Atonement is Collaborative

I am often reminded – always at fortuitous times – that we wake up together. A Course in Miracles means this at both the gross physical level and at the spiritual level. Atonement is collaborative.

Accepting the Atonement for yourself means not to give support to someone’s dreeam of sickness and death. It means you share not his wish to separate, and let him turn illusions on himself. Nor do you wish that they be turned, instead, on you. Thus they have no effects (T-28.IV.1:1-4).

Attention is an important aspect of studying A Course in Miracles. In order to offer separation-based thinking to the Holy Spirit (which is our healed, or unsplit, mind), we have to be aware that we are thinking that way. We have to see it.

The Holy Spirit is not an abstract entity floating in space. It is, rather, our capacity to be attentive without judgment. In a sense, when we are aware that we are thinking in a way that God would not, and we are not upset or disturbed by this fact but can simply let it pass, then we can be sure we are thinking with the Holy Spirit.

The course’s devotion to Freud – and by extension, to the psychotherapy model – is neither an accident nor an afterthought. At its best – and very generally speaking – psychotherapy aims at a level of self-awareness sufficient to alter undesirable or unhelpful behaviors. We realize that we are repeating patterns and that recognition allows us to adopt new strategies or shift gears or what have you.

We are doing something similar when we practice A Course in Miracles. We are becoming aware of habits of thought (from which behavior proceeds) that are predicated on a perceived separation of God. We learn that there is another way to perceive and, in time, adopt that new perception. We begin to identify with the Holy Spirit.

That is what the course means when it asks us not to indulge one another’s dream of separation. You and I are having the same bad dream: the course invites us to look past that, to accept the possibility – and then to see the possibility as firm reality – that we are joined as a single radiant extension of God’s Love.

[S]eparation is but an empty place between the ripples that a ship has made in passing by. And covered just as fast, as water rushes in to close the gap, and as the waves in joining cover it. Where is the gap between the waves when have joined, and covered up the space which seemed to keep them separate for a little while? (T-28.III.5:2-4)

Our perception of ourselves as separated bodies leading personal and highly differentiated lives is literally the space between what is in Truth already joined. Inner peace comes when we accept that space as illusory .

Where are the grounds for sickness when the minds have joined to close the little gap between them, where the seeds of sickness seemed to grow? (T-28.III.5:5)

Attention helps us to become aware of that space. Expressions of love dissolve it.

For a little while, our expression of love must assume a form. That is not a detriment but a gift! We can actively seek out those forms of existence in which God’s love is perceived most clearly and joyfully and then extend them. This not effortful but natural – in line with how one wave joins another on the sea.

What is the simplest and most natural expression of love of which you are capable? There is a way that God’s Love shines through you in very practical ways, blessing everyone it encounters. What is it?

Your savior waits for healing, and the world waits with him. Nor are you apart from it. For healing will be one or not at all, its oneness being where the healing is . . . There is no middle ground in any aspect of salvation (T-28.VII.2:3-5, 7).

And so we choose love: at the level of spirit, where we know we are Love, and at the level of form, where the tired world awaits our kindness in order to remember we are One.

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  1. Very nice Sean,

    Yes, healing/salvation/miracles/The Atonement are a collaborative venture. While the curriculum of the course is highly individualized, it is not synonymous with individual salvation.

    We are told that “Miracles make minds one in God. They depend on cooperation because the Sonship is the sum of all that God created. Miracles therefore rest on the laws of eternity, not of time.” ~ACIM

    The course also tells us of the miracle’s interpersonal nature. Over and over the course tells us that Salvation is not for us alone. We must find it in our brothers. The course even tells us,

    “If you make the mistake of looking for the Holy Spirit in yourself alone, your thoughts will frighten you because by adopting the ego’s viewpoint you are undertaking an ego-alien journey with the ego as guide. This is bound to produce fear.” ~ACIM

    In the chapter you quoted is another passage that I really like. Especially considering that sometimes the course is interpreted that we are just a dream.

