I am in need of nothing but the truth.
Now we come to the question,
"What is Sin?"
(W.PII.Q4) The simple answer is that sin is what gave birth to illusions. According to the glossary of terms from the Circle of Atonement, sin is
“a real attack that causes real damage, violation, and injury and produces real moral and spiritual guilt and calls for punishment and death. To sin would be to violate reality and succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and justified.”
Sin keeps us believing in illusion where truth is now obscured. Thus, it is the foundation of the ego and is holy to the ego. Now it gives rise to the world. The purpose of our senses, which Jesus calls the
"mechanisms of illusion,"
(W.PII.Q3.3.1) shows us a world external to our minds. As long as we look at reality as outside of our own minds, we are kept blind and ignorant.
"To sense is not to know."
The senses are the purview of the ego, and the ego wants us to believe that what is brought to us through the senses is the truth. Yet what is revealed to us by our senses obscures the truth. The truth is in our minds, but as a result of our decision to believe the ego's story that we have sinned and have thus done something terribly wrong, we left our minds and now believe our identity is in the body and the world. Senses were made by the ego as "proof" that the illusion is true, real, and solid, but when we take in information about the world through our senses and process it with our brains, we can't know anything. Whatever we see outside of us, which is everything we perceive in the world, is nothing but a witness to sin and guilt in the mind. It is an outside picture of our inward condition, where our own guilt is projected onto the world.
"And to this world must you adjust as long as you believe this picture is outside, and has you at its mercy."
(T.20.III.5.7) (ACIM OE T.20.IV.20)
This is what we have done. We have done our best to make an adjustment to the world. It is like doing our best to adjust to an insane asylum. In my early years, I was always the "good girl" until rebellion set in later in life. Nevertheless, I always tried to adjust to the world and follow the rules with some periods of experimentation along the way. It was a relief for me to be told this world is not my home because it never felt like my home. In order to relieve our guilt, we have specific targets in the world on which we can project judgment and blame for our condition. It becomes our story of victimhood. It is how we defend ourselves from looking at the guilt buried in our own minds, but it is all imagined---made up by the ego. We bought into the ego's story that we have sinned against God by stealing our identity from Him, and now the ego tells us this "sin" calls for punishment. As long as we hold the belief that we have done something terribly wrong and therefore we are bad, we will be out of touch with the truth of our reality as the sinless Son of God, and we will anticipate punishment in the form of many problems we encounter in the world.
What we are seeing reflects our insane thoughts held in the mind and projected onto the world. Yet the Atonement Principle is our assurance that we have not sinned. We are still at home in God, simply dreaming of exile. We live in fear in the belief that we will have to face punishment coming to us for what we think we have done. No, this is not conscious, but it is apparent when we blame God for our condition. It is all a dream and has no reality. Until we come to this recognition, we will continue to wander in the world, lost and alone, distracting ourselves with the trinkets of this world and finding no lasting happiness. The core of the ego thought system is that we are now lost to God and are completely on our own. This is where all of our anxiety, our fear, and our vague sense that we have done something wrong and are doomed comes from. It is not a good feeling, but we do our best to compensate for it, as well as distract from it.
We have not turned ourselves into something evil and sinful. All we have done is forgotten who we are. Forgetting who we are has not changed the truth about the Self. Validating our false reality through our senses does not make it true, even if our senses do a good job in preserving the falsity. We defend against the truth by arrogantly insisting that we are right and that God is wrong when He assures us that we have never changed ourselves and have never sinned. As long as we still see sin in others and call for retribution, we maintain that we are right and that the blame belongs to people and events in the world. Even if we blame ourselves, there are always those we see as responsible for our condition, and thus we keep trying to buy our own innocence at the expense of "others." We hope God is watching and will punish them, rather than us, but it is a false innocence. Our true innocence is already established, and no sin that we can conceive of can change that fact.
Sin seems to have corrupted our innocence, although that could never happen.
"You who have played that you are lost to hope, abandoned by your Father, left alone in terror in a fearful world made mad by sin and guilt; be happy now. That game is over. Now a quiet time has come, in which we put away the toys of guilt, and lock our quaint and childish thoughts of sin forever from the pure and holy minds of Heaven's children and the Son of God."
We are being called to choose again each time we are tempted to see another as guilty. When we recognize that it is just the projection of our own guilt onto our brothers, and we see how this maintains our guilt and suffering, then we will become motivated to bring our guilt to the Holy Spirit to be healed at its source. The ego needs specific targets for its attacks.
"Thus were specifics made."
(W.161.3.1) Now, these specific situations and our special relationships can be used as an opportunity for healing, rather than as a focus for our guilt.
Illusions go when we start to recognize them for what they are.
"The body is the instrument the mind made in its efforts to deceive itself. Its purpose is to strive."
(W.PII.Q4.2.1) So what we do is use our body to strive for what we think we want. We keep the body in a state of constantly seeking the things of this world that we think will make us happy. There are many things we strive for. It can be a very long list and includes fame, fortune, status, position, power, entertainment, vacations, careers, money, material things, special relationships, sex, food, fitness, and on and on. There are also the things we worry about, plan for, expect, defend against, set goals, and decide for as outcomes we want. All of this striving keeps us from peace. While we say we want peace, the ego supports our seeking, but it ensures us that we will never find what we are looking for. This is because in the end, all we are looking for is peace and happiness in these things. We have become misguided by looking for peace and happiness where it can never be found.
