A Course in Miracles Blog

How do we erase guilt, once and for all?

  • By Paul West
  • 4379 Words
  • 21 minutes 53 seconds
Share this

How do we erase guilt, once and for all?

Mark asked:

"How do we erase guilt, once and for all?"

There is a lot of emphasis placed on guilt as being the main cause of our problems. Yet even "unconscious guilt" is much of the time ignored as something we need to deal with or correct. Among those who are more aware that guilt is a big problem, there also is some unawareness as to what the deeper problem is.

Guilt isn't the starting point of our problems. It is one stage among many which have proceeded from the separation onwards. Before it came sin, and it's important to realize how sin is quite distinct from guilt. Only by recognizing what sin is can you realize that the undoing of guilt will not undo sin, and that it is sin itself which has manufactured guilt in the first place.

There are two steps involved in the overall undoing of guilt because there are two battlefields, as it were, which fight to keep guilt. The first is everything that proceeds from guilt or what guilt would imply. The second is the fact that guilt is not caused by any of the symptoms within that battlefield, and that there is a battlefield focused around sin which is sustaining and recreating the guilt.

You must realize that the procession from the separation and everything that follows very much aligned with a consistent unfolding of a single set of logic. It is not that guilt is standalone. It is not a disconnected problem in the mind. It follows on from prior steps and also bleeds into the steps which follow it, because of the logical progression of everything the separation means.

Separation from God automatically leads all the way through sin and guilt and fear and punishment to death. In the ego's logic, and the entire ego thought system's way of looking at things, none of these steps are stationary or isolated. They are all like arrows which point onward to the next logical conclusion, flowing steadily towards the inevitability of death as the final conclusion of this entire line of thinking.

This is why death seems to be an inevitability, because right from the start, the mere belief in separation alone must lead all the way to the final war and self destruction. It is a closed system, where at every signpost you are urged onwards to the next progression of the idea of separation and its implications.

You could spend time working on everything which seems to come from guilt, which is the development of a fear of punishment, the enactment of that punishment, and eventual death. You could work to undo all of what guilt seems to be generating, but still you would keep the guilt. And having kept it, the guilt would simply continue to operate its logical conclusions to demand that fear once again arise and from it a renewed fear of punishment and eventual death.

You can uproot a part of the weeds, but if you do not pull it out entirely by its roots it will regrow and propagate and new weeds will form. You can chop the branches of the tree off, but new branches will grow. You can try to get rid of surface matter such as pruning the leaves, but the branches will just generate more leaves given time.

It is similar in a way to attempts to remove a symptom such as cancer by chopping out the cancerous material, in the belief that this solves the problem. But the mis-identification of cancer as being the cause of the problem fails to regard the real cause that has produced the cancer from a hidden source. With the symptoms or effects removed, if the true cause is not alleviated, it will again produce more cancer and this will be considered an unexplainable relapse.

It is the same way with each stage of separation. Guilt for example, if you think of guilt as a cause in its own right, as though somehow it came into being out of nowhere and was not caused by something else, then you'll claim that its removal will solve all of the problems that stem from it. As though it is the cause of itself. But guilt is not the cause of itself. Similarly fear is not caused by the so-called reasons to be afraid.

At each step of the separation, the logical conclusion of one step leads to another. Because you supposedly separated from God, believing in separation must lead to a belief that you really sinned. This idea of a real sin then takes form in your mind as the conclusion that carries on or is implied by the previous step. If separation happened, then sin now becomes the proof that it really happened. The separation has led to sin and if separation is real then sin is real also.

Once you are at a stage of sin, you might think that sin is a problem in its own right, or that you are sinful because of something outside of the sin. Something which justifies or explains the sin or says, you are sinful because of x y and z. But the sole cause of sin is the belief in separation, and believing in separation will automatically generate a sense of having sinned.

