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.

Valentine’s Day, by Ivor Sowton

Through the observation of others recommended by Jesus in A Course of Love (ACOL), through which we can experience the truth in others directly, rather than through our egos, we can perhaps get a new “take” on Valentine’s Day that can be helpful to us.

Valentine’s Day is another of those popular holidays that has gone widely cross-cultural, having achieved wide observance in big parts of Asia and Africa after its obscure beginnings in Western Catholicism. I say obscure beginnings because if you look into its roots you find at least three early Christian saints associated with its founding, and various accounts of their lives are not consistent. Nevertheless, all of these founding saints had names close to “Valentine,” and all of them were martyred for their faith (that used to be the usual requirement for being declared a saint–ouch!). Further–and here we get to the ACOL connection–these saints all had certain special people in their own personal lives to whom they sent short, fervent love notes (smuggled out of prison in their case!)

Now I don’t mean to suggest that these saints were “in love” with the recipients of their notes (although this apparently could be argued!) The point here is that they touched a very deep chord in us collectively and cross-culturally, as evidenced by the tremendous world-wide popularity of Valentine’s Day today.

The Jungian reading of this phenomenon would be that a deep, collective unconscious archetype had being activated here–and these deep archetypes are POWERFUL!

At any rate, Valentine’s Day quickly became about romantic little notes to those we are (or want to be!!) romantically involved with. Very early on in the history of the printing press there were mass produced love notes called “valentines,” and a famous book was soon printed containing short romantic poems to help people express the love they were feeling for that special person in their lives. The phenomena of Valentine’s Day had gone viral, as we would say today!

So, we are looking at the special relationship here, right?

Let’s use observation now, as defined by Jesus in ACOL:

“The power to observe what is is what what will keep you unified with your brothers and sisters rather than separating you from them.” (4th Treatise, 2.17)

So, let’s start with humility. We can’t pretend that “other” people might have the problem of special relationships, but not us. In a way it doesn’t seem fair, I admit. I mean, here we’ve diligently studied “special relationships” in ACOL and maybe A Course in Miracles (ACIM) too–shouldn’t that confer on us some kind of immunity? But we have to remember that our egos thrive on a sense of superiority over others, and are certainly capable of misusing this kind of insight to maintain their own specialness!
Here’s another relevant quote

“A new relationship exists now between the physical and the spiritual…This new relationship is the only state in which observation of what is can occur…It is believing that you exist in relationship and union with all and that each encounter is one of union and relationship…” (ibid, 2.25, 2.26, 2.32)

For me what this means at least for now is that unity and relationship with others is our natural state. As we start to observe others more and more in that light of unity we are going to love them more. But not as special beings outside of us whom we then become dependent on, for that is the old way of separation, rather than the new state of unity in relationship that Jesus is calling us to.

So go ahead and send that Valentine card and gift, but in the new way rather than the old way! The subtext will then be: “I am so glad to finally be able to see you for Who you really are. In doing so we are both ennobled, observer and observed as one in Christ consciousness.”

But the actual words you might write can be innocent, unschooled, and trite, even! We get to be sweet and childlike in the new way, thank goodness!

“Observation is an extension of the embrace that in turn makes the embrace observable.” (ibid, 3.1)
Isn’t that beautiful?

Happy Valentine’s!

Undoing in Atonement, Once Begun, Is Unstoppable

“In order to remember unity you must, in a sense, travel back to it, undoing as you go all you have learned since last you knew it, so all that remains is love. This undoing, or atonement, has begun – and once begun is unstoppable and thus already inevitably accomplished.” (C:19.19)

We are said to travel backward in time, rolling up a metaphorical long carpet, until we arrive at the place where separation occurred (or seemed to occur). Each part on our journey without distance must be undone–each individual part. And then we will be back to Oneness, Oneness with God, Oneness with our Christ Self, awake in Christ-consciousness, occupying the elevated Self of form.

The ending is certain, and the atonement, or undoing, has begun for all of us reading this now, for we would not still be reading if we had not asked for the journey to begin. When we go backward in time, we are returning to love, and in that return is the everything that we have wanted. Love gives us all that we really want, and the closer we get to the end of journey, the better we will understand the truth of this. Atonement is unstoppable, and for this we ought to be grateful. Though we are prone to endless procrastination, and we may wander from the path, we will inevitably return, for free will sets the limits on miscreation. We cannot forever stay apart from God, for this would actually counter our real will, which in truth is one with His Will.

