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A COURSE IN MIRACLES Chapter 16 The Forgiveness of Illusions

IV.  The Illusion and the Reality of Love

1. Be not afraid to look upon the special hate relationship, for freedom lies in looking at it. It would be impossible not to know the meaning of love, except for this. For the special love relationship, in which the meaning of love is hidden, is undertaken solely to offset the hate, but not to let it go. Your salvation will rise clearly before your open eyes as you look on this.  You cannot limit hate. The special love relationship will not offset it but will merely drive it underground and out of sight. It is essential to bring it into sight, and to make no attempt to hide it. For it is the attempt to balance hate with love that makes love meaningless to you. The extent of the split that lies in this you do not realize. And until you do, the split will remain unrecognized, and therefore unhealed.

2. The symbols of hate against the symbols of love play out a conflict that does not exist. For symbols stand for something else, and the symbol of love is without meaning if love is everything. You will go through this last undoing quite unharmed and will at last emerge as yourself. This is the last step in the readiness for God. Be not unwilling now; you are too near, and you will cross the bridge in perfect safety, translated quietly from war to peace. For the illusion of love will never satisfy, but its reality, which awaits you on the other side, will give you everything.

3. The special love relationship is an attempt to limit the destructive effects of hate by finding a haven in the storm of guilt. It makes no attempt to rise above the storm, into the sunlight. On the contrary, it emphasizes the guilt outside the haven by attempting to build barricades against it and keep within them. The special love relationship is not perceived as a value in itself, but as a place of safety from which hatred is split off and kept apart. The special love partner is acceptable only as long as he serves this purpose. Hatred can enter, and indeed is welcome in some aspects of the relationship, but it is still held together by the illusion of love. If the illusion goes, the relationship is broken or becomes unsatisfying on the grounds of disillusionment.

4. Love is not an illusion. It is a fact. Where disillusionment is possible, there was not love but hate. For hate is an illusion, and what can change was never love. It is sure that those who select certain ones as partners in any aspect of living and use them for any purpose which they would not share with others, are trying to live with guilt rather than die of it. This is the choice they see. And love, to them, is only an escape from death.  They seek it desperately, but not in the peace in which it would gladly come quietly to them. And when they find the fear of death is still upon them, the love relationship loses the illusion that it is what it is not. When the barricades against it are broken, fear rushes in and hatred triumphs.

5. There are no triumphs of love. Only hate is at all concerned with the “triumph of love.”  The illusion of love can triumph over the illusion of hate, but always at the price of making both illusions. As long as the illusion of hatred lasts, so long will love be an illusion to you. And then the only choice remaining possible is which illusion you prefer. There is no conflict in the choice between truth and illusion. Seen in these terms, no one would hesitate. But conflict enters the instant the choice seems to be one between illusions, but this choice does not matter. Where one choice is as dangerous as the other, the decision must be one of despair.

6. Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false. Every illusion is one of fear, whatever form it takes. And the attempt to escape from one illusion into another must fail. If you seek love outside yourself you can be certain that you perceive hatred within and are afraid of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but only from its reality.

7. Recognize this, for it is true, and truth must be recognized if it is to be distinguished from illusion: The special love relationship is an attempt to bring love into separation. And, as such, it is nothing more than an attempt to bring love into fear and make it real in fear. In fundamental violation of love’s one condition, the special love relationship would accomplish the impossible. How but in illusion could this be done? It is essential that we look very closely at exactly what it is you think you can do to solve the dilemma which seems very real to you, but which does not exist. You have come close to truth, and only this stands between you and the bridge that leads you into it.[1]

We can only be free of hate when we look at it square on and see the detrimental addiction we have to it in our special flesh relationships.  Jesus tells us repeatedly throughout the curriculum that specialness is not of love.  Love as God cannot be divided, distinguished, or unequal.  To ask for specialness is to therefore not ask for love but to ask for hate.  The deeper our commitment to specialness, the more hatred burrows in the dark, secret places of our consciousness. 

Jesus tells us how important it is to bring the hatred in our special relationships to the light and to make no attempt to hide it.  Love becomes meaningless to us when we try to overcome hatred with love, to balance the dark with light, to embrace the yin and the yang, so to speak.  Until we realize how this stressful, dishonest, and deadly splitting of love and hate makes us sick, invites disease and death, keeps us locked in flesh, we will not know the true meaning of Sonship.

