Again, we can look back to the Section in Chapter 21, "The Fear to Look Within," (T.21.IV) (ACIM OE T.21.V) where Jesus talks about how the ego depends on sin and guilt. We seem to get a certain comfort in the idea of our imperfection. From a Christian perspective, it is imperative that people declare that they are sinners. In fact, in traditional Christianity, this must be affirmed in order to be released from sin. The ego is comfortable with this idea. To the ego, the "enemy" is our innocence. According to Jesus, the question that makes the ego tremble is: "What if you looked within and saw no sin?" (T.21.IV.3.1) (ACIM OE T.21.V.43) The ego trembles at this question because it is a threat to its continuation. Love casts out fear and the ego is the symbol of fear.
In our journey with this Course, we have started on the process of looking at our insanity and recognizing its madness. We have accepted the Holy Spirit's purpose in the part of our mind where reason lies. Resistance still comes up, which is why we sometimes withdraw from our practice, stop meditating, or even give up on the Course for a while, because of our fear and the defenses we put up to maintain our separate self.
In the Section in Chapter 14, "The Reflection of Holiness," (T.14.IX) (T.14.V) Jesus says, "The making of time to take the place of timelessness lay in the decision to be not as you are." (T.14.IX.1.7) (ACIM OE T.14.V.38) In that decision, truth was in the past and "the present was dedicated to illusion." (T.14.IX.1.8) (ACIM OE T. 14.V.38) Of course, it is not the past we think of and remember but a past that always was. What always was is the truth of our existence as eternal beings. This is what we have denied. Our part is to bring illusions to the truth where they "disappear in light." (T.14.IX.2.4) (ACIM OE T. 14.V.39) The Holy Spirit does not attack anything we have made in this dream. "It merely vanishes because it is not true." (T.14.IX.2.5) (ACIM OE T.14.V.39)
Thus, it is a gentle undoing of what never was. "The Atonement is so gentle you need but whisper to it, and all its power will rush to your assistance and support." (T.14.IX.3.2) (ACIM OE T.14.V.40) All our pain, our sense of loss, and our fear of death will be replaced with joy. How could we not want that? Your part is simply to bring your problems to the healing light, which is in you and has never left you. "In this world you can become a spotless mirror, in which the Holiness of your Creator shines forth from you to all around you. You can reflect Heaven here." (T.14.IX.5.1-2) (ACIM OE T.14.V.42) This is what it is to spend a day in fearlessness and love. It is to stay vigilant for fear thoughts and thoughts of anger and attack and quickly do a restorative, taking responsibility for our thoughts and laying them at the feet of truth.
As we take this journey, we will become more and more aware of the subtle ways the ego shows up. Today, as we were driving, I noticed how Don tends to slow down for green lights in case they turn yellow. I found myself irritated at the cautious way he was driving and became curious at what the irritation was about. After all, his way of driving was to keep us both safe, which should bring forth appreciation in me rather than irritation. In inquiring on what the irritation was about, I realized I had a judgment on myself for being cautious. I am a cautious skier. I stand back in social relationships. I am cautious with money and many areas in my life where I am overly careful. I am attracted to those who are brash, risk-taking, and courageous. As I saw my own self-judgment projected out, I had a glimpse of what this irritation was about. It has nothing to do with my brother. Our part is always to take responsibility for our judgments and to bring our unholiness to holiness. There it will be shined away. Thus, we must remain vigilant in how we mostly spend our days with the ego rather than in fearlessness and holiness.
We have kept hidden the power and glory God gave us by covering it over with our ego's darkness. Then, we stored this darkness away behind dark doors, and we placed guards at the doors---the sentinels of darkness. "The sentinels of darkness watch over it carefully, and you who made these guardians of illusion out of nothing are now afraid of them." (T.14.VI.2.5) (ACIM OE T.14.III.17) These sentinels just reflect our own determination to guard those doors at all costs. These sentinels are our defenses. In the above example, the ego would prefer to criticize my brother for his driving rather than look within. The sentinels only have the power we give them to do what we direct them to do. What we can now choose to do is dismiss the sentinels, open the doors, allow the darkness to be seen, and bring it to the Holy Spirit's light. This is very much in keeping with the Lesson yesterday, "I will not fear to look within today." (W.309)
The ego cannot bear to look on the light. It senses there is something greater that threatens its existence. "What if you looked within and saw no sin? This 'fearful' question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego's whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend." (T.21.IV.3.1-3) (ACIM OE T.21.V.43) We need to be aware how resistance shows up in all kinds of ways. For example, we may seriously start to question the teaching. We may start to feel a lot of fear. We may get sick, as a defense against the truth, or may have any number of symptoms of resistance. The more light that shines forth, the more the darkness can be seen. This can seem threatening but, in fact, reflects readiness to expose deeper layers for healing.
"What if I were innocent?" "What if I were sinless and guiltless?" "What if there were nothing to atone for?" "Who is the 'you' who believes in guilt?" The ego is terrified of this questioning. It wants to get back to questioning the trivial things of the world. "What if I could do this better?" "What if I could accomplish more in the world?" "Can I get a better illusion?" "How can I solve this problem?" "How can I manifest more money?" That is the kind of questioning the ego can stand because it wants to keep us distracted with the issues, problems, and perceived pleasures of this world. As long as we keep focused on the world, we will not threaten the ego identity and will seem to stay safe within the confines of its maxim, "Seek but do not find." (T.16.V.6.5) (ACIM OE T.16.VI.48) To find the truth of our eternal and holy reality is to undo the ego identity.
