Section III – The Altar of God
- The Atonement can only be accepted within you by releasing the inner light. Since the separation, defenses have been used almost entirely to defend against the Atonement, and thus maintain the separation. This is generally seen as a need to protect the body. The many body fantasies in which minds engage arise from the distorted belief that the body can be used as a means for attaining “atonement.” Perceiving the body as a temple is only the first step in correcting this distortion, because it alters only part of it. It does recognize that Atonement in physical terms is impossible. The next step, however, is to realize that a temple is not a structure at all. Its true holiness lies at the inner altar around which the structure is built. The emphasis on beautiful structures is a sign of fear of Atonement, and an unwillingness to reach the altar itself. The real beauty of the temple cannot be seen with the physical eye. Spiritual sight, on the other hand, cannot see the structure at all because it is perfect vision. It can, however, see the altar with perfect clarity.
- For perfect effectiveness, the Atonement belongs at the center of the inner altar, where it undoes the separation and restores the wholeness of the mind. Before the separation, the mind was invulnerable to fear, because fear did not exist. Both the separation and the fear are miscreations that must be undone for the restoration of the temple, and for the opening of the altar to receive the Atonement. This heals the separation by placing within you the one effective defense against all separation thoughts and making you perfectly invulnerable.
- The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time. This may appear to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision, but this is not so. You can temporize, and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your Creator, Who set the limits on your ability to miscreate. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning-point. This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute. But the outcome is as certain as God.
- Spiritual vision literally cannot see error, and merely looks for Atonement. All solutions the physical eye seeks dissolve. Spiritual vision looks within and recognizes immediately that the altar has been defiled and needs to be repaired and protected. Perfectly aware of the right defense it passes over all others, looking past error to truth. Because of the strength of its vision, it brings the mind into its service. This re-establishes the power of the mind, and makes it increasingly unable to tolerate delay, realizing that it only adds unnecessary pain. As a result, the mind becomes increasingly sensitive to what it would once have regarded as very minor intrusions of discomfort.
- The children of God are entitled to the perfect comfort that comes from perfect trust. Until they achieve this, they waste themselves and their true creative powers on useless attempts to make themselves more comfortable by inappropriate means. But the real means are already provided, and do not involve any effort at all on their part. The Atonement is the only gift that is worthy of being offered at the altar of God, because of the value of the altar itself. It was created perfect and is entirely worthy of receiving perfection. God and His creations are completely dependent on each other. He depends on them because He created them perfect. He gave them His peace so they could not be shaken and could not be deceived. Whenever you are afraid you are deceived, and your mind cannot serve the Holy Spirit. This starves you by denying you your daily bread. God is lonely without His Sons, and they are lonely without Him. They must learn to look upon the world as a means of healing the separation. The Atonement is the guarantee that they will ultimately succeed.
Today Jesus establishes in our minds that Atonement does not involve a body at all. We should never relate Atonement with a crown of thorns, crucifixion, or pain and suffering of any kind. It is a very dangerous doctrine in which God is seen as demanding sacrifice and wanting His Creation to suffer turning Him into a spirit of vengeance and revenge instead of the Loving Father Who awaits our return in tenderness and kindness. There are absolutely no physical means by which we can earn Atonement. Love is the principle of Atonement, and miracles are the acts of love that help us to both accept and recognize Atonement. To try to reach Atonement through the means of a body, a building, anything physical at all is a sign of fear of Love and an unwillingness to go to the inner altar which cannot be seen or experienced in a physical way.
When we have the vision of Christ, when our spiritual eyes are open we see beyond the structures, whether it is a body, a temple, an edifice of any kind – to the inner radiance, the inner altar where Atonement takes place. When our inner altar is cleared of all that would stand in the way of our recognition of who and what we are, this is Atonement. Accepting Atonement then is going back to this inner altar as many times as we must before the full realization of Christ is established in our minds and hearts.
In paragraph two Jesus tells us that the Principle of Love – the Atonement – belongs at the center of our Beings. This principle corrects the separation. The acts of love that Atonement calls for us to perform, the miracles we perform in Jesus name, restores our wholeness of mind. Separated from God, we live in fear; united with God fear does not exist. Separation and fear are the forbidden fruits if you will! They are the lies that pose as creation – that would lift us up above God, instead of at one with God. That would whisper vain, seductive thoughts and paint self-glorifying images upon our innocent and holy minds tempting us away from our love for God and creation and instead have us fearing and preying upon one another and God, Himself. These are the lies that must be undone! These are the imaginings, the behaviors, the acts of that which is not love. These forbidden fruits tear us apart, they blemish our love and respect for one another, the miscreative aim is not to build and bring together, but to tear down and destroy. Believing the lie, we hide behind our own devices and project them upon God and each other. Believing the lies, we mock, disdain, purposefully misconstrue and ridicule not only God’s creation but God Himself. Cheap laughs at best and viciousness of the most murderous kind at worst, these unholy, unloving lies must be seen for what they are and removed from our consciousness – forever. Only then is Atonement accomplished in our lives. We walk then in the light of the inner altar where the principle of Love is established for ever more.
