Leaping into the Atonement

The Atonement is a statement that our separation from God never took place. What never happened cannot yield effects of any kind. Therefore, this unhappy life we appear to live, in this unhappy world, is merely a dream from which – whenever we so will – we can wake up.

In a sense, our study of A Course in Miracles is an exercise in learning that we can choose to listen to the Holy Spirit – our right, or healed, mind. We are not bound to listen – much less obey – the dictates of the ego, which is our false self, our unhealed mind.

It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us how to accept the Atonement. It is not an intellectual exercise, though it can be perceived that way. There is no physical correlative, though we an always perceive there is.

It is an interior process: an abstract process: and to will for it is simply to accept it on the terms set by God. This excludes the body, even when we try to make of it a temple.

Atonement in physical terms is impossible. The next step, however, is to realize that a temple is not a structure at all. Its true holiness lies at the inner altar around which the structure is built . . . The real beauty of the temple cannot be seen with the physical eye. Spiritual sight, on the other hand, cannot see the structure at all because of its perfect vision. It can, however, see the altar with perfect clarity (T-2.III.1:6-8, 10-12).

Most of us are somewhere in the middle: we want to be ready to let the body go, but we don’t know how. And we do hear the Holy Spirit but not consistently and not perfectly.

And we are scared. We intuitively understand that “the Atonement is a total commitment” (T-2.II.7:1) and have not accepted that this does mean loss: of our precious body, our families, our friends, our favorite foods, our favorite landscapes, our favorite songs.

I swam a lot in quarries when I was younger. We would stand on the walls and leap into the green blue depths. And jumping or diving in was a total commitment! You couldn’t leap halfway. You couldn’t come back up before you reached the water.

You summoned some courage – it always feels a little reckless the first time – you put your faith in God, or Life, or whatever you wanted to call it – and stepped out into the air.

The Atonement is always operative: it is not in the future and not in the past. At any moment – whenever we so will – we can accept it. It requires an incredible leap: the willingness to believe that we are not physical bodies and so every single thing that follows physicality – appetites, grudges, pain, taxation, death – is not real either.

[W]hile the body stands at the center of your concept of yourself, you are attacking God’s plan for salvation, and holding your grievances against Him and His creation, that you may not hear the Voice of truth and welcome It as your Friend (W-pI.72.7:4).

We like the slow process of learning: the sense that we can a little bit today and a little more tomorrow and so somewhere in the future we’ll be perfect and whole. But that is not how Atonement works: either we are leaping into it – no safety net – or we are not.

This is where our learning with the Holy Spirit takes us: to the edge where God says jump. Trust me. Jump. And all that is left then is to do it: now.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Claudia June 24, 2013, 12:46 pm

    Sean, first of all, it never ceases to amaze me that you always are pulling quotes from the text that I have just reviewed in my studies that day. That’s a little bit freaky, my friend, but totally understandable when one is a student in a course in “miracles.” Comes with the territory but I never quite get used to it. Second of all, I guess the idea that I have to jump is frightening, but on days when I am so unhappy, (though glad that once again I am being taught by contrast) jumping seems the only logical choice. I’ve attached a new neon sign to the inside of my forehead imprinted with the word “choices” – a reminder that the decision maker in my mind can be right-thinking, or wrong-thinking, and the outcome of any situation depends on the choice I make. I’m reading what you said, and thinking, “jump. jump. jump.” Thank you for always knowing what to say. I really appreciate your gifts and am glad you always choose to share.

    • Sean Reagan June 24, 2013, 1:38 pm

      Hi Claudia,

      Yeah, those moment of synchronicity can be very intense. Jumping is totally frightening! And, in a way, it’s a silly metaphor for me to use because it puts pressure on us. In truth, God is infinitely patient and utterly supportive of both our decision to leap and our decision to remain on the edge. On the other hand, as you point out, we are the decision-maker and sooner or later we can’t hide from that fact. Sooner or later we have to embrace it. It’s nice to have fellow travelers along the way!

      Thanks for the kind words – and for sharing –

      Sean

  • Zrinka June 25, 2013, 5:48 am

    It takes time. We hurry ourselves into atonement (in our – imagination- it as a neverending, perfect state). Yet we don’t see and appreciate how our little moments of – Real – awareness have grown in time.
    The energy we gathered throughout our life (physically, consciously, unconsciouosly) has to be cleansed, let go gently. It has to come off – naturally – , like snake skin. Imagine an old man, really old, preparing to take a swim in a lake. He doesn’t hurry with his clothes. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t. He is old, he has lived, imagined and experienced (this world). Now he is here for something else, something new. So he does everything slowly, knowing that nothing (no one moment) is lost in the mind of God. This is his wisdom of age. Instead of jumping, he simply – enters – the lake, naked and white like a gentle flower floating. Again he does it slowly. Enjoying the birds, the air, the green, the blue… And why not?, by his side, is his lovely wife and they go swimming in awareness – together.

    Thank you dear Sean for your loving thoughts, as always! beautiful Rilke poem is in my mind so I’ll share it:)

    God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
    then walks with us silently out of the night.
    These are the words we dimly hear:
    You, sent out beyond your recall,
    go to the limits of your longing.
    Embody me.
    Flare up like a flame
    and make big shadows I can move in.
    Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
    Just keep going. No feeling is final.
    Don’t let yourself lose me.
    Nearby is the country they call life.
    You will know it by its seriousness.
    Give me your hand.
    Rainer Maria Rilke

    • Sean Reagan June 25, 2013, 7:55 am

      Ah, Zrinka . . . yes, that is the image: the old man or woman who slowly and carefully – who lovingly – enters the water. That too is a total commitment, isn’t it? Thank you. And also: for the lovely reminder of companions: those who stand beside us on the beach, or hold a towel for when we emerge, or hold our hand and step delicately into the depths with us . . . yes.

      And Rilke . . . that yes, too.

  • Fred Wahlstrom June 25, 2013, 9:11 am

    Guess what, we have already jumped, our “life” is flashing by us.
    Can’t you see the illusion disappearing right now before your very eyes, can’t believe it? Try to hold on to any of it. We need do nothing, just look.

    • Sean Reagan June 25, 2013, 9:27 am

      Thank you Fred . . . yes, sometimes that is the sense one has . . . and other times we feel trapped and burdened by the body and the world . . . My own experience – and that of many students with whom I share the way – is that we go back and forth on our awareness of Oneness and so it feels like a process even though in truth it is not. I think it is helpful to make a commitment and just go for it – somewhat like leaping, though I really like Zrinka’s image too – to say, I am determined to see things differently, I am determined not to react to what is external and so forth.

      Thanks again, Fred – I am grateful for your insights here.

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