Though I often talk about what I am doing in the world – baking bread, sobbing outside grocery stores, watching my daughter ride horses – that is always just the form of my learning takes. Those are the symbols that – left to the egoic self’s interpretation – are hateful and hurtful. But when I remember to look with my inner guide, they become symbols of love, symbols of the oneness I have forgotten and still insist is but a distant dream. Not so, says Jesus quietly. It is right here, right now.
My goal is not a better life here in the world. Whatever I am doing in the world – whatever the form it takes on the outside – I am always learning how to heal my mind by sharing its contents with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The more is shared, the more is healed, because sharing itself is healing. It is collaborative.
Ask not to be forgiven, for this has already been accomplished. Ask, rather, to learn how to forgive, and to restore what always was to your unforgiving mind. Atonement becomes real and visible to those who use it (T-14.IV.3:4-6).
We don’t ask to be forgiven because we haven’t done anything. We think we have but we haven’t. Jesus is saying that it’s okay to let the guilt go. We aren’t really these bodies that stumble around the world hurting and being hurt. The real problem, he says, is our “unforgiving mind” – that is, the mind that does not remember its true nature because it does not remember its source. Because it is unforgiving, it sleeps and dreams it is what it is not. And we live those dreams and suffer accordingly.
That’s pretty heavy metaphysical stuff – but Jesus shifts gears to remind us that the value of the atonement lies in extending or practicing the atonement. This is pretty straightforward, isn’t it? It’s got a sort of coaching feel to it. You can’t win if you don’t play! It’s like being given a guitar and looking at it in its case and wondering where the music is. We learn by doing. We learn the atonement by doing the atonement. It’s simple.
On earth this is your only function, and you must learn that it is all you want to learn. You will feel guilty until you learn this. For in the end, whatever form it takes, your guilt arises from your failure to fulfill your function in God’s Mind with all of yours. Can you escape this guilt by failing to fulfill your function here (T-14.IV.3:7-10)?
So our only function is to heal our minds. It doesn’t matter if we are bank tellers, novelists, garlic farmers or nurses. Doesn’t matter if we have kids or husbands, wear sandals or heels, eat meat or don’t eat meat, read A Course in Miracles every day or just John Grisham. That’s the form. The content – the real work – is always the healing. And when the form is given to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, it will always serve the content. It will always heal. How can it not when we have shared it with that whose only goal is to heal?
If you look again at the above-referenced material (both phrases are from chapter fourteen’s Your Function in the Atonement), you will see that Jesus is encouraging us to ask for help. The implication is clear. We aren’t expected to this alone. It is good – it is more than good – to ask him to guide and instruct us. He is simply reminding us to pay attention to what we are asking for. Don’t ask for what you’ve already got; ask for help in remembering that you are already have – because you already are – the very thing you long for most.
God can communicate only to the Holy Spirit in your mind, because only He shares the knowledge of what you are with God. And only the Holy Spirit can answer God for you, for only He knows what God is (T-14.IV.10:3-4).
Thus, our practice is to try and see past the form of our daily lives in order to make contact with the mind that dreams it all. We don’t resist the form at all. We simply look past it with Jesus to the content from which it rises. Ultimately, we want to move through our days seeing every facet of the world world and all our brothers and sisters as opportunities to perceive guiltlessness. Period. Nobody did anything and nothing happened.
When you accept a brother’s guiltlessness you will see the Atonement in him. For by proclaiming it in him you make it yours, and you will see what you sought . . . His guiltlessness is your atonement (T-14.IV.1:1-2, 4).
How simple to say – to memorize and repeat – and yet how hard to practice! But that is what A Course in Miracles is here for – to heal the mind that dreams it is alone, that dreams it suffers, and that dreams it can cause suffering in others. So we ask for help and then let the ones we’ve asked do their thing. Jesus has our back and the Holy Spirit is perfectly willing to lift us closer to God. We just have to ask.