was “wronged” you and the higher self (God) that we all truly are.
It’s the ultimate paradox, for when we practice true forgiveness, we actually acknowledge that there is nothing to forgive!
How to Practice True Forgiveness
In order to practice true forgiveness, you must instead see the person at the focus of your issue as what they truly are: God (or source, the universe, etc) expressing itself in a physical form, and therefore an extension of yourself. In his lecture, Neville says:
All scripts are written for actors. In the play, the actor cast in the role of a murderer must play that part, and so it is with this world. God, the author, wrote the script and plays all the parts, while wearing a mask, called “another”. If you will learn to distinguish between states of consciousness and their occupant, you can forgive everyone. How? By identifying the one you would forgive with the ideal he failed to realize. The highest ideal would be to identify him with the divine image itself.Neville Goddard, “True Forgiveness”
The first step that Neville is explaining here is that when we incarnate into our physical bodies, we begin to play a role. You could call this the “role of Self” that’s made up of all of your identities: your ideas, dreams, morals, judgements, preferences, interests — even your appearance and the way you present yourself in the world. All of these things are part of the character we play, for we are a spiritual entity having a human experience — not the other way around! When you remember this, it’s much easier to separate someone’s actions from who they really are. It’s easier to realise that other people are just fulfilling whatever role they need to play in order to learn from the human experience they are having on this earth. As Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:23)
So how does this work with Neville’s statement that everyone is you pushed out? Because we are all from the same Source, and more importantly, because your imagination creates your reality! The divine consciousness that is expressing itself in other human forms is the same one that expresses itself through you, too. In this sense, we are all the same Source, cloaked in different outward identities. Granted, it is very easy to get caught up in these identities and confuse them with who we really are — which is exactly what we are doing when we get hurt or angered by someone else! Neville says:
[Others] are not causing you world. You and you alone are doing it, as your imaginal acts influence people. Everyone is yourself pushed out, so when you imagine, you are influencing yourself!Neville Goddard, “What Are You Doing?”
This idea becomes a stumbling block for many of us because when someone hurts us, we often feel wronged and take on the role of the victim. We often forget that the other person is merely a mirror of our inner state.
So if everyone is you pushed out, who else is there to forgive? Nobody! Because there is no “other”!
So with this in mind, the second step of true forgiveness is to exercise our imagination — this time, to create our preferred state. Imagine the person of your focus to be fine and well, imagine your relationship to be flourishing or whatever else you desire. But most importantly, realise that it is your own imagination that creates your surroundings, and instead of seeing other’s behaviour as something to take personally, see it as a mirror of the Self. What stories are you telling yourself when someone cuts you up in traffic or ignores your phone-calls? What ideas about yourself and others are you perpetuating? Identify them and change them, and do not allow yourself to become a victim of your own thoughts.
Ultimately, you don’t need to forgive anyone in the traditional sense of the word when you realise that there is truly nothing to forgive. As Neville says, there is no one to change but self.