[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
Last week I had a very unholy encounter with “the murderer within” from Lesson 196, and it was a devastating experience. I want to be a truly loving person and whenever the hateful side of me emerges, I feel so ashamed. The one good thing about it was–as Allen Watson says in his Through Fear to Love (p.13):
If we were as bad as we think we are, we would not be ashamed at all! … What but a loving mind would be ashamed of hatred and anger?… It takes a profoundly innocent mind to feel such profound guilt.
I felt consumed by downright hateful thoughts towards a particular person, whom I shall call “Margaret.” In her presence, it was all I could do not to behave unlovingly towards her. I was especially enraged by her constant sweetness and light, and what I saw as a pseudo-saintliness. This had been going on for some time, and the pain I felt around my thoughts and feelings was almost unbearable, yet I seemed unable to overcome them.
At the time, we had entered into the special relationship material in the Text Reading Program, and I could really see myself in what these sections were saying. The solution Jesus offers us is to look straight and honestly at our dark, hateful thoughts and bring them to the Holy Spirit for purification (T-15.IV.9). He asks us to be willing to enter into a holy instant with the Holy Spirit and be released (T-16.VI.12:1). Remembering this propelled me into journaling and talking to the Holy Spirit with the hope of getting to the bottom of what was going on and letting go of the hatred in my heart.
As I started to write, I immediately realized that Margaret reminded me of two other females in my life, one back in my high school days and one more recently. I won’t try to “pretty things up” by saying I simply disliked the three of them; I downright hated them! Although I hadn’t seen it at the time, I recognized now that they seemed to be the antithesis of me; their saintliness showing up what I saw as my ugliness, their sweetness and light my negativity and darkness, their loving personalities the unlovingness of mine.
As I continued to write, I realized that I envied them for having what I didn’t have and what I wanted. As I remembered from the Course’s teachings, if they had it and I didn’t, I must be thinking that they had stolen it away from me. No wonder I felt such anger towards them. I was crucifying God’s Son for his innocence, and was therefore crucifying myself. I was feeling so much pain because I was going against my own loving nature. I was grieving the innocence I thought I had lost and continued to lose by being so unloving. “And who could weep but for his innocence?” (P-2.IV.1:7). I was looking within and seeing the murderer in me, but Jesus was calling me not to stop there, but to “call upon [God] to save [me] from illusions by His Love” (W-pI.196.11:1,4) and go beyond to look upon the innocence and holiness within.
You have not lost your innocence. It is for this you yearn. This is your heart’s desire. (W-pI.182.12:1-3)
So, I then took myself through the following process:
- Their innocence reminds me of my lost innocence;
- I hate them for having it; because I see them as having taken it away from me;
- If I only really looked within, I would find that it is still there and I would love it;
- As long as I hate them I will feel guilty and hate myself;
- In order to love myself and get back in touch with my own innocence, I have to love them. That’s it; there is no other way;
- They can’t have taken away from me what God gave to all of us equally; they have not gained at my loss;
- I haven’t lost my innocence. I have just covered it over and actually sought to lose it by being unloving;
- I did not kill the Son of God, my true Self. I was only mistaken;
- I now know what I have to forgive Margaret for: my false perception of her attacking me by taking my innocence from me! Since she didn’t do that, there really is nothing to forgive!;
- Now I release her, and thus release myself from the guilt and shame that were consuming me. “Salvation’s simple formula” (W-297)
Forgive and be forgiven. As you give you will receive. There is no plan but this for the salvation of the Son of God. (W-pI.122.6:3-5)
- Holy Spirit; I desire the holy instant in which the past is gone and with it my unloving thoughts. I willingly enter into it with you now in gratitude for the release You will bring me.
I really felt the presence of the Holy Spirit through this whole process, showing me what was going on and correcting my perception. Even though it had been sobering to acknowledge all this, by the time I had finished processing it, I felt purged of something that had been eating me up. I felt that I had experienced a holy instant, “where all illusions [were] forgiven” (T-16.VII.11:1), and in which I was “completely absolved, completely free and wholly without condemnation” (T-15.I.9:6).
I even saw the Holy Spirit’s hand in my lesson for the day. I am doing post-Workbook practice, but sometimes do the chronological lesson with James. That morning the daily lesson was #191, “I am the holy Son of God.” This is one of my favourite lessons and I draw on it continually, but that morning I rejected it outright. I turned then to the Holy Spirit to guide me to another lesson, and was drawn–with a groan–to Lesson 269, “My [holy] sight goes forth to see Christ’s face.” If the Holy Spirit couldn’t reach me in one way, He was going to do it in another! I realized that I had been feeling so ugly and unholy that I had been, in effect, pushing away the truth of my holiness and my holy sight. Because I am the holy Son of God, how could I see with anything but holy sight? So, I determined to let my holy sight go forth to look upon the innocence and holiness in everyone I saw and thought about–especially Margaret. Just to make sure that I didn’t forget the lesson I had learned from this, the next day the Holy Spirit gave me Lesson 263, “My holy vision sees all things as pure”!
I was so grateful to the Holy Spirit for orchestrating this so beautifully. I was in awe of how smoothly and effortlessly it had come to me as I was journaling. I really believe that He heard the call for help and love in my pain and answered me. He even worked through James to reach me. When I was talking to James about the hatred I was feeling, he asked me why I was so angry with Margaret. I answered, “Well the Course says that it must be because I see her as taking something away from me.” He responded with, “Whatever could she be taking away from you?” I didn’t have an answer, but it was that question that prompted me to journal and talk to the Holy Spirit, and which, in turn, led to my healing experience.
This was, I think, a major turning point for me. It gave me such a graphic demonstration of the ego’s “dynamics,” about which the special relationships sections have been talking, and it also gave me the way out of them.