II. The Atonement as Defense, P 3
3 You can defend truth as well as error. The means are easier to understand after the value of the goal is firmly established. It is a question of what it is for. Everyone defends his treasure, and will do so automatically. The real questions are, what do you treasure, and how much do you treasure it? Once you have learned to consider these questions and to bring them into all your actions, you will have little difficulty in clarifying the means. The means are available whenever you ask. You can, however, save time if you do not protract this step unduly. The correct focus will shorten it immeasurably.
In this paragraph, I am being encouraged to set my goal and give it my attention. This will save time and that is what I ultimately want to do. In fact, I want to end time. Here is how I am doing this. I began like most people just hoping to find a way to live that was not so painful. A Course in Miracles seemed to help me do that.
I discovered through the Course and Course related books like Inner Healing by Dan Joseph, simple but effective ways to watch my mind and allow my perception to be corrected and brought nearer the truth. Then in books like NTI and Teachings of the Inner Ramana, and The Untethered Soul, I learned more about turning away from the chatter of the ego mind.
While this was happening, I made a significant change. I realized that when Jesus talked about defending my treasure, he meant that I would defend the thoughts that mean the most to me. It seems I would have noticed that a lot sooner since he talks about it right here in Chapter 2, but I guess I was not ready to see this for a while. But once I did see it, and realized I wanted it, I asked myself what exactly it was that I treasure, and if my present treasure was going to get me what I really want.
It was easy to see that I treasured a lot of things that were not bringing me peace. I would defend my right to be happy and that was not working for me. I would defend my right to decide for myself and to make plans on my own. These treasures were not making me happy either. Sometimes I would defend against the ego, but sometimes I would defend against God. It was like shuffling in place, only once in a while taking a step forward.
I saw that I needed a goal, a purpose, something that would be a guiding force in my life. I began to pay special attention to the lessons about my function. In Lesson 61, Jesus says this. How holy are you who have the power to bring peace to every mind! He then says: You are indeed the light of the world with such a function. What is he talking about, this lofty function? He says that it is my forgiveness that does this. And he encourages me to accept no trivial purpose in its place.
When I watch my mind for ego thoughts and ask that they be corrected and the mind be healed, this is what I am doing. I am remembering that my function is forgiveness. I forgive the beliefs I have held dear but that have hurt me. I did this in the beginning for Myron so that she would have a happier life, but I soon realized that the purpose is to save the world. Each time I do this, I bring peace to every mind.
This is a treasure worth defending. I defend it by choosing forgiveness every chance I get. Because I have decided on my one goal, which is to awaken from the dream of separation, which is the same thing as forgiving the world I made, it has become easy to choose what I would defend. Now I simply notice if the choice I am considering is going to bring me closer to my one goal, or bring me deeper into the illusion.
How to do the forgiveness work is not something I have ever had to figure out. I choose forgiveness as my one function and the means are provided, just as Jesus said they would be. As I make that choice, the Holy Spirit places before me everything I need to make it possible. I find, without effort, every book, every teacher, every inspirational word that will help me. I am directed by the Voice within what to do next, where to go, what to say.
An objection the ego has is that forgiving the world one thought at a time doesn’t feel very lofty. The ego doesn’t feel like a super hero. Saving the world seems to the ego like it ought to have more of a pay-off, that being the savior of the world should add to its sense of specialness and this is not what is happening. In fact, it doesn’t feel like much is happening for long stretches of time, and when it does change, the ego notices a loss of specialness instead of an increase in what it most craves.
Later in the Text, Jesus will help us understand that the ego doesn’t know the difference between pain and pleasure. For instance, the ego thinks that specialness is pleasure when really it is a source of pain. This is why there was confusion for me at first when I thought nothing much was coming from all this work. But I trusted Jesus and kept at it, remembering my one goal, remembering my one function, and I began to have a peace filled life.
Now I lose my peace at times, but not often and not for long. Now I know that peace is what I want and I know that nothing else comes close, so the means to regain that peace are available to me as soon as I am ready to return to peace. I also understand that I share one mind with all my brothers and so as I choose peace for myself, I am choosing it for us all.