Similarly when you believe in real sin, it automatically leads to a conclusion that because you are the one who sinned, you are the one who is therefore guilty. If the sin is real, then it is completely automatic and logically consistent that guilt must follow. It is not even a question of whether guilt will follow. It must. Sin demands guilt because having proved that you did something wrong, you are the one who did it, and the experience of that awareness is guilt.

You will feel guilty if you really attacked God (sinned) because your belief that God was innocent before the attack, and the belief that the attack has been successful, means that you have destroyed innocence. Your natural response to that is to feel guilty. You wouldn't feel guilty if you didn't believe that love had been attacked and damaged.

Sin was the belief that you really did produce this attack on what God is, and that it really has had a real consequence. If it had a real consequence, you must be guilty of being the one who did it. So really sin bleeds into guilt and there is a blurring of the line between them. Because of sin, you are guilty, and sin causes the effect of guilt.

Guilt then has this whole story about why you are guilty or who has decided you are guilty. Like as though someone outside of you has deemed you guilty, or God himself has declared that you are. This is coming from the sin which is being held over you. You experience the guilt as though you are guilty because of the effects you have had on something separate from you, and therefore that something separate is justified in finding you guilty.

So you have this projection of a story about how guilt has been decided by God and not by you, and how this means that you must be guilty. But really, that is not the cause of your guilt. The cause of your guilt is solely the belief that you really sinned at all. Your claim that you were successful in producing a real effect on God, has led to guilt. There is no other cause of it. But you think there is a cause of it outside of you.

A similar thing happens once you're in guilt, where it proceeds to produce a reason for why you are going to be punished. If you are guilty, and you agree that you are guilty, guilt demands punishment. It is automatically implied that because you hurt someone and did damage and you are the culprit, that person (or God) is going to be completely justified in enacting revenge upon you. The guilt identifies that it was you who did it, and so the punishment is going to be coming to you pretty soon.

The guilt therefore automatically and logically produces a belief that punishment is justified. You believe it is justified because you believe you are guilty and so punishment seems acceptable and makes sense. The belief in punishment coming to you will therefore automatically produce fear. You will be afraid of being punished for what you are guilty of. The thing is, the fear will then start to project another story about why you are afraid.

Because you fear punishment, you will become afraid that for example some person is going to do something to you, or you are going to lose your money, or your body is going to be struck down with sickness, or someone is going to die etc. You'll come up with all these projected, separate stories about what it is that you are afraid of happening. As you walk around with guilt you'll feel like a target waiting to be picked off.

But these stories about fear will seem to justify the fear as though they are the reason you are afraid. You will think you're afraid of the punishment itself or that you are afraid of someone attacking you or afraid of sickness or lack etc. And when you start to see these things showing up to bring God's wrath, you'll experience it as though you are afraid of what these things are going to do to you. But these are not the reason you are afraid, at all.

The only reason you are afraid is because you believe you are guilty. Period. All of these other stories are cover-ups and justifications that help you to avoid admitting to the guilt. They deflect attention away from the guilt to disguise it and make it seem like your real issue is with the sources of fear outside of you. The external sources of fear are not the source of fear. Those things are just the forms of the punishment that you fear is coming to you, and even if they weren't happening you'd still be afraid. And that's simply because your guilt is making you afraid.

So see how these levels all feed into each other and overflow into the next level. A belief in separation is the sole cause of sin. A belief in sin is the sole cause of all guilt. A belief in guilt is the sole cause of all fear. And a belief in fear is the sole cause of all punishment. Always the externalized, separate-from-you stories about how something outside of you has decided your fate, something outside of you has deemed you guilty or sinful or unworthy, always those stories are a cover-up and a displacement of the fact that YOU have decided that you are sinful and guilty and deserve to be punished.

Your own belief in your own guilt automatically implies that you must be punished, and then you will actually start to cause your own punishment. Your own belief in your own guilt will terrify you far more than any other reason why you might be afraid. It is more frightening to admit that you want to hurt yourself, and believe you are worthy of being hurt, than to deal with the myriad artificial reasons for fear that seem to project outside of you.