    “Like you, your brother thinks he is a dream. Share not in his illusion of himself, for your identity depends on his reality. Think rather of him as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, “hero” of the dream, your brother. It is his reality that is your brother, as is yours to him. Your mind and his are joined in brotherhood. His body and his dreams but seem to make a little gap, where yours have joined with his.” ~ACIM

    This passage also ties in with another that says, ” If you decide to have and give and be nothing except a dream, you must direct your thoughts unto oblivion.” ~ACIM

    The course tells us that it has a special means at saving time when it says,
    “Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means. A holy relationship is a means of saving time. One instant spent together restores the universe to both of you.”


    1. Thanks, Eric. Yes, more and more I feel this is a critical idea – that we are not to run around hiding behind the metaphysics, especially when the going gets tough. We really do have to be attentive in order to see what is going on in the separation and then finding that form of love that allows us to begin letting go. And we need each other! That whole chapter is very clear and eloquent on this subject, including the passages you added. We aren’t doing this alone.

    1. You’re welcome! But I can’t take credit – it belongs to Jesus. That is one of my favorite passages in text – it is such a nice way to think of the separation and how we are ultimately going to leave it behind forever. So glad you’re here!

  2. “Attention helps us to become aware of that space. Expressions of love dissolve it.”

    These two short sentences say so much, Sean. Several years ago my older daughter gave me a print that reads “More than anything, I want to trust a journey I don’t understand.” I have discovered that the ONLY way my trust deepens is through sharing these “expressions of love” and opening to the ensuing “miracles.”

    Atonement is indeed collaborative. How could it be otherwise since there is only one of us here? (Now that’s another concept I struggle with!)

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. That’s a great print – I love that phrase. And what a cool kid!

      I feel sometimes like expressing love is akin to edging onto a narrow ledge or a rickety bridge. It is scary – and the more clear and authentic the love becomes, the more (apparently) frightening its expression. We are scared of love (T-29.I.2:3-5), even in its simplest forms.

      It’s funny – on the one hand, I agree that it is so obvious that atonement is collaborative: we are one. The course teaches this over and over. Lots of spiritual traditions and religions teach this. And yet we act as if it is not true, which suggests that at some not-so-subtle level we don’t believe it and so have to be reminded and find ways to give it over for undoing.

      I agree that oneness is a big pill to swallow. Nor do I think we necessarily have to swallow it as we are currently constellated. In our present form and given our present limitations oneness can’t be much more than an abstract ideal, a sort of amorphous goal. In m own experience, I find that being aware of how judgment works (in particular how reliant on time (past and future) it is) has been very helpful in undoing the more pernicious aspects of psychological time and that, in turn, seems to open some experiential window onto oneness.

      But it is also like a Christmas gift – we know it’s coming, and then we see the package, but until the gift is opened, we don’t know. Then we do.

      I don’t know which directions you go with reading, but David Bohm has been incredibly helpful to me in understanding A Course in Miracles. He’s not a traditional course teacher (though in the way we agree Emily Dickinson is a course teacher, he is as well) but his thoughts on folds and explicate order and implicate order have shed a lot of light on what “waking up” means in a practical sense.

      That may or may not be your cup of tea. And I’m sure you’ve got plenty on your plate as it is.

      Thanks for reading & sharing, Cheryl. I hope the baking & running is going well!


      1. I’m glad I found your blog, Sean. Your voice — and the way you express this “journey” through your writing — strike a chord with me. It gives me a fresh way to look at many Course ideas and for that I am grateful.

        As you mentioned above, it continues to astonish me how frightened we are of love, how suspect we become of not only others’ but our own expectations and motivations as we lean closer to the unconditional. That’s why I imagine the “holy relationship”can be so tricky for us spirits in mortal clothing. On one level we are learning that only love is real but as we inch our way out on that ledge you mentioned we become terrified at how vulnerable and exposed we feel. Nothing wounds the ego like rejection. And then we project that state of fear and what happens. Yep! Rejection! For me, awareness and opening are critical as I navigate this path. It’s such an inside job, of course, like a complete rewiring of my inner “house.” But I sense it’s working, however slowly, and that is enough to keep me spiraling deeper.

