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A COURSE IN MIRACLES Chapter 15 The Holy Instant

V.  The Holy Instant and the Special Relationship

1. The holy instant is the Holy Spirit’s most useful learning device for teaching you love’s meaning.  For its purpose is to suspend judgment entirely.  Judgment always rests on the past, for past experience is the basis on which you judge.  Judgment becomes impossible without the past, for without it you do not understand anything.  You would make no attempt to judge, because it would be quite apparent to you that you do not understand what anything means.  You are afraid of this because you believe that without the ego, all would be chaos.  Yet I assure you that without the ego, all would be love.

2. The past is the ego’s chief learning device, for it is in the past that you learned to define your own needs and acquired methods for meeting them on your own terms.  We have said that to limit love to part of the Sonship is to bring guilt into your relationships, and thus make them unreal.  If you seek to separate out certain aspects of the totality and look to them to meet your imagined needs, you are attempting to use separation to save you.  How, then, could guilt not enter?  For separation is the source of guilt, and to appeal to it for salvation is to believe you are alone.  To be alone is to be guilty.  For to experience yourself as alone is to deny the Oneness of the Father and His Son, and thus to attack reality.

 3. You cannot love parts of reality and understand what love means.  If you would love unlike to God, Who knows no special love, how can you understand it? To believe that with special relationships, with special love, can offer you salvation is the belief that separation is salvation.  For it is the complete equality of the Atonement in which salvation lies.  How can you decide that special aspects of the Sonship can give you more than others?  The past has taught you this.  Yet the holy instant teaches you it is not so. 

4. Because of guilt, all special relationships have elements of fear in them.  This is why they shift and change so frequently.  They are not based on changeless love alone.  And love, where fear has entered, cannot be depended on because it not perfect.  In His function as interpreter of what you made, the Holy Spirit uses special relationships, which you have chosen to support the ego, as learning experiences that point to truth.  Under His teaching, every relationship becomes a lesson in love.

5. The Holy Spirit knows no one is special.  Yet He also perceives that you have made special relationships, which He would purify and not let you destroy.  However unholy the reason you made them may be, He can translate them into holiness by removing as much fear as you will let Him.  You can place any relationship under His care and be sure that it will not result in pain, if you offer Him your willingness to have it serve no need but His.  All the guilt in it arises from your use of it.  All the love from His.  Do not, then, be afraid to let go your imagined needs, which would destroy the relationship.  Your only need is His.

6. Any relationship you would substitute for another has not been offered to the Holy Spirit for His use.  There is no substitute for love.  If you would attempt to substitute one aspect of love for another, you have placed less value on one and more on the other.  You have not only separated them, but you have also judged against both.  Yet you had judged against yourself first, or you would never have imagined that you needed your brothers as they were not.  Unless you had seen yourself as without love, you could not have judged them so like you in lack.

7. The ego’s use of relationships is so fragmented that it frequently goes even farther; one part of one aspect suits its purposes, while it prefers different parts of another aspect.  Thus does it assemble reality to its own capricious liking, offering for your seeking a picture whose likeness does not exist.  For there is nothing in Heaven or earth that it resembles, and so, however much you seek for its reality, you cannot find it because it is not real.

8. Everyone on earth has formed special relationships, and although this is not so in Heaven, the Holy Spirit knows how to bring a touch of Heaven to them here.  In the holy instant no one is special, for your personal needs intrude on no one to make your brothers seem different.  Without the values from the past, you would see them all the same and like yourself.  Nor would you see any separation between yourself and them.  In the holy instant, you see in each relationship what it will be when you perceive only the present.

9. God knows you now.  He remembers nothing, having always known you exactly as He knows you now.  The holy instant reflects His knowing by bringing all perception out of the past, thus removing the frame of reference you have built by which to judge your brothers.  Once this is gone, the Holy Spirit substitutes His frame of reference for it.  His frame of reference is simply God.  The Holy Spirit’s timelessness lies only here.  For in the holy instant, free of the past, you see that love is in you, and you have no need to look without and snatch love guiltily from where you thought it was.

10. All your relationships are blessed in the holy instant, because the blessing is not limited.  In the holy instant the Sonship gains as one, and united in your blessing it becomes one to you.  The meaning of love is the meaning God gave to it.  Give to it any meaning apart from His, and it is impossible to understand it.  God loves every brother as He loves you; neither less nor more.  He needs them all equally, and so do you.  In time, you have been told to offer miracles as I direct, and let the Holy Spirit bring to you those who are seeking you.  Yet in the holy instant you unite directly with God, and all your brothers join in Christ.  Those who are joined in Christ are in no way separate.  For Christ is the Self the Sonship shares, as God shares His Self with Christ.

