A Course in Miracles Lesson 198

Only my condemnation injures me.

The power of belief is such that we can believe that we are vulnerable to injury; the evidence that we do believe this is evident in our condemnation of our brothers and sisters. They are dangerous, aggressive, selfish, and untrustworthy. And yet, we receive what we offer. As we condemn – as we make the illusion of separate interests appear real with real effects – we are in turn condemned.

Condemn and you are made a prisoner. Forgive and you are freed. Such is the law that rules perception (W-pI.198.2:1-3).

Yet perception’s “laws” are illusory. To believe them is to believe a lie. Therefore, in truth, condemnation is impossible. Yet so long as we believe in it, then it is real for us. Hence the need for forgiveness.

A Course in Miracles – and the practice of forgiveness informing it – is itself an illusion wielded by the Holy Spirit in the context of separation that our willingness to indulge illusion at all might be undone.

Forgiveness sweeps all other dreams away, and though it is itself a dream, it breeds no others. All illusions save this one must multipy a thousandfold. But this is where illusions end. Forgiveness is the end of dreams, because it is a dream of waking (W-pI.198.3:1-4).

Forgiveness – and that which is perceived under its influence – is not truth itself, but rather points to what is true, including to God, with a certainty that cannot be denied. It is the illusion that ends our dependence on illusions and on the thinking that makes illusions appear so real.

Given this means of salvation, why do we not avail ourselves of it? Why do we insist on suffering when perfect happiness and peace are offered without condition or qualification?

Fun questions we could spend a lot of time answering! Yet this lesson invites us not to analyze that question, nor to descend into intellectuality, but rather to answer it once and for all in experience. It is always tempting to use the intellect to tease apart of the meaning of the words, to explore the myriad possibilities they entail, to take notes and draw maps, to study and brainstorm, ever deepening understanding . . .

It is not a crime against God or nature to play with language this way! Analysis is not forbidden! But there is a space in which the intellect avails us nothing, and some other means of understanding and acting must be evoked. As Abhishiktananda said, logos (language and logic) get us to the entrance of the Cave to the Heart but they do not help us enter. At the mout of the cave, some other force or energy is required, one that is far beyond the domain of reason and language.

A Course in Miracles does not denigrate the difficult experience of believing separation is real and thereby suffering its apparent effects. We are haunted, yes. We fear there is no mercy anywhere. We believe in death and dread hell.

And yet.

The stillness of your Self remains unmoved, untouched by thoughts like these, and unaware of any condemnation which could need forgiveness . . . today we practice letting freedom come to make its home with you (W-pI.198.8:1, 9:1).

We are offered a simple prayer. Simple, that is, to understand. But difficult – murderously difficult – to practice.

Only my condemnation injures me.
Only my own forgiveness sets me free

A Course in Miracles invites us – begs us, really – to “accept one illusion which proclaims there is no condemnation in God’s Son,” which naturally restores Heaven to our shared awareness, and unveils the Christ, all in one fell swoop (W-pI.198.10:1).

This is the gift the Holy Spirit holds for you from God your Father. Let today be celebrated both on earth and in your holy home as well. Be kind to Both, as you forgive the trespasses you thought Them guilty of, and see your innocence shining upon you from the face of Christ (W-pI.198.10:2-4).

When we accept this gift – when we are even willing to consider accepting the gift – then the Word of God echoes in our heart and spreads a soft light over the world. It is no longer possible to fear nor doubt; we reject no brother or sister. Our joy becomes literal connectedness, literal union, with all of life, illuminated by our sincere desire to celebrate our holiness in and with it.

This celebration is the final instant of perception. For in it, all symbols are undone, and all that remains is the Mind of God which knows its Creations as one with Itself.

There is no condemnation in him. He is perfect in his holiness. . . . In this vision of the Son, so brief that not an instant stands between this single sight and timelessness itself, you see the vision of yourself, and then you disappear forever into God (W-pI.198.12:1-2, 6).

This is the future; this has not yet occurred. We are not ready. But we are given the means by which to bring it as close to us as the next breath. Let us pray together, and let nothing come between us to disturb the stillness that we share as Christ.

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  1. Thank you for posting. I feel I can understand these lessons intellectually but at a practical level I always fall short.
    If I withdraw condemnation of others, I end up just condemning myself. It seems a viscous circle. If I accept that I am creating what I perceive as a problem then I try not to blame others but I am still suffering the effects of the misperception. I still believe in the effects and believe they can hurt me even when I am prepared to see the cause as an illusion of my own creating. What to do?

    1. Hi Bev,

      Yes, I understand this. The concepts are not themselves so difficult, but in application it’s another story. We all fall short. That’s why we need ACIM (or some other spiritual path) in the first place, and why we need each other.

      I get what you are saying. I understand being able to love others easier than loving our self; I understand overlooking the errors in others while obsessing over my own. I don’t know what precise form self-condemnation takes for you, but the basic structure of it lives in me as well.

      Our condemnation of others and our condemnation of our self are the same thing. The object being condemned changes but the basic formula is the same thing. Condemnation is condemnation. It arises out of fear; it is a defense AGAINST fear.

      For me, that is the critical insight, right? To condemn at all – to condemn Putin or Elon Musk or my father and mother or my boss or capitalism or whatever – means that I am scared. It means that while I profess love with my mouth, my heart and mind remain shackled to fear.

      Then the question is, what do I do?

      And I think the Course is pretty clear. Figure out what the Holy Spirit is, and listen to it. Look at the fear. Don’t obsess over the symptom (the condemnation, the object of the condmenation) but go to the illness itself.

      This is closer to psychotherapy than to anything mystical, and it takes time and energy. The Holy Spirit is the therapist, and we bring our so-called problems to him. And, just like therapy, it can take a LONG time to realize the answer, and even longer to bring it into application.

      Are you able to discern in your mind between the Holy Spirit and the ego?

      For me, that is a critical skill we are called to develop. Once we get that, then we can begin to strengthen the relationship. We get more skillfull in a literal sense at hearing Spirit instead of ego. And Spirit always directs us in very practical (and often surprising) ways that undo fear and bring forth love.

      In a really basic way, what you are describing is the conflict between “understanding” and “application.” Understanding without application is sterile; application without understanding tends to be shallow and even naive.

      This was the distinction that Tara Singh made very very clear for me.

      So, again, I think the “answer” here is to give attention to the actual practice of discerning between the Holy Spirit and ego, and then strengthening that discernment in order to be guided away from the fear for which self-condmenation is a symptom, and towards love, which includes as equals self and other.

      My two cents! Thank you for reading and being here, Bev.

      ~ Sean

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