Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.
Lesson 72 extends the previous lesson’s emphasis that God’s plan for salvation is the diametric opposite of egos, and that only God’s plan can actually work in bringing us peace and happiness. Lesson 72 emphasizes that ego’s plan is an affirmative attack on God’s plan.
What is the value of this insight? What do we gain by understanding this?
Sometimes in our study and practice of A Course in Miracles, we get casual. We think that we can negotiate a compromise between God and ego. We’ll keep a little of this and give up a little of that. It feels mature to do this; it feels reasonable.
But between God and ego there is no compromise. There is no middle ground. We “see the flesh or recognize the spirit” (T-31.VI.1:1). This is why ego fights the way it does; it is also why in the end, God’s plan for salvation is the one which will prevail in our mind.
Ego needs the mind to believe it is in – and restricted to – a body. This is what the course means when it describes ego as the physical embodiment of the desire to replace God (W-pI.72.2:1). Grievances are the way in which ego keeps mind focused on the body and the perils it faces in a violent and unscrupulous world.
Yet oddly, ego’s focus is always on what other bodies are doing. The effect of this is to keep our brother and sister yoked in their apparent body; ego does not readily reveal that the purpose of this is to keep us in bodies, too. Moreover, this insistence on bodies is an attack on God.
You are doing more than failing to help in freeing [your brother or sister] from the body’s limitations. You are actively trying to hold him to it by confusing it with him, and judging them as one. Herein is God attacked, for if His Son is only a body, so must He be as well (W-pI.72.4:3-5).
In this way, ego teaches us that God’s plan for salvation requires suffering and ends in death (W-pI.72.5:1). It is this perspective – an “arena where angry animals seeks for prey and mercy cannot enter” (W-pI.72.6:1) to which ego proposes itself as a viable alternative.
Take the little you can get. God gave you nothing. The body is your only savior. It is the death of God and your salvation (W-pI.72.6:6-9).
This grim picture reflects “the universal belief of the world you see” (W-pI.72.7:1). The body is exalted and deprecated, the mind is belittled and ignored. Humiliation and struggle, loneliness and confusion abound. We live in the middle of a war on God. Of course we do not know peace. Of course we do not know happiness.
It is critical to understand that this “attack” on God is a mirage. It has no effect on God. We are not going to be judged and punished. We are not going to be found unworthy for a lack of faith.
We are simply going to be invited – over and over, as a condition of what God is and what we are – to consider another way.
Your upside-down perception has been ruinous to your peace of mind. You have seen yourself in a body and the truth outside of you, locked away from your awareness by the body’s limitations. Now we are going to try to see this differently (W-pI.72.8:3-5).
Effectively, this means that we are going to simply disregard the body and gaze instead upon “the light of truth” (W-pI.72.9:1). We are going to gently look beyond our grievances and the rationale that seems to sustain them and see what – if anything – appears to us.
A Course in Miracles suggests that we will not look in vain.
To recognize the light of truth in us is to recognize ourselves as we are. To see our Self as separate from the body is to end the attack on God’s plan for salvation, and to accept it instead. And wherever His plan is accepted, it is accomplished already (W-pI.72.9:4-6).
Thus, we are simply coming to see what is actually so. We are looking for truth, rather than ideas. We are looking for what is the case right now rather than what might be so tomorrow or in a year.
We are becoming open-minded and willing – to a radical degree – to set aside all our ideas and preconceptions, our plans and goals, our strategies and assumptions – in order to consider the possibility of another, better plan.
Ask and you will be answered. Seek and you will find. We are no longer asking the ego what salvation is and where to find it. We are asking it of truth. Be certain, then, that the answer will be true because of Whom you ask (WpI.72.11:3-7).
We also want to notice that the lesson does not actually answer the question: what is God’s plan for salvation? Rather, it simply expresses its faith that when we ask the question sincerely, we will be given the answer.
Why would A Course in Miracles be so coy on this subject? If it has the answer, why not give it?
One way to respond to that is to consider that God’s plan for salvation is not readily condensed into language. Thus, what we are listening for in our study periods, may not show up as words. It may not show up as an idea or concept. It may not even show up as a feeling!
What does show up when we genuinely turn to God and ask with an open heart and mind to be saved? Who can find out but us?
Thanks for this, Sean. I think what makes the course challenging for me is that the revelation of God’s plan for salvation often seems to require the uncomfortable revelation of what it is not.
It seems if I truly want God’s plan for salvation to be revealed to me (and I do!), I must be willing for God to bring into the light of day those things that keep it hidden, i.e., my judgments, grievances, attachments, etc. The course, and especially the lessons, have helped me to be willing, and to be teachable, and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful to know too that this plan for salvation is already accomplished. Such a different paradigm from the religion I was raised in. It kind of takes the pressure off! I don’t have to “achieve” anything. I’m only in a process of awakening to what already is. Thanks Sean
Hey Mark. Good to hear from you.
That’s actually an interesting way to phrase it, thank you – learning what IS by seeing what is NOT. I do think part of what distinguishes ACIM from other traditions – not better or worse, but maybe more helpful for some of us – is this notion that we need do nothing save consent to having a lot undone for us.
My experience of prayer changed a lot with my practice of ACIM, becoming less verbal and intentional, and also less like traditional meditation, and more like submitting to a gentle cleansing – I would see the fear/anger/hate in this memory or that idea, and the clearer I saw it, the more of it was undone. Holy Spirit as Divine Cleansing Agent 🙂 We get lighter and lighter. Prisms are spiritual teachers to me – I think in the world it’s a worthy goal to simply become empty enough and clear enough that the light of Love streams through us unimpeded, leaving nothing but beauty, happiness, et cetera.
And yeah, in the end, there is the gentle realization that I need do nothing. For me, this realization is calming but it also makes me more tender and open-minded towards the world. Love WANTS to extend itself, and we start to feel as if we are a means for its extension. This is alternately terrifying and just the most beautiful grace-filled thing ever.
So obviously I have long way to go! But I am grateful and happy to be able to share the way with you. Thanks, Mark.