The undoing does not have to be complex, though it is usually so experienced, especially before the elevated Self of form is sustained. We have gotten ourselves so tangled up in our minds, perplexed by egoic notions of separation, that miracles are needed to save us. And those miracles are forthcoming. We can walk into the light at any time, though God Himself decides the exact moment. If we love completely, we are, in a sense, already there; we are having a glimpse of Christ-consciousness, and this glimpse, this satori, will sustain us until sustainability is actually achieved.

Belief in Miracles = Belief in Atonement

“Your belief in miracles and your belief in atonement or correction are the same thing. While you believe there is anything other than your own thinking that is in need of correction you think falsely. Right-thinking is the realm of miracles.” (T2:12.5)

This is a great promise, held out to us in A Course of Love. If our thinking straightens out, if we develop what Jesus calls “right-thinking,” then we will see miracles. “Right-thinking is the realm of miracles.”

So when we allow the Christ Self (as stated in ACOL) or the Holy Spirit (as stated in ACIM) to correct our thinking, we will have reached the state of atonement. Actually we must realize here that we are in the realm of Oneness, and the Christ and the Holy Spirit are two names that often mean identical things, when we consider that holiness is One. (This is an interpretation, not stated in either ACOL or ACIM.)

Here we see that it has been our thinking all along that was the only thing that needed correction. Surely we have realized this earlier, but this quotation makes this equation exact. Get the thinking right, and all other good things follow.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to count on miracles all the time? And we can. What we believe determines what we experience. This has been often stated, but perhaps not as clearly and as succinctly as the idea is stated here. Believe in the power of Good to correct one’s false thinking, to get the ego removed from our minds, and we are home free.
Wouldn’t we all like to be home free today? And this can and will happen, when we open our minds to what Jesus is saying in this quotation.

Correct False Thinking and Reach Enlightenment

“Miracles are thoughts and I am the corrector of false thinking. You have been made ready for this correction and your belief in correction, or atonement, is the final belief that must be put into practice.” (ACOL, T2:12.1)

This definition of atonement is only slightly different from “undoing”—correction. Here Jesus is emphasizing that when we accept atonement for ourselves (and also offer it to others), we will be freed of false thinking. Think what a great promise this indeed is! To have our false thinking corrected is to have the ego wear away. The ego is no more! Now we can get someplace.

Jesus encourages us to have a miracle-minded frame of mind. Perhaps we don’t fully understand what this means, but it is simply that we live in the best reality that we can imagine. Life works out, and when it seems not to do so, we call upon a miracle to right things. The miracle is always there for us. Our perception of that miracle may take a while in the working out, but the miracle will always heal, always set us right. We need only ask, because we are definitely asking in God’s Will.

So atonement is correction of the way that we have previously thought, the falsity that has engulfed us. Let us be grateful today that there is a way out of the separation, that the elevated Self of form awaits, that Christ-consciousness awaits.

When our minds are right, we will no longer project illusions, but will experience the real world by our projections, projections that make our perceptions of this world. We cannot know what this means until we experience Christ-consciousness, but then the miracle happens, and we know that we are seeing for the first time.

Mind and Heart Can Heal Just as the Body Can

“Atonement, or correction, is not of you but of God. You might think of this in terms of nature and look upon nature’s ability to correct itself. You are a part of nature. Your body can correct or heal itself, and so can your mind and heart. . .if they are allowed to do so.” (T3:14.12)

We can heal much as nature heals. This is a new idea from A Course of Love, not given in A Course in Miracles. But, like, ACIM, this message from A Course of Love emphasizes that atonement, correction, is of God. In a sense, we have to get ourselves out of the way. We have to let God do His work in us.

We already know that our physical body can heal itself. Here we learn that our mind and heart can heal as well. And we get out of ourselves, and into God, and then the healing occurs.

We will not have to wait long. One good thing about both A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love is that Jesus never tells us that we have to wait to experience blessings from God. Even if the healing of the separation will take millions of years (which he says in ACIM), still they can be happy years for us, living the elevated Self of form, and ministering to others who are coming to know what we have come to know.

