ACIM Chapter 2. III. The Altar of God, P 1, 2

ACIM The Altar of God, P 1, 2. 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.

ACIM Chapter 2. III. The Altar of God, P 1, 2. 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.

ACIM III. The Altar of God, P 1, 2

III. The Altar of God, P 1

1 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 the 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.

Dreams that Foretold the Call to Truth

I cannot pinpoint the exact moment I heard the call of truth in my mind. It was a quickening, which I probably didn’t recognize then. I do, however, remember some dreams I had around that time. One of them was me kneeling before an altar. It seemed I reached the altar by going deep within a place rather than outside it or high on a mountain, for instance. When I awoke, I didn’t remember much about it or recognize what it meant, but it felt sacred, and I knew it was important. This was a few years before I discovered A Course in Miracles.

There were a few other things happening at that time. I had another dream in which I was a beautiful angel flying around a mountain and up to the top. Some realizations occurred as well. I discovered that my attitudes and thoughts were the cause of some illnesses, like colds and flues. Understanding this changed things. I had always gotten colds easily and got the flu at least twice a year like clockwork. After my discovery, that stopped happening. I think I have had a cold only once or twice in all those years since, and the flu is about the same.

Changes that Helped

It was also during this time period that I asked for words to write an article for Unity Magazine. I had gained so much insight from that magazine that I strongly desired to give back. I prayed for words and the ability to write to do this. It came to me almost word for word perfect. This had never happened to me before, and I did not even know where the prompt to ask for it came from. These kinds of things were happening occasionally, and I did not see the connection then.

Something else that obscured my vision of this spiritual awakening is that life seemed to be falling apart. Certainly, if I would judge by what was happening in my life, I would not have thought of this as a period of awakening. Now I know not to judge my spiritual progress by what occurs in my life. Over a period of time, I have seen my life change as my thinking changes, but because awakening can be a messy business, and our vision is so narrow and short-sighted, life at the moment is not a good indication of growth. I also learned that I don’t know what anything means, and so it’s not a good idea to judge anyway.

Worshiping the Altar, Not the Temple

By the time I had found A Course in Miracles and begun to study it, I had forgotten all about that dream until I read this section of the Course. When I read about the altar being within, I felt chills course through my body, and I knew that the dream was very significant, indeed. I had evidently begun something that night, a commitment perhaps, or a recognition that it was time to start another part of the journey. Maybe it is simply that the true mind must steal some time from the ego story just to be in the truth and to worship at the altar.

Jesus seems to say that we become confused and worship at the temple rather than the altar within. We can see this as worshiping the body we made rather than the light we are. We become obsessed with keeping the body alive, healthy, and beautiful. And we become obsessed with the fantasies played out through the body, giving it roles to play, pleasures and pains to feel, and games of give and take, attack and defend. In doing so, we neglect the altar, and the light within is buried so deeply that we forget it exists except, perhaps, in the occasional dream.

The Altar Requires A Different Kind of Seeing

Of course, the altar is not something we see with the body’s eyes. Christ Vision sees clearly, though, and in fact, it sees only the altar, completely overlooking the structure. When seen with Vision, I don’t even have a body, nor any of the body fantasies that seem so terribly important to me now. Vision sees only the brilliant glow of the perfect Light that I am.

It sees none of my perceived mistakes or my carefully constructed defenses. It doesn’t see how much weight I have gained nor how much I have lost. Nor does it see how badly I treat someone or how carefully I love them. It doesn’t see any of the body games, the ones I call good or the ones I call bad, the ones I think of as success, or the ones I fear are failures. Vision sees only the unchanging perfection I am.

When I ask for Christ Vision, this is what I am asking for. I am asking to see only the altar. The body’s eyes show me nothing; they only report to me what I want to see. I pray for the healing of my mind so that all I want to see is Love. I pray not to be distracted or tempted by the illusions the body’s eyes show me so that I offer them to Spirit for purification. And I pray for true Vision. I want to never worship at the temple again when I can worship at the altar instead.

III. The Altar of God, P 2

2 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.

