“Salvation and forgiveness are the same. They both imply that something has gone wrong; something to be saved from, forgiven for; something amiss that needs corrective change; something apart or different from the Will of God.....” ACIM, Workbook page 177, Lesson 99.
Spiritual seekers all have the same goal even though they may choose different paths to achieve that goal. The goal can be summed up in one word: liberation. The word used more often in the Course is salvation. In theory it is quite simple as it involves becoming aware of the illusory nature of the world and returning, in our awareness, to our only true nature—spirit. However, in practice it requires a lot of hard work because we have been living in the clutches of the ego for lifetime after lifetime. Undoing the ego is, therefore, quite a slow process but not an impossible one, we are told. The fact that Jesus and other spiritual seekers have gone ahead of us and shown us it is possible is encouraging.
Lesson 99 explains that we need to be saved because all that we see around us is not the will of God; it is the will of the ego, which sought to create an alternative to God. “...when the mind is split there is need of healing.” W407. But, in reality, the ego was not able to create an alternative to God. However, because we believe we are separated from Him and think our illusions are real, we do need salvation. “Forgive all thoughts which would oppose the truth of your completion, unity and peace. You cannot lose the gifts your Father gave. You do not want to be another self. You have no function that is not of God. Forgive yourself the one you think you made. Forgiveness and salvation are the same. Forgive what you have made and you are saved.” This passage tells us that we are whole and complete and have not separated from God. We, therefore, need to forgive ourselves for believing in the ego and in the reality of its world so that we return to our original state.
Throughout ACIM salvation and forgiveness are described as being the same thing; this is not surprising since forgiveness is at the core of its teachings. A huge part of the Course deals with the need to forgive others because we have projected all our own inadequacies, fear and guilt onto them. But it is equally important to forgive ourselves, as Lesson 99 teaches us. We are asked to repeat the following: “Salvation is my only function here. God still is Love, and this is not His Will.” Then we read, “Try to perceive the strength in what you say, for these are words in which your freedom lies. Your Father loves you. All the world of pain is not His Will. Forgive yourself the thought He wanted this for you...” If we are unable to forgive ourselves we will continue to carry guilt around with us; the result could well be ill health, grief or depression. So forgiveness of oneself is as important as forgiveness of others.
Although it seems difficult to accept the fact that the world of the ego is nothing but a mental projection or a dream, ACIM frequently reminds us that we can awaken from the dream and achieve salvation because God has not deserted us. He has entrusted us to the Holy Spirit, whose function is to guide us back to Him. “Salvation is a promise, made by God, that you would find your way to Him at last. It cannot but be kept. It guarantees that time will have an end, and all the thoughts that have been born in time will end as well.” W407. Then it is explained that salvation simply involves not believing in our dream world. “Salvation is undoing in the sense that it does nothing, failing to support the world of dreams and malice. Thus it lets illusions go. By not supporting them, it merely lets them quietly go down to dust. And what they hid is now revealed; an altar to the holy Name of God, whereon His Word is written, with the gifts of your forgiveness laid before it, and the memory of God not far behind.” This passage implies that forgiveness of ourselves (and others) for the illusions of the ego will lead to our salvation, and restore the memory of God to our healed minds.
Forgiveness involves letting go of illusions. We realise that this world and everything in it is an illusion, so we don’t take it too seriously. Also, we make sure we don’t become attached to things in our lives, such as our jobs, our possessions and even our beliefs. The advice given in The Way of Mastery is not to hate the world but to simply relinquish it.
In Chapter 31 of the Text we also read about the simplicity of salvation. “How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all. Can this be hard to learn by anyone who wants it to be true? Only unwillingness to learn it could make such an easy lesson difficult. How hard is it to see that what is false can not be true, and what is true can not be false?...” T645. Put like that it makes the utmost sense. And yet, all of us in this world who are struggling, suffering, experiencing pleasure and pain, and taking this world seriously must, at some level, be choosing to do so. It could be because the ego is quite a mighty enemy, determined to ensure its own existence. Yet all that is needed is a “little willingness.”
All those who have chosen A Course in Miracles as their path back Home must have salvation as their ultimate goal. Yet, Jesus warns us that we need more than just good intentions. “Trust not your good intentions. They are not enough. But trust implicitly your willingness, whatever else may enter. Concentrate only on this, and be not disturbed that shadows surround it. That is why you came....The miracle of the holy instant lies in your willingness to let it be what it is. And in your willingness for this lies also your acceptance of yourself as you were meant to be.” T380. We were meant to be eternal spirit; we were never meant to living in the world of form. We were meant to remain at one with God; we were never meant to have separated from Heaven. And, in fact, we haven’t, but the problem is we believe that we have.
We can express our willingness to learn what the Course is teaching us by studying and practising the Workbook lessons; by reading and re-reading the Text and Manual and by remembering: “Salvation is my only function here. Salvation and forgiveness are the same.”
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