ACIM Text Reading for March 19
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
IV. The Holy Spirit’s Plan of Forgiveness
Atonement is for all, because it is the way to undo the belief that anything is for you alone. To forgive is to overlook. Look, then, beyond error and do not let your perception rest upon it, for you will believe what your perception holds. Accept as true only what your brother is, if you would know yourself. Perceive what he is not and you cannot know what you are, because you see him falsely. Remember always that your Identity is shared, and that Its sharing is Its reality.
You have a part to play in the Atonement, but the plan of the Atonement is beyond you. You do not understand how to overlook errors, or you would not make them. It would merely be further error to believe either that you do not make them, or that you can correct them without a Guide to correction. And if you do not follow this Guide, your errors will not be corrected. The plan is not yours because of your limited ideas about what you are. This sense of limitation is where all errors arise. The way to undo them, therefore, is not of you but for you.
The Atonement is a lesson in sharing, which is given you because you have forgotten how to do it. The Holy Spirit merely reminds you of the natural use of your abilities. By reinterpreting the ability to attack into the ability to share, he translates what you have made into what God created. If you would accomplish this through Him you cannot look on your abilities through the eyes of the ego, or you will judge them as it does. All their harmfulness lies in the ego’s judgment. All their helpfulness lies in the judgment of the Holy Spirit.
The ego, too, has a plan of forgiveness because you are asking for one, though not of the right teacher. The ego’s plan, of course, makes no sense and will not work. By following its plan you will merely place yourself in an impossible situation, to which the ego always leads you. The ego’s plan is to have you see error clearly first, and then overlook it. Yet how can you overlook what you have made real? By seeing it clearly, you have made it real and cannot overlook it. This is where the ego is forced to appeal to “mysteries,” insisting that you must accept the meaningless to save yourself. Many have tried to do this in my name, forgetting that my words make perfect sense because they come from God. They are as sensible now as they ever were, because they speak of ideas that are eternal.
Forgiveness that is learned of me does not use fear to undo fear. Nor does it make real the unreal and then destroy it. Forgiveness through the Holy Spirit lies simply in looking beyond error from the beginning, and thus keeping it unreal for you. Do not let any belief in its realness enter your mind, or you will also believe that you must undo what you have made in order to be forgiven. What has no effect does not exist, and to the Holy Spirit the effects of error are nonexistent. By steadily and consistently cancelling out all its effects, everywhere and in all respects, he teaches that the ego does not exist and proves it.
Follow the Holy Spirit’s teaching in forgiveness, then, because forgiveness is His function and He knows how to fulfill it perfectly. That is what I meant when I said that miracles are natural, and when they do not occur something has gone wrong. Miracles are merely the sign of your willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s plan of salvation, recognizing that you do not understand what it is. His work is not your function, and unless you accept this you cannot learn what your function is.
The confusion of functions is so typical of the ego that you should be quite familiar with it by now. The ego believes that all functions belong to it, even though it has no idea what they are. This is more than mere confusion. It is a particularly dangerous combination of grandiosity and confusion that makes the ego likely to attack anyone and anything for no reason at all. This is exactly what the ego does. It is unpredictable in its responses, because it has no idea of what it perceives.
If you have no idea what is happening, how appropriately can you expect to react? You might ask yourself, regardless of how you may account for the reaction, whether its unpredictability places the ego in a sound position as your guide. Let me repeat that the ego’s qualifications as a guide are singularly unfortunate, and that it is a remarkably poor choice as a teacher of salvation. Anyone who elects a totally insane guide must be totally insane himself. Nor is it true that you do not realize the guide is insane. You realize it because I realize it, and you have judged it by the same standard I have.
The ego literally lives on borrowed time, and its days are numbered. Do not fear the Last Judgment, but welcome it and do not wait, for the ego’s time is “borrowed” from your eternity. This is the Second Coming that was made for you as the First was created. The Second Coming is merely the return of sense. Can this possibly be fearful?
What can be fearful but fantasy, and who turns to fantasy unless he despairs of finding satisfaction in reality? Yet it is certain that you will never find satisfaction in fantasy, so that your only hope is to change your mind about reality. Only if the decision that reality is fearful is wrong can God be right. And I assure you that God is right. Be glad, then, that you have been wrong, but this was only because you did not know who you were. Had you known, you could no more have been wrong than God can.
