Both salvation and forgiveness imply the same basic thing: something that God did not will, something has gone wrong and "needs corrective change." This is actually impossible-nothing can happen that is contrary to the Will of God. Yet in some sense it has happened. So we have to maintain this crucial mental balance-"It has happened; it could never really happen."
This paragraph is also about that fine, paradoxical balance we must maintain: There is the truth, that which must always be true; and there is the illusion, that which seems to have happened yet could never really happen. For the time being, we need to deal with both truth and illusion, even though one, by definition, is not really there.
Salvation, in this picture, becomes the "borderland" between the two. As such, it is an odd sort of creature. As the means by which we go from illusion to truth, it occupies this strange middle ground. It reflects truth, but it's not the truth. How can the undoing of what was never done be truly real?
Here he is again exploring the paradox brought about by the existence of both truth and illusion (which by definition doesn't exist). The way he expresses that paradox here is that the illusions we believe in exist, because they are thoughts. But they aren't real, because God does not share these thoughts.
- Illusions can never happen but they have (paragraph 1).
- Salvation reflects the truth but it's not the truth because it undoes what was never done (paragraph 2).
- Illusions, being thoughts, do exist; but since God does not share these thoughts, they aren't real (paragraph 3).
Paradox upon paradox.
This resolves the tension that has been built up by all these paradoxes. What could navigate between these two sides, holding truth inviolate yet recognizing that illusions do need to get dealt with? It could only be a Thought of God. That's the plan for salvation-a Thought that only God could come up with.
The Holy Spirit takes God's plan for salvation (the Thought of God from the previous paragraph) and carries it out perfectly. This plan, of necessity, is also paradoxical, in that it is timeless yet operates in time.
I love those last two sentences. They capture so much that is central to the Course. For so long we've been comforted in the face of the world's tragedies by the message, "Don't worry, it is God's Will."
Yet here we are given the exact opposite comfort: "Don't worry, God is Love, so this is not His Will. And therefore it didn't really happen." I find this infinitely more comforting.
Salvation is my only function. I perform this function by overlooking what never happened. I overlook what never happened by remembering that it couldn't be real; because it does not reflect a God of Love. He would never will an unloving world, and so it cannot be real. And in that thought lies my release from it, and my ability to release others.
Purpose: to fulfill your only function by letting your dark thoughts be brought out of hiding to meet with the light of God's Thought, so that your darkness is replaced by His light.
Longer: every hour on the hour, for 5 minutes (if you cannot do this, at least do the alternate)
- Say, "Salvation is my only function here. Salvation and forgiveness are the same."
- Then invite the Holy Spirit into your mind and ask Him to search out the dark and secret places in your mind-thoughts, beliefs, and goals that you wish to keep hidden, either from yourself or from others. When one comes to light, repeat the Thought, "God still is Love, and this is not His will." Let the light in this Thought shine away your darkened thought; let it bring you to a forgiveness of that thought. Thus will that darkened place be filled with light. Then begin the process again: Let the Holy Spirit's light search out another dark, hidden thought. Then again repeat, "God still is Love, and this is not His will," and let this Thought forgive and shine away the darkness, replacing it with light. While going through this process, occasionally reflect on the meaning of "God still is Love, and this is not His Will." It means that this world of pain is not His Will. It means that God wills that you are His Son, at one with Him.
Frequent reminders: in between hourly practice periods
Repeat the idea, realizing that by doing so you invite forgiveness to replace your fears and invite love into your mind, which will reveal to you that you are God's Son.
Response to temptation: whenever some appearance tempts you to be give in to fear and doubt
Say, "Salvation is my only function here. God still is Love, and this is not His Will." Realize that this special message "has the power to remove all forms of doubt and fear….Remember that appearances can not withstand the truth these mighty words contain" (11:1-2).