Let me begin by stating that this does not mean you should trust your brother’s ego. For example, it would be foolish to invite a kleptomaniac into your home and then leave, not lock your house at night in a high crime area, or your car when you park in the middle of a large city. I recall a situation when a friend of mine, a long-time student of ACIM, came to me with a problem. He had been in a business arrangement with a fellow Course student, and it had become obvious that his partner had been stealing from him. In speaking of me of this, my friend tried valiantly to look at the situation “spiritually” and speak of it only in non-judgmental terms, but it was obvious his hurt and anger were getting the best of him. I finally said to him: “Look – in the eyes of Heaven this person is a Son of God; in the eyes of the world he is a crook. It is not helpful to deny the worldly facts.”
As will be clear as we proceed, we put our trust in the sinlessness of Christ, not what we perceive to be another’s sins. We trust that the perceived sin cannot affect the peace of God within us, and that the egos of others have no more power to keep them away from Heaven than ours do. Jesus discusses this in “The Correction of Error,” where he says that our brother may indeed be wrong, but that he is nonetheless right because of Who he is. Correction – by which Jesus means content, not form – needs always be done with the Holy Spirit, which ensures the absence of judgment and condemnation, even when correcting behavior. Therefore, Jesus is not saying to trust that people are always loving, but only to trust that beyond the ego’s darkness the light of Christ still shines – in everyone. We will return to this important teaching as we go through this lesson.
Motivation is another key theme here. What enables us to trust that the light of Christ shines in our brother is understanding that this is the only way we will remember the light shines in us as well. Remember that Jesus appeals to our selfish motives, saying: “Do what I teach because it will make you feel better. You will not feel good insisting you are an ego, nor insisting the world and body are your home. You will find peace only when you realize this world is not where you belong, and your body not your identity.” Forgiveness teaches us this truth about ourselves, and is the motivation for putting into practice this and all lessons in the workbook.
If I am to transcend doubt and remember who I am as God’s Son, I must learn to trust my brother. It is through forgiving him that I will remember I am one with God, for I am only forgiving a split-off part of myself.
My ego therefore cruises around in the hope of finding someone who is wrong; even if there is an honest mistake, I quickly turn it into a sin. This means I want you to betray and abandon me, hurt and steal from me, do one unconscionable thing after another – all proving we are separate and I the innocent victim of your sin. At that point the memory of Who I am recedes far into the distance – again, the motivation for cherishing the attack, sickness, and specialness that validate my ego identity, for which someone and something else are responsible and will be held accountable. (YIKES! Never thought about that, really!) This is the meaning of these succinct yet powerful statements:
“If you can be hurt by anything, you see a picture of your secret wishes. Nothing more than this. And in your suffering of any kind you see your own concealed desire to kill.” T-31.V.15:8-10.
When I change from my wrong-minded teacher to the right-minded one, I perceive another’s sins as my mistakes, since we are one in the illusory mistake of separation. Jesus thus speaks to us about a change in focus, which comes from our change in teachers.
Where Jesus says in 3:3-6, Ken writes:
This is the holy instant, the lesson’s theme. The ego uses time to make the sins of the past real, setting up fear of future punishment. When I accuse you of sin, I make my sinful past real and seek to escape punishment for what I have done. In the holy instant, however, we step outside to the atemporal dimension that is the Holy Spirit’s dwelling place. We do not see the past, nor fear the future, but experience only the present. In that “herald of eternity” (T-20.V), everyone looks different, for there is no past, future, or body; only an experience of His Love and peace – the innocence in which no judgment of sin exists in you or me.
READ BELOW AND ASK YOURSELF IF YOU FEEL OR HAVE FELT THIS WAY BEFORE! GOD KNOWS I SURE HAVE! Here goes:
Many people lament: “I will never learn this course. How can I ever lose my monstrous ego? For brief moments, perhaps, but then it returns – in spades!” However, all they really do is make the ego real, telling Jesus to his face he is wrong and they are right, and his course does not work. “Maybe it works for everyone else,” they might say, “but it certainly does not work for me.” Perhaps they have moved beyond accusing other people, but it makes no difference whether they hate them or themselves. It is important, therefore, that they recognize what they do with the Course: the stubborn insistence it does not work: Jesus is wrong and they are right. This key ego concept is the foundation of the world we made: proving God wrong and preferring to be right rather than happy (T-29.VIII.1:9).
In the holy instant you realize the ego’s silliness. When you say you cannot learn ACIM because it is too difficult, you state that the ego is alive and well, and that time is real: “Maybe I can learn ACIM, but certainly not in this life for there is not enough time to undo my guilt.” Once these thoughts are entertained, you know you have identified with the ego, because its thought system of separation always manifests as time. The holy instant, however, is outside time, wherein you step back and look with Jesus at how monstrous your ego appeared to be, realizing from your new vantage point it is truly nothing.
To be sure, the ego can indeed seem gargantuan to us here. Yet within the holy instant it is nothing but a dream thought, with no reality beyond it. Then watch your resistance to stepping outside the dream, detaching from problems, concerns, and special attachments – indeed, from all bodily experience. However, looking at our self with Jesus we can say: “This is what the dream figure I call myself is doing” and as an observer of this figure, you cannot be this figure.
Try not to think “holy” thoughts, or impose a vision of holiness upon yourself or another. Instead, let Jesus guide you through the clouds of obstruction within your mind, gently leading you beyond them to the peace that is really there. (Reminds me, my friends, of Lesson 70, BTW.)
I do not hold to past sins of a dreaded future, for the holy instant has transcended time. My focus remains the love of Jesus, for that alone is important to me. From his love I look out on a world that appears transformed. My eyes see as they did before, but my experience has changed.
I love this lesson and found Ken’s perspective, his thoughts most helpful.
I am so happy he reminded me and you, perhaps, that anytime I am caught up in telling myself I am too old to learn the Course, too wishy-washy about applying it, etc., it’s all ego.
I am reminded, also, of the holy instant.
If I can remember that all He asks is that we take holy instants throughout the day, however many we can spare, to remember Him and His Love, well then, we need not worry about whether it’s too late or we’re too old to study the Course…or too busy, whatever…nor do we have to tell ourselves our sins are the worst and are irreparable.
Just little tiny baby steps, that’s all, right?
I know this email is terribly long, follow your guidance as to whether to read it or not or, like some, just read what I write or not even that.
All I know for sure is sharing all of this is most helpful to me as I have just a little willingness to get above the battleground and away from the war within.
Have a restful and relaxing day!