One way to think about the separation is that it is simply a failure of communication, a breakdown of the natural channels between the self and truth, or God. The truth is always true, and it is always extending itself, and yet we are not always aware of its extension, or of its unchanging nature. Reestablishing this awareness is what A Course in Miracles refers to as the atonement.
We are all joined in the Atonement here, and nothing else can unite us in this world. So will the world of separation slip away, and full communication be restored between the Father and the Son (T-14.V.5:1-2).
For convenience, we can think of the atonement as having two practical aspects.
First, we are giving attention to what we call the self, which is what A Course in Miracles calls the ego – that concatenation of goals, ideas, stories and memories that seems to process the world of the senses, organize it through thought, and direct all subsequent action accordingly.
To give attention to that self is to learn that it does not exist. It is a kind of self-replicating virus to which over the years we have learned to pay inordinate attention. The workbook lessons of A Course in Miracles are as good a spiritual practice as any other for undoing this self: which is simply to perceive its unreality and on the basis of that perception allow a new awareness – which is only the old awareness returning – to enter.
Atonement is another word for remembering the fullness of communication that is inherent in Creation. Truth is never absent and it is never not offering itself up. We are never separated from God.
The second aspect of an atonement practice is a commitment to serving our brothers and sisters. One of the clearest and most lovely aspects of A Course in Miracles is its insistence that we are united in our quest to remember God, and can really only remember God for each other. If we’re bent on a personal private experience of awakening, we’re going to be disappointed. But if we are set on loving one another in real and practical ways, then it will be given us to know the peace that surpasses understanding.
From everyone whom you accord release from guilt you will inevitably learn your innocence. The circle of Atonement has no end. And you will find ever-increasing confidence in your safe inclusion in the circle with everyone you bring within its safety and its perfect peace (T-14.V.7:5-7).
This is not a mysterious or mystical practice but a deeply practical one. When we are quietly attentive, and bent on undoing the false self, our capacity to hear others and to know what is needed, expands exponentially. In this light, service can run the gamut from starting a local soup kitchen to giving someone a hug to giving someone a spiritual and psychological space they only dimly know they need.
Service is not about us, but is rather a natural extension of our emerging willingness to no longer pretend that we are the center of Life. The form service assumes always responds to whatever form the need for it requires. We don’t judge in advance; we just give attention and allow energy to be directed as it wills.
Atonement is another word for remembering the fullness of communication that is inherent in Creation. Truth is never absent and it is never not offering itself up. We are never separated from God. Attention and service – in time and in specific forms – reestablish our presence in the reality we denied but never left. There is nothing to do but what lies before us. When we forget the self and its problems, the self and its problems are gone.