Chapter 16 - The Forgiveness of Illusions


Section 1 - Introduction


To empathize does NOT mean to JOIN IN SUFFERING, for this is what you must REFUSE to understand. This is the EGO's interpretation of empathy, and is ALWAYS used to form a special relationship, in which SUFFERING is shared. The CAPACITY to empathize is VERY useful to the Holy Spirit, provided you let Him use it in His way. His way is very different. He does NOT understand suffering, and would have you teach IT IS NOT UNDERSTANDABLE. When He relates through you, He does NOT relate through the ego to another ego. He does NOT join in pain, knowing that HEALING pain is NOT accomplished by delusional attempts to ENTER INTO IT, and lighten it by SHARING the delusion.


The clearest proof that empathy, as the ego uses it, is DESTRUCTIVE, lies in the fact that it is applied ONLY to certain types of problems, and in certain people. These it SELECTS OUT and JOINS WITH. And it NEVER joins, except to strengthen itself. Having identified with what it THINKS it understands, it sees ITSELF, and would INCREASE itself by sharing what is LIKE itself. Make no mistake about this maneuver; the ego always EMPATHIZES TO WEAKEN. And to weaken is ALWAYS to attack.


You do NOT know what empathizing means. But of this you may be sure; if you will merely sit quietly by, and let the Holy Spirit relate THROUGH you, you will EMPATHIZE WITH STRENGTH, and both of you will gain in strength, and NOT in weakness. Your part is only to remember this; you do not want anything that YOU value to come of the relationship. You will neither to hurt it, NOR TO HEAL IT in your own way. You do NOT know what healing IS. All you have learned of empathy IS FROM THE PAST. And there is NOTHING from the past that you would share, for there is nothing there that YOU WOULD KEEP.


Do NOT use empathy to MAKE THE PAST REAL, and so perpetuate it. Step gently aside, and let the healing be done FOR you. Keep but one thought in mind, and do not lose sight of it, however tempted you may be to judge the situation, and DETERMINE your response BY judging it. Focus your mind only on this:

"I am not alone, and I would not intrude the past upon my Guest.

I have invited Him, and He is here.

I need do nothing except NOT TO INTERFERE."

A Course in Miracles - Urtext material - reproduced with permission from the Foundation for Inner Peace (acim.org), and the Foundation for A Course in Miracles (facim.org).
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