11. Think you that you can judge the Self of God?  God has created It beyond judgment, out of His need to extend His Love.  With love in you, you have no need except to extend it.  In the holy instant there is no conflict of needs, for there is only one.  For the holy instant reaches to eternity, and to the Mind of God.  And it is only there love has meaning, and only there can it be understood. [1]

We have learned to trust our egos in this realm to decide for us, to make judgments for and against, to protect us from what it deems dangerous and to point us toward what it deems safe.  Always divided and never constant, our egos take us for an unjoyful, unloving, unpeaceful journey through life.  Ever changing its mind about what is safe and what is not, who has more to offer and who has nothing to offer, the ego proves itself over and over again not to be a trustworthy guide, and Jesus promises us that this is so.  For without ego, all would be love.  Dare we believe this?

In paragraph two Jesus tells us that the ego’s chief learning device is the past.  From the time we came into this world we live as humans and humans have very specific needs for survival, for comfort, and for growth.  But these are human needs and they bring guilt into our relationships for in order to get our human needs met, we must limit love – we must take care of our children, and not everybody else’s children or ours may suffer.  We must love and nurture our mates and not others, or else ours may seek to get their attention and sexual needs met elsewhere.  We must look out for ourselves at the expense of others.  Whenever we do bring guilt into our relationships, and we all do this for this is how we must survive in the world, our relationships are not honest, they are not true, and we make them unreal.  For we tell lies to ourselves in our special relationships, our kids are the best kids, our grandkids are nicer than everybody else’s grandkids, our husbands are stronger and better looking, our family myths, our community myths, our religious myths, our country’s myths are not built on the truth for they are not built on mutuality and love but rather specialness.  Specialness sets us apart and makes of “us” something better than “them.”  And when we separate from mutuality and love, which is God, and think of this as our salvation, we isolate ourselves and to isolate ourselves is to be guilty.  Why does this make us guilty?  Because it denies the Oneness of Father and Son, it opposes the unity and wholeness of reality. 

Love is wholeness and in order to know love, we must love wholly.  In our humanity it is impossible to love as God for in God there is no specialness.  There are plenty of holy books that would make of this religion or this tribe or this people special, but Jesus tells us that this is not true.  God loves Creation as One and He would never prefer one part of it over the other.  Religions and spiritual paths that offer salvation in separation, which rely on rules and regulations and requirements in place of salvation do not save us.  Humans cannot decide because flesh does not know what Love is, because flesh cannot know what Love is.  Flesh requires specialness because flesh, as a symbol of the ego, can only bestow favor on this one at the expense of what it takes away from another.  The ego has devised a mechanical realm in which one must pay, one must work, one must earn in order to maintain a semblance of life.  When we look to our past, we see that this is so, for in this realm, those who made sacrifices, those who invented better weapons, those who worked harder than others, those who ate more protein, those who ruthlessly pushed ahead for themselves and theirs at the expense of those who did not do such things typically got a bigger slice of the pleasantries that we call life here.  This is the way it works in this realm – the past teaches us this.  All of us have been left empty-handed and short-changed because we failed to learn this lesson in humanity. 

Yet the holy instant teaches us that the lesson itself is a lie that promotes the original lie.  

Special relationships shift and change because they are not based on changeless love, but rather love twisted into a commodity.  When love is used as a commodity it is no longer love no matter if we continue to call it that or not!  We can therefore say we “love” our mates, our children, our community, our countries, our fellow club members, but we fear their rejection and we do things that we know are not honest nor loving, in order to keep our love afloat.  We obligate them to us as they obligate us to them.  Love in this realm amounts to a guilty exchange of sacrifices. 

Holy Spirit uses our special relationships to teach us the truth.  In holiness, every relationship we have becomes a lesson in love.  When holiness removes a sense of obligation and sacrifice from our relationships they become more honest.  When I am not seeking my salvation, my happiness, my sense of worth and well-being from you, you are free to be you and I am free to be me.  When I am not jealously clinging on you in the hopes that you love me best and that your eyes, your hands, your feet, your private parts, your very thoughts are mine, mine, mine and that anybody who tries to steal you away is in big trouble, I have given my specialness toward you to holiness, and I can love you purely without jealousy and without a need for control.  I am not ruining your life with my unholy love for you – for in holiness there is no pain, no anguish, no sorrow, nor sacrifice.  My love for you now serves no need but God’s for I love you no more and no less than I do another brother.  All guilt is gone for guilt comes only because I abused love by my desire to use it for myself.  To use Love as a commodity, as something on which to hang my hat, my status, my home in the flesh is unholy and unwholesome!  Jesus tells us to fearlessly let go of all our imagined needs that we chase after in our special relationships.  Special relationships are doomed.  They can never give us what we think we need from them.  Our only need is holiness.  Holiness is love and peace and joy.  Holiness is God within us. 