God is our Creator. He made us as His Son and as His Son we can only take so much of the loneliness, despair, and sense of meaningless that is engendered by separation, disunity, and lack of love. Separation is tyranny and Jesus tells us in paragraph three that imprisonment is intolerable to the free will that He has placed within us. No matter who we are or what we think of ourselves, sooner or later we come to realize there must be a better way. This is our turning point which leads to our awakening. As our spiritual vision is strengthened – our investment in that which is physical weakens. We experience this as conflict while we are still in the flesh for we alternate then between the spiritual vision and the physical one. This can become what I have experienced personally over the decades of this life – we hear both calls – the call of God within, the call of the world without. Jesus assures us that no matter how long this goes on, no matter how much we drag out this process, no matter how muddied the water as we try to find answers externally – the outcome is as certain as God. All of us accept Atonement in the end.
In the last two paragraphs of today’s reading, our Brother explains to us that spiritual vision sees right past error to Atonement. Spiritual sight enables us to virtually bypass all the magical potions, the long years in therapy or prison, the sacrifices and other forms of tyranny that we devise for ourselves to treat our sense of sin and shame. When we say Atonement is our only defense, we say that the principle of Love is our only defense. It offers us the strength to see past the offense and to the heart of the offender. It goes straight to the truth of the matter. We no longer label people a narcissist or rapist, a child molester, or a thief. We see the one on the outside of us as we see ourselves. We are no longer able to tolerate anything which is not love. Our minds have been liberated from the tyranny and pain of separateness. As we become increasingly sensitive to acts which are not love, we find ourselves unable to join in conversations of attack for we see them for what they are. We can no longer sit on boards which have delineated sides and judged those on the other as wicked, evil, and depraved, deserving of hatred, judgment, and condemnation. Collecting unnecessary facts about others holds no interest to us. We find no real delight mockery and ridicule. All we want is healing, reparation, restoration, Atonement. We stand with Brother Christ and not against Him.
As God’s children we are entitled to certainty. Brother Jesus tells us that we waste ourselves and our God-given creativity trying to come up with ways to make ourselves more comfortable in a realm of separation. I take this to mean that it is inappropriate to think of our humanity – our human drives and unending demands for sustenance, self-esteem, status, and worth – as providing us with a source of comfort and trust. Our humanity is tyrannous. Our bodies cannot go without food or water for more than a few days without intense discomfort and even death. Our bodies reek without the effort of bathing, wiping, perfuming, shaving, and degreasing. Always rumbling for attention of one kind or the other, they become dangerous when deprived. Eat too much, exercise too little – our bodies grow fat and prone to disease. Eat too little they starve and wither on the bone. Bodies are prone to accidents, disease, discomfort, and decay. They are easily manipulated by drives for food, water, sex, and other “goodies.” No matter how hard we work to stay on top of our health, bodies die in the end. This is the avenue in which we put way too much effort to find comfort where it can not be maintained. This is tyranny.
Jesus teaches that we can escape this tyranny by seeking God first. By going to our inner altar, there we find our everlasting Selves. Bringing that Self to the forefront and letting the radiance of that Self shine should be our main concern because here is where Atonement takes place. Here is where we find our everlasting comfort and here is where we can place our trust. When we can offer the Atonement to our inner altar we have come to know that Atonement is the only thing worth pursuing in this realm. We have come to the realization of who and what we really are, and we only want that and not what we have made. When we put Atonement first, all other things fall into place. Our concerns for our body are no longer tyrannous for we know that they are only teaching tools and a means to communicate in a world of physicality, not our identity. We are only too happy to put them down when they are no longer of use.
When we live from our true Self, that inner altar within, we know our worth in God and to God. There we find the peace of God which is certain and everlasting. Nothing in the external world can shatter that peace or make it go away. We can no longer be fooled by the world and its tyranny for we live from Holy Spirit and all fear is gone. Our true Selves are nourished not by the food of this world that goes in one end tasty and delicious and goes out the other end stinky and revolting but by the principle of Love, which sustains us through Its unifying principle of giving to receive and receiving to give. Getting to know that Self, getting to know our worth to God, how necessary we are to His everlasting happiness and joy, how necessary He is to our everlasting happiness and joy – we can only look on the world with a desire to heal, to save, to restore. The Atonement is God’s promise to us. His Plan is our guarantee. God’s Will is Done.
 A Course in Miracles. Chapter 2:III The altar of God. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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