ACIM Dissolves Rather Than Absolves Guilt

Despite its use of Christian symbols there are many ideas in A Course in Miracles that are radically different from Christianity. In fact, they undo what is traditionally taught in Christianity. It is important for students of ACIM to not only recognize this but to meditate on these differences. Doing so clarifies ACIM and how learning what it teaches can set you free.

The betrayal of the Son of God lies only in illusions, and all his "sins" are but his own imagining. His reality is forever sinless. He need not be forgiven but awakened. (T-17.I.1)

A major tenet in the ego's insane religion is that sin is not error but truth, and it is innocence that would deceive. Purity is seen as arrogance, and the acceptance of the self as sinful is perceived as holiness. And it is this doctrine that replaces the reality of the Son of God as his Father created him, and willed that he be forever. (T-19.II.4)

In a nutshell, the fundamental and radical difference between A Course in Miracles and Christianity is in their approaches to guilt. Christianity presents a path to absolution from guilt. It validates guilt (sin) as real and then presents you with a way to escape from consequences for it through its god’s grace. ACIM teaches that guilt is not real. It is never justified no matter how much you feel that it is. It presents the way to dissolve your belief in guilt.

The path of absolution does not free you from guilt, only from punishment for it. The sin occurred but you are just not going to pay for it. So absolution increases your guilt because, in your guilt, you feel unworthy of absolution. Bow down and kiss your god’s feet because you who are unworthy have been granted undeserved freedom! How beholden you now should be to that merciful god! (Who, by the way, you feel can turn on you at any moment because, after all, you really are guilty and do deserve to be punished).

The path of dissolving guilt releases you not from actual guilt but from your belief that guilt is real. This is what is meant by “He need not be forgiven but awakened” in the quote at the top. You do not need to perfect or to seek absolution for the self but rather become aware of (awaken to) your Perfection in Truth.

To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed. (T-19.II.2)

The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannot sin. There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way, nor make him really guilty. (T-19.II.3)


This difference between Christianity and ACIM is not small! They are fundamentally opposed. What Christianity says is a real, therefore uncorrectable, sin, ACIM says is a mistaken perception that can be corrected for your peace of mind. Absolution does not offer freedom or peace. But the awareness that there is no guilt but only a belief in guilt that can be undone offers true and lasting freedom and peace.

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Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, 4 Habits for Inner Peace, and Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.

Comments

hannah said…
ok, eeeeesh... id like to present a scenario, bit difficult cos i feel guilty ;)

ive been looking at this for a couple of weeks now, and im starting to experience a lot of pain in my shoulders.

background experience.. in childhood my dad had a lot of affairs, he once had sex with a lady in front of me, (when i was about 9) i tried to make him stop by hitting him on the back but he just shouted at me. it was a full on thing for me to do as i was scared of him. ive been really looking at so many aspects here.. societal conventions on relationships, desperately seeking for wholeness in sex, plus seeing that dad was never actually 'messing' me up, but in this fullness of time has actually offered me an opportunity for awakening, a gift. i have also been focusing on the non reality of the guilt i feel and project, and noticing how i still believe in right and wrong choices. selfish and considerate.. helpful and unhelpful!?
(i had a 'vision' the other day of how good and bad are like.. flip sides of the same coin/idea, and how when you bring them together (i saw it like heading toward the centre of a horizontal axis, toward and up the vertical axis), the.. ideas of them get smaller and smaller the closer you get to truth, and also less outside yourself, less 'revolting on the one hand, and less unattainable on the other hand) til they disappear altogether. and how the same.. um, model? applies to every aspect of duality ideas).

so.. recently a man came back into my life who i had strong feelings for years ago. he has married, and moved back to albany to start his own business, while his wife has stayed in a town hours away doing her thing there.. they alternate visiting each other on weekends and that seems to work for them. i still react to him as strongly as ever, and for a while at any rate he is in my sphere of life. i feel the attraction is mutual, and if he were single we would explore that. im pretty sure he feels guilty for the attraction, though hes not acting upon it, and i know i do, but only because while im in no position to act on these feelings, i am quite aware that if i were, i am simply not sure if i would act according to my moral beliefs, in the way i think is right, respectful and loving to all concerned, or if i would follow my own other wishes. the only reason its such an issue for me is that i very rarely feel anything like this, i havent felt like this about anyone since i saw him last seven years ago or so.

can you shed some light to help me move through this?
will said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob A said…
I first heard Eric Butterworth say (on a tape) that God can't forgive us because he never condemned us! He was a major speaker for Unity Church which I had joined - and where I got that tape. It was SUCH an aye-opener - that I began to mention it to others. Our minister delivered a sermon around it. I have since come to realize the notion came from ACIM teaching and is the teaching mentioned above.

