“...When you realize that all guilt is solely an invention of your mind, you also realize that guilt and salvation must be in the same place. In understanding this you are saved...” ACIM, Workbook page 119, Lesson 70.
This month’s lesson is a very powerful one; if we are really able to understand it, it could help us save a lot of time on our spiritual journey. We are told that since guilt (one of the ego’s tools) is in our minds, so, too, is salvation. This is because God placed the Holy Spirit in our minds at the time of the illusory separation, to help us heal ourselves and return to the awareness of being one with God. “...He wants you to be healed, so He has kept the Source of healing where the need for healing lies.”
If we accept today’s lesson it means that, “...nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace. But it also means that nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way. Today’s idea places you in charge of the universe, where you belong because of what you are...” W119. That last sentence is extremely empowering: because of our oneness with God, we are in charge of the universe.
It may appear that some of the things we do in this world make us feel guilty. But this is just an illusion as all guilt stems from our belief in the separation from God and we have not actually separated from Him. Similarly, we may turn to a number of outside things (belief systems or people or places) to bring about out salvation but Jesus is telling us in Lesson 70 that both guilt and salvation can be found in our minds. He says that we have surrounded the light in our minds (the Holy Spirit or Higher Self) with clouds of illusion (stemming from the ego) and we need to ask Him to lead us out of these clouds into the light. “...Try to pass the clouds by whatever means appeals to you. If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this is no idle fantasy.”
Whenever something comes along to disturb our peace of mind, it means that we haven’t forgiven either the person or the situation that caused the disturbance. We certainly don’t feel powerful when something upsets us, but in such a situation we are asked to think again. In an important section in the Text entitled, This Need Not Be, we read, “...When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be. In every case you have thought wrongly about some brother God created, and are perceiving images your ego makes in a darkened glass...” T63. So, we have an important gauge we can use—our moods. How often do our moods tell us that we are not tuning into the Holy Spirit in our minds but are tuning in, instead, to the ego? Whenever we are not joyous! The remedy is very simple: turn away from the ego and use the tool of forgiveness. We also need to remember how powerful we are because of our connection to God.
“When you are sad, know this need not be. Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise. When you are anxious, realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego, and know this need not be...When you feel guilty, remember that the ego has indeed violated the laws of God, but you have not...” T63. Notice the distinction between us and the ego. Notice also that in this passage Jesus tells us that we have the ability to “decide otherwise.” We have to teach ourselves, with the help of the Holy Spirit, how to be joyous without the things we thought we needed to make us joyful.
The connection between forgiveness, healing and salvation is a very close one. In fact, we are healed, according to the Course, by forgiving others, forgiving ourselves and forgiving the world of the ego. And through forgiveness we achieve salvation or Atonement—recognition that the separation from God never took place; we return in our awareness to our oneness with God.
“Healing and Atonement are not related; they are identical...That forgiveness is healing needs to be understood, if the teacher of God is to make progress...” M55. The link between forgiveness and salvation is explained further on in the Manual. We receive Atonement by refusing to judge others (which is the same as forgiving them). “Herein does he receive Atonement, for he withdraws his judgement from the Son of God, accepting him as God created him...” M57. This means that whatever an ego appears to have done to us, we need to accept that all of us are still as God created us (spirit) and therefore none of this matters—none of this is really happening. If we can manage to change our mind about the world, we are well on our way to salvation. That’s why Lesson 70 tells us, “My salvation comes from me.” We have to change our perceptions of the world and allow ourselves to be guided by the higher mind (Jesus or Holy Spirit) instead of the lower mind (ego).
How can we apply the above teaching in my everyday life? We start by refusing to judge others and by forgiving them because the Course tells us that all that is happening in this world is unreal and, therefore, what we think someone has done to us, never actually occurred. (We have created the world by projecting our thoughts outwards. All that is going on takes place only in mental matter and not in reality.) By consistently being forgiving we heal our minds—we heal the split in our minds and become whole, and this is our salvation. Once we are completely healed we will have accepted the Atonement and will be aware that the separation from God was just an illusion. So, we start off by trusting Jesus’ teachings on the Atonement, then we forgive, as he instructs us to do, and then we will eventually experience the Atonement.
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