Dot AND Circle, by Ivor Sowton

Early in the Dialogues of A Course of Love (ACOL), Jesus gives us a very powerful exercise to practice:
“Expand your reach! Step outside of the dot of the separated self and into the circle of unity where all you desire is already accomplished in the fullness and wholeness of the undivided Self.” (D: 8.11)

For me and many I’ve come in contact with, the spiritual search has been the primary aim in life–precisely because the limitations of the tiny separated self have become far too painful. That is, we long to expand our reach beyond the monad or separated self. A monad is an existentially isolated being. But thankfully, the idea is not to completely jettison or discard or kill the monad in us, but to elevate it.

There is a tradition is esoteric spirituality that there actually is no monad or separated self–that it is an illusory construct only and needs to be outgrown and discarded at best and vigorously excised at worst. As when Adam and Eve in the Bible disastrously step outside the proscribed limitations of the Garden of Eden and exercise self-will. In that version of the creation story the choice for self-will is a completely negative thing and the family of humans have to struggle from then on merely to continue to survive at all.

Luckily for us in our lives as individuals, Jesus in A Course of Love tells us that we should have Self-will–just not destructive small-self will, which is from ego and is illusory. Right near the end of this wonderful new dispensation Jesus has given us in A Course of Love, Jesus gives us the denouement here, saying that we needed to individuate from undifferentiated Godhead because that completed God. God needed or wanted to be known, and hence both subject and object became needed, because for there to be a created in turn means that there is perforce a Creator, and that God Himself has become fulfilled in His own creation. He is thus fulfilled through us, as we are fulfilled through Him. How beautiful!

The original mistake or misstep came when we got afraid of assuming that role of being a tremendously powerful Child of God, and in our fear made an ego in order to define our turf in much smaller terms. So the ego is the monad, and it’s not who we are, but at the same time it doesn’t need to be attacked and killed. Jesus says in ACOL that “You are called to peace, a peace that begins and ends by ceasing to do battle with the ego.” (2nd Treatise, 11.4)

Luminary current new thinker Ken Wilber has given us a useful model that has helped me understand the growth Jesus is recommending so strongly to us now: transcend and include (see his early, exuberant book A Brief History of Everything, currently in print.) So the dot goes beyond its little boundaries by transcending them, thereby becoming identified with the Container, the Eternal, the All– however we might conceptualize the One Source of all dots. The dot is then INCLUDED in the All, but does not thereby become obliterated, but fulfilled.

So we get to be both the dot and the Circle!

Now of course the dot is changed markedly by its new relationship with the circle, or the great expanse of Unity in which it is now included. Jesus calls this new dot, so to speak, the true Self in observable form, or just the true Self. Having re-established our identity and relationship with the Great Circle, we are now fulfilling our true purpose at last:
“You are a beautiful representation of the truth and cannot be otherwise. You may bring this beauty to any number of walks of life, to what you currently do or something you have always dreamt of doing. Wherever you go, whatever you do, the truth will go with you.” (3rd Treatise, 22.3)

And so we see that we don’t have to do self-damage to re-establish our sense of connection with God. What we do have to do is to open up to the vision of ourselves as not only dot and not only Circle, but BOTH. This is the inheritance Jesus says is ours and everyone’s–now and always. Thus Jesus tells us repeatedly “fear not.” We can’t lose, for we are all contained within the embrace of that Circle, always. Thus he says (Ibid., Ch. 13, title) that there can be for us now:

“No loss, but only gain (!)”


Benevolence & Abundance in A Course of Love, by Ivor Sowton

A beautiful conclusion happened at our meditation group recently, which is led by dear friends we have known for many years now. The context was the healing prayers we do at the end of the meditation. One attendee had brought a list of serious concerns both personal and familial, and I was starting to feel a little overwhelmed. But one of the leaders suddenly seemed to drop into a deep place and said “and we know that at the deepest level, all is well. All is well!”

I am reminded of the many places in A Course of Love in which Jesus encourages us to establish our identity in the House of Truth rather than in the house of illusion. In the House of Truth, we and everyone else truly are well, not only now, but always.

“Because you now are translating the thought system of the ego into the thought system of the truth, you will begin to believe in such things as benevolence and abundance. What this means is that you will slowly translate all ideas of scarcity into ideas of abundance, all ideas of blame into ideas of benevolence.” (Third Treatise of ACOL, 14.2)

This new found belief in divine benevolence and abundance as our actual birthright as children of God must then be backed up by an attitude of self-responsibility when we are not feeling in touch with these Divine attributes. Jesus reminds us that at such times we are actually choosing the old thought system again out of habit, because the scarcity and blame ego scenarios have had their way with all of us for a long time, and in a perverse way have even become somewhat of a comfort zone for us.