It is your own belief that you are a sinner, that you are guilty, and that you need to be punished - that it is natural and justified and acceptable and agreeable that you be punished - that is causing all your fear. It is the only cause of your fear, just as sin is the only cause of your guilt.

So once you get into the fear you start to actually manifest, choose, create, put into place, welcome and enact upon yourself all of the forms of punishment that you say you do not want. You do want them, because you believe in them, because of your belief in your guilt. You think you are worthy of them. Your agreement that guilt is true of you automatically means you believe you deserve and should be punished, and you will do nothing to stop it. But even moreso, you will do everything to make sure it happens.

Simultaneously your own belief in your own deserving of punishment will scare you tremendously. It's not because of what other people are going to do to you, but the fact that you yourself support what they are going to do to you and are literally not only asking for them to do it to you but are forcing them to do it to you. You will attack yourself indirectly through them.

Because your fear of punishment is the most intense present experience you're having, you will be unconscious of the guilt behind it and will not see that there is any guilt there causing it. That makes the illusion that it is caused by something outside of you seem all the more real. Until you can undo the fear you will not become aware of the unconscious guilt, but when you do undo the illusion of fear the guilt will become conscious.

So you end up attacking yourself, in person, through illusions which make it look like someone separate from you is attacking you. And it will seem like you didn't want it and didn't choose it, but you are horrified by what you did and terrified by your own belief that you should be punished. Your focus on the fear and punishment blocks awareness of the guilt, which is calling for your own punishment, by yourself, and is causing it to happen to you as though it is coming out of nowhere. These are all just stages in being self destructive.

It amounts to a death wish, a genuine desire to actually die because of what you did to God. This is why after significant punishment, and perhaps manifested for you through that punishment (sickness, suffering, attack etc), you open your arms to death like it has come to save you and rescue you from God's wrath. It's not really God's wrath of course that you are running from, it is your own wrath, because you have become your only enemy.

And so this whole belief in separation always will lead inevitably to death, and by the time it happens to you, you will have given up so much of a sense of worthiness or desire to live, and so much sense of having any power left to defend yourself, and will be in so much agreement that you are finally completely ready to receive your final punishment, that you will sacrifice yourself and cause death to happen to you. It will seem more like you are allowing death or that it happens against your will, but really you are making it happen from the unconscious layers of your mind which believe in sin and guilt.

So if you want to erase guilt once and for all, you're going to have to work on cleaning up all of the illusions which come from guilt, which can be considerable. All of the projections of guilt and all of the ways that guilt turns into fear then punishment then death. All of that has to be corrected. Then you would be looking guilt square in the face and be perhaps ready to take it a step further. But if you stop there, guilt will just recreate fear all over again.

So now you must look at the guilt and realize, it is not real guilt. The guilt isn't actually a cause, although it appears to cause fear. When you believed in fear you believed guilt was causal. But now you have to shift to realizing that guilt is an effect. It is the effect of sin, and sin is actually its cause. Guilt is not its own cause and its doesn't have it own power and it doesn't have its own justifications. All of the illusory justifications for guilt must be cleared away to reveal that guilt is nothing without sin, and that sin is the only cause. This means you are not really guilty and guilt is not real, being only an effect.

Then you can begin to look at sin, because once you believe that guilt is nothing more than an effect, and therefore isn't real at all, you are going to find your awareness to be squarely looking at your belief in sin. Sin is going to still seem real to you. You can undo all of your existing guilt, but while the belief in sin remains, it is like a machine which generates guilt and you will be constantly fighting to clean up additional guilt which keeps coming from it.

If you give it enough time, an uncorrected belief in sin will lead to more guilt and will produce more guilt in you. And so your work to get rid of guilt once and for all will fall short of really solving the problem. Guilt isn't the cause of all of your problems, only some of them. Sin is a deeper cause, and sin has the power to cause new guilt to arise, just like it did the first time.

