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 that the promise must be kept, guaranteeing an end to time and an end to all 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 this is not our daily experience because we are listening to another voice---the voice of the ego.
Peace is in our minds right now. "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? We are sure because over and over we are told that 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.26.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 at 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 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 what 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 that if we recognize the truth, 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 that all concepts, beliefs, thoughts, and desires in our wrong minds 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 of not only being reminded of the truth but of becoming aware of the ego. Every lesson we have learned in our lives from the time we were born has been part of the conditioning that keeps us believing in the reality of this world. Its purpose is to keep us invested in the dream. In other words, we have all made adjustments as part of managing to live in the world. Every day, with each Lesson we apply to our lives, we lessen the impact of these conditioned beliefs.
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. Yet 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 to 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 speck in our brother's eye while keeping us from seeing the beam 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 beginning to wake 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 that 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 our needs be met. He says that 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 with which we play daily. The circumstances of our lives feel very real to us 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 else's expense. When we identify with the ego, our focus is on a self-centered life of me, myself, and I. Yet our specialness is never satisfied. We never feel our needs are adequately met, so we must keep striving and competing and perceiving ourselves as victimized by the world.
As we become aware of what we have been doing to keep ourselves in hell, we become more willing to release our attachment to our childhood toys, recognizing we need not take anything seriously. We can afford to smile gently at the unreality of our situation. We are learning 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. 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 way to delay. It is an ego ploy to seek but never find.
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. Heaven is reflected in everything that is seen. When we come to this place, nothing will interfere with our recognition of the truth. We will still see problems, yet we give, to whatever we see, no power to disrupt our peace. The expressions of anger and hate in the world are still there, but we see it as a mask that covers over the love that is there. Now we respond to everything with love. Truly, the light has come! It has come because it is a reflection of the light 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 what we are. As we understand this, we increasingly lay our concerns aside. As we do, we realize the peace that is there, only in unity. We don't have to pretend that we 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. In any instant of release of the ego thought system, we experience a moment where, "The light has come," (W.75) until this has become a continuous and consistent experience.
We spend the day in gratitude that this is so. "Our exercises for today will be happy ones, in which 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 "devoted to 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 us another opportunity to look past it and choose to see the innocence. From a peaceful state of mind, we bring 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 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 it is like 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 you "Keep a completely open mind, washed of all past ideas and clean of every concept you have made." (W.75.6.2) We look on the world with a 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. "He will show you what true vision sees." (W.75.7.6) "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. Simply "Tell Him you know you cannot fail because you trust in Him. And tell yourself you wait in certainty to look upon the world He promised you." (W.75.8.1-2) Why? It is 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 to "extend today forever." (W.75.9.7)
Whatever our experience may be today, and it may indeed seem challenging because or our circumstances, what is said here 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 because we will give everything a new interpretation. He tells us, "You must change your mind, not your behavior and this is a matter of willingness." (T.2.VI.3.4) (ACIM OE T.2.IV.74) 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 that 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 it all. 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 none of this will bring peace.
The light has come. It has never left us. Light abolishes darkness. Love cancels fear. Truth undoes illusion. What is being shown to 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 by accepting that we have been wrong about everything that we think. The shadows of our past hide the world forgiveness offers to us. We hold onto our thoughts of attack precisely as a defense against this light. We fear the light because it will undo the ego; 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." (W.75.11.1)
To withdraw the meanings that we have given the world is to forgive it, which entitles us to vision. (W.75.7.1) We wait in patience and confidence, repeating several times, "The light has come. I have forgiven the world." (W.75.10.2-3)
In the process of letting go of our fear of the light, we must be as patient and gentle with ourselves and others as Jesus is with us. Whenever you are tempted today to be upset with someone, say, "The light has come. I have forgiven you." (W.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 how 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 we can experience peace regardless of circumstances.
Love and blessings, Sarah