In paragraph two Jesus tells us that the symbols of hate against the symbols of love is a conflict that has no meaning, that only seems to exist in the realm of time.  Love is everything for Love is God and there are no symbols necessary for all that is.  Love undoes the ego completely.  Love is the opposite of the ego for the ego and all of its inventions, devices, and belief systems stand for what opposes Love, that which has lifted itself up against God.  Our true Selves cannot be found in the ego, in our humanity, or any of its special relationships.  Jesus promises us ultimate protection as the sticky, stretchy, sketchy threads of our craven need for specialness are undone in our minds.  Our last step in preparing for God, Jesus urges us to not resist this, to will with this process and not against it.  Our egos will resist the study of specialness for special relationships are its only gift to us which would offset the pain and sacrifice of separation from God and from what we really are. 

Just as we give up all hatred for love; we give up all war for peace, we give up all illusion for truth, so do we give up all specialness for holiness, all flesh for Spirit.  When we are ready to give up nothingness for the reality of Love, we have Everything for we have God.   

Pay special attention to paragraph three and ask Holy Spirit to illuminate this for you in pertinence to your special relationships.  Meditate upon each sentence and ask holiness to show you how this applies to every relationship in your life up until this moment.  I have found that in every special love relationship – whether it be marriage, motherhood, sisterhood, friendship, daughter, coworker, teacher, minister or write – all were and are attempts to “limit destructive effects of hatred.”  I was intensely aware of this in my work as a prevention educationist, in all attempts that I have made to form a circle of special friends, and in my extended family relationships.  I have recognized these attempts to limit the destructive effects of hatred with James, with our grown children, and with the grandchildren. 

Jesus tell us that special relationships attempt to build a barricade – not to rise above the storm of guilt toward the sunlight, but to build a fortress within the battleground, making everyone outside of it an “enemy.”  So the special love relationship has no real value in itself but only as a place of safety in an attempt to ward off hatred and keep safe from it.  The “love partner” is only acceptable as long as he or it fulfills this purpose.  Hatred can enter and is even welcome in some aspects of the relationship, but the relationship is held together by the illusion of love.  If the illusion goes, the relationship is broken or becomes unsatisfying on the grounds of disappointment.

This is a truth that we must look at with courage and with honesty.  We have to face what is pretending to be love in our relationships, to lift the veil of specialness that covers up the hate and fear that is at the core of specialness.  We must look at the sacrifices involved, the symbols that stand for love but are not love.  With no blame and no shame – no sense of making others wrong and ourselves wronged – we are to look at our personal special relationships so we can see the universal truth in what Jesus is telling us about the illusion ego offers us in flesh to take the place of Love’s reality. 

To this day, I want to make something special out of my relationship with my sister.  Sisterhood was a symbol of love for me in that it was supposed to be my safe haven, it was supposed to be where I was loved unconditionally simply for existing, it was supposed to be where I came when my friends betrayed me, when my heart was broken, when others took advantage, when I wanted to have a good time and share some good laughs.  While dimly aware of the hatred, the resentment, the jealousy, the competitiveness – I believed that this was something that was to be tolerated in the name of the great and special love we had for one another.  But when the jealousy and resentment became more apparent as the years wore on, as we changed into new roles and no longer fulfilled our previous functions in each other’s lives, when egos clashed and the truth of all that pent-up, secret hate and disgruntlement spilled out – believe me there was nothing special to crow about in all that.   

The truth is that even when I examine my marriage, relationships with friends and other special family members, my creative endeavors, educational, professional and career relationships, I realize that they only work when they fulfill roles in my life and vice versa.  We serve to protect one another, and our relationship serves as a barricade against those who would use us, abuse us, or try to worm their way into what our specialness represents. 

Little wonder there are no special relationships in Heaven.  We learn to let them go because we cannot be God’s Kingdom with them.  There is no place for such agreements and alliances in God for in Love we have Everything.  We are complete – not in weakness and need that we bring to each other to fulfill – but in God. 