The future looks bright for us. Once begun, the ending is sure. We will experience atonement, and we will experience Christ-consciousness, and we only need a small willingness to walk into those experiences.

Let us give the Self that small willingness today.

Use Free Will to Join with Our Brother

“But one was needed to end the separation, and in this one are all the rest joined. For what alone in all creation could be affected by your free will but your own self? But one was needed to, of his own free will, join his will with his Father’s for it to be done for all. This is all correction or atonement means, and all that is in need of your acceptance. Join your brother who made this choice for all and you are reunited with the Christ in you.” (ACOL, C:12.14)

Jesus frequently speaks of “one” when he is getting us to understand that we need only join with our brother—one brother—to effect salvation for all. He makes a similar statement in the Manual of A Course in Miracles, that one individual only was needed to bring atonement to all the world. And many of us see that one as Jesus himself, 2000 years ago. But Jesus does not take anything unto himself that cannot be exemplified in each of us, in this day and time. Elsewhere he says that there is nothing that he has that all of us cannot have, only that he has nothing else, that what he has is potential in us.

We use our free will, a our real will that is one with God’s, to join with our brothers and sisters. We make the decision to forgive and to join. And we are never the same after this. Anything that the other can do is not sufficient to rue our choice to join with him or her. We always forgive, knowing that nothing bad has actually happened, that we are lost in illusion and so bad things don’t affect us, with this understanding.

So we, each of us, find our way home by loving our brother, by walking hand in hand with our brother in holy relationship.

Meeting the Unexpected with Love, by Ivor Sowton

Broadly speaking, A Course of Love (ACOL) involves Jesus leading us personally into a deeper and deeper understanding of what we are not and at the same time what we truly are. This is the simultaneous unlearning and learning he often speaks of. Within this context he gives us a lot of guidance on the process of our spiritual growth as we go along. For instance, the unexpected things that suddenly seem to crop up or even break into our lives are contextualized as lessons drawn by our own spiritual sincerity, and as such are actually gifts of inestimable value to us.

Here is Jesus in the Third Treatise of ACOL:

“Now I will repeat to you a piece of good news you may have forgotten: You would not be other than who you are…What this means to the learning stage you are now at is that you but think you are discontent with much of your life. As you begin to dwell in the house of truth and see with the eyes of love, you will see far less about the life you lead that you would change than you would imagine.” (T3, 14.5)

This attitude can be very empowering to us if we really take it in and start trying to live it. On one level, of course, it is a huge call to self-responsibility, for it is saying that everything in our lives is happening the way it is because we set it up to happen that way! We might think this would not be the case with some of the very painful situations we have all been through, and may be going through now, even. But Jesus is telling us here that it is our point of view that is off, rather than the life situation itself. If we are coming from ego, we are living in the house of illusion, characterized by lots of fear and negativity, and perpetuated by all sorts of blaming of self and others–ouch!
But if we are living in the House of Truth, as the representation of our true divine Selves in this very world, we will be seeing the very same life situation completely differently! Love, opportunity, abundance and benevolence will be obvious all around us. Now that is a huge shift!

In our actual daily experience we are probably often living in the house of illusion, but having just enough break-through memories of the house of truth to keep us questioning our former unconsciousness and sincerely asking for Divine help to see things in a positive light. And it is right here that an affirmative attitude can really help us bridge the gap and get into the right house more readily!

So when that next unexpected “negative” thing comes down, if we can just remember ASAP to try to meet the unexpected with love, then we will be doing ourselves a big, big favor! We will be looking for the silver lining right from the get-go, which can really save us a lot of spinning our wheels in negative reactivity. We are then actively cultivating a beautiful “attitude of gratitude” in our life experience, which can really bring us a lot more happiness and contentment by all accounts. (The Work of Byron Katie being another good example of this.)

A wise friend of mine recently said that in a lot of ways it’s irrelevant whether we like the unexpected things suddenly showing up in our lives; we still have to accept them, as they are indeed actually now present! So we can let ourselves off the hook in a way here. I mean, no one is being asked to jump for joy if they suddenly have a painful accident or illness, for instance, but the sooner we can meet these new actualities with love the better it will be for us–and everyone around us, for that matter! Rejecting the new “input” will only add unnecessary friction and tension; accepting the new input will help us claim the gift inherent in the lesson ASAP.

