In earlier, less-edited versions of the text, this section was referred to as “The Eternal Fixation,” and included a fairly lengthy riff on Freud and his ideas about fixation. While I think the revised text is a bit jumpy, I very much like the new title. Fixation was meant to imply that our minds were “set” on God. Yet as true as this is, it doesn’t quite capture the need to “choose” God again. We are indeed called – as people bent on salvation in general, and as students of A Course in Miracles in particular – to decide for God.
There is an idea in this section – to which glancing reference has been made in previous sections – that I want to focus on, because it neatly identifies a particular problem of mine when it comes to the Course.
Excluding yourself from the Atonement is the ego’s last-ditch defense of its own existence. It reflects both the ego’s need to separate, and your willingness to side with its separateness. This willingness means that you do not want to be healed (T-5.VII.3:4-6).
I have gotten much better at forgiving others. I don’t hold grudges the way I once did. I see people generally as either loving or calling for love. This is a good thing and there is no doubt that it moves me far along the path to salvation.
Yet I cannot extend that same vision – that same forgiveness – to myself. I “exclude” myself from it. I know better from an intellectual point of view. I can point to those parts of the text that make perfectly clear that my salvation and yours are interdependent.
To decide even a little for the ego is to decide wholly against God. There is no other, no better way to say it. This is what Jesus is talking about when he refers in this section to healers who couldn’t heal themselves.
They have not moved mountains by their faith because their faith was not whole. Some of them have healed the sick at times, but they have not raised the dead. Unless the healer heals himself, he cannot believe that there is no order of difficulty in miracles (T-5.VII.2:2-4).
This is important. It is the first principle of miracles that we read. Nothing is beyond God and nothing is beyond us because we are, in a very literal way, one with God. A headache or cancer are the same. Forgiving someone for murder or for dropping ice cream on us are the same. Who knows this? I don’t. Do you? If we don’t, it’s because we are not healed.
I think a lot of the progress we make is because we are still measuring externally. Every Course student with a blog has talked about how they aren’t angry at crappy drivers anymore. There is nothing inherently bad or wrong in this – it’s good to be less angry. It’s good to be less fearful, less guilty. Yet that is not precisely what A Course in Miracles is after.
The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance (In:6-7).
If we cannot bring forgiveness to ourselves – if we cannot include ourselves in the Atonement – then we are not practicing the Course. We are still playing games with it. We are still making half-hearted choices. We are nodding in the direction of God while choosing the ego. The proof is that our experience of joy and peace is so tenuous, so fleeting. Yes, we can get it easier than we did but that is still not the point.
This is very difficult – very hard to write it and very hard to accept it. Partially because we want to be able to pat ourselves on the back – I’m doing better than I was five years ago, and better than I was five weeks ago, and maybe even better than I was five minutes ago. I do it all the time! Yet the Course wants something much more dramatic and profound. Over and over Jesus tells us that he is here for us in a literal way. Over and over he assures us that the Course will lead us to God. Even the early lessons make clear that it can happen in an instant. What stands in our way? Why won’t we let ourselves be blessed?
Here’s the thing: that question is the wrong question. Once we know we aren’t fully at peace and fully in joy, then we simply have to recognize the fact and ask for help. This section – this whole chapter – ends so beautifully with a powerful prayer that reaffirms our ability to “decide for God.” It is evocative of the Rules for Decision which, farther into the text, are a much more complex and deeper exploration of how to undo our resistance.
I must have decided wrongly because I am not at peace.
I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
I don’t feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me (T-5.VII. 6:7-11).
But we don’t have to wait! That’s the thing – we can do it now because the separation never happened. We aren’t apart from God. God is in us and when we forget that the voice for God is in us and when we forget that at least we can realize that we aren’t feeling “love’s presence.” The solution is right in the problem: We turn our cares and worries and fears and angers and guilt feelings over to the Holy Spirit. If you can’t do that, ask Jesus to help you. Do this literally! Just ask. Those feelings will be taken from us to the precise degree that we are ready and willing to release them. And when they’re gone what remains is what we are in Truth: God. God and Love.
I know this sounds a new age bumper sticker – and I apologize for that – but it’s true: we deserve to be loved. We deserve to recall our Oneness with God. We deserve to be happy and peaceful. If we can extend that to others, then we must extend it to ourselves. The Atonement is not for anybody if it is not also for us. Can we accept that? Can we accept the solution?