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A COURSE IN MIRACLES Chapter 16 The Forgiveness of Illusions

VI.  The Bridge to the Real World

1. The search for the special relationship is the sign that you equate yourself with the ego and not with God.  For the special relationship has value only to the ego.  To the ego, unless a relationship has special value it has no meaning, for it perceives all love as special.  Yet this cannot be natural, for it is unlike the relationship of God and His Son, and all relationships that are unlike this one must be unnatural.  For God created love as He would have it be and gave it as it is.  Love has no meaning except as its Creator defined it by His Will.  It is impossible to define it otherwise and understand it. 

2. Love is freedom.  To look for it by placing yourself in bondage is to separate yourself from it.  For the Love of God, no longer seek for union in separation, nor for freedom in bondage!  As you release, so will you be released.  Forget this not, or love will be unable to find you and comfort you.

3. There is a way in which the Holy Spirit asks for your help if you would have His.  The holy instant is His most helpful aid in protecting you from the attraction of guilt, the real lure in the special relationship.  You do not recognize that this is its real appeal, for the ego has taught you that freedom lies in it.  Yet the closer you look at the special relationship, the more apparent it becomes that it must foster guilt and therefore must imprison.

4. The special relationship is totally meaningless without a body.  If you value it, you must also value the body.  And what you value you will keep.  The special relationship is a device for limiting yourself to a body, and for limiting your perception of others to theirs.  The Great Rays would establish the total lack of value of the special relationship if they were seen.  For in seeing them the body would disappear because its value would be lost.  And so your whole investment in seeing it would be withdrawn from it.

5. You see the world you value. On this side of the bridge you see the world of separate bodies, seeking to join each other in separate unions and to become one by losing.  When two individuals seek to become one, they are trying to decrease their magnitude.  Each would deny his power, for the separate union excludes the universe.  Far more is left outside than would be taken in, for God is left without and nothing taken in.  If one such union were made in perfect faith, the universe would enter into it.  Yet the special relationship the ego seeks does not include even one whole individual.  The ego wants but part of him and sees only this part and nothing else.

6. Across the bridge it is so different! For a time, the body is still seen, but not exclusively, as it is seen here. The little spark that holds the Great Rays within it is also visible, and this spark cannot be limited long to littleness. Once you have crossed the bridge, the value of the body is so diminished in your sight that you will see no need at all to magnify it. For you will realize that the only value the body has is to enable you to bring your brothers to the bridge with you, and to be released together there.

7.  The bridge itself is nothing more than a transition in the perspective of reality. On this side, everything you see is grossly distorted and completely out of perspective. What is little and insignificant is magnified, and what is strong and powerful cut down to littleness. In the transition there is a period of confusion, in which a sense of actual disorientation may occur. But fear it not, for it means only that you have been willing to let go your hold on the distorted frame of reference that seemed to hold your world together. This frame of reference is built around the special relationship. Without this illusion there could be no meaning you would still seek here.

8. Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition.  The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference. The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions. Delay will hurt you now more than before, only because you realize it is delay, and that escape from pain is really possible. Find hope and comfort, rather than despair, in this: you could not long find even the illusion of love in any special relationship here. For you are no longer wholly insane, and you would soon recognize the guilt of self-betrayal for what it is.

9. Nothing you seek to strengthen in the special relationship is really part of you. And you cannot keep part of the thought system that taught you it was real and understand the Thought that knows what you are. You have allowed the thought of your reality to enter your mind, and because you invited it, it will abide with you. Your love for it will not allow you to betray yourself, and you could not enter into a relationship where it could not go with you, for you would not want to be apart from it.

10. Be glad you have escaped the mockery of salvation the ego offered you and look not back with longing on the travesty it made of your relationships. Now no one need suffer, for you have come too far to yield to the illusion of the beauty and holiness of guilt. Only the wholly insane could look on death and suffering, sickness and despair, and see it thus. What guilt has wrought is ugly, fearful, and very dangerous. See no illusion of truth and beauty there. And be you thankful that there is a place where truth and beauty wait for you. Go on to meet them gladly and learn how much awaits you for this simple willingness to give up nothing because it is nothing.

11. The new perspective you will gain from crossing over will be the understanding of where Heaven is. From this side, it seems to be outside and across the bridge. Yet as you cross to join it, it will join with you and become one with you. And you will think, in glad astonishment, that for all this you gave up nothing! The joy of Heaven, which has no limit, is increased with each light that returns to take its rightful place within it. Wait no longer, for the love of God and you. And may the holy instant speed you on the way, as it will surely do if you but let it come to you.

12. The Holy Spirit asks only this little help of you: Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship which still attracts you, enter with Him into a holy instant, and there let Him release you. He needs only your willingness to share His perspective to give it to you completely. And your willingness need not be complete because His is perfect. It is His task to atone for your unwillingness by his perfect faith, and it is His faith you share with Him there. Out of your recognition of your unwillingness for your release, His perfect willingness is given you. Call upon Him, for Heaven is at His call. And let Him call on heaven for you.[1]

It is unnatural to love one person above another.  When we choose specialness we do not choose love, we choose a substitute for love.  Love is not bondage, love is freedom – as we loose the chains of specialness from our loved ones, we will be released.  This is God’s promise, and we are not to fall back into a kind of guilt or fear of freedom and liberty.  God’s Love is the love we offer all and God’s love has no bars, no chains, no guilt or hidden agendas.  God’s Love is complete and in its completion we find our own. 

