"Holding grievances is an attack on God's plan for salvation."
Purpose: To stop attacking salvation through identifying with the body. To accept salvation instead by seeing the body as separate from and outside your Self. And so to become aware that God's plan has already been accomplished in you.
Longer: 2 times for 10-15 minutes.
Lay aside judgment about what God's plan is. Ask: "What is salvation, Father? I do not know. Tell me, that I may understand." Be certain God will answer. When you feel this confidence wane, repeat the question, remembering Who it is you ask it of.
Shorter: 1 or 2 times per hour, for a minute or so.
- Say: "Holding grievances is an attack on God's plan for salvation. Let me accept it instead. What is salvation, Father?"
- Wait in silence and listen for His answer, preferably with eyes closed.
This is a long lesson, and a tough one. The scope of ideas presented here is daunting even to an experienced student of the Course (including me). There is no way I can give any detailed explanation of all the ideas in this brief commentary, so I am mainly going to focus on a few interesting ideas.
The general thrust of the argument here is that holding grievances is always concerned in some way with the behavior of a body. Grievances thus confuse the person with his body; they are based on the assumption that bodies are what we are, and bodies are what God created. Since bodies die, God is a liar when He promises life. Death is the ultimate punishment for our sins, and that is what God gives us..
The ego then comes into the picture in the role of "savior," telling us, "OK, you're a body. So take the little you can get" (6:6). We see salvation as some kind of bodily function. Either we hate our bodies and humiliate them or we love them and try to exalt them (7:2-3).
As long as "the body stands at the center of your concept of yourself, you are attacking God's plan for salvation" (7:4). Because God's plan has nothing to do with the body; it concerns the mind, the being you are.
One primary thing the lesson is trying to get across is that we are not bodies. "It is the body that is outside us, and is not our concern. To be without a body is to be in our natural state" (9:2-3). This flies in the face of our common perception. The nearly universal assumption of man is that we are inside our bodies. To say the body is outside us seems to make no sense at all. But actually, it isn't an entirely inconceivable idea. There is a way of understanding how our awareness can appear to be in the body when in fact it is elsewhere.
You are all, to some degree, computer folks, so probably you are at least familiar with the idea of virtual reality. My son, Ben, is getting his Ph.D. at Georgia Tech in virtual reality. Not long ago he visited VR laboratories in Japan, where they were experimenting with VR in connection with robots. He put on a VR helmet (so his eyes and ears now beheld and heard what was projected on the screen of the helmet or played through its speakers); he wore a VR sleeve on his arm and hand. These were connected to a robot, which had a camera and microphone on its "head" and whose mechanical arm and hand responded to the movements of Ben's arm and hand. He was seeing what the robot "saw," hearing what it "heard," and picking up objects with its hand.
Then, he had a very odd experience. He turned his (the robot's) head, looked across the room, and saw his fleshly body sitting on the other side, wearing all this weird-looking gear. Ben's awareness was inside the robot, although his body was on the other side of the room. He seemed to be separate from his body.
Our bodies, I believe, are very much like that VR robot. Our minds receive only the input of the body's eyes and ears, and so we are fooled into thinking we are inside of it. In reality we are "somewhere else," not inside the body at all. What we are seeing in our bodies is, in truth, only "virtual reality." The body is "outside" of us in fact, and being without a body is our natural state.
One of the aims of the Course is to help us "see our Self as separate from the body" (9:5). I hope these thoughts provide a little help in conceptualizing that possibility.
The practice periods have us focusing on asking, "What is salvation, Father? I do not know" (10:6-7). The intent is to get us to let go of our existing ideas of "salvation," which are all focused on the body, either exalting it or abasing it, so that something else can take the place of those ideas. Salvation lies in acceptance of what we are--and what we are is not a body. The lesson leaves the answering of the question about salvation to our inner listening. If we ask, it says, something will answer us (11:3; 12:5).
Explanatory note: The logic behind the first two sentences of paragraph five is particularly difficult to grasp. Why, if God is a body, must His plan for salvation be death? Robert and I puzzled over this one morning and decided that the meaning seems to be that, if God is a body as we are (in the ego's eyes), then any plan of salvation such as God's real plan which involves dis-engaging from the body and identifying with spirit must, in the ego's eyes, really be an attempt to kill us--to remove us from our bodies which are our identity. God's plan seems to be death, as the ego sees it.
Copyright © 1996, The Circle of Atonement, Sedona,
All rights reserved.