A Course in Miracles Text Made Simple

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Chapter 16: The Forgiveness of Illusions

Section V: The Choice for Completion

Read ACIM Chapter 16, Section V (pages 341-344)

What are the unconscious motives behind our special relationships?

In this section Jesus brings to our attention the hidden, unconscious motivations which lie behind our experience of this world. It may be uncomfortable to look at this, but to free ourselves from the bondage of the ego, we need to become aware of the hidden thoughts of guilt and attack that accompany believing in the reality of this world. If we truly want to free ourselves from the bondage (pain, anxiety, despair, guilt and attack) of the ego thought system, we must face the fact that we are joining with the rejection of God’s oneness when we continue to believe in the reality of this world of separation and differences. (See 1:1-3)

We need to recognize the real motives behind our special relationships. Without the help the Course offers us, we would continue with our same old patterns, wondering why love seems to come and go and why we return to a lingering sense of emptiness and a feeling that there must be something more. We need to understand that God’s Love cannot be found in special relationships. In fact, special relationships are an interference contrived by the ego to keep us from joining in the oneness of God’s all inclusive Love. Jesus knows it is very important for us to see what is really going on behind the appealing, but constantly changing forms of specialness we perceive in this world. That is why he says, “For this world is the opposite of Heaven, being made to be its opposite, and everything here takes a direction exactly opposite of what is true. In Heaven, where the meaning of love is known, love is the same as union.” (3:6-7)

Why does Jesus say that the ego’s hatred truimphs in the special relationship?

Jesus explains the essence of the ego thought system in paragraph four: “It is in the special relationship, born of the hidden wish for special love from God, that the ego’s hatred triumphs. For the special relationship is the renunciation of the Love of God, and the attempt to secure for the self the specialness that He denied.” (4:1-2) The ego is the thought system of rejecting God because God would not give the special love it asked for. The special love relationship is the ego’s chief mechanism for hiding the intense hatred and accompanying guilt that must come with the denial of union or the denial of Love.

To replace God, the ego made up a fantasy world which excluded God and seemed to satisfy the wish for specialness. Because specialness is the opposite of union, it inherently requires separation (uniqueness and differences). It requires the denial of God’s oneness. This separation from God is really hell, but the ego goes to great lengths to disguise this so that we think separation or specialness is Heaven. “For the ego would never have you see that separation could only be loss, being the one condition in which Heaven could not be.” (4:4)

What is the difference between how the Holy Spirit and ego sees completion?

In paragraphs five through eight Jesus explains how we are all looking for completion. “To everyone Heaven is completion. There can be no disagreement on this, because both the ego and the Holy Spirit accept it.” (5:1-2) He also shows us the important difference between how the Holy Spirit sees completion and how the ego sees completion. “The Holy Spirit knows that completion lies first in union, and then in the extension of union. To the ego completion lies in triumph, and in the extension of the ‘victory’ even to the final triumph over God. In this it sees the ultimate freedom of the [separate] self, for nothing would remain to interfere with the ego.” (5:4-6)

Jesus goes on to elaborate on how each separate-self identity innately feels a sense of lack and, as a result, tries to find completion in another, better self. “The ‘better’ self the ego seeks is always one that is more special. And whoever seems to possess a special self is ‘loved’ for what can be taken from him. Where both partners see this special self in each other, the ego sees ‘a union made in Heaven.’ For neither one will recognize that he has asked for hell, and so he will not interfere with the ego’s illusion of Heaven, which it offered him to interfere with Heaven. Yet if all illusions are of fear, and they can be of nothing else, the illusion of Heaven is nothing more than an ‘attractive’ form of fear, in which the guilt is buried deep and rises in the form of ‘love.’” (8:1-5)

So we are seeing here that every special relationship is a substitute for God’s perfect Love. It is born out of the fear of loss that is inevitable when we believe we have separated from our Source. When we believe we are individuals, separate from God, we are believing in littleness and denying the grandeur of our unity with our Creator. We are hiding from our Father in false images of littleness (individuality) and burying the guilt we feel in the appealing images of special relationships. “The real purpose of the special relationship, in strict accordance with the ego’s goals, is to destroy reality and substitute illusion.” (9:4)

In order for our individuality to be real, God must be obliterated because individuality (separate minds) cannot exist in oneness. Being complete opposites, both cannot be true. Thus the individuality that the special relationship witnesses to is the acting out of the sacrifice of God at the altar of specialness. The idol of a separate self we have made not only obliterates our awareness of God, but also obliterates our awareness of our true Self. We literally do not know our Self when we are searching for specialness. “Separation is only the decision not to know yourself.” (15:3)

Believing in the little image we have made of our self, we feel weak, vulnerable and inadequate. We hate this little image we made so we are constantly searching for a replacement, something that will seem to give us more value — the specialness we are craving. Specialness now seems to be the source of power in place of God. Specialness triumphs over God, making Him helpless to satisfy our perceived needs. Instead of looking to God, our real Source of strength, we look for power in special relationships.

Because special relationships cannot truly replace our real power, they never satisfy. And thus we spend our earthly lives in a never ending ritual of searching for completion. It is never ending because we are searching for completion in a world of separation, where it cannot be found. Of this sad search Jesus tells us, “The special relationship is a ritual of form, aimed at raising the form to take the place of God at the expense of content. There is no meaning in the form, and there never will be.” (12:2-3)

What does it take to wake up to the reality of Heaven?

In paragraphs 13 through 17 Jesus emphasizes that waking up to the reality of Heaven requires being willing to see that images of separation (separate forms) are illusions. This means remembering that everything we see with our body’s eyes is not real. As long as we insist on making illusions real we will not remember God and we will feel lack of peace. Jesus brings up a very important idea to help us free ourselves from hell when he tells us, “Salvation lies in the simple fact that illusions are not fearful because they are not true. They but seem to be fearful to the extent to which you fail to recognize them for what they are; and you fail to do this to the extent to which you want them to be true. And to the same extent you are denying truth, and so are failing to make the simple choice between truth and illusion; God and fantasy.” (14:1-3)

When we give reality in our mind to what we see through the body’s eyes, we are making the decision to forget our one Self and replace Heaven with illusions of specialness. Jesus encourages us to make another choice when he says, “This year is thus the time to make the easiest decision that ever confronted you, and also the only one. You will cross the bridge into reality simply because you will recognize that God is on the other side, and nothing at all is here. It is impossible not to make the natural decision as this (that nothing at all is here) is realized. (17:1-3)

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Reference Keys for
A Course in Miracles Quotes

How to Read References for Quotes from A Course in Miracles

Below are example references to specific sentences using the notation of the Second & Third Editions of A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace:

T-26.IV.4:7 = Text, Chapt. 26, Section IV, paragraph 4, sentence 7.

W-pI.169.5:2 = Workbook, Part I, Lesson 169, paragraph 5, sentence 2.

M-13.3:2 = Manual for Teachers, Question 13, paragraph 3, sentence 2.

C-6.4:6 = Clarification of Terms, Term 6, paragraph 4, sentence 6

The above numbering system of the Second & Third Editions is © Copyright 1992, The Foundation for A Course in Miracles.

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