It is at first freeing and then baffling how, in reviewing some past "sins" - most of them go away easily, but some persist until I ask for Strength to overcome the continued "practice" of that "sin" - and here the word "temptation" pops up. In line with your writings Liz, I now feel the Strength, as a son of God, to (most of the time) overcome the temptation to "sin" again. I now say "no" to something I couldn't say "no" to, when I thought of myself as a sinner, or a compulsive overeater, or a "whatever type of sinner I may think of myself."

Nancy Reagan just passed away. I remember thinking how "absurd" was her solution to everything: "Just say No". We used to laugh about that in 12th step groups. How simple she made it sound compared to how impossible a thing we then thought it was to do.

ACIM is an alternative workable way to understand and use Truth to be free of what we thought was sinful.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, first you want to sort out social-moral guilt from a belief in absolute-guilt. Are you feeling social-moral guilt or absolute-guilt? The difference is too much to go into here but it is explained in my book, "Releasing Guilt for Inner Peace" if you have it.

The ego will always tell you that you are guilty. In other words, guilt will not go away until the ego goes away. You will stop believing in guilt, however, when you stop believing that there is a power outside of you and over you (a god) sitting in judgment on you. So if you want to undo your belief in guilt you need to focus on undoing your belief in a judgmental god. This is what RGIP is about.
hannah said…
thank you, i have the book.. time to read again. id guess its social moral guilt, though its for my inner world, not my actions? and i feel guilt and disappointment that i dont trust my will to make the right choice morally IF the choice were presented. i feel weak and self centred and disrespectful. i feel i have the opportunity to forgive and grow.. and like im not doing very well!
will said…
A few years into the course I entered into a special relationship. It was very intense and lasted a number of years. It was impossible to practice the course and carry on this relationship at the same time. I tried any number of times to integrate the two but could not do it. The relationship consumed my mind, took over my thinking and I was powerless.
Anonymous said…
Hannah love,
I find peace in Lesson 185, and then Lesson 47. Thank you for your gift of sharing.
Anonymous said…
I was reading in the text p. 341 "The Choice for Completion" which was perfectly placed in time while asking "what is it for?" relative to a special relationship. Peace & gratitude mighty companions. Deb
will said…
Deb, I'm not sure I understand. Could you expand what you're saying?
Anonymous said…
Funny, I have been having difficulties articulating this mind lately. I wonder if it has anything to do with the indirect Awareness of Truth experiences I have had. Hmm . . . What I attempted to point to is Chapter 16 V. in the tex. It was the Guidance that helped me heal the need and expectations of a special relationship. Deb
will said…
I call it "ego speak." It hits me when I drink too much caffeine or I'm in a hurry. Most often you see it when someone's personal mind (the ego) wants stroking. In an attempt to sound smart or advanced,what is written is almost impossible to understand. But it meets the needs of that personal mind. It's not Will or Deb doing it, just the ego doing it's thing.
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah, if it's about your inner life and not your actions then it's absolute-moral guilt not social-moral guilt. Social-moral guilt is always about your interactions with others.

It does not matter if you do not do the moral thing. There is no absolute-morality. There is no god that decrees an absolute morality. Forgiveness would be recognizing this. If you were in a forgiving place in your mind you would not care about whether or not the self acted morally, except in a personal, social-moral way. And then the choice would be easy because you would not want the personal consequences: "Oh, yeah, if I do that I won't feel good about myself. And then I'll have to make amends to others. Okay, I won't do it." In fact, it's guilt that drives one to act in a social-immoral way. All that's in the book.

Let yourself off the hook. You'll never be perfect as a person. But you are eternally perfect in Truth. It's amazing how moral the self is when you stop worrying about it being moral!
will said…
Students should remember that 99.9% of us are not in a forgiving place in the mind when it comes to social-moral guilt. Liz is talking about someone 20-30 years into doing this. The ego will tell you that it's okay, there is no social-moral guilt, everything will be okay and then eat you alive after you do it. That's what the ego does, pull you in and then beat you to death for doing it. Trying to dig yourself out from social-moral guilt takes forever.
will said…
And I am not talking about morals or being a good person or any of that stuff. I am talking about the spiritual disruption that occurs from getting involved in social-moral guilt. The intensity of the ego attack is very intense.
hannah said…
Liz.. what would you say to someone who was not behaving in a socially moral way, and had no issues with their behaviour/choices, but was annoyed at other peoples reactions to their choices, and was wanting to find peace?
hannah said…
also, thanks will and deb xx
hannah said…
will, i have been trying to use my inner world in regards to this situation, to help me truly let go of judgements against anti-moral social behaviours, a lot of which my dads choices set the stage for, bless him ;) im confused, as i have a friend who is having an affair, and dont feel like i judge her.. i just get it. its easy to put yourself in most ego choice places.. or i find it so. thats why i thought it wasnt absolute moral guilt. but then this man come back into MY life/mind and BAM the judgements are loud and the beat-myself-up-im-not-a-good-person factor feels pretty 'true'. but i do trust that with some more study and sitting with truth something will shift.
will said…
I don't know Hannah. I was just coming in here to delete my last two posts. I have done so many things since I started doing the course that involved social moral guilt which always leads to absolute guilt (if I understand these correctly). It's not like I started doing the course and my behavior or thinking changed. I got involved with a married woman a few years into the course which lead to her divorce and years later our breakup. It wasn't the guilt about doing it that was so bad, it was what happened in my head. I was spiritually derailed as the ego took over with a vengeance. I lost the will to stop the madness, if that makes any sense. People don't come to ACIM because they are enlightened or something. We come because we are in pain. My posts above are so intense because trying to dig yourself out while the ego is in charge is a nightmare.
will said…
I lost any mental self discipline. When that goes your a puppet on a string with the ego.
Anonymous said…
I just read this quote by Eckhart Tolle and I'll share . . . "The ego is sustained by continuous resistance." Deb
Anonymous said…
Oh the tangled web of guilt the ego weaves . . . This is a story of a woman who suffered from tremendous guilt. Raised catholic, church every Sunday, prayed on her knees every night, regular confessions, catechism, confirmation and as a child, remembering when something bad happened to her, it was god's punishment. Talk about reinforcing the belief in absolute guilt.

