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The Sin That Never Happened

by Alan Cohen

Country musician Butch Hancock noted, “Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”

We have all received confusing and contradictory messages from religion and other authority figures about sin and forgiveness. We have been told that we have sinned terribly and we need to do all kinds of things to avoid burning in hell or inheriting devastating karma. Yet there is another way to look at sin and forgiveness that leaves us empowered to heal.

A Course in Miracles tells us that we have not sinned as religions would have us believe. We have simply made lots of errors. A sin, the Course explains, requires punishment. An error requires but correction. The primary source of correction is not so much through action, but through a shift in perception. We need to see ourselves, our lives, and our supposed sins through the lens of higher consciousness in order to heal them.

My friend Alden was an avid student and practitioner of A Course in Miracles, which places a strong emphasis on forgiveness. The Course suggests that we forgive most powerfully by demonstrating to others that the “sin” for which they feel guilty has not caused the damage they perceive, and thus relieve them of suffering, along with ourselves. We show others that our happiness is subject to our own choice, not their behavior.

One day while I was visiting Alden’s city I signed up to receive a massage. The massage therapist had agreed to drive me after the massage to a meeting point where Alden was to pick me up and take me to my next appointment. During the massage I fell asleep and did not awaken for a while after the massage was over. When the massage therapist drove me to the site where I was to meet Alden, he had given up waiting for me and gone home. I felt pretty bad about putting him out and not showing up.

When I saw Alden the next day I apologized profusely for inconveniencing him. His response surprised me: “That’s all right . . . Do you need a ride anywhere today?” Alden was putting the Course in Miracles lesson into action by demonstrating to me that the sin that I believed hurt him had no effect. To say the least, I felt relieved and healed about the matter.

Another person in Alden’s position might have chosen a more worldly response and, offended that I did not keep my appointment, not bothered to help me out again. But Alden chose the high road, and that brought me release that has inspired me to try to offer the same to others.

The real blessing of releasing someone for the “sin” you held against them is that you release yourself along with them. If you are a jailer keeping someone in prison, you have to sit at the door of their cell to make sure they do not escape. Meanwhile, you are in prison all the while they are. Practically speaking, if you hold a grudge against someone you are in more pain than they are. They may be out playing tennis and having fun, while you are stewing. So who is suffering? Resentment is a far greater punishment to the one resenting than the object of the resentment. Forgive not for the other person’s benefit, but your own.

A Course in Miracles further tells us that whenever you hold an emotional or physical pain, your underlying goal is to make someone else guilty. You are projecting the statement, “Behold me, at your hand I die.” If the other person accepts the guilt you lay, that is up to them. Meanwhile, you suffer. The antidote to your pain and theirs is to make the statement, verbally or energetically, “Behold me, at your hand I live.” Demonstrate through word and deed why the people in your life are empowering, life-giving blessings to you. When you do, you accomplish two supremely important goals: 1. You give them life. 2. You give yourself life.

The concept of sin has been terribly distorted and mangled from its original meaning, by people who did not understand it, felt guilty, and tried to relieve themselves of pain by projecting guilt onto others. Sin means simply a sense of separation from God, and the acts that result from such a sense. We are not really separate from God, but we believe we are, so we do things that hurt others and ourselves, as a result of our error in consciousness. The correction of sin has nothing to do with behavior, and everything to do with correcting the beliefs that lead to aberrant behavior. What you do that causes pain is less important than the pain that caused you to do it. If you can heal your sense of separateness from God by remembering that God lives within you, through you, and as you, and you are never outside of love’s embrace, you would never do anything that could be interpreted as sinful.

So the sins you believe you have committed are simply errors which can be corrected by seeing yourself and others as sinless. Now that sure works out better for most of us than burning in hell forever.

Alan Cohen is the author of many popular inspirational books, including I Had it All the Time. Alan has recently inaugurated All About U., a university without wall for people without limits. For more information on All About U., Alan’s free inspirational quote program, or his daily Wisdom for Today lessons via email, visit www.alancohen.com, email info@alancohen.com, or phone 1-800-568-3079.

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