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.