Now, to really live in and express in our being that benevolence and abundance consciously, a great aid is to observe those same qualities in others–even if they are not feeling them:

“If you observe health rather than disease, abundance rather than poverty, peace rather than conflict, happiness rather than sadness, then disease, poverty, conflict, and sadness will be no more real to your brothers and sisters than it is to you.” (Ibid., 18.6)

My sense here is that this is a high goal for us, and that we need to be patient with ourselves as well as those we are trying to observe in such a positive way, for sure. But as we keep at it our very eyes begin to change, actually allowing us to see in a new way. Jesus says that the body is neutral, simply there to do the bidding of the thought system our minds and hearts are adhering to at the time:

“If (the body) is no longer instructed by the thought system of illusion, it is natural that it will now be instructed by the thought system of truth. Thus your eyes will learn to observe only the truth, even unto seeing what before but seemed unobservable.” (Ibid., 18.9)

So let us all try to observe that benevolence and abundance in ourselves and others, thereby doing our bit to bring in the New Way that Jesus is leading us into. Let us try not to judge ourselves or others when we can’t yet hold that vision, but instead be as patient and kind as we can.

Time of Tenderness Accomplishes Atonement: the Culmination

“The time of tenderness is the time of your approach to unity. The atonement that is accomplished here is the means of opening the gate to your approach. No one has closed this gate to you, but you by your own hand pulled it shut as you departed your heavenly home, and you do not remember that your own hand can open it once again.” (ACOL, C:29.9)

The time of tenderness is an especially heart-wrenching period for those of us who are reading A Course of Love. Jesus has brought us to a point in which we see ourselves as particularly sensitive in our reactions. This sensitive point will render us able to recognize the indwelling of the Christ Self. It will tenderize our relationships to God, other people, and also ourselves. We will be ready for something more, an embodiment, a full embodiment, of the Christ in physical form. We do not have to rue this embodiment in physical form, for it has been elevated to a place very high in Jesus’s scheme of things. And forgiveness has helped to bring us to this point, the forgiveness championed so much in A Course in Miracles.

And we go on, at this point, to see where forgiveness fits:

“We speak not of forgiveness or even atonement here, for these have been thoroughly discussed earlier. You have all been through the time of tenderness, the time that preceded your giving and receiving of forgiveness, your request for and granting of atonement, your re-viewing and unlearning of the perceived lessons of your life.” (ACOL, D:Day 2.14)

“Unity” means the time that God and the self are once again One. We are no longer dependent upon the Voice for God, the Holy Spirit, to take command of our lives, through guidance that takes us home. We are home. We have a more direct approach to God than at anytime during the separation. We are living the Christ Self, a concept that is welcomed as we become the elevated Self of form.

At this point the theology becomes unified, something that we would expect when Jesus calls this time the “approach to unity.” We are a part of God, and we have welcomed Him once again, for we are not longer asleep. He does not have to think that His children sleep and need to be awakened. When we come into Christ-consciousness, we are awakened. The Unconscious is available to us. We see the merging of ourselves with the inner Christ Self in this time of the second coming of Christ.

In reading A Course of Love, we did go through a time of tenderness, and this time opened our hearts to greater understanding, full knowledge of what God would once again mean to us. We were actually “tender” during part of the reading of ACOL, and this stirring of the heart accomplished great things in us.
Now we can realize that atonement continues throughout time, until it is finally relinquished as a done deal. We do not try to hasten its ending, though sometimes we feel impatient. We rest in God’s timing.

It is enough. Once begun, the ending is sure.

And we welcome the ending, whenever God feels that we are ready for the Christ-consciousness, the elevated Self of form, that He wishes for us.

A Comparison of Forgiveness and Atonement

“Resign as your own teacher. . . .

“Looked at in another way, this process has much in common with forgiveness. The action associated with it raises it to a level similar to that of atonement. It is an undoing accompanied by a new means of doing. In the process of unlearning, both forgiveness and atonement occur.” (ACOL, C:23.27 – 28)

We learn to forgive gradually. If we followed A Course in Miracles, the theme was forgiveness. It was the means of salvation, the means of the dislodging of the ego. Now we find that atonement and forgiveness have much in common. We now have a new means of doing, a means without the ego that has dragged us down for eons. We have indeed come a long way.

The way is not complete until in atonement all false means of thinking are relinquished. Right-thinking is where we are heading, but to undo insanity, as I have pointed out earlier in this blog, is not easily overcome. Miracles help, but progress is also made slowly, undoing one habit of mind, and then turning to another—and sometimes retracing our steps when we have, once again, taken up a false way of thinking.

When we forgive, we have unlearned the idea that attack and anger are justified. We have realized that we get what we have defended against, that defense solidifies the false thinking and false behavior (from ACIM).

