I find it really interesting how the lessons seem to alternate between seeing grievances, and where we look for salvation. I’m beginning to get the idea, I think: When my ego wants to keep me from finding God’s salvation within my own Self, it distracts me with some kind of grievance outside myself. Seeing the cause of my distress outside, I naturally look for the solution outside. I seek salvation outside myself.
It’s never what is outside that is the problem. “Those whom you see as guilty become the witnesses to guilt in you, and you will see it there, for it is there until it is undone. Guilt is always in your own mind, which has condemned itself. Project it not, for while you do, it cannot be undone” (T-13.X.6:6-8). What we are seeing out there, the object of our grievances, is only the projection of self-condemnation. We may change the name of the sin to protect the guilty (ourselves), but it is our sin we are seeing out there in the world. That is why seeing grievances outside keeps us from finding salvation inside.
As the review says, we have sought salvation in many different places and things, and it was never where we looked (1:3). We can’t find it out there because it isn’t out there, anywhere. There is no hope for salvation in the world—and that is good news. It’s good news because we no longer have to depend on someone or something outside of ourselves to play its proper role, to arrive at the right time to meet our needs, or to do anything. We can let go of expecting someone else to save us, and we can turn to the only thing we can absolutely depend on: ourselves, our real Self. We can let everyone else off the hook we’ve been holding them on for our entire lives. We can tell the world, “You are no longer responsible for me. I no longer hold you accountable for my unhappiness. I’ve realized that is my own job, not yours.”
I remember how odd I felt, but how happy, to tell my dear friend Lynne, years ago, “I’ve realized that I don’t need you.” She was delighted, being far wiser than I was at the time. I was afraid she would be insulted; how “unromantic” a thing to say to a partner in love! “I don’t need you.” She understood exactly what I meant, though. I was telling her that she was no longer expected to make me happy; she was no longer saddled with the unbearable burden of my happiness. Thinking that our love partner is responsible for our happiness is exactly what makes special relationships into hell, because when I am not happy, I have a grievance, just like in a labor union: “Hey! You’re not living up to your part of the bargain. You’re supposed to make me happy.” And the grievance against our partner keeps us from seeing the salvation in our own hearts.
I’ve always liked the last line in today’s lesson: “This calls for salvation, not attack” (4:4). It reminds me of the old line in the ancient Superman TV series (the one with George Reeve—-guess I’m really dating myself here!). Clark Kent looks at some crime or disaster in progress, and says, “This is a job for…[in a totally different, ‘super-sounding’ voice] Superman!” Instead of looking at the events in our lives and thinking, “This is a job for the ego. Let’s attack! Let’s form and hold a grievance,” we can look at the situation and say, “This is a job for God! Let’s forgive! Let’s respond with love to the call for love.” When some need arises around me, which power will I call on: God, or the ego?
The choice is “between misperception and salvation” (4:2). The only alternative to salvation is something unreal, an illusion, a misperception. The only way I can avoid being happy is to misperceive my brother; if I see him or her truly, I will always find salvation. “By holding grievances, I am therefore excluding my only hope of salvation from my awareness” (3:4). What a silly thing to do! I think I’ll stop!
“I would accept God’s plan for salvation and be happy” (3:6).