The impossible can happen only in fantasy. When you search for reality in fantasies you will not find it. The symbols of fantasy are of the ego, and of these you will find many. But do not look for meaning in them. They have no more meaning than the fantasies into which they are woven. Fairy tales can be pleasant or fearful, but no one calls them true. Children may believe them, and so, for a while, the tales are true for them. Yet when reality dawns, the fantasies are gone. Reality has not gone in the meanwhile. The Second Coming is the awareness of reality, not its return.
Behold, my child, reality is here. It belongs to you and me and God, and is perfectly satisfying to all of Us. Only this awareness heals, because it is the awareness of truth.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 19
Let miracles replace all grievances.
Perhaps it is not yet quite clear to you that each decision that you make is one between a grievance and a miracle. Each grievance stands like a dark shield of hate before the miracle it would conceal. And as you raise it up before your eyes, you will not see the miracle beyond. Yet all the while it waits for you in light, but you behold your grievances instead.
Today we go beyond the grievances, to look upon the miracle instead. We will reverse the way you see by not allowing sight to stop before it sees. We will not wait before the shield of hate, but lay it down and gently lift our eyes in silence to behold the Son of God.
He waits for you behind your grievances, and as you lay them down he will appear in shining light where each one stood before. For every grievance is a block to sight, and as it lifts you see the Son of God where he has always been. He stands in light, but you were in the dark. Each grievance made the darkness deeper, and you could not see.
Today we will attempt to see God’s Son. We will not let ourselves be blind to him; we will not look upon our grievances. So is the seeing of the world reversed, as we look out toward truth, away from fear. We will select one person you have used as target for your grievances, and lay the grievances aside and look at him. Someone, perhaps, you fear and even hate; someone you think you love who angered you; someone you call a friend, but whom you see as difficult at times or hard to please, demanding, irritating or untrue to the ideal he should accept as his, according to the role you set for him.
You know the one to choose; his name has crossed your mind already. He will be the one of whom we ask God’s Son be shown to you. Through seeing him behind the grievances that you have held against him, you will learn that what lay hidden while you saw him not is there in everyone, and can be seen. He who was enemy is more than friend when he is freed to take the holy role the Holy Spirit has assigned to him. Let him be savior unto you today. Such is his role in God your Father’s plan.
Our longer practice periods today will see him in this role. You will attempt to hold him in your mind, first as you now consider him. You will review his faults, the difficulties you have had with him, the pain he caused you, his neglect, and all the little and the larger hurts he gave. You will regard his body with its flaws and better points as well, and you will think of his mistakes and even of his “sins.”
Then let us ask of Him Who knows this Son of God in his reality and truth, that we may look on him a different way, and see our savior shining in the light of true forgiveness, given unto us. We ask Him in the holy Name of God and of His Son, as holy as Himself:
Let me behold my savior in this one You have appointed as
the one for me to ask to lead me to the holy light in which he
stands, that I may join with him.
The body’s eyes are closed, and as you think of him who grieved you, let your mind be shown the light in him beyond your grievances.
What you have asked for cannot be denied. Your savior has been waiting long for this. He would be free, and make his freedom yours. The Holy Spirit leans from him to you, seeing no separation in God’s Son. And what you see through Him will free you both. Be very quiet now, and look upon your shining savior. No dark grievances obscure the sight of him. You have allowed the Holy Spirit to express through him the role God gave Him that you might be saved.
God thanks you for these quiet times today in which you laid your images aside, and looked upon the miracle of love the Holy Spirit showed you in their place. The world and Heaven join in thanking you, for not one Thought of God but must rejoice as you are saved, and all the world with you.
We will remember this throughout the day, and take the role assigned to us as part of God’s salvation plan, and not our own. Temptation falls away when we allow each one we meet to save us, and refuse to hide his light behind our grievances. To everyone you meet, and to the ones you think of or remember from the past, allow the role of savior to be given, that you may share it with him. For you both, and all the sightless ones as well, we pray:
Let miracles replace all grievances.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1141: I am very frightened by the thought that going into Heaven means losing my ego and forgetting everything about this world. Especially when I think about forgetting people I know or my parents or my son. I do not want to forget them. I want to be with them in love forever. This is when resistance occurs in me and really scares me. It seems so lonely to be with God and being only one. My whole life I feel separated and alone, and so to be in Heaven does not seem very tempting. Where is my misunderstanding?