Jesus tells us in paragraph six that there is no substitute for love.  We do not have to skip from one marriage to another; we do not have to trade in our lazy kids for kids who help more around the house; we do not have to drop our unmannerly, unappreciative friends and family members and go look for new ones to hang out with!  When we judge our special relationships as less than what is out there in the world that looks far better, we are judging not only against them but against ourselves.  When we feel that we can only learn from those who are more adept at meeting our needs than the ones we already have, we are in for a big disappointment.  For every single one of our special relationships are there to teach us of God, to teach us of Love, to teach us about what we lack. 

In paragraph seven, Jesus expounds even more on how the ego fragments relationships in an attempt to make them serve separate purposes. In other words we collect a vast amount of them in at attempt to meet what we imagine is our different needs.  Some we use for sexual gratification, and others we use for our party animal self, and others are our spiritual friends.  We use some when we are sick and need comforting; others are there for us to mock and ridicule or conversely to look up to and aspire to.  Others are there to take advantage of for they have never learned to set boundaries or developed an ability to say no to our demands; others are there to teach us our P’s and Q’s.  We say that favors are what friends are for, comfort and besties is what a sister must be, nurturing is what a mother provides, our fathers are always there for money and fixing things, our preachers will pray for us and keep us from wrongdoing… We categorize people by the roles we place upon them and then they better fulfill them for us or else!  We flit from one to the other and then back again, complaining about how they let us down when they do not match our expectations of them.   We take Creation and assemble a self-centered, egotistical reality that does not exist in any world ever.  No matter how much we make of one person an angel and another one the whore, no matter what we do to justify our assumptions about what purpose our teachers, president, or movie stars serve there is no reality in it and we delude ourselves by holding others responsible for our happiness and holiness. 

As we practice the holy instant we let go of specialness in all its forms.  We need nothing from no one particular person, place, or thing.  In our holiness, we accept Sonship, we accept God in us, and our personal needs do not come into it for we have for that instant stopped being flesh and identify only in Spirit.  In Holiness, we are not different, we are the same, we are one in Love.  Without the past to define you, I put down all my demands on you, disappointment in you, my bitterness, my sense of shame and self-reproach, my fear of your hatred and violence, my sense of enmity and strife.  You are like me and I am like you – born of God.  I am not worried about your penis, and you are not concerned about my breasts and vagina for without flesh we have no ridiculous divisions that would classify us as different based upon that which fades away and turns to dust.  In that moment of Spirit, we see only holiness for we have gotten over ourselves in the flesh, we have removed this instant from the past and have given it to God, we have devoted it to Love, we have returned that instant in time to eternity where it belongs. 

This is our God moment for this is where God knows us – not in the past but in the present.  Our frame of reference in which we live in fear of one another is not God’s frame of reference.  God is not trapped in time; God is forever free where our holiness and our Spirit reside.  The holy instants that we give to God free us from the past, we see God in us, we are removed from the realm which looks without for love for we have encountered Love within. 

When we practice the holy instant we are blessing all our relationships without limit.  We are not withholding it from this one because of what she said about us.  We are not giving more of it to this one because he helped us when we were down.  In the holy instant we love every brother as God loves every brother.  While in time, we offer healing and help only to those whom Holy Spirit brings to us, in the holy instant we unite with Love and all our brothers join us in Sonship.  No longer separate, but complete in one another as Christ is complete in God. 

We are not here to judge one another for that which would judge is flesh and flesh is not how we find God.  God has created us from Love and Love extends itself to all.  As we practice the holy instant we learn to get past all the conflicting needs of the world.  We do not come with our ravenous bellies or sexual demands; we do not come with our craven needs for attention, our successes or failures, or our fear of old age.  We come without our flesh to the holy instant, and we practice being Love – extending ourselves to all and for all time.  This is our way to God. 


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 15 The holy instant. V. The holy instant and special relationships. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For daily 2021 Workbook lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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