A Course in Miracles Lesson 71

Only God’s plan for salvation will work.

From ego’s perspective, our experience of living in the world is predicated on others – how they behave, how they act, how they affect us. Essentially, “our” living becomes an effect of “their” living.

This isn’t a form of unity but rather of upside-down, or backwards, cause-and-effect. We are victims of forces beyond our control. Grievances – which are closely-guarded and nurtured memories of wrongs done by others to us – are central to this confused and painful way of living.

This “backwards” thinking is characteristic of ego, and serves only the purpose of its survival.

Each grievance you hold is a declaration, and an assertion in which you believe, that says “If this were different, I would be saved.” The change of mind necessary for salvation is thus demanded of everyone and everything except yourself (W-pI.71.2:4-5).

Thus, under ego’s plan for salvation, we become judges. We notice wrongs and carefully catalog them, always emphasizing who has done us wrong, how that wrong has adversely effected us, and what the other needs to do to make amends and “save” us.

We are always looking outward. If our spouse was more supportive . . . If we only made more money . . . If our house was bigger . . . If we lived on the west coast instead of the east . . . Salvation always rests beyond our control and so we remain perennially unsatisfied. And the ego is ever ready to point to new exterior “saviors.” Maybe we need a better shrink. Or some other medication. Or a new diet . . .

Thinking this way is basically an abdication of any kind of self-responsibility. It doesn’t work. And, by continually looking away from mind towards our image of others, and projecting all power and responsibility outward onto those images, we ensure that it never will work.

Lesson 71 both identifies and provides a means to actively remember the remedy to ego’s faulty plan for salvation. It reminds us that God’s plan for healing always looks to the source of the problem, not to the apparent symptom. Salvation is in us; in truth, there is nowhere else to look.

Ego argues – and its arguments are not unpersuasive – that this is ridiculous. It is naive and even dangerous. And its litanies of wrong-doers and their myriad wrongs can be very convincing.

A Course in Miracles says: will you at least consider there is another way? Can you at least consider that following the ego’s plan for salvation has made you miserable?

. . . let us rejoice that there is an answer to what seems to be a conflict with no resolution possible. All things are possible to God. Salvation must be yours because of His plan, which cannot fail (W-pI.71.7:2-4).

What do we do? We ask God to show us the plan for salvation established in Creation. We set aside our own “insane attempts and mad proposals” to reach happiness, and wait on that which promises to deliver us unto “release and joy” (W-pI.71.8:4).

Critically, we want to notice when grievances – those long-held and those under new construction – appear in our mind. They are signs that we have projected the cause of salvation unto something external and thus illusory. Can we let them go? If we can’t, why not?

Between God and ego there is no conflict, because what is whole does not recognize what is partial. What is perfect and true does not recognize what insists on error and deception.

Yet to a mind that listens to lies, it is possible to be deceived and confused. If we cannot relinquish grievances, it is because we are still invested in – we are still holding on to – the ego’s plan for salvation. This is not a crime! We will not be punished for this.

But it helpful to remember that our sadness, grief and loneliness are all a direct consequence of refusing to accept the simplicity and clarity of God’s plan. If we would be happy and helpful, can we not spend a few minutes looking for that which will gratefully teach us happiness and helpfulness? For it is already given. It is already working, already waiting on our acceptance.

Lesson 71 is an invitation to do just that. And, more, it is a promise that once we accept this invitation, the end is sure. Only God’s plan for salvation will work. What else do we need to know?

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  1. I had quite a time with this. The only answer I got in the listening phase was “belief in failure is not salvation” (“again”, because not that it hasn’t come up before, but the relation with “again” is important, the background framing that there time that issues and frames failure in the first place). The questions the lesson says to be specific with, are a setup for failure within the framework of needing those answers FOR salvation. That they can addressed FROM salvation is the only saving reinterpretation that I get – that even those foundational quests of the ego can be asked from a place that doesn’t NEED to ask them, but can now offer them, re-experience them, without their reifiication use for ego. So as I experienced “I still don’t get this God thing, and I’m still not hearing Its Voice, I got the gift of remembering “belief in failure is not salvation”. To be able to see how things DON”T work, and settle – happily – into that niche (not a wording that can be appreciated at all from imagining not to be in that niche), is a very unassumiong and therefore stable, and yet “portable”, source of light..