"Yet can the goal of striving change. And now the body serves a different aim for striving. What it seeks for now is chosen by the aim the mind has taken as replacement for the goal of self-deception. Truth can be its aim as well as lies. The senses then will seek instead for witnesses to what is true."
(W.PII.Q4.2.3-7) It is all about purpose, so everything made to support the ego can now be used by the Holy Spirit for our release from this cycle of sin, guilt, and fear. We have a choice as to whether we send out messengers to look for sin and guilt, or messengers to seek for witnesses to the truth.
"For what the messengers of love are sent to do they do, returning the glad tidings that it was done to you and your brother who stand together before the altar from which they were sent forth."
(T.19.I.14.6) (ACIM OE T.I9.II.14)
Despite the many needs we think we have, our only real need is for the truth. We may be so sufficiently invested in the world that there still are desires we have and plans we make to fulfill these desires. It is not helpful to feel guilty for pursuing what we still think we want in the world. To feel guilty is just another ego trap to keep us in its bondage. Simply notice what you are striving for in the world, and be willing to ask the deeper question of purpose. What is it for? Do I really believe that when I get everything I think I want, I will be truly and deeply happy? Who is this "I" that thinks it knows where happiness lies? Who keeps putting the peace available in this moment into some future time? Our happiness waits for our readiness to accept it. It is here right now. It is simply being blocked by our beliefs, concepts, fears, and guilt.
A friend told me this story of her young son who opened up the refrigerator and said: "Mommy, I want something." After she went through a lot of options with him, like: "Is it milk you want?” or "How about some cheese?" or "Some fruit maybe?" The answer was "no" to each one until the exasperated Mom said, "Well, what is it that you want?" And he answered, "I don't know." Mom was supposed to figure it out. Isn't this the way we often are, ourselves, where there is this vague feeling of wanting something, but we don't know what it is? This kind of craving alerts us to the emptiness that only truth can fill. It is our desire for God. Whenever we go looking for food, cigarettes, or new clothes, we are really looking for God. It is the only desire we have that can truly be fulfilled.
"My only need I did not recognize."
No, we don't recognize it. We fill our lives with all the stuff we think will make us happy, only to want more and more until we give up and admit that we don’t know where to find happiness. This is the first step in asking the One Who does know and the beginning of our search for truth. We have a vague recognition within that has been denied. What we really want is truth, to know again what we are, and to have the peace that comes from this knowing. When we give up wanting, we will see that we have everything.
I spent my working life trying to get recognition from my bosses. I wanted them to affirm how well I was doing. While I did get lots of validation for good work, in my mind it was never enough. When I started on this path and experienced more healing, the recognition that I had previously craved was no longer important to me. It just simply fell away. I felt a new-found freedom from the bondage of looking outside of myself for affirmation. What was interesting was that after my need for it fell away, I started to get all kinds of recognition. I received a commemorative medal from the Federal Government. I was honored with Metis status. I received recognition for my work in introducing a provincial holiday for the Premier of the Province, and most significant, I was the first woman in the Province to receive a medal for outstanding Government service from the Lieutenant Governor. While I speak of it now with some measure of pride, I had no longer sought for it, nor did it seem to have any real significance. I simply no longer needed what had once seemed so important to me. As Jesus says in our Lesson today,
"All that I sought before I needed not, and did not even want."
In finding truth,
"all needs are satisfied, all cravings end, all hopes are finally fulfilled and dreams are gone."
(W.251.1.6) Thus, we connect with the peace and joy, which has always been there. We have been looking for it in all the wrong places. We have been denying the very thing we think we want. The ego is deluded and keeps us focused on what we can never find when we look outside of ourselves. Its premise is, "Seek but do not find" and isn't this what we have been doing for a big part of our lives?
This Course is not about demanding that we make sacrifices by giving up things that we are still attached to. When our minds are ready, these things simply fall away. There is no sacrifice, nor loss. We no longer pursue these things because we see that we are giving up nothing of value. We are not asked to sacrifice, nor should we feel guilty about enjoying whatever we consider as pleasures in this world. It is only about purpose. When our minds are ready to let these things go, they will simply drop away. Jesus says that we should ask in everything,
(T.4.V.6) (ACIM OE T.4.VI.77) Is it for the ego or for the Holy Spirit? Anything we do in the world can be used for the purpose of awakening. When we go to the movies, we can use the experience to watch our reactions. When we go out shopping, we can still maintain vigilance, using every encounter for healing purposes. It is not about what we are doing, but the mindset with which we are doing it.
It is helpful to remember that everything we are striving for will ultimately fail us.
"It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean?"
(Manual for Teachers.13.2.1-2) The things we want to accomplish and the things we think will make us feel good will not give us the peace of God. Today, when you sense you are getting caught up in something trivial, take a moment to still your mind and remind yourself that you are in need of nothing but the truth.
We will continue daily with the reading of the Section,
"What is Sin?",
(W.PII.Q4) so I will say a little more about this question in the commentary on Lesson 252.
Love and blessings, Sarah