We Are Indulging Ideals or Undoing Illusions

Our practice of A Course in Miracles leads us to that space where there are two choices: either we are indulging the ideal of coming closer to God, which is effectively to worship an idol, or we are undoing the illusions which prevent awareness that we are already in God, as God is in us. The distinction is subtle but important.

Many ACIM students say – certainly I do – that we want to grow closer to God, or move towards Love, or strengthen our interior clarity, or whatever. But all of those are ideals that presuppose time. The assumption is that I am not with God now but through some series of actions I undertake I will be with God soon – tomorrow or next year or in another lifetime.

Whenever I make awakening an ideal, I bring time and effort into the equation. I make a process out of that which is timeless. It is important to see that in doing this I am tacitly confirm my belief that I am presently separate from God.

So what is the alternative to good intentions and promises to get it done tomorrow or next week or next year?

Undoing illusions. Rather than give attention to how sincere and devoted I am – and many of us who are still listening to the ego are sincere and devoted – I can give attention to what right now impedes my awareness of God.

God is given. God is present. Why am I not experiencing the fact of this now? What are the illusions – the internal beliefs and thoughts – that block this awareness?

If I can see those obstructions clearly and without judgment, then they are undone.

There is never anything to do about those blocks – in the sense of having to call someone for advice, or read a book, or take a pill or do some yoga. Those activities are not bad but the solution to any problem is always inherent in the problem. If the problem is that my beliefs obstruct my awareness of God’s presence, then I need to drop my beliefs. That can only be done now. They are a problem now and they can only be solved now.

To give attention to illusions is to meet our responsibility for awakening. It’s not a big deal. It is very straightforward and unremarkable. Right now – literally right now – we can experience God. What is stopping that? We might say that we don’t know, but how do we know that we don’t know?

There is nothing in the present moment that will not bear the gift of our attention and return it. If we are not sure what the impediments are, then we look at our uncertainty. We always look at what is. Soon enough we learn the clear and lovely simplicity that there is nothing else to see. Only this. And it is always here. It is always given.

A Course in Miracles teaches that we have to choose to listen to one of the two voices in us – the ego or the Holy Spirit (T-5.II.3:4) One, the ego, advocates for the efficacy of our own resources and efforts as well as the use of time. This never has worked and it never will work.

The other voice, which is the Holy Spirit, forever brings our attention to the present moment, where our remembrance of God is.

The Holy Spirit is in you in a very literal sense. His is the Voice that calls you back to where you were before and will be again. It is possible even in this world to hear only that Voice and other (T-5.II.3:7-10).

This is what we are doing: we are giving attention to the still small voice inside which surely and quietly removes the internal blocks to awareness of God’s Presence. Focus only on this and all else will be given, because it already is given. There is nothing else to learn, and nothing else to do.

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  1. Hey Sean,

    Someone made a post that I read and I was just thinking about this kind of thing this morning and here I come and read your blog. Do you have some of them psychic powers from the Manual for Teachers or something 🙂

    There are a few popular ideas in course circles that I think are exactly what you’re talking about here in indulging the idea of getting closer to God. The idea that in doing a certain amount of forgiveness lessons, then the person will be able to “get home” to God. There is also the idea that the course is the fastest way to “get home”.

    As you mentioned in your blog, this presupposes time and an actual separation from God, because to “get home” implies that you are not. It also implies that “home” is a location. When I have pointed this out before, I have been told that I was just stuck in semantics and that the problem is using language as it is dualistic. Yet, I don’t think the problem is naturally in the language, but in the ideal that uses the language to express the idea.

    The course says that we are at home in God, dreaming of exile. It also states: Heaven is not a place nor a condition. It is merely an awareness of perfect Oneness and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness and nothing else within. ~ACIM

    Instead of laying blame on language, maybe the ideal itself should be looked at. Words (symbols) are not the things themselves, but they can be used to point to the moon so to speak. If there is a tree and I tell you that is a tree. We know the word ‘tree’ is not the tree itself, but it directly points to it. There is no blame on the language that it is not sufficiently pointing to what I am trying to convey to you.