    I said “quite a time” because the fine grained alternating between very brief grabs at grievances and salvation grabs are a little much, like circuitry is going to fry. I can’t give attention long enough to “just listen for answwers” to those questions. I can relate now to how the salvific thought that I’m goint to make hot chocolate, is an example of the first half of the lesson. My spouse’s diabetes alarm going off as a grievance felt in the body’s gut, is also. These and many others in rapid fire don’t seem to lend to following a lesson plan! I pull from outside saving graces, like you sharing that chocolate can equally be an ego plan. So the “fine grained”, and not simple more tangible revealed blocks, is hard to feel help for from the Course.

    But the success BECAUSE of failre has become an option. The belief in failure as a way to deal with not having success but validating it anyway, well I see why schizophrenia can happen. It’s too fine grained – and not there really between the grains – this much ado at the resolution of grains. Backing up and believing in the world level perspective of how we’ve put those grains together was not a tenable composition. Only God’s plan for salvation will work. And that means to me being ok with seeing how the composition and not even its constituents are nothing but smoke and mirrors. A faith in the below-planck-length basis of Reality, though, is a gracefully gratefully entertained grain composition for pointing to beneath its composition.

    I wrote to you in yesterday’s lesson but it got backspaced over! So quickly, I appreciate how you don’t gloss over what be fine grained anathemas, seem reasonable to not address in the sacred cow context of ACIM. So like your saying Jesus is a fantasy and even Helen was a ripple that could replicate a Jesus ripple, are so helpful to me. And it’s ironically reassuring to me (part of the helpfulness), ironic because I have seen seeming others seemingly saying reassurance has come from accepting Jesus or God as “really” real. Well there’s no end to the fine-grained who am I believing is really real, and not seeing the grainy plan, of maybe needing to be left out – belief in failure – and so using those others and what they say as its proof. Thanks for being my two by two”, it really has a sense that’s ok, it’s being used now to go beyond two (and the special ones !).

    “God’s plan for healing always looks to the source of the problem, not to the apparent symptom. Salvation is in us; in truth, there is nowhere else to look.” And we can even turn that looking ever more quickly “around”, see how looking away is just damnation raising damnation to look at; and even must find intrusions from “outside” then to be the devil to blame for ruining the success of its planning. “What else do we need to know?”! Thank you Pandora, and now no thank you, no more “else”!

    1. I have this feeling sometimes that ACIM is too complicated – too many minds went into it at its creation, trying to sort through this problem and that tradition. I come back often to John Denver; he was the soundtrack at a time in my life when I was starting to sort through all this material and these ideas. And the thing about Denver is, it’s simply. “Sunshine on my shoulders/makes me happy.” Or this line from “Rocky Mountain High,” which I sometimes think is what spared me from the more pernicious aspects of Catholicism: “talk to God and listen to the casual reply . . . ” How “casual” fit into anything related to God, let alone a 1:1 dialogue . . .

      So sometimes I find myself with the course, a lesson or a section from the text, and it’s like: really? Must it be so thorny? So dense? So this or that?

      And the casual reply is always: don’t blame me. This is YOUR construction. I’m just waiting for you to remember it’s all optional.

      Or something like that.

      David Bohm used to talk about going upstream with thought or mind. Find the Source, if you can. And because I’ve spent a lot of time walking around rivers and streams – going upstream in a literaly sense – that metaphor has helped with an actual practice of giving attention to thought – and whatever it is to which thought appears – and to find some comfort in that, largely in the emptiness/openeness that appears as “Source.”

      I think about him a lot lately, as the one for me who de-mystified a lot of this process, and made it more of a cognitive illusion that anybody can see through if they’re willing to give attention to it in a sustained way.

      Hope all is well Mike!


  2. You might feel lost…? but you’re not lost? You’re already there!!
    Just a thought that came to me out of nowhere and felt drawn to send it to you. Simple not complicated

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