So you really need to realize that guilt is caused by sin alone and has no other causes. It isn't caused by or decided by anyone separate and it isn't a sentence placed on your head by God. Its sole source is sin and now you need to address the sin itself.

Sin is nothing more than the belief that separation has really happened. It is the antithesis to the atonement. And this is where you are at the point of questioning reality - questioning whether something that seemed to "happen" really happened or not. This is also where the rubber meets the road in terms of whether the experiential location you find yourself in is reality, or whether it is a dream.

If the world is reality, then whatever it was that you did, whatever your sin was, whatever seemed to really happen, must have actually happened. Believing the world is real automatically implies that sin is real as well. Anything you do, anything that happens, inside a real world, must be real, and must be a sin.

This is why absolutely everything that happens in this world, every event, every change, is the idea of sin playing out. If it is real, every second of every day is a sin whether it seems substantial or not. If the world is real, you cannot even move an inch without sinning.

So the only way you really are going to be able to accept that sin is not real, is to question whether what you currently believe is real is real. If this world is real then there is no way to move past the belief that sin is real, because sin is the belief that real stuff is happening or has happened. Whatever you "did" in the past, if it happened in a real world and had real consequences, you cannot be forgiven. It cannot be undone.

Real sins are unforgivable. Real sins prove that you are not worthy and are no longer innocent. Real sins demonstrate that real consequences have come from you making something happen, and therefore you are guilty for it. You cannot escape this while you believe that this sin is real. The only hope you have is to question whether sin is real, and this will first seem to apply to one isolated sin but later will bring into question whether sin is real at all.

So you must be willing to realize that sin itself, once again, is not a cause. It seemed to cause guilt but that was an illusion. Sin is an effect. It is the effect of believing that separation has happened. Sin isn't sin because of the proof that something occurred, it is sin because you believe in separation. Belief in separation is the sole cause of sin. Belief that something happened at all is the cause of sin, and nothing else.

Believing that illusions are real, or that something false is the truth, or that an unreal world is reality, or that illusions of things happening are actually things happening, is the sole pivotal cornerstone on which sin is founded. Believe that this world is real, or that stuff has really happened here and that it has happened for real, is the foundation for sin being the truth. If sin is true there is no forgiveness. If forgiveness is true, there is no sin.

So sin must then be questioned as being a cause, and you have to realize it was a only a symptom, a side-effect, of a belief in separation. It isn't causal and it has no power over you. It wasn't handed down as a death sentence from God and nobody else decided to put it into place but you. It was your own wish to believe that separation was possible.

So you must bring sin into question and must question reality and start to transition your awareness past sin. That means looking prior to sin to see what the cause of sin is. The cause of sin is the belief in separation being real. If sin is not real, then the belief in separation cannot be real. If there is no real sin, and any sins you do are not occurring in reality but only in a dream, then it implies backwards that real separation hasn't actually happened.

This is where you have to get your mind to. You have to take your undoing and your forgiveness all the way to this point, to uproot sin. Uprooting sin is the undoing of the belief in separation. And now it should occur to you, that it is POSSIBLE, that separation has in fact not really happened.

This is your step into the doorway of the atonement. This is you completing a forgiveness and moving into a state of being truly forgiving. If nothing has really happened, and you have not sinned, then that must mean... drumroll please.... that you are still innocent.

This should reveal to you that God must still see you as innocent, because you yourself are convinced now that you really cannot have separated from God. You didn't sin and it wasn't real, so you didn't do anything wrong, so your innocence must remain untarnished. God must still be seeing you as innocent and you are now in agreement that you are innocent. All of your belief that you ever did anything truly wrong has been uprooted. Nothing happened but in a dream. Nothing has affected reality.

Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.

