A Course in Miracles Lesson 196

It can be but myself I crucify.

This is a more acute phrasing of the standard ACIM teaching that the secret to salvation is that we are doing this – causing suffering by accepting the ego’s interpretation of self and world – to ourselves (T-27.VIII.10:1). The great lie of projection is that we can avoid the effects of that which is projected. But the willingness to dissociate at all begins and ends with a self in pain.

Projection may hide the suffering but it cannot heal the suffering.

The alternative – the other way to which Bill Thetford so helpfully referred, effectively inaugurating A Course in Miracles – relies on letting go of the insane (and thus unhelpful) idea that “to attack a brother saves yourself” (W-pI.196.1:3). This new way of being involves laying aside the defense of projection, and seeking instead “another way.”

When we decide to challenge the effectiveness of projection – when we make a practice of refusing to indulge its false promise of escapism – then we let go of the ego’s lies. We stop believing them, and we stop sharing them. Truth naturally arises to take the place of distortion and confusion. The truth needs no interpretation. The acceptance of truth – and the quiet, sustainable peace and joy that are the natural effects of this acceptance – are the work of an instant when we consent to get out of the way.

It is not time we need for this. It is but willingness. For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God (W-pI.196.4:3-5).

What, then, is crucifixion? We are not literally talking about being nailed to a cross, strangling to death in the hot sun outside Jerusalem. Or Boston or Berlin. To what is the Course referring?

In the context of this lesson, crucifixion refers to our insistence on believing – against all the evidence of our senses, against all the logic of our mind – the mistaken idea that salvation lies in holding another responsible for what we are doing. It is our own interpretation of the appearance and experience of the outer world that bring us suffering. It is not something our brothers and sisters are doing, no matter how that might appear to be the case in the ego’s version of reality.

When we do not accept responsibility, but instead project it – and thus percieve a world in which others (parents, priests, teachers, religious zealots, even climate change) are responsible for our suffering, then we are effectively crucifying ourselves. We are depriving ourselves of our own capacity for salvation, which lies in choosing to accept the Holy Spirit’s interpretation of the world rather than ego’s.

The ego blames others, and pretends that in doing so we are exonerated. But the Holy Spirit teaches us that there is no cause for blame anywhere in the system, thus freeing us to examine our thought system without fear, discarding what does not work, and keeping what does.

In this way, we are able to penetrate the ego’s empty logic and ask if the God of Love could allow a world to exist in which suffering and sacrifice are the norm? What but fear and hate could make such a world? And when we can say, no, that’s not how God thinks and it’s not how God creates, then we can begin to see that it’s our projection that make up that world.

And we can begin to imagine – and bring forth – an alternative that A Course in Miracles calls a happy dream.

The problem is not that we blame others, in the end. The problem is that we do not see that we blame others. We deny our culpability, which is to be crucified.

Why do we do this?

Beneath the blame and denial lies the simple fact that we fear God. That is what we don’t want to look at, and that is why we have to work our way through the many psychological layers – letting go of assigning cause to the exterior, accepting responsibility for what we are doing, and then gazing directly at our fear of God.

If it can be but you you crucify, you did not hurt the world, and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind . . . You have sought to be both weak and strong, because you feared your strength and freedom. Yet salvation lies in them (W-pI.196.9:2-3, 7-8).

When we cannot see that we are the one we fear, then our mind splits, and we dwell forever in the horror and chaos of separation. We think it is the other we have to defend against, and so God – because He has allowed this grim situation to occur, indeed, has enabled it in creation – becomes an object of fear as well.

There is – there is always – another way.

All we have to do is accept that the appearance of the external horror show is our own doing, and that it can be undone in an instant, simply by asking the Voice for God to think for us, to interpret for us, and to guide the rhythm of our living accordingly.

This is not easy! Yet the lesson assures us that we are do not have to work it out alone.

There is no Thought of God that does not go with you to help you reach that instant, and to go beyond it quickly, surely and forever. When the fear of God is gone, there are no obstacles that still remain between you and the holy peace of God (W-pI.196.12:1-2).

That is a sweet promise! And it can inform our practice today, allowing us to tap deep reservoirs of willingness as we confront the external world not as the cause of our suffering, but as a outside picture of an interior condition for which we are responsible.

Just as suffering arises in us, so to does our salvation (W-pI.196.12:6). And that is a comforting thought, if we are ready to be comforted.

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