Spiritual Study Series: Session #4 Atonement
Atonement, like so many words tied to organized religion, more than likely holds a negative connotation in your mind. Somewhere in your FEAR cabinet, there is Mind File that describes a preacher shaking his finger in your direction yelling: you must atone for your sins!.... Or something along that line. Messages like that so permeate our culture that it's no wonder people turned away from God. If you grow up thinking He judges and punishes you for sinning, then it's going to be nearly impossible to have trust and faith in Him.
In the Spiritual context, atonement means understand. Atone for your sins means understand your mistakes, because understanding is the thing that leads to compassion. One must have compassions for themselves before they can extend it to others, but again, to understand one must first ask the question - have I sinned? What does it mean to sin?
Sin is another word that likely holds a negative connotation in your mind. Go back to that original Mind File that describes atoning for your sins. The word sin is attached to the word atone, and both are in the file in your FEAR cabinet. Children cannot distinguish between a Heavenly Father and their own father, so when children are told they will be punished unless they atone for their sins, the mind's process looks to the file that describes punishment that has already been experienced. Today, we know that 1 in 3 children have suffered abuse at the hands of their parents, so again, it's no wonder that children grow up terrified of God.
A Course in Miracles tells us "The forgiven are the means of the Atonement". Those who have acknowledged the things that they have said and done that hurt others - in other words, who have recognized their sins - and who have taken the time to invite Divine Wisdom into their hearts and minds and learn the truth of what happened, will have forgiven themselves. This in turn provides a means of forgiving others.
We can't give away what we don't first possess for ourselves
In Chapter One, Section III, point #5 in ACIM, it says:
Atonement undoes all errors in this respect, and thus uproots the source of fear. Whenever you experience God's reassurances as threat, it is always because you are defending misplaced or misdirected loyalty. When you project this to others you imprison them, but only to the extent to which you reinforce errors they have already made. This makes them vulnerable to the distortions of others, since their own perception of themselves is distorted.
The Golden Rule asks you to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This means that the perception of both must be accurate. The Golden Rule is the rule for appropriate behavior. You cannot behave appropriately unless you perceive correctly.
Until you have gone into your FEAR cabinet and reassessed every single Mind File at your current level of understanding and asked for Divine Guidance to understand what actually took place, you are still seeing through the filters created by your emotions. These filters skew your perception; they are two-way filters. Everything that comes into your mind's process is received through all of those filters, and everything you send out goes through those filters. Until your mind's process is reaching into your LOVE cabinet and your NEUTRAL cabinet more often, you are projecting your unresolved issues onto others.
Section #7 tells us: Miracles arise from a mind that is ready for them. When you are ready to accept full responsibility for you - mind, body & Spirit - truths will be revealed to you. The absolute freedom that you experience from 'the atonement' is indescribable and it drives you to want to 'free' others, but reSOLVING a few Mind Files does not qualify you to become a Spiritual healer or guide. When the time is right though, the Holy Spirit will arrange for your students to find you.
Section #8 says: Miracles you are not asked to perform have not lost their value. They are still expressions of your own state of grace, but the action aspect of the miracle should be controlled by me (Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or Divine Wisdom; whichever name you assign to the energy that informs your Spirit) because of my complete awareness of the whole plan. The impersonal nature of miracle-mindedness ensures your grace, but only I am in a position to know where they can be bestowed.
Did you see or did you read The Lord of The Rings? In the movie, there is a scene where Gandalf is speaking with Aragorn. He says: even the wisest cannot see all ends. I often think of this when my ego gets going! It reminds me that as smart as I think I am, I cannot see or know all possible outcomes.
The Spiritual path is one of understanding. Work toward understanding your own self first and will be far easier to understand others. This doesn't mean that you will condone or agree with everything everyone does, or that you will turn a blind eye (or cheek) to bad behavior. It means you will have an understanding of why people might be behaving the way they do, and for those who are willing to receive some advice, you will be in a position to offer it without judgment.
In your journal, write down 3 horrible things you did. Maybe you bullied someone, maybe you physically harmed someone. Can you recall a time when you or someone you know was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and something horrible happened? Have you screamed at someone? Called them names? Hurled accusations? Gossiped?
Once you have admitted to a 'sin' - journal until you reach an unbiased understanding of the experience. If you justify your behavior - you don't understand it yet. Ask for Divine Guidance. Pray about it. Here's an example:
Back when I was married to an alcoholic, I never knew who was going to walk through the door after a day of drinking. It could be a giddy guy or a miserable guy. One night, a blend of the two came through the door. I was sitting at the kitchen table fuming about where he had been, and as soon as he staggered through the door, he started to berate me for who knows what. I became so enraged, I shoved his drunken ass down a flight of stairs and stomped off to our bedroom, locked the door and fumed until I fell asleep.
In the morning, I debated as to whether or not I would wake him so that he could go to work. I didn't give one second of thought to the fact he could have been injured when I shoved him down the stairs and I honestly wanted him to sleep in and get into trouble from his boss. I justified my behavior because he was an abusive drunk, but rather than blame my husband for the situation I was in, the question I should have been asking myself was: what was I doing there in the first place?
When I understood exactly how I ended up married to an addict, owned every thought, decision and action, and when I forgave myself for every decision that led up to that point, I was able to forgive him and have genuine compassion for all the men and women who stay in abusive relationships. I understand why they're there, but I don't condone anyone staying in an abusive relationship. I recognize that each person has to get to the same point that I did. They have to ask themselves: how did I end up here? AND THEN, be willing to learn the truth. If they aren't ready - they aren't ready. There is nothing I, or anyone else can do to help them.
We are the authors of our lives. Every decision we make is influenced by something. Figure out where your influences come from, then decide if those influences still make sense, or if it's time for them to go. Work to reSOLVE every Mind File that resides in the Filing Cabinets of Your MInd. This is the path to peace, love and genuine joy!
Thanks for taking the time to stop by! I hope you learned something today that can help you help yourself!
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