Holy Spirit gives us the holy instant to protect us from the attraction of guilt which is the real bait in the special relationship.  As humans we have developed a real addiction to guilt – to slathering it on thick and luscious, to project it to others, to revel in it ourselves.  There is no freedom and liberty in guilt – it is a trap and a waster of time.  When we go to the holy instant we are taking the present moment and freeing it from guilt. In that instant I no longer owe you anything and you owe me nothing but our mutuality in Sonship.  In the holy instant I am free, and you are free, and we have no special bond nor share any special hate. 

For in the holy instant we leave our bodies behind.  I am no longer a wife, a sister, a friend, a cousin or a coworker.  I am no longer a teacher or a writer, a mother or a grandmother.  I am free of all the special relationships that would imprison me to the ego realm and limit your perception of me as well as limit my perception of myself. 

Several years ago shortly after my daughter died she visited me in my mind.  When I asked her to show herself to me she told me that I would not recognize her without her earthly body, that perhaps I would be tempted to fall down and worship her if I could see the light in her.  She said that she did not miss her body at all and that I will not miss mine – and that we will look alike without our bodies.  We both got a big kick out of this because Manda looked more like her father who was Korean than she looked like me. Fair-skinned, blonde, and green-eyed, people often mistakenly assumed that I had adopted her, which irritated her.  I was reminded of this in paragraph four when Jesus speaks of the Great Rays which frees us from the limiting perceptions we have of others by defining them by their fleshy characteristics. 

We see the world we value.  On this side of the bridge we see separate bodies, searching for that special someone in which to meld together and be as one.  This is not the way to completeness and wholeness for it substitutes the everything of God for one bit of nothingness to take His place.  However this all changes when two people join in the perfect faith of holiness, for the universe enters in and both are complete and made whole in God.

When we cross the bridge of holiness we no longer value the body except as it enables us to bring our brothers to the bridge with us to be released together there.  Jesus tells us that the frame of reference for our perceptual world on this side of the bridge is the special relationship – the joining of flesh in defiance against the mutuality and equality of God’s love for His Son.  When we give up this warped view of love and accept God’s love for all, we no longer see any use at all for bodies, for separateness, for opposition and a world of opposites. 

There is nothing to fear, there are no hurdles to jump, nothing to pack for our journey, no language barriers, no surprise leaps into another realm.  Time is kind when we use it on behalf of reality.  A little disorientation is normal and necessary for our minds have been captivated by a perceptual world designed to keep us in the dark about our true identity in God.  The time it takes may make us feel impatient and anxious, but Jesus tells us to find hope and comfort in the release we have from all the broken promises and false hopes of specialness.  Our sanity is being restored and there is no more guilt for betraying our true Selves for all this time in a realm of illusion. 

Remember that there is nothing to strengthen in our special relationships that is real.  We must let it go completely to understand the concept of what we really are.  For if I find anything special in you that sets you apart from the rest of the Sonship I am engaging in illusions and fantasies.  I am giving you what God by His very nature cannot and will not.  And in so doing I am opposing God, as you are opposing God by accepting my idolatry.  Our reality is in God and in God we have Everything abundantly and equally and without any sort of favoritism.  This is where we find our true Self and this other thing that we are bent on doing – idolizing each other, having favorites, saying this one has more value than that one – has proven itself to be worthless to us.  Jesus calls it a mockery of salvation because it makes travesty of our relationship with God and with each other – giving us illusions instead of love. 

In paragraph ten Jesus tells us that only when we are out of our true minds could we ever look on the death and suffering, sickness and despair that specialness and separation has wrought upon us and see any beauty in making others guilty.  Guilt brings forth hatred, and hatred for one another causes us to do terrible things in the name of God.  Make no mistake in this regard for God is Love and truth and beauty and God’s Kingdom is one of truth and beauty.  Jesus asks us to give up nothing to meet the conditions of God’s Kingdom for all that we have here is nothing.

Giving up the nothing of specialness gives us the knowledge of where Heaven is – because as holiness bridges the gap of our understanding God’s Kingdom joins with us and becomes one with us.  There is no limit to the love, the joy, the peace that abides in us.  Jesus urges us not to wait, not to put this off.

In your personal devotional practice, practice inviting holiness into your present moments.  No matter how awkward this may be at first, continue to practice taking one moment and then several, devoting the present moments to love, to peace, to joy.  Bring all your special relationships, one by one to the holy moments and give them to Holy Spirit to transform and release you.  We do not have to be perfect for our holiness is perfect; we do not even have to be entirely willing for when we give our resistance to our holiness, Holy Spirit wills for us because Holy Spirit is one with us.  As we learn to rely on the part of us that knows God and has never forgotten, as we practice trusting our holiness to build the bridge and transport us across the gap to God, we collapse time, we become God’s Kingdom, we complete God as He completes us.  Let this be our only aim for we have absolutely nothing to lose and Everything there is to gain. 


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 16 The forgiveness of illusions. VI The bridge to the real world. 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, 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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