In search of true innocence

Sandpiper on beach at sunset” ‘My sinlessness is guaranteed by God,’ ” I read.

I sat at my desk the Monday morning after the long Thanksgiving weekend pondering this recurring refrain from A Course in Miracles workbook lesson 93, “Light and joy and peace abide in me,” both statements equally confounding to the little b brain of the little s self I still see in the mirror staring back at me, reminiscent of a snapshot taken of me at four years old wearing a pink organdy dress, standing on tiptoe in an effort to reach a forbidden bowl of candy. Guilty, guilty, guilty; as if once again caught in the act of declaring her bogus independence at our one real Self’s expense,

I had slept poorly again, awake in the middle of the night pondering the meaning of what someone had said, a remark that seemed to have cut to the bone of my persistent sense of inadequacy, exposing a lifetime of failures to measure up in one way or another. My belief in sin seemingly reignited by an imaginary other’s imaginary words, its “power” once more all too real. A feeling of overwhelming paralysis in its presence all too palpable as I lay obsessing as insomniacs do over the many ways in which my sleeplessness would negatively impact my performance.

And yet the part of me that knows I am dreaming this so-called life as a discrete entity–the decision-making mind I have nurtured for years through practicing ACIM’s forgiveness of what never was–remained apart, conscious I had a choice to choose a different interpretation about the cause of my distress. Despite my anxious, exhausted state, these racing thoughts, I knew inner peace did not really depend on the body’s condition or the brain’s perceived assaults. But my mind was still split. A part of me I am out of touch with was apparently still too afraid of that unified, enlightened perspective to accept its solace. The disturbed minutes labored on, giving birth to hours before I drifted back into a fitful sleep.

But now I sat with the big blue book cracked open before me determined with all my conscious heart to remember my one real identity, know myself as our creator knows us, taste the forbidden (to the ego) fruit of unwavering invulnerability and true acceptance, hear the forgotten song of uninterrupted unity, and see my capital S Self reflected back at me through the eyes of the teacher of Love within instead of the teacher of fear. Genuinely once more longing to open to an awareness of our vast being unbridled by bodies, untainted by lies, closer and more certain than a body’s breath that will always, eventually and inevitably, fail us.

Although we assumed a flawed, finite, failure-prone identity when we decided to swallow the impossible dream of individuality and flee from our one, indivisible, non-dualistic nature, our sinlessness is guaranteed by God.

“… Over and over this must be repeated until it is accepted. It is true. Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God. Nothing can touch it, or change what God created as eternal. The self you made, evil and full of sin, is meaningless. Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God, and light and joy and peace abide in you.” (From paragraph 6)

Despite our failure to laugh at the “tiny, mad idea” that we could experience ourselves as other than the “oneness joined as one” the Course refers to, seamlessly fused with our creator, we remain essentially, eternally innocent. But we don’t know it. And a part of us we are not aware of doesn’t want to. A part of us we are not aware of wants to find its innocence in relationship to another’s guilt to prove that our experiment in individuality succeeded. We exist but it’s not our fault. It’s the person who made the remark, their failure to understand me, the thoughtless words chosen.

And yet, “My sinlessness is guaranteed by God.”

When I first read these words nine years ago they brought tears to my eyes, even though I had no idea what “sin” they were really referring to. No real understanding of the Course’s creation myth that explains our robotic compulsion to blame our lack of peace on external circumstances. I only knew I wanted to feel innocent for once in my life. I only knew I wanted to feel safe.

Today, I am not sure I understand them intellectually any better. And I still want more than anything I’m aware of to experience true innocence all the time. But that would mean setting the needs, judgments, stories, and interpretations of the unique physical and emotional body I identify with–however frail—aside for good. And a part of me I am not aware of is just not ready to do that yet all the time, not 100% convinced this reputed alternative Self has something better to offer. And yet, having tasted true innocence through my ongoing decisions to admit I am wrong about where the problem resides, to allow a wiser presence within to lead the way, I know my unwillingness will pass as my fear is undone through forgiveness.

And so, I stand back and watch myself trying to make the dream real. Alternately trying to project the idea of guilt over a crime that never happened on their body or my body to prove it had real effects. Seeking for light and joy less and less in an imaginary external world where it can never be found but still not always willing to rely on the certainty of my right-mind’s viewpoint. Still clinging to the guilty story of otherness realized as expressed in the trials and tribulations of Susan.

And yet, nothing you or I have done or failed to do, thought, or said has in any way affected our one and only Self-worth, guaranteed to be restored to our awareness through this moment-to-moment willingness to offer our perceived darkness to the light of our right mind in whatever form and for however long it seems to take. Simply allowing our secret, baseless fears to gradually fade into the nothingness from which they sprang with patience, humility, and a growing inability to judge our resistance to doing so harshly.

“You are what God created or what you made. One Self is true; the other is not there. Try to experience the unity of your one Self. Try to appreciate Its Holiness and the love from which It was created. Try not to interfere with the Self which God created as you, by hiding Its majesty behind the tiny idols of evil and sinfulness you have made to replace it. Let It come into Its Own. Here you are; This is You. And light and joy and peace abide in you because this is so.” (Paragraph 9)

Although A Course in Miracles is clearly a self-study program and the one relationship we are truly cultivating is with our eternally clear and loving right mind, a mentor can help Course students apply its gentle forgiveness practice in their lives. In one-on-one phone sessions I help students identify and transcend the ego’s resistance to healing our split mind through forgiveness. By joining with and listening to our loving inner teacher we learn to release the unconscious blocks we use to push unwavering, all-inclusive Love away and gradually awaken to our true, whole, eternally innocent  nature. For information on individual ACIM mentoring; please click on the mentoring tab on this site.

Check out the recent questions and answers to my Q & A page on this site and feel free to ask an ACIM-related question there.

My collection of personal essays, Extraordinary Ordinary Forgiveness, about practicing ACIM’s extraordinary forgiveness in ordinary life is a finalist in the 2012 National Indie Excellence Awards and is available on Amazon.  If you read and like the book, please consider posting a review on Amazon.

If you enjoy these posts and like fiction, you might enjoy my collection of linked short stories, Safe Haven, a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in the literary fiction category: I will be signing this book at the downtown Barnes & Noble here in Denver this Friday, December 7, along with 9 other 2012 Colorado Book Award finalists and winners as part of a benefit for Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book. Click here for details.


  1. How soothing is the true innocence we thought we abandoned! … and how silly we all are when we thought we could abandon it! Thanks for the great commentary, Susan on what we all know deep inside but choose to ignore; the transcending peace of total Innocence IS inevitable, despite our individual protestations to the contrary. 🙂

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