        On another note, because the miracle of surprise connections continues to delight me within this illusion :), I looked up David Bohm when you mentioned him in an earlier offering. I had never heard of him. And what I found out made me smile — even before reading any of his writing. Mr. Bohm was born in the same city as I was (Wilkes-Barre, PA) and we graduated from the same university (Penn State.)

        So now I am beyond intrigued. (As for the running — my moving meditation — and the baking — a form of Self expression — both are going well.)

        Looking forward to reading more here.

        1. I cling to that sense of it “working slowly” because that faith – sorely tested to be sure! – begets willingness. Faith and willingness are so close.

          And, you know, the other thing is that when we are able to pay attention and notice the fear – and see it happen – then even though it feels awful in a human way, we are really doing the work of spirit. It’s like therapy – if we’re always happy and in love with our therapist then we’re probably not doing the work, you know? The course is about undoing – and undoing hurts at times. But what other choice is there?

  3. Sean, I can’t begin to tell you how much this post ‘hits home’ for me. For the last several days, I have been reading the section of ACIM (Urtext version) called “Healing the Mind.” Among other things, this section discusses, how to heal the mind in such a way that the body is also healed as a kind of ‘side-effect.’ The steps are simple. Dedicate the situation wholly to Truth and don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have dedicated it wholly to Truth until you experience peace (the workbook tells us there is no Peace except the Peace of God – a tranquility like nothing we have ever experienced before – so this is the peace it is talking about).

    The section then notes that we bring the situation to the Truth to which it has been dedicated by faith (utter assurance, total confidence, certitude) in the truth to which it has been dedicated. The result is that we experience the Peace of God and in that experience of peace the resultant healing of the mind heals the body too. But what is pertinent to this blog is that a provision is made regarding our efforts to bring the situation to Truth by faith. Specifically, we are told, “This faith encompasses EVERYONE involved, for only thus the situation is perceived as meaningful, and as a WHOLE. And everyone must BE involved in it, or else YOUR faith is limited, and your dedication incomplete.”

    I found myself thinking and thinking and thinking about the above two sentences. What exactly and in detail could these sentences possibly mean? I understood it in the abstract but not in its particulars. After a few days of thinking about it, the thought came to me that what it meant was I must have utter confidence and trust in the fact that everybody involved in the situation absolutely cannot obstruct, interfere with, or in any way impede my efforts to experience peace. In fact, in truth, in Reality, all they can ever do is offer love and give love. When I saw this, I ‘really’ saw it and from that moment on, I began to notice my patterns of behavior in terms of how often, how very, very often I believed that my brothers were stopping me from feeling peace. Wow, it was often! But each time I noticed this pattern of thinking, I said to myself, “I’m deluded. My brothers, in no way, can stop me from experiencing the Peace of God which is peace itself. I want to stop lying to myself about this.” That is really all I did, just notice what I was thinking and answered the thought by reminding mself that I wanted to stop thinking that way because it was an untrue way to think. This morning I woke up and immediately I felt the Presence of Christ Jesus. He was both beside me and inside me and the feeling was so vivid and so intense and so comforting. I am sure, one hundred percent sure, that this is an instant of realizing that the atonement is collaborative at the experiential and personal level; and when I read your blog I felt a strong sense of confirmation that this was so.


    1. Thanks, Pamela. I’m glad it was helpful, in its way.

      That’s a great passage from the urtext. I think this togetherness – however we phrase it – is a significant course theme. In a way it makes total sense: we are one at the deepest levels.

      But it is also very practical, as you point out: our faith is not only in ourselves but in all our brothers and sisters as well. And it truly is an internal decision – or awareness, really. My peace cannot be affected by what is external. When we really get this – in the particulars, as you so aptly put it – then we are liberated and we liberate others as well. We are denying their capacity to block peace! We are denying their power to be anything other than loving extensions of God.

      Your dreams are witnesses to his, and his attest the truth of yours. Yet if you see there is no truth in yours, his dreams will go, and he will understand what made the dream (T-28.IV.6:5-6).

      You are offering everyone you meet – and everyone you think of – an amazing gift, Pamela.

      Thank you so much for reading & sharing.


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