"Your liberation still is only partial; still limited and incomplete, yet born within you. Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognize its madness. Your faith is moving inward, past insanity and on to reason. And what your reason tells you now the ego would not hear. The Holy Spirit's purpose was accepted by the part of your mind the ego knows not of. No more did you. And yet this part, with which you now identify, is not afraid to look upon itself. It knows no sin. How, otherwise, could it have been willing to see the Holy Spirit's purpose as its own?"
(T.21. IV.4.1) (ACIM OE T.21.V.44)
This paragraph reminds me of a quote I was reading the other day about a diagram of a spiral. The quote was, "You have not yet gone back far enough." It is quite a big step just to begin to question everything, but the pain and the resistance come from the realization, "You have not yet gone back far enough." The only true release is to get to the beginning. It's as if, while you are questioning things, you are winding down, down and further down. Resistance will seem to come up time and time again because we are still invested in the ego. The ego has convinced us that God's punishment awaits us for what we have done in seemingly leaving our Source, which, of course, has never happened, but don't mistake this for ego analysis. It is simply a form of inquiry where we continue to look at our thoughts and take responsibility for them.
Jesus urges, "Little child, innocent of sin, follow in gladness the way to certainty." (T.21.IV.8.3) (ACIM OE T.21.V.48) The way to certainty is within. That certainty is already in our right minds where truth resides. We have, for a long time, achingly longed for the sweet music of the forgotten song, ". . . the song it longed to hear since first the ego came into your mind." (T.21.IV.7.2) (ACIM OE T.21.V.47) Yet what we listen to instead is the terrorizing voice of the ego. All our concerns, plans, and fears keep us in this state all the while "The song of freedom, which sings the praises of another world, brings to it hope of peace." (T.21.IV.7.4) (ACIM OE T.21.V.47) The ego's rule has kept this song from our awareness for so long.
Now, as we open to the truth more and more, layers of programming and self-delusion are being revealed. We do it through our relationships. We do it by becoming aware of the judgments and anger we have toward others and by being willing to look at our reactions without judgment. We sometimes withhold forgiveness when we think it will not be accepted. Yet it is never the other person we are forgiving. What we are doing is recognizing our own projection we have put onto our innocent brother's behavior. It is always our own interpretation that needs to be healed. We forgive our brother for what he has not done. This is only understandable within the context of the illusion. Nothing has happened except in the dream. Yet in the dream, we experience adversity of all types. When the adversity is used for the purpose of healing, it is always helpful.
While we are told that we can choose salvation now, we think it is something that may happen in the future. Why not give up what we are defending---now? Why not let our grievances go---now? Allow your most often used defense mechanism to be seen, and you will find a whole lot of related defenses go with it. When I get hurt, I pretend not to care and with that pretense comes a shutting down of pain that seems to keep me safe. It has always seemed safer to me than to expose my hurt. Yet as I have become more honest, express more, and share my vulnerability, I am truly safe. Our strength is in our vulnerability. There is nothing to protect except the image of who we think we are. As the image is exposed more and more and as the layers of programming and self-delusion are seen, space is made for the love we are to come streaming through.
Now we end the Section on "What is the Second Coming?" (W.PII.Q9) and Jesus keeps reminding us of the sweetness there is in remembering who we are. It frees us from the chains that bind us to the guilt and sin on which the ego thrives. It welcomes the love into our hearts. It is a day in which we can truly rejoice in the truth of our creation by spending it with our Creator! "In fearlessness and love I spend today." (W.310) Lesson 244 reminds us that we are safe wherever we may be, for He is with us always. His Love and our safety are One. There is no need for fear nor doubt. We simply cannot be endangered or experience unhappiness when we belong to Him and are forever beloved. "No storms can come into the hallowed haven of our home. In God we are secure." (W.244.2.2)
When we have truly welcomed love into our hearts, there is no room for fear. Both cannot coexist. "This day will be Your sweet reminder to remember You." (W.310.1.4) It is a day of gratitude and Jesus says he is with us in spending this day together. We are never alone. "And all of the world joins with us in our song of thankfulness and joy to Him Who gave salvation to us, and Who set us free. We are restored to peace and holiness. There is no room in us for fear today, for we have welcomed love into our hearts." (W.310.2.2-4) We can have this kind of day every day. It is not dependent on the circumstances of our lives or what is happening in our day. When our goal is God, then everything that happens in our day will assist us to undo that which is not the truth.
Whatever form our fear comes in, whether worry, anxiety, apprehension, or distress of any kind, we can be set free because it is God's Will. It is a beautiful prayer we can pray throughout the day, reminding ourselves that joy is not about the events of the day but comes from Heaven to us, bypassing all obstacles if we are willing to release them. Notice Jesus is joining us in thankfulness to God for this day. We can be thankful when we spend the day with Jesus as our teacher, who shows us how to look at the events of this world as a way to get back to our minds so we can make another choice. The day can be devoted to learning the lessons of forgiveness. "And all the world joins with us in our song of thankfulness and joy to Him Who gave salvation to us, and Who set us free." (W.310.2.2)