This can be a fearful concept for those of us who are still living in fear.  For in our human love relationships, we count upon each other to keep us alive in the face of those who are out to take everything we have.  I must be able to count upon you to uphold my name, and because you uphold my name, I will uphold yours.  I must be able to count upon you to always be there when I need a friend, a nursemaid, a counselor, a ride and because you do that for me I will do things for you.  This is what we call love – I will marry you.  We will make more of our kind.  We will devote our lives together to the flesh beings we make.  We will distinguish them from all other flesh beings and shower them with specialness, protecting them from all the harm that is out to get them in the outside world.  This we call love because it is a place of safety in a dangerous world which is out to rape us, plunder our goods, and kill us.  We will continue to live in this dangerous world and keep our seed alive as long as we can through our love for each other.  And when one or both of us decide that our love is not special anymore – perhaps we do not see eye-to-eye about how to fulfill the particular function assigned to us, maybe one grows old before their time – no longer pleasing to the eye, a slovenly housekeeper, a spendthrift – the special relationship proves not so special – hatred seems to triumph.  That which symbolized love and devotion turns into a symbol of guilt, shame, disappointment, hatred, and death. 

Jesus tells us not to look for love but rather look for all the barriers within our humanity that we have built against love.  Seek to find all that is posing as truth so that illusions no longer have any place in our consciousness.  No matter what form illusions take, they are all fearful – one illusion is no better another illusion as all are lies.  When we seek love from each other, we are seeking an illusion for love cannot be found in flesh.  For flesh is prone to hatred because it vulnerable and doomed to die.  The death we perceive in us frightens us, Jesus says, and so we latch on to others hoping that their “love” will keep us alive.  But it is all an illusion of love, and it will never bring us what we are looking for.  We will not have peace, we will not have certainty, we will still live in fear of death, disease, and destruction.  No matter how much you seem to love me, you will not be able to make up to me for all that is out to get me in the world.  And I will blame you for this – consciously or unconsciously I will hold you accountable.  I will believe you are keeping something from me – holding it inside of you and not giving it to me.

Jesus tells us to look at what we are afraid of, what are our barriers to love?  Each one of us must examine our lives carefully and honestly and answer this question truthfully.  I was afraid of being ostracized, alone, and bereft.  When my dad died, I was left with them, and I did not believe that my mother and sister loved me.  I was afraid that I would always be the fat girl in ugly clothes, people would make a joke of me, cast me and my feelings, my gifts, my pain to the wayside.  I would never enjoy life because I would be the pudgy, ill-at-ease, Pentecostal girl listening to the breathless tales of others.  Trapped in the boredom and dismay of migraines, dread, and drudgery, I was afraid of always being stuck with them – their tedious self-importance, goofy, fear-driven belief systems, their dumb fleeces, the tongue speaking, and wild claims.  Afraid as I was to be stuck with them – I seemed to make it happen by having babies and bringing them home and needing their help to raise them!

Although they are not truly loving, kind, or good, we think we have to keep up the façade of special friendships.  It proves impossible to truly love and appreciate our friends – their love seems fake, wheedling, and wobbly – dependent upon what they get from us or make us do.  We are expected to value what they value.  Special friendships hinge upon requests that prove tedious and even loathsome – stroking egos, meaningless prattle, going along with others’ inflated ideas about themselves and their silly dilemmas.  And yet the thought of them “not loving” us sends us into tailspins, so we kowtow to them in order to win and keep their “love.”

My personal barriers to love come to the surface when people display dark moods or show a general lack of appreciation.  People who gossip or complain incessantly are too easy for me to lose interest in.  Jealousy is intolerable to me.  When anyone acts the least bit jealous or possessive, I despise them and have a hard time looking at them. 

Each one of us must recognize the true lack of love in our special relationships, our general hatred and jealousy and judgment that we hide toward each other in our claims of specialness. To live in flesh is to live in fear and in Love there is no fear, there is no specialness, there is only equality and oneness, wholeness and holiness.  As long as we think we can have love in the flesh, we make God a God of flesh.  We make of God a thing to hold and pet, something which we can play with one day and toss over the next.  In the flesh we are incapable of knowing what Love is.  When we can accept this as true, we can bridge the gap that stands between us and God, for God is Love – not flesh, but Spirit. 

We will end with paragraph seven today and complete the last six paragraphs in the next blog.  Today in your personal devotions, meditate upon your personal barriers to love and recognize the impossibility of finding love in that which is mortal and doomed to die.  Ask Holy Spirit to give you the courage to accept this truth and to stop seeking love where it can never be found.  For in this we forgive our illusions and build our bridge to God.   


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 16 The forgiveness of illusions. IV The illusion and the reality of love 1-7. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992)

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

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM, Teaching and Learning

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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