A: You have a lot of company. The fear you describe keeps the world population exploding. We find long waiting lines at Disneyland, but certainly not at Heaven’s gate. That is because when the mind identifies with the ego it finds the non-dualistic nature of Heaven profoundly threatening; in spite of the fact that it has no knowledge of non-duality. The ego’s only reality is the multiplicity of separation. It looks on oneness with terror, because its existence depends on duality. The sum and substance of its cycle of life and death is variety, change, excitement, emotional roller coasters, and diversity. In fact, the ego’s theme song proclaims: “The only constant thing is change.” To strengthen its case for separation, the mind conjures up visions of Heaven as a place of boring, lonely, annihilation. This is a perfect example of the principle of projection: when the mind experiences the loneliness of its self-imposed exile caused by its rejection of its Identity as God’s Son and abandonment of its home, it denies the loneliness of separation and makes up a substitute “home” (the world), replete with special relationships to fill the empty void. It then projects what has been denied and perceives Heaven as a lonely place of exile. All this is done to protect the mind from realizing the devastating effects of choosing separation, so it can continue to cling to it. The mind turns everything upside down to defend itself against choosing to return home with God, where all sense of loneliness disappears and every fragment of the Sonship (parents, children, friends) is joined in the oneness of God’s Love.
In response to our fear of returning to our true home, Jesus has a very comforting message: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition” (T.16.VI.8:1,2). Not only is time kind, but the forgiveness that Jesus teaches is a kind and gentle healing process. It does not take special relationships away, but transforms them to include those whom they were meant to exclude. The pace is set only by our willingness to forget the ego’s separation lie and remember what it means to be one. While the mind identifies with the body, it makes eyes that see other bodies that seem real, and emotional attachments that seem more real than the oneness God created. These special relationships with loved ones are the ego’s substitutes for the relationship between the Father and His Son; the only true relationship. This can only be understood in the context of the Course’s teaching that we are minds, not bodies. A Course in Miracles teaches that nothing exists outside the mind (T.18.VI.8) . The mind that chooses to believe the separation is real splits into two parts.
The right mind remembers the oneness of God’s Love, and every fragmented part of the Sonship is included in that memory. No one is excluded, lost, or lonely. The love that flows from this part of the mind embraces family members, along with everyone else. When the mind chooses this all inclusive love as its only identity, it joins with the oneness of God’s Love; the Heaven it never left.
The wrong mind, on the other hand, chooses to identify with the body that is exclusive by the very fact that it is bound by limitations. A body not only cannot love everybody, it cannot love at all. “It [the body] was made to limit the unlimited” (T.18.VIII.1:3). In contrast, “Love has no limits, being everywhere” (W.p.I.103.1:4). We may therefore conclude that what is limited is not love. What the world calls “love,” the Course calls specialness; a “love” subject to change, disappointment, and loss. What changes does not last, and so, however pleasurable or noble it may seem to be, the ego’s love will inevitably end. What does not last is not real, or eternal, or found in Heaven. The ego’s answer to life’s pain and anguish is a belief system that teaches that we will find beloved individuals in Heaven. This is a heaven that mirrors the world, only better. It is designed to support belief in the separation and the ego’s dualistic God.
Heaven is not only not the lonely place projected by the ego, it is the state of mind in which everyone is included as one. Through the process of forgiveness, what was special love reserved only for certain people is gradually transformed to the all-inclusive love of the right mind. There are many passages in the Course describing the beauty of the real world that precedes the step into the eternity of Heaven. Though we are not asked to understand what has been obliterated from awareness by the “…heavy garments of guilt” (T.18.IX.9:7) , you might imagine the loving feelings you have toward your parents and son expanded to embrace everyone. That is the end result of the mind joining with itself and finally feeling at home. Meanwhile, until the last spot of darkness is removed, and nothing remains to blur the vision of our forgotten home, our only concern is the ongoing practice of forgiveness: small, but certain steps in undoing the belief that the body is all there is.