When I first started using forgiveness the way A Course in Miracles describes it, I would try and fail, I would use it sporadically. I would vacillate on whether to use it or not, and I would also vacillate between forgiveness to destroy and the right use of forgiveness. So, it was as if the idea of forgiveness was something out there on a shelf somewhere, and sometimes, I would borrow it, and sometimes not. When I was done with it, I would put it back on the shelf until I needed it again.

 I made a choice at some point to commit to the Atonement, to accept this new definition of forgiveness, the recognition that nothing was done, and to become vigilant for opportunities to use it. Still, I did not do this perfectly, nor did I really understand it all the time, but I was strongly committed, and my decision made the outcome certain. I decided to buy it instead of borrowing it from time to time. I got better and better at remembering to use it, and with practice, it became more meaningful to me.

The Atonement Fully Embraced 

What has happened now is that I have fully embraced the Atonement, and forgive is what I do. I might resist from time to time. Usually, that resistance is disguised as uncertainty or doubt, but I always, in the end, forgive. Maybe the Atonement is now sitting firmly at the inner altar. I think that is the reason it is more effective, the reason I never question the need to forgive, and the reason I no longer have trouble distinguishing between forgiveness to destroy and true forgiveness.

When I am confused and experiencing doubt or anxiety or some other effect of confused thinking, I am aware of that current of truth running beneath all of it. And I know it is just a matter of dipping into the truth and drinking deeply. This is the only way to quench my thirst for peace, and I know this. Even if I do try other methods first, I know that this river of Love is my real desire.

Temptation to Vacillate

I was still in the process of accepting this new way of living. I still became tempted by the ego voice and sometimes briefly confused by it. And for a long time, I would still fall prey to fear and anxiety at times. It can happen now but only seldom and not for long. When I block the joy that is in me, I always feel it pushing gently against the walls of unworthiness the ego has erected against it. All desire to vacillate happens in the split mind. And I still feel some attachment to that self, but I never forget I am not that.

I realized that this vacillation was not indicative of anything true but was just part of the process of changing my mind.  It slowly faded as I continued to watch my mind and turn to Spirit when I felt the ego intrusions. Then I noticed that the newest ego defense against this inevitable turning of the tide was forgetfulness.

When I felt some form of fear or anxiety, for instance, I would notice it quickly and ask Holy Spirit to heal my mind. As the outer circumstances continued, I would notice my attention returning to it and my anxiety rising again. Here is what I usually did in that case. Once the idea was looked at and handed over, I would focus my mind on the truth instead of the ego thoughts.

Blanking Out

Now I was coming up against this thick fog of resistance, and my mind went blank. I couldn’t, for those few vital moments, find a single real thought. It felt very uncomfortable and raised doubts in my mind. Eventually, everything would right itself, but in the meantime, I had these brief periods of distress, sometimes bordering on panic. Holy Spirit gave me an idea to combat this ego strategy of forgetfulness.

I had the idea to write down my favorite and most helpful passages from the Course. Also, those in NTI and study material from Pathways. Really, any place it showed up. I put them in a journal for a while. But I also wrote them on index cards and also on little sticky notes that wound up in my car and on my cabinets. I put write them on my calendar. My favorite one so far is from early in the Course. Jesus says, “You can do anything I ask.” That is very reassuring and strengthens my resolve.

And if the ego blanks it from my mind, I just reach for a card or look around. I will see a thought that resolves the problem. I am enjoying doing this, and in doing it, I am putting the ego on notice. And I am no longer willing to tolerate its painful intrusions on my mind. The peace of God is everything I want.

Some Favorite Reminders of Mine

Here are just a few of the very helpful true thoughts I have on my cards.

I deny the ability of anything not of God to affect me.

How can I be truly helpful?

What is this for? What is my lesson in this situation?

Nothing real can be threatened.

There is no false appearance but will fade if I request a miracle instead.

I will forgive, and this will disappear.

My sinlessness is guaranteed by God.

I am as God created me. I can suffer nothing.

This limitation is not worthy of me. I am unlimited. I am free.

The power of decision is my own.

I place the future in the hands of God.

I walk with God in perfect holiness.

Bring all error into the Light.

I am entitled to miracles and will not trade them for grievances.

To read insights on this section from Pathways of Light, CLICK HERE.

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