    So if I say “get home”, the implication behind the symbol is that I am not and there is a location I need to get to. I’m “here”, but need to get “there” AND to do so, I need to do this, this, this, and this. Yet, to even further indulge in illusions and worship idols is the idea that the course is the fastest way to “get home.” These are fertile seeds of sowing a new religion. Heaven is a place and this path is the fastest way out of all the paths to get to that place. This is not merely semantics, but what you called subtle distinctions in using language that I believe lead to very different implications.

    You spoke in this blog about the present moment, about right now. There is a course “teacher” that I won’t mention by name, but has said that being in the now is nice, but it won’t get you home.

    I would say that being in the now is the only time that can be used to be aware that you are home. As the Buddhist saying says, “If not now, when?” And the course urges us over and over to use this one aspect of time to see the timeless. And so, once again I will end this reply with quotes from the course on using this aspect of time to realize we are at home in God.

    “The peace of God passeth your understanding only in the past. Yet here it is, and you can understand it now”.~ACIM

    “’Now’ has no meaning to the ego.”~ACIM

    “For the present is forgiveness.”~ACIM

    “If you accept your function in the world of time as healing, you will emphasize only the aspect of time in which healing can occur. For healing cannot be accomplished in the past and must be accomplished in the present to release the future. This interpretation ties the future to the present and extends the present rather than the past. But if you interpret your function as destruction, you will lose sight of the present and hold on to the past to ensure a destructive future. And time will be as you interpret it, for of itself it is nothing.”~ACIM

    “Belief in sin arouses fear, and like its cause, is looking forward, looking back, but overlooking what is here and now. Yet only here and now its cause must be, if its effects already have been judged as fearful. And in overlooking this, is it protected and kept separate from healing. For a miracle is now. It stands already here, in present grace, within the only interval of time that sin and fear have overlooked, but which is all there is to time.”~ACIM

    “His (The Holy Spirit’s) emphasis is therefore on the only aspect of time that can extend to the infinite, for now is the closest approximation of eternity that this world offers. It is in the reality of ‘now’, without past or future, that the beginning of the appreciation of eternity lies. For only ‘now’ is here, and only ‘now’ presents the opportunities for the holy encounters in which salvation can be found.” ~ACIM

    “Would you impose your idle wishes on the present, and hope to find salvation now?”~ACIM

    “No change can be made in the present if its cause is past. Only the past is held in memory as you make use of it, and so it is a way to hold the past against the now.”~ACIM

    “ Now is the time of salvation, for now is the release from time.”~ACIM

    “The Holy Spirit teaches thus: There is no hell. Hell is only what the ego has made of the present” and that “The Holy Spirit would undo all of this now. Fear is not of the present, but only of the past and future, which do not exist. There is no fear in the present when each instant stands clear and separated from the past, without its shadow reaching out into the future. Each instant is a clean, untarnished birth, in which the Son of God emerges from the past into the present. And the present extends forever. It is so beautiful and so clean and free of guilt that nothing but happiness is there. No darkness is remembered, and immortality and joy are now.”~ACIM

    The Holy Spirit leads as steadily to Heaven as the ego drives to hell. For the Holy Spirit, Who knows only the present, uses it to undo the fear by which the ego would make the present useless.”~ACIM

    “ Take this very instant, now, and think of it as all there is of time.”~ACIM

    “Start now to practice your little part in separating out the holy instant. You will receive very specific instructions as you go along. To learn to separate out this single second and begin to experience it as timeless, is to begin to experience yourself as not separate”~ACIM

    “The Holy Spirit can indeed make use of memory, for God Himself is there. Yet this is not a memory of past events, but only of a present state. You are so long accustomed to believe that memory holds only what is past, that it is hard for you to realise it is a skill that can remember now”.~ACIM

    1. My ascended masters tell me what to write!


      I am in agreement with you on this Eric – thank you for adding & expanding the idea. I like this point in particular:

      “I don’t think the problem is naturally in the language, but in the ideal that uses the language to express the idea.”

      That is just clear and beautiful writing and I cannot promise I will not steal it.


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