In the section, "What is Salvation?", we are told "Salvation is a promise made by God, that you would find your way to Him at last." (W.PII.Q2.1.1) Jesus goes on to say the promise must be kept, guaranteeing us an end to time and the end to all our ego thoughts of sin, guilt and despair. In this Lesson, Jesus says, "You are healed and you can heal. The light has come. You are saved and you can save. You are at peace, and you bring peace with you wherever you go." (W.75.1.2-5) Yet that is not our daily experience, the reason being we are listening to another voice---the voice of the ego.
Peace is in our minds. "The Thought of peace was given to God's Son the instant that his mind had thought of war." (What is Salvation? W.PII.Q2.2.1) How can we be sure of this? Because over and over we are told we have the same Will as God, and since we are an idea in the mind of God and "Ideas leave not their source, and their effects but seem to be apart from them," (T.27.VII.4.7)(ACIM OE.T.26.VIII.49)we must still be part of Him and like Him. The truth is there is a part of the mind at peace right thismoment. Nothing can disturb that peace because God Wills it. The peace that is our reality is beyond the complexity of the ego identity with all of its anxieties, issues, problems, concepts and specialness.
Our reality is a fact. We are God's Son. While we still cling to our ego identity, we resist the truth of who we really are because it is a threat to our existence as a separate, autonomous self. The ego is threatened by the Self we are, knowing if we recognize the truth of ourselves, we will choose against the ego, and that will be its end. The recognition of our true reality will dawn on our minds when we have released all of the concepts, beliefs, thoughts and desires in our wrong minds that block our reality. What is required is that we bring to light our grievances, expectations, worries, demands, anger, frustrations, beliefs and opinions which constitute our self concepts and self image. In other words, we give up needing to be right about who we think we are and what we think we know.
This frightens us because it is disorienting. All of our perceptions are turned upside down. To admit "I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself," (T.31.V.17.7)(ACIM OE T.31.V.60) is very threatening to us. Jesus says, "There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this." (T.31.V.17.6)(ACIM OE T.31.V.59) Questioning our thoughts is the beginning of undoing our false self so that the magnificent being we are is revealed.
I like the way Anita Moorjani discovered this when she wrote of her near-death experience. She said, "If we only knew how perfect and magnificent we are. It feels as if imperfection is the creation of the mind. Judgment too. Everything. As physical human beings, we need to process information through our minds. And all we perceive is separation because that is how our minds process information. But beyond the mind we are one. We are totally interconnected."
Every Lesson we practice daily is for the purpose not only of being reminded of the truth, but of becoming aware of the ego. Every lesson we have learned in our lives has been part of our conditioning that keeps us believing in the reality of the world. Its purpose is to keep us invested in this dream. In other words, we have all made adjustments to manage living in the world. Every day with each Lesson we apply to our lives, we lessen the impact of these conditioned ego beliefs. There is nothing irrelevant in this Course. Every step in our reading and practice guarantees our awakening, our salvation. Nothing is missing. There is nothing else we need. Pursuing other paths can be another way to delay. It is an ego ploy to keep seeking, but never find.
Every day we get seemingly sucked into the ego illusion, although it is all by our own decision. On this path, we may feel very much out of step with the rest of the world, and we are. When everyone believes something, even though it is not the truth, it is difficult to step away from what is commonly held by billions of people in consciousness. But just because billions of people hold a belief system, it does not make it true. As Jesus says, "All are called but few choose to listen." (T.3.IV.7.12)(ACIM OE T.3.VI.49)
It only takes an instant to change our minds. We simply need the desire and willingness to release what is false and choose the truth. The ego wants to keep us focused on our problems that continually distract us and keep us invested in the illusion. It is how we separate cause from effect, believing the cause of our problems is in the world rather than in our own minds. Guilt demands punishment, which is delivered through perceived problems in the world. It does not mean all problems disappear when the guilt is healed, but we will no longer see their relevance in our lives. We will no longer see some problems as bigger than others. We will only see that they do not define us. We will see they are all equally unreal.
