Friday, June 20, 2014

Atonement, Forgiveness and Peace

A friend asked: “Hi Don. You refer a lot about asking for another way of looking at things. What specifically do you mean? What am I supposed to look for as another way of seeing things?
This is another good question. I’ll do my best to explain. How we look at things starts with our belief in our Separation from God. The Bible uses common (in its time) mythology to convey this in the Garden of Eden stories: we sinned and thus were separated. ACIM states that we are only in error. The most common form of belief in separation is the simple statement: I am me and you are not. Everything we perceive from this egoic viewpoint is illusionary. We are not separated from God and never have been.
Being provided with another perception – another way of looking at things, events, and people, rather than seeing through our egoic filters – is the primary purpose of our life according to A Course in Miracles (ACIM). When the Holy Spirit is willingly asked for help, He (the Voice for God) will provide us with true vision, rather than physical sight. It is most often referred to a change of perception or a holy instant and will always lead to Forgiveness.
This change of perception from our “normal” egoic point of view is altered to one of seeing the Christ in others, including ourselves. This change of perception is what the Course means by the Atonement. It is not something we can do by ourselves. When we try to change our perception by acts of our own volition, our egos will simply hijack the process to serve our perceived needs. In short, our ego can wrap its fear-based / guilt-laced perceptions in the whitest robes of religious purity and altruism.
We have to train our minds to become aware of the instances where our egos are in absolute control of us. We have to become aware that our feelings of pain, suffering, anger, and fear are symptomatic of our egoic perception. We have to understand that these feelings are not “thrust” upon us from outside. Things, events or people do not make us feel afraid, hurt, or angry. Our perceptions do that all by themselves.
How we perceive, or interpret, the world we see determines what we think we see. To effectively change what I see, I need to change my perception of the world, of people, and of events.  We’ve all been to movies. When we walk out after it’s over, we do not believe the world we walk into is the world we left behind on the screen. Now, pretend you are in a special movie theater – in a special seat, hooked up to electrodes so that what you think and feel is projected on the screen. You are watching a movie that replicates what you’re thinking. The characters you see on the screen, including you, are a projection of your perception. That’s precisely the way ACIM says we truly are. We are seeing our projections when we look at people. We are not capable of seeing the real person. We are seeing our own perceptions based on our own illusionary past experiences instead of seeing the real person in front of us – NOW. Old-timers in AA will simply state: “If you spot it, you got it.” As I began to comprehend the Course, I used this movie imagery to help me see what I was doing. I wouldn’t be angry at the characters in a movie, so why would I be angry at my skewed perceptions of “real” people?
Forgiveness, according to ACIM consists of three steps. We have to participate in the first two. The Holy Spirit performs the third step. Step One: I forgive the images I've made or projected, and I forgive the people in these images, including me; Step Two: I forgive myself for making these projected images; and Step Three: I ask the Holy Spirit to help me see another way of looking at this situation/person – and then I still my mind and listen for the Holy Spirit's whispers and guidance. And I remember: Step 3 is not my job. It will just happen!
We need to perceive our world in another way. The Holy Spirit will provide that way when honestly requested to do so. That new way of looking at things will be with a different perception (Atonement) that allows us to see all anger and fear as a Call for Love. Responding to that call with Forgiveness is our true function while we are here on Earth, and it will give us the peace and serenity we truly desire.
Kenneth Wapnick, PhD, wrote about this very well in his book: Forgiveness and Jesus – the meeting place of A Course in Miracles and Christianity, Foundation for a Course in Miracles, 1998. From pages 79-80: “The belief in separation constitutes a decision we make to hear the voice of the ego, rather than the Voice for God. From this decision arise two distinct ways of looking at the world. The ego’s eyes see problems…. Central to this perception is the belief in injustice, seeing the world as divided into victims and victimizers, the former being the innocent objects of the sinful actions or thoughts of the latter. All beliefs in anger, sickness, and suffering are beliefs that justify this perception.
“The vision of the Holy Spirit, on the other hand, transforms our problems into learning opportunities, the special function through which we practice our lessons of forgiveness. Expressions of anger – towards others or ourselves – become transformed through His loving perception into calls for help, which His love gently answers through our forgiveness, healing the injustice that once seemed so real. Thus do … unholy relationships become holy.”
We put our egoic blinders on and we can begin removing these blinders by practicing the three step of forgiveness – honestly and willingly asking for the Holy Spirit’s help. I hope this helps.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
PS: I will be away for a while – so there will be no messages until mid-to-late July. So enjoy a happy Summer Solstice and a great 4th of July!
 #4 Jun, 2014

Copyright, 2014

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