And this is where you will feel tremendous relief, a returning of joy, an uplifting of your mind to the awareness of God's love, and your sense of what you deserve will be lifted up to being worthy of God loving you. You do deserve to be loved by God because you are innocent. And herein you are free from the nightmare of believing that you were separate and sinful.

This is what it means to accept the atonement. To accept it, to truly agree with it and accept that it is true, you must have undone all prior levels of separation including fear and guilt but also including sin. In this vision, the sin you believed in was not real, and there IS no real sin. This is true forgiveness.

This is a state of a forgiving attitude which you get to after you have gone through this purification process. This attitude is the attitude of the Holy Spirit, who sees you as eternally innocent and always free from sin. Since sin is not real, all your so-called "sins" are forgiven, and now Love is justified.

Then there is merely cause for celebration and joy and gratitude, as your mind opens up to the awareness, once again, free from the blocks and lies you told yourself, of the presence of a loving God who continues to love you endlessly BECAUSE your innocence is permanent. This is awakening. This is the realization that nothing has happened to or within reality, and everything you thought happened was just a made-up fantasy dream, which has not changed anything at all.

Each time that you "do a forgiveness", you should be taking all of these steps and be undoing all of the illusions that surround and protect each of these levels, to get down to the core truth that each of these are effects and not causes. You must take your forgiveness past punishment and past fear and past guilt and even past sin. Only when you can bring your belief and your awareness and your sense of reality and truth all the way back to the atonement, that NOTHING REAL HAS HAPPENED, only then will you see the justification for yourself for believing that you remain innocent and that you are forever loved by God. 

Return to this as often as you need to and the belief in your worthiness of receiving God's love will increase. And as you see your innocence hiding underneath your sinfulness, you will become ever more willing to accept that you deserve to receive love and forgiveness. Your willingness to receive this will automatically translate to your willingness to believe that other people also deserve this. And this is what will unlock your ability - your willingness - to perform miracles to help others.

Only when you yourself deem yourself worthy of being forgiven, in the recognition that you were never condemned for anything real, will you be willing to also believe this is true of your brother. And only through your acceptance of the atonement for yourself will you be willing to accept it for others, and thus extend God's love to them as expressions of the truth that you now are convinced is real. If you deserve forgiveness, so does everyone, and it is the privilege of the forgiven to forgive and undo all of the symptoms and effects of other people's belief in their own sinfulness.

They deserve your miracles because they are worthy, because you are worthy. They deserve your miracles because they are not sinful, because you are not sinful. They deserve your forgiveness because you deserve your forgiveness. And you can demonstrate that nothing illusory has power over them because it has no power over you.

You are innocent. You are permanently forgiven. You are lovable. You are miraculous. And you are free.


Share this
Older Post Newer Post

How you can help

The Voice For God website is designed to be Truly Helpful, serving the A Course in Miracles community with original content and tools. You can help the community by supporting this website and sharing the content.

You can Sign Up for our Newsletter to get updates and special content. Also here are some additional ways you can help...

1. Buy ACIM Books and eBooks

Purchasing one or more of our books allows you to contribute financially, helping us with operating expenses and funding future projects and content. Thank you for your contribution!

ACIM Book: All is Forgiven
ACIM Book: I Am Love - Book 1

2. Share some Pages

You can help a lot by sharing pages socially with your friends and followers.

Use the " Share this" link on pages you want to share. You will be able to share via facebook, twitter, google+, pinterest and by email.

These shares make it easier for ACIM students to find our pages on the internet and in Google. Thank you!

3. Link from your Website

ACIM students will also be able to more easily find our website if you add links pointing to our pages from a website or blog.

If you run a website, particularly with related subject-matter such as topics of spirituality, adding link(s) pointing to our pages helps a great deal!

You can link to THIS page with the following URL:


Search Voice For God
Share this page
Voice for god news

Sign up for our newsletter to get regular content updates, ACIM help and tips, stories and more to your email inbox: