A question often asked is what Jesus means by Atonement. I always think of Atonement as undoing, and I think that Atonement and forgiveness are the same thing. This from Chapter 13: The Cloud of Guilt, further clarifies the meaning:
Atonement brings a re-evaluation of everything you cherish, for it is the means by which the Holy Spirit can separate the false and the true…
This is why I bring my thoughts to the Holy Spirit for interpretation. I want Him to separate the false from the true because I cannot do that. As Jesus goes on to say, I have accepted everything without distinction. I have a thought and I tend to believe it, simply because it was in my mind. Actually, I have taught myself not to automatically accept every thought, but I used to do so, and still do so sometimes.
Here is an example. I awoke in the night recently, and lay there worrying about someone dear to me. He is going through a very difficult time and making some hard decisions. I started thinking about all that could go wrong and what those consequences would mean to him. I started feeling so anxious that I knew I couldn’t go to sleep like this. I wanted to be peaceful and sleep through the night. I wanted to stop being afraid for this person.
The reason I was finding it so hard to stop being afraid and to return to peace is that I had automatically accepted my thoughts about the situation as being true; he could make bad decisions and he could suffer dire consequences. What I did was listen to the Rules for Decision section of the Course. Afterwards, I realized that the only thing that happened is that I asked the ego what the situation meant and I joined with the ego in deciding what would happen based on the ego’s interpretation.
I did the steps that Jesus laid out for me to undo that decision and make way for the Holy Spirit to re-interpret for me. He helped me by sorting through the thoughts, rejecting what is not true. What I was left with were some true thoughts that restored my mind to the peace of God that I so wanted. A true thought in my mind was that I must have faith in my brother. When I worry about what he will do and what could possibly happen to him, that is not being faithful to my brother. Knowing that he has the same Holy Spirit in him that I have in me, and that he will hear that Voice when he is ready for it, that is being faithful to him. Knowing that he exists in God and is safe, that is having faith in him.
Another true thought I was left with was that nothing is happening anywhere except in my mind, which was projecting my fears onto the future. As Spirit responded to my request for healing, what was revealed was the remembrance that the only moment that exists is this one that I am living.
I let go of the fear I am experiencing now, and there is only love and peace and joy. There will be no fear to project, and I will break the cycle of fear and guilt that binds me to the world. More than ever, I want to live in the present eternal moment where I find God. And this is in my mind as well. Let me choose it.
The next morning I was guided to this passage: “Your patience with your brother is your patience with yourself. Is not a child of God worth patience?” I immediately felt more peaceful as I relaxed into the certainty that everything was happening in perfect timing and that it is only my ego mind that believes it should be different. I also see that it is the fear in my ego mind that drives this need for him to hurry and accept the truth. Fear doesn’t believe in him. Fear thinks if we don’t do something all will be lost. But Jesus says that we need do nothing. God has done everything for us.
All the other thoughts were gone except for the true thoughts that I think with God. I wasn’t thinking about all the ways his life could go wrong now, or how unlikely it was that he would succeed. I wasn’t thinking about how this would affect my life, and other lives. I was happy and at peace.
Jesus says the result of not distinguishing between thoughts and simply accepting them all is that guilt has become as true for us as innocence. To free my mind, I had to free this dear person I love. I had to let go of the thoughts that he was guilty of anything and embrace his innocence. I had to let go of the belief in guilt and embrace only the belief in innocence.
Will he make mistakes and will there be dire consequences? I don’t know. But no matter where his lessons take him, I have faith now that all will be as it should be and that he will be successful however it appears in the story. He is guilty of nothing; what happens here is meaningless of itself, and gains meaning only according to our desires. I desire to know only innocence, his and mine. I will be vigilant for thoughts about this situation and ask the Holy Spirit to sort them out for me from now on.
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