We see differences by seeing others as separate from us. We see them as guilty, which gives us the false impression that we can maintain innocence at the expense of those whom we judge. We judge them because we believe what we perceive through our senses, which seem very convincing in showing us the beam in our brother's eye while keeping us from seeing the speck in our own eye. Our attention is riveted on the world of form. But we can choose whether we give power to the ego (because it has no power when we withdraw belief from it) or choose forgiveness. As has been said many times, what we see outside of ourselves is just a projection of our inner state. We have been asleep for a very long time. It has been a dark dream of turmoil and conflict. We are now waking up.
We identify with what we think will make us safe. If we think we are a body that protects us, we will identify with it and use it for our purposes as we define them. We will pursue what we think will make us happy. We can spend a lifetime in such pursuits, even though Jesus tells us, again and again, the ego sends us on missions to find happiness where it can't be found. We have no idea of true happiness beyond meeting our needs as we define them. Jesus reminds us we don't know who we are, so how can we know our own best interests. Since this is the case, we can't possibly know how to find peace and happiness.
When we identify with the body and personality, we are in a constant state of deprivation, lack and need. There can never be safety for us in this "rotting prison." (T.26.I.8.3)(ACIM OE.T.26.II.9) Jesus describes us as being like a child throwing temper tantrums and demanding its needs be met. (T.29.IX.6.4) He says, just like children who do not understand the language of adults, we insist that what we see and feel is reality. Just as children do, we think our 'toys' mean something. To us, problems we perceive in the world do not feel like toys to be played with. All the circumstances of our lives feel very real and not at all like meaningless children's toys. We take it all very seriously. It all seems very real and very important. Indeed, the world of the ego is a battlefield where we compete with everyone to have our needs met. We are constantly trying to gain at someone's expense. When we identify with the ego, our focus is a self-centered life of me, myself, and I. Yet our specialness is never satisfied, thus we see ourselves as victims of this world.
We are doing this work with the Course in order to release our attachment to our childhood toys, recognizing we need not take anything seriously. We can afford to laugh as we begin to recognize that it is all illusory. We begin to release our investment in our separate identity, and increasingly recognize it is not what we are. Our willingness to accept responsibility for the power of our own minds is increased as we do the forgiveness work, recognizing that we have the capacity to choose against the ego. In that instant of release of the ego thought system, "the light has come." This is the experience of the real world.
What is the real world? "The real world still is but a dream. Except the figures have been changed. They are not seen as idols which betray. It is a dream in which no one is used to substitute for something else, nor interposed between the thoughts the mind conceives and what it sees." (T.29.IX.7.1-4)(ACIM OE T.29.X.67) While the real world is still an illusion, as it is not Heaven, it is not part of the dream of the ego. Now only Heaven is reflected, and nothing interferes with our recognition of the truth of who we are. We still see the disasters in the world, yet we give whatever we see no power to disrupt our peace. We now clearly see that the expressions of anger and hate in the world around us mask the love there, and we respond to everything with love. Truly the light has come! It has come because it is a reflection of the light now in the mind, no longer blocked by dark thoughts.
The Holy Spirit has heard our call. "Love always answers, being unable to deny a call for help, or not to hear the cries of pain that rise to it from every part of this strange world you made but do not want. All that you need to give this world away in glad exchange for what you did not make is willingness to learn the one you made is false." (T.13.VII.4.3-4)(ACIM OE T.12.VII.62) When our perception is wholly changed and we experience healing, we will experience a new world shining in the light of our healed perception. It is the same as awakening from a nighttime dream where the dream is given no reality at all and "has left no trace." (W.75.2.6)
The way we awaken is always through forgiveness. Forgiveness is about releasing all the thoughts and beliefs that are not true so we can experience the holy instant. Love has responded. We have heard the notes of the 'forgotten song' calling us home. When we experience even some fragments of the song, we want nothing else. We now recognize the sameness of everyone. We are all the Christ. We now understand that holding onto grievances, concerns, issues, concepts, sickness, and grief is a defense against the truth of who we are. As we understand this, we increasingly lay our concerns aside. As we do, we realize the peace in unity. We don't have to pretend we still don't want the toys of this world, but as we feel the safety of the arms of Love sustaining us, we can increasingly allow the love and strength in us to grow. Thus, the light has come in every moment we choose it.