(Fast forward) This girl grows up and in her thirties, the man of her dreams walks into her life and she remembers even saying to him, “it's like I knew you in another lifetime”. An affair ensues. Now the social/moral guilt comes in, in a big way. The judgment was huge so huge it was unbearable that this woman ended the affair or she thought. The burden of guilt that was lifted was short lived as this man shows up at her door proclaiming he left his wife and children for her and then for 8 long “resentful” years, he keeps her waiting until his wife was ready to grant him a divorce. They eventually marry and shortly after he dies (her punishment).

Now alone and abandoned, she suffers and in her suffering she asks for a better way. In a holy instant, she is guided to the bookshelf that held ACIM that her spiritual mentor (who also died a year before her husband) gifted her 18 years prior. Now the real work begins, undoing the belief in guilt. First the forgiveness work of looking at the social/moral guilt and then the deeper unconscious intrinsic guilt. What arrived at the perfect time since she was ready for it, was Liz Cronkite's book, RGIP.

Also within this story, she was blessed with miracles that strengthened her belief in Truth and what naturally unfolded was a desire to meditate and with much guilt released she began to experience the Awareness of Truth. My story, Deb
will said…
One thing I found out through all this; The desire to study the course, the ability to practice the course or do meditation, the will to keep going when the going got rough, the ability to take a stand when I didn't agree with someone, all these things that Will took credit for, I exchanged for a special relationship. It took awhile to realize I had been propped up by the Holy Spirit all along. Well, all that stuff went away in a flash. I was committing myself to the ego just like I had done all my life. To me this is why the course is so adamant about special relationships. The will to put down a failed relationship and pick up my books was gone. You really have to be there to get the sense of powerlessness that comes with this. All these little quotes we use from the text, if you have no will they mean nothing. Words.
Anonymous said…
There is a freedom that is realized when guilt is released. Trust. Deb
ACIM Mentor said…
Hannah and Will: social-moral guilt is not the same as absolute-moral guilt. Social moral guilt is easily released when you make amends or learn the lesson. But absolute-moral guilt uses social-moral guilt to reinforce your sense of guilt. It is never released in the ego. You only release it when you release the ego. This happens when you stop believing in the guilt.

Grow your awareness of Truth and all else will follow.
will said…
"It is never released in the ego" is my point in all this. For most of my life I heard people saying "If you would do this" or "Why are you doing that"? Whether it was people in recovery talking to one another or listening to other therapist's. The message and the intent is always the same. The message is, it's you're fault, you are responsible for what is happening and the intent for the person saying it is always to make themselves feel good. A kind of skewed forgiveness to destroy. They want that self esteem hit that makes them feel better. In Liz's comment above, that's teaching, something completely different. Powerlessness is something people don't want to deal with, they don't want to understand it or talk about it, yet it is what the whole course in miracles is centered on.
will said…
As a frame of reference the events I have been talking about are from my past, not something I am dealing with now. I am from the school of hard knocks where knowledge and insight is very expensive. It is not like learning from a book, it is gut level knowledge.
will said…
And it sounds like both Deb and Hannah are very familiar with that.
Anonymous said…
Pain and suffering can be a great teacher. Deb
nicci said…
"guilt is never released in the ego. it is only released when you release the ego. this happens when you stop believing in guilt." resting a moment in this teaching, i then move into this day with a willingness to forgive all appearances of guilt and separation, to release them to the Source of Love Within, and ask for help in accepting the atonement for this mind.

thank you. nicci
will said…
Wow
will said…
Liz, You write in the Mentor Note for Lesson 19

...but the "effects" of your thoughts about your Aunt Mary are not limited to you as a personal self; they "affect" your entire mind where you perceive a world as well as what you think of as 'you.'

Could you explain the effects and affects part?
will said…
I think I got it Liz. Lesson 19 is really tough.

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