Now I hasten to add here that in the real catastrophes in our lives there does seem to be a progression toward that loving response. It is not reasonable or expected by Jesus or God that we be there right away, like “Oh, I’ve got terminal cancer, I love it, how wonderful!” That would be nonsense, or silly, as Ken Wapnick, one of the great original Course of Miracles (ACIM) teachers would say. With the major unexpected blows in our lives, the first thing we need is self-care–even small self-care. In this example of ending our earthly life with any terminal disease (don’t think it’s not going to happen to you, unless you’ve signed on for the sudden exit!), the best we might be able to achieve is acceptance, and even that would be the last step, after denial and anger and depression, etc. had been worked through at their own rate. This would be the same for any big major loss. So the application of love with these big negative unexpected things would be to meet them with self-love. Here’s a quote from the last part of ACOL, The Dialogues, to help us develop love of ourselves, bolstered up by the great love of God for us:

“My Beloved…now it is time to return to love. Do you know, can you feel as yet, how much I love you? How full of love I am for you?..This is the meaning of the embrace–the possession, the ownership of belonging–of carrying or holding relationship and union with one’s own Self…(all) are held within the embrace of love and belonging. (D-38.1, 38.8)

In the embrace of Divine Love, if we really feel that and open up to it, we can become much more able to meet the unexpected with love. And remember to practice on the small things, as it is our daily ongoing practice of these great teachings that allows their direct application in our actual day to day lives.

CHAPTER 6: ATONEMENT IN A COURSE OF LOVE

Atonement Is Correction of Errors in Perception

“Being willing to be forgiven is the precursor of atonement, the state in which you allow your errors to be corrected for you. These errors are not the sins you hold against yourself, but merely your errors in perception. Correction, or atonement, returns you to your natural state where true vision lies and error and sin disappear.” (C:9.35)

We have long worked with our perception, because we perceive an erroneous world, a world of illusion. We project outward this erroneous world, this world of dreams, illusions.

Jesus would have us here return to our natural state, “where true vision lies and error and sin disappear.” This true vision has nothing to do with the physical eyes; it is a sense of inward rightness with God, a sense of inward justification with the inner Self, or Christ. A Course in Miracles said that true vision would follow once we had perceptually seen little edges of light around the same familiar objects that we have always seen. ACIM continues to say that true vision will follow shortly afterwards, shortly after seeing these little edges of light.

Now we are moving into a relinquishment, finally and completely, of the ego. And when we have done this, our true vision will take the place of what we have viewed before. Our physical eyes will still see the same familiar world, but our inner vision will have been transformed.

This transformation is what we are all seeking, the Christ-consciousness that Jesus is trying to effect in A Course of Love. Christ-consciousness is enlightenment, called Awakening in A Course in Miracles. The transformation is the same.

A Dawning of Psychic Attunement

“God gives special gifts to His teachers, because they have a special role in His plan for Atonement. Their specialness is, of course, only temporary; set in time as a means of leading out of time. (M-4.1)”

We will develop some new abilities as we ease into our new role as the saviors of humankind. These include psychic abilities, which Jesus makes clear in this section of the Manual for Teachers. But this is not a reason to be prideful; we know that pride is false, that it is an egoic reaction. And we are quickly moving beyond the ego. We are moving beyond desire to be “special.” We simply want to live peaceably, in happiness and with a sharing of the gifts that have come so easily to us.

As time passes, all of us will come to see that the special abilities that we develop now are not a means of raising us higher than our brother. They are a means of saving our brother, once he has given us the nod that he would like to know how we received the light that seems to be in us now.

All God’s gifts will one day be shared equally among all His children (an idea from A Course in Miracles). We therefore have absolutely no reason to allow jealous feelings to rear their heads. We need not to allow the ego that much of a toehold in our emerging consciousness of God’s plan for salvation.

Salvation and Atonement Are for Everybody

“The circle of Atonement has no end.” (T-14.V.7)

We are all included in the Atonement. Nobody is outside, because we are all holding hands in a circle. If anybody were outside the circle, the Atonement principle would be broken for all.

And God does not allow that to happen. He saves all his children.

This phrase, “circle of Atonement,” has been selected by one of the organizations teaching A Course in Miracles, and a link to that site is in the blogroll (sidebar to this blog).

