Revised Jan 5th, 2015
(Note: In this article I am using the words “Holy Spirit”, “GodSelf”, “Real Self” and “Self” interchangeably. They all mean the Holy Self that was given to us by God when we thought we left Heaven. In Reality, we are this Self, but we do not identify with it. We identify with our ego…the Self we made, which we are all finding out is not so much fun!)
The Altar is a place where we and our Self meet. Ultimately it is a place of wonderfully quiet, restful, fulfilling, communion but our initial reasons for coming to the altar are probably because we are in turmoil. It is an intimate and sacred place within our heart where we have dropped all of our defenses in recognition that we need a better way to see, and that we do not know what that way is. The Altar, this meeting place, becomes apparent to us once we have said: “I can no longer tolerate the thoughts and feelings that are bringing me pain and insanity. I MUST find a way to have Peace and I do not know how to find it”. As I said; ultimately it is a place of peace but we may not initially experience this.
Our willingness to be led is greatest when we are in pain. In this respect pain can actually be a turning point for us. Our society judges pain as “a bad thing”, but it is usually the very thing that forces us to seek a new way to look at things. Pain is the indication that we are going against our own true nature (Love). It is not a punishment in any respect. It is like an indicator light on the dashboard of your car telling you that something is wrong! Pain creates a willingness to let go of our ideas in recognition that “our way isn’t working any more”. This willingness is a Holy place because it contains the hope of healing.
So the “Altar” is really a willingness, a trusting, and a surrender. This is a place where we have come to the end of our insistence that our reality must be a certain way. Many times our misery is that we have given illusion the status of Truth and we therefore see our problem as unchangeable. We need the Truth to shine into our mind to reveal that our illusions are NOT true. The Holy Spirit, our Self that was created by God, WANTS us to be free so why not surrender to the Mind/Heart/Presence that is able to affect positive change? There is nothing beyond God’s power to heal. NOTHING. It is helpful to remember this.
Our ideas, our way of seeing things shows us nothing but turmoil and despair, so what do we have to lose by asking for help? We need Vision beyond our Self to show us the way out of despair. The Holy Spirit gives what It is, which is Peace and Love. By choosing to trust His Guidance, and joining with His Love our mind begins to let go of ego illusions as we feel the deep kindness of His Presence.
As ACIM says; “The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind.”
The Holy Spirit is a Presence we can learn to visit frequently and gain great Peace. It feels like “us” only larger, deeper, and more encompassing. It may take a while but eventually we begin to recognize that this Presence is our own REAL Self! It gently untangles our confusion and reveals the Truth, which puts us in touch with our own Wholeness. It simultaneously reveals what our false beliefs are and WHY they are false. This makes us calmer, more stable, and Whole. The more we trust our Help, the more we will recognize that the things that caused us fear and pain had no real substance.
It is very comforting to rest and abide in our own Holiness (Whole – I – ness) and we can carry this sense of wholeness back into our world and share the Presence of this Holiness with everyone. We are really just extending the Kindness and Presence of our own Holy Spirit that we encounter when we are in the communion with our Self. All of us are fighting a hard battle and this world needs kindness, forgiveness, Peace and rest.
As we join with and accept our Real Self, we begin to feel a wonderful companionship; one that we feel to be present with us always. This companionship goes beyond the “comfort” we feel when surrounded by other “bodies” because the ego can be lonely, even in a crowd. The companionship I’m talking about even goes beyond the closeness we feel toward a very good friend, although it is much like that. The awareness of our Self as our companion is like having a closeness with the best, best, best friend you ever had, and yet it is not a special relationship. There are no expectations for it (or us) to fulfill. There is only an unconditional, abiding acceptance that is very deep and very quiet. Simultaneously we know that there is nothing we could do for which we would be judged. We are part of something bigger than ourselves and yet it IS our Self.
As we trust on an even deeper level we will experience the forgiveness of our past. Our personal history will seem to be re-written so that we feel free and at Peace as we see ourselves through the non-judgmental eyes of our GodSelf, or Holy Spirit – whatever you want to call it.
This all sounds very esoteric and perhaps you think it is impossible to “achieve” but there is no achievement involved. The only “achievement” falls on the efforts of the Holy Spirit because it is by the efforts of the Holy Spirit that we will make it Home. All it requires is two things: 1) For us to surrender to our own pain…just admit that we can no longer tolerate the pain we feel and 2) To Trust a Power bigger than “you” that CAN accomplish it. That’s all. The more we bring our pain to the Altar of trust, the more we will recognize that we are slowly, almost imperceptibly being changed. The beliefs that caused the pain in the first place ARE being healed. The Holy Spirit heals us slowly, steadily, and gently, and although there will probably be some discomfort, it will be leading us toward the light instead of away from it. ACIM reminds us not to attempt to judge whether we are advancing toward the truth because an advance does not always “feel good”, especially in the beginning. But as we continue to trust this Power and Love, the entire process becomes smoother, calmer, and happier.
My experience is that once I have found that my willingness to trust another Guide brings me comfort, I automatically return to the Presence of my Self. What calls me back is the pain I encounter when I am unconsciously believing my old ideas again. I then return to the comfort of the meeting place, the altar within me, where my Self reassures me that the Promise of healing is real. As ACIM says; “How likely is it that God would fail?” Each time I return to the Presence within my awareness of my Real Nature is reinforced. The next time I find myself in pain, it is less than the previous time. This cycle continues in an upward direction until my old ideas have been replaced by the Truth, which is a joyful experience.
There is a principle in physics that demonstrates what is occurring in our “meeting with our Self”. Picture our Self (our Holy Spirit – whatever you want to call it) as a giant magnet and then picture ourselves (our limited concept of what we are – our ego) as a piece of iron. When the piece of iron sits near the magnet its molecules begin to align with the magnetic field of the magnet and soon the iron becomes magnetized. It acquires the same properties as the magnet.
The same happens when we spend time in the Presence of the Love of our Self. We acquire the same “properties” as our Self, our Holy Spirit. As the awareness of Love permeates us, our own ideas of “what we are” begin to change. Slowly, our self-created identity begins to align with God’s idea of what we are – our Real Self. It becomes more apparent that our fears are not real. This does not happen overnight but we are promised that it will happen. My experience is that God is not a liar.
We will undoubtedly have many encounters with our beliefs and fears as this process unfolds but once we know “where” to go to find reassurance, we WILL return to that place (provided we don’t begin to insist that we know our own way). Our egos may kick up quite a fuss in this process but the more time we spend in the Presence and comfort of healing, the clearer it will be to us that Peace and healing is absolutely possible. By standing in the comfort of our Self, we will be able to let go of the ego, not believing its lies about who we are, affected less and less by the insanity and fear we previously believed were true.
To summarize; this process starts by admitting to ourselves that we can no longer tolerate our own pain and that we must have Peace. The next step is to take that pain to the only place it can truly be healed…to God, the Holy Spirit, our Self, our GodSelf, whatever we want to call it. Recognize that our own ideas, concepts, beliefs, have not been able to give us the Peace we need. Trust that the Kindness of God WANTS to give us what we perceive to be lacking. The results may start slowly and no time table can be given as to when to expect results but, depending on the intensity of our surrender and desire, positive change has no choice but to occur. Our GodSelf is not deaf – It can hear us perfectly each time we ask for help and It cannot fail.