Being and becoming perfect

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

I love the absolute consistency of this course and the connections that keep popping up, both among the three volumes and within each one. This year I am teaching both the Circle’s Text Reading Program and the Manual Reading Program (dubbed the TRP and the MRP), and this week our readings in both programs had a strong connection.

In the Text section entitled, “The Altar to God” (T-2.III), in speaking of the altar of our minds, Jesus says that it “was created perfect and is entirely worthy of receiving perfection.” Then he goes on to say that God depends on His creations [to choose the Atonement], “because he created them perfect” (T-2.III.5:4-7).The Atonement is the only gift perfect beings can really choose because it is the perfect gift, the symbol of our perfection. It’s the perfection we’re worthy of receiving.

Then in our Manual reading (the Introduction) we had this: “This is a manual for the teachers of God. They are not perfect, or they would not be here. Yet it is their mission to become perfect here, and so they teach perfection over and over, in many, many ways, until they have learned it” (M-In.5:4-6).

I was so taken with finding these passages in both the Text and Manual readings that I decided to use them for my Post-Workbook practice. Here’s what I came up with:

God created me perfect; therefore, I am worthy of receiving perfection. It is my mission to become perfect here; therefore, I will teach perfection over and over again, until I have learned it.

I was also anxious to share these passages with my students. However, I decided first to put on my librarian’s hat–or rather, my librarian’s glasses!–and see what my trusty Funk & Wagnalls dictionary had to say about “perfect.” I knew the standard meanings, such as “complete, without blemish, and whole” would be there, but I was surprised and excited by what else was included:

1. “Having all the elements and characteristics necessary to its nature.” Applying this to us, this means that it is our nature to be perfect, and everything to do with perfection is ours naturally;
2. “Accurately or closely reproducing the original.” We are reproducing the original; that is, God!;
3. “Completely skilled or accomplished.” We are fully complete and have all we need in order to master our task. Nothing is lacking!

Now, this is nothing the Course doesn’t tell us, but to see these definitions in the dictionary really did something for me, and I could hardly wait to share all this in our Manual class on Friday evening.

In class, we had quite a discussion about the idea that what we are here to teach and to learn is perfection. We tied it in with forgiveness and teaching the Course’s basic message that “God’s Son is guiltless.” We made the connection with the “law of love… that what I give my brother is my gift to me” (344). We talked about what it means to be perfect, how we teach perfection now, and how we can teach it as we go about our activities during the day. For those of us who have associated our identity and worth with doing things perfectly in this world, it was important to acknowledge that this was not about that, but about being perfect by nature, despite what we do or do not do. “Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God” (T-4.I.7:1-2).

We were all deeply affected by the idea that we are here–that it is our mission–to become perfect, and that the way we become perfect is by teaching perfection. What an honour, responsibility, and gift. God must really love us to give us the means to learn that we are perfect. He must really trust us to give us this mission, and, He must be very patient with us, because we sure aren’t always teaching it! It’s good to remind ourselves that we are all only beginning teachers of God, and to have patience with ourselves, as well.

Just as I was leading us in our closing quiet time with my perfection practice, I remembered one of my favourite passages, which fit right in with the theme:

In his creation did his Father say, “You are beloved of Me and I of you forever. Be you perfect as Myself, for you can never be apart from Me.” His Son remembers not that he replied “I will,” though in that promise he was born. (T-28.VI.6:4-6)

Right in the moment of our creation, we accepted to be as perfect as God! Our “I will” was a vow, affirming our marriage to God, accepting our oneness.

In our closing prayer, we asked the Holy Spirit to help us remember that we said, “I will,” and to also help us beginning teachers of God to teach perfection. We decided to pay attention during the week to what we are teaching, and to get back on track with teaching perfection whenever we forget our mission and teach the opposite!

This material was the perfect introduction to our work with the Manual, and I think it will set the tone for all that comes after.

This theme of perfection inspired me greatly and I am looking forward to our discussing it with you. Here are some questions to spark that discussion: How do you feel about the idea that you have been entrusted with the mission of teaching perfection here, and that it is what you are here to learn? How well have you embraced the message that you are perfect? What are some practical ways to teach it? Any other thoughts?

P.S. Before posting this, I decided to read the next section in preparation for Wedneday’s TRP class, and here’s what I found: “Healing rests on charity, and charity is a way of perceiving the perfection of another, even if he cannot perceive it in himself” (T-2.V.9:4; Urtext version)! So here’s a description of how we teach perfection. Again, it’s not anything new, but I like the links it makes.