We spend the day in gratitude that this is so. "We offer thanks for the passing of the old and the beginning of the new." (W.75.3.1) In the practice periods, we are "looking at the world that our forgiveness shows us." (W.75.4.1) What do we see? We see innocence in everyone. Every situation, no matter how challenging it appears, provides an opportunity to see past it and experience peace. We are peace and bring that peace to everyone we meet. There is no fear, there is no conflict in truth. When we accept the truth of who we are, we experience pure joy. We see the beauty in everyone we encounter. We see "Heaven's reflection" everywhere. (W.75.5.2) We experience our release (W.75.5.3) where there is no past. It is like the movie "50 First Dates" where, due to loss of memory, every day is experienced as a brand new day! Or as in the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," where the memories of past dysfunction are wiped away so only the memory of love remains.
It is a state where we have given up all self-concepts, (W.75.6.2) and all beliefs we have held. We look on the world with fresh perspective as if we have never seen any of it before. We are like a newborn infant experiencing the first moments of life! We look through the "eyes" of the Holy Spirit, who will show us "what true vision sees." (W.75.7.6) We "wait patiently for Him." (W.75.7.8) We need have no anxiety, only absolute confidence that all the promises in the Course are kept. We simply affirm that today. "You cannot fail because you trust in Him." (W.75.8.1) "You wait in certainty." (W.75.8.2) Why? Because He keeps His promises. "And you will see the world that has been promised you since time began, and in which is the end of time ensured." (W.75.8.5) Today we are simply asked to acknowledge all of this. Today is a day of prayer where our song of prayer is a song of thanks. It is a day of gratitude. It is a new beginning. (W.75.9.5) We are encouraged here to "extend today forever." (W.75.9.7)
Whatever our experience may be today, and it may indeed seem difficult, this is still the truth. We can't be anything but what we were created to be. This is the will we share with God. The Course is not about trying to change our lives, only our minds. As our minds are healed, our lives will change. He tells us, "You must change your mind, not your behavior and this is a matter of willingness." (T.VI.3.4) Later he reminds us, we can't change our minds by changing our behavior. When the mind is changed, behavior follows accordingly.
Jesus tells us this is a simple Course. "This course offers a very direct and a very simple learning situation, and provides the Guide Who tells you what to do." (T.9.V.9.1)(ACIM OE T.9.IV.29) It does not seem that way to our complex minds. To the ego, all this has to take a very long time. We tell ourselves how really messed up we are and it is no easy matter to heal, and when we believe this voice of the ego, we can get very discouraged. We fixate on changing our jobs, mates, diets, habits, and anything we can do in form, yet all we need to do is change our minds by looking at our thought system, rather than at our own or others' behavior.
The light has come. It has never left us. Light abolishes darkness, love cancels fear, and truth undoes illusion. What is being shown us is how wonderful we will feel when we let go of our judgments and attack thoughts, which we can't do alone. The ego will never undo itself. We do need the Holy Spirit. Our part is the willingness to surrender our way of seeing the situation. The shadows of our past hide this world forgiveness offers, and we hold onto our thoughts of attack precisely as a defense against this light. We fear the light because it will undo the ego and we still want to hold onto what we have made.
Forgiveness is the basis for opening up to the light. "Understand that the Holy Spirit never fails to give the gift of sight to the forgiving. Believe He will not fail you now." (W.75.7.2-3) "We dedicate this day to the serenity in which God would have you be." (T.75.11.1)
We are asked today to "Keep a completely open mind, washed of all past ideas and clean of every concept you have made." (T.75.6.2) To withdraw the meanings we have given the world is to forgive it. This opens us to vision. (T.75.7.1) We wait in patience and confidence, repeating several times, "The light has come. I have forgiven the world." (T.75.6.8-9)
We must be patient and gentle with ourselves and others, as Jesus is with us, in the process of letting go of our fear of the light. Whenever you are tempted today to be upset with someone, say, "The light has come. I have forgiven you." (T.75.10.5-6) This upset might be a thought about some person, event or circumstance from the past or someone who is presently on your path who upsets you. It is a day of practicing vigilance in releasing grievances against any brother, recognizing only our grievances bring misery into our lives. If we really believed this, we would truly want to let our judgments of others go, and let the light shine away the darkness of the guilt in our minds, so the peace and the light can shine through us.