The ideas in this paragraph are new in A Course of Love. Jesus does not equate forgiveness and atonement in A Course in Miracles, though he does stress both as necessary to getting us out of the mess that we are in. We give up the egoic thought system, and then we move forward to replace that thought system with a new one. We move into Christ-consciousness, which gives us new revelations on a constant basis. We may be very surprised at the insights that come to us when we catch glimpses of Christ-consciousness. This miracle of glimpses prepares us, eventually, for sustainability of Christ-consciousness. We leave behind the old, we have reframed our minds (with help from the Christ Self, inwardly, and the Holy Spirit, who is also within us).

Atonement Banishes the Ego’s Thought System

“We could not begin the curriculum here because you would have been unable, without the lessons of this course, to distinguish the personal self from the ego-self. There is a danger even now in focusing upon the self of the body, as this self has been so long bound to the ego-self. Even with the ego once and finally vanquished, the patterns of the ego’s thought system remain to be undone. This is atonement. We work now to correct the errors of the past in the present, the only place where such work can be done. We work with what we have a form fully able to represent the truth and, in so doing, we bring the truth to lie and life to the truth.” (ACOL, T3:1.13)

Can we now differentiate the personal self from the ego-self? Perhaps we are not always sure. A Course in Miracles dislodged the ego, but it remains for A Course of Love to give the next step. I think too many of us didn’t know what to replace the ego with, and so A Course of Love was scribed a few years later, to answer current needs.

The patterns of the ego need to be undone, and this is the work, over time, that we are about now. It is what atonement is doing for us.
Do not be dejected to hear that atonement may take some time. We have all too often seen atonement as a one-time, one-moment thing, sort of like accepting Christ, that we would do—and then all would be well. But insanity is not dismantled in one fell swoop. Miracles speed the way to sanity, but there are still many, many tiny scraps of thought that have to be undone.

We had past errors, and these are now to be corrected in the present, which, as Jesus points out in this quotation, is the only place that past errors can be corrected. Atonement will proceed in strict order to the diligence we give our new thought system. The mind training that we received in the Workbook of A Course in Miracles will now be made complete.

Do not feel unaccomplished when you hear this, for Jesus has defined us as “The Accomplished.” We don’t have to feel that we are still wallowing in misery, committing more and more mistakes. Our minds have more sanity in them than they have had heretofore in the separation. We are undoing the separation now. That is what atonement does for us.

Old Patterns of Thought Cry Out for a Miracle

“You must be beginning to see that your thought processes, the very thought processes that tell you hour-by-hour and minute-by-minute how to perceive of and live in your world, are still often based on old concepts. This does not mean you have not changed nor that you are in need of accomplishment rather than the already accomplished. What this means is that you are still in need of unlearning, of undoing old patterns of thought. This is atonement and it is continuous and ongoing until it is no longer needed.” (T2:4.25)

Atonement, we learn here, is not a one-time event—we accept something held out to us, and are forever changed. Change normally takes time (though there are miracles that are instant in effect). Thus atonement becomes “continuous and ongoing until it is no longer needed.”

What does this tell us? It tells us that we have to be patient with our mistake-prone nature. Even though Jesus tells us in A Course of Love that we “The Accomplished,” we will not remain static at some level of development for all future times. We will continue to grow and develop, and until atonement is ultimately complete, atonement will continue to change us, to undo old patterns of thinking.

Have you ever thought how hard it is to escape insanity? To change every thought pattern that has gone awry? That is what we are up to, changing all false patterns of thinking to right-thinking. And it will take Jesus at the end, he tells us, to correct those patterns of thinking that we ourselves cannot change. He stands at the end for ultimate correction (from A Course in Miracles).

Patience and forbearance are required. Patience and forbearance will ensure that we make correct decision of what to say, do, and think, in the future. We are in an ongoing process of change. The result will be the elevated Self of form that creates a new world. This is the promise that A Course of Love holds out to us.
Won’t you join the great commission today?

Salvation Will Expand from the Few to the Many

“Few truly believe in atonement or undoing. Few truly believe there is no sin. Few truly believe that they are not the sum of their behaviors.” (ACOL, C:31.18)

What we do wrong does not define us. I think this is what Jesus is saying. We have made many mistakes, and may continue to make them, but correction is afoot in atonement. We do not have to continue to believe in sin, which would be uncorrectable if it were a real thought and not a fantasy of wrongdoing that, for perverse reasons, invites repetition.

Let us today be one of the few who do believe in atonement or undoing, do believe there is no sin, do believe that we are not the sum of our behaviors. There may be few today, but that number will increase exponentially if we do our part in being ministers of salvation. We will not proselytize, but we will share when we sense that others are ready to hear. And because they are ready to hear, they will be eager learners, until such time as they can put aside learning and move into observation as a way to grow.

Let’s be sure, first, that we are within the “few,” and then let’s expand the “few” to more and more individuals. This is what salvation is all about. It is not a selfish state, of course, but one that we share with all the fervor that we can muster.