Forgiveness Makes for Happiness

“The happy learners of the Atonement become the teachers of the innocence that is the right of all that God created. (T-14.V.3)”

We are these “happy learners.” And we are innocent, something that we don’t naturally think about as a trait of ourselves. We are so used to thinking of ourselves as guilty, but elsewhere Jesus says in A Course in Miracles that we are guiltless. That we have made mistakes is clear, but only in illusion, and only in a mad state of mind (listening to the ego).

When we follow the way of Atonement, we see innocence everywhere. When we are attacked, we see a brother calling for help, asking for love. And we overlook the hurtful way in which he is speaking. We don’t get hurt, because we recognize, on some level, that he is not responsible for what he is saying. It is madness speaking. Just insanity. And then we offer forgiveness, for what other way is there to help, what other way to love?

All of us have a right to see ourselves as innocent. Only when we can contemplate that this must be true are we in league with the Holy Spirit. Before that, seeing ourselves as guilty, we are cut off from our Source in God. Accepting the Atonement, accepting the correction in our thought processes that is necessary, we fulfill the requirements for salvation. We are saved. We are at home in God. And He will act quickly to raise us up to a new type of consciousness, a type that will surprise us and make us ever-joyous: Awakening.

Holy Spirit Speaks to Us through Intuition

“The Holy Spirit is the Mind of the Atonement. (T-5.I.6)”

The Holy Spirit is the Essence, the means by which we are guided to accept Atonement. He is the Voice for God, the Universal Inspiration. His way back is the one that we follow to a whole new beginning in life. Salvation is ours, and soon (we hope) after that, Awakening is ours as well.

The Holy Spirit was created to lead us back home. According to ACIM, He didn’t exist prior to the illusory separation of us, God’s children. He was the Answer, even as Jesus became the entity in charge of first carrying out plans that would save others.

The Holy Spirit speaks to us through intuition, nudges and hints, deep feelings that just won’t go away, a chance word from another that takes on unusual meaning for us. His ways of guidance are manifold, but of one thing we may be sure: He chooses ways that we ourselves, though no one else (in all probability) will recognize as right for us. He knows us intimately; he knows what we are ready to hear. And he chooses our part in the plan through a knowledge of that which we have which will most benefit the world.

We never have any reason to fear what the Holy Spirit tells us. We only have to listen and follow. The life we develop will be beyond our wildest imaginings.

The Holy Spirit’s Part in Atonement

“The Holy Spirit is described throughout the course as giving us the answer to the separation and bringing the plan of the Atonement to us, establishing our particular part in it and showing us exactly what it is. He established Jesus as the leader in carrying out His plan since he was the first to complete his own part perfectly. . . .The Atonement principle was given to the Holy Spirit long before Jesus set it in motion. (C-6.2)”

This quotation is from the last part of the manual, a section entitled, “Clarification of Terms.” It speaks of Jesus in the third person, unlike the rest of A Course in Miracles.

This statement affirms Jesus as the leader in the Atonement, and establishes the Holy Spirit as our guidance in coming to know our role. God Himself is elsewhere said to have established the plan at the moment that some of us stepped into separation, establishing the guidance of His Voice, the Holy Spirit, as our way back home. (The separation itself is said to have happened over millions of years, and it may take millions of years for our return, and maybe even longer.)

We are at the cusp of the movement, and it does behoove those of us fortunate enough to have A Course in Miracles to listen well and long. We can make a difference. We can shorten the time that others spend in a worn-out, tired, world, lost to themselves and to God through a false self that we call the ego. Lost in insanity, madness. Lost in illusion. This all sounds quite depressing, and indeed it would be, overwhelmingly so, if there weren’t a quick restorative. There is a way out, and Jesus is carefully explaining the means to us. We are fortunate indeed. Let’s not forget that.

But this is not a time for self-righteousness, which would be an egoic mistake. We don’t pat ourselves on the back that we are among those who understand what others have wanted to understand, and didn’t. We share what we have learned, if our brothers are open to listening. We quietly give them a smile, courteous behavior and respectful company, if they don’t. The fact that we are among the first puts a great responsibility on us. But we walk amiss if we think this makes us special. We are not special. No child of God has anything that is not available to all others.

The Holy Spirit will guide us into a clear mind and an open heart. Then God Himself will Awaken us. Then salvation, as Jesus describes, will really finally be here. Atonement will have worked.