Chapter Nine: The Correction of Error
III. Atonement as a Lesson in Sharing
9 Atonement is for all, because it is the way to undo the belief that anything is for you alone. To forgive is to overlook. Look, then, beyond error, and do not let your perception rest upon it, for you will believe what your perception holds. Accept as true only what your brother is if you would know yourself. Perceive what he is not, and you cannot know what you are because you see him falsely. Remember always that your identity is shared and that sharing is its reality.
10 You have a part to play in the Atonement, but the plan of the Atonement is beyond you. You do not know how to overlook errors, or you would not make them. It would merely be further error to think either that you do not make them or that you can correct them without a Guide to correction. And if you do not follow this Guide, your errors will not be corrected. The plan is not yours because of your limited ideas of what you are. This limitation is where all errors arise. The way to undo them, therefore, is not of you but for you.
11 The Atonement is a lesson in sharing which is given you because you have forgotten how to do it. The Holy Spirit merely reminds you of what is your natural ability. By reinterpreting the ability to attack, which you did make, into the ability to share, He translates what you have made into what God created. If you would accomplish this through Him, you cannot look on your abilities through the eyes of the ego or you will judge them as it does. All their harmfulness lies in its judgment. All their helpfulness lies in the judgment of the Holy Spirit.
12 The ego, too, has a plan of forgiveness because you are asking for one, though not of the right teacher. The ego's plan, of course, makes no sense and will not work. By following it, you will merely place yourself in an impossible situation to which the ego always leads you. The ego's plan is to have you see error clearly first and then overlook it. Yet how can you overlook what you have made real? By seeing it clearly, you have made it real and cannot overlook it.
13 This is where the ego is forced to appeal to "mysteries" and begins to insist that you must accept the meaningless to save yourself. Many have tried to do this in my name, forgetting that my words make perfect sense because they come from God. They are as sensible now as they ever were because they speak of ideas which are eternal. Forgiveness that is learned of me does not use fear to undo fear. Nor does it make real the unreal and then destroy it.
14 Forgiveness through the Holy Spirit lies simply in looking beyond error from the beginning and thus keeping it unreal for you. Do not let any belief in its realness enter your minds at all, or you will also believe that you must undo what you have made in order to be forgiven. What has no effect does not exist, and to the Holy Spirit, the effects of error are totally non-existent. By steadily and consistently canceling out all its effects everywhere and in all respects, He teaches that the ego does not exist and proves it. Follow His teaching in forgiveness then, because forgiveness is His function, and He knows how to fulfill it perfectly. That is what we meant when we once said that miracles are natural, and when they do not occur, something has gone wrong.
15 Miracles are merely the sign of your willingness to follow the Holy Spirit's plan of salvation in recognition of the fact that you do not know what it is. His work is not your function, and unless you accept this, you cannot learn what your function is. The confusion of functions is so typical of the ego that you should be quite familiar with it by now. The ego believes that all functions belong to it, even though it has no idea what they are. This is more than mere confusion. It is a particularly dangerous combination of grandiosity and confusion which makes it likely that the ego will attack anyone and anything for no reason at all. This is exactly what the ego does. It is totally unpredictable in its responses because it has no idea of what it perceives.
16 If one has no idea of what is happening, how appropriately can you expect him to react? You might still ask yourself, regardless of how you can account for the reactions, whether they place the ego in a very sound position as the guide for yours. It seems absurd to have to emphasize repeatedly that the ego's qualifications as a guide are singularly unfortunate and that it is a remarkably poor choice as a teacher of salvation. Yet this question, ridiculous as it seems, is really the crucial issue in the whole separation fantasy. Anyone who elects a totally insane guide must be totally insane himself.
17 It is not true that you do not know the guide is insane. You know it because I know it, and you have judged it by the same standard as I have. The ego literally lives on borrowed time, and its days are numbered. Do not fear the Last Judgment, but welcome it and do not wait, for the ego's time is borrowed from your eternity. This is the Second Coming, which was made for you as the First was created. The Second Coming is merely the return of sense. Can this possibly be fearful?
18 What can be fearful but fantasy, and no one turns to fantasy unless he despairs of finding satisfaction in reality. Yet it is certain that he will never find satisfaction in fantasy, so that his only hope is to change his mind about reality. Only if the decision that reality is fearful is wrong can God be right. And I assure you that God is right. Be glad, then, that you have been wrong, but this was only because you did not know who you were. Had you remembered, you could no more have been wrong than God can. The impossible can happen only in fantasy. When you search for reality in fantasies, you will not find it. The symbols of fantasy are of the ego, and of these you will find many. But do not look for meaning in them. They have no more meaning than the fantasies into which they are woven.
19 Fairy tales can be pleasant or fearful, pretty or ugly, but no one calls them true. Children may believe them, and so for a while the tales are true for them. Yet when reality dawns, the fantasies are gone. Reality has not gone in the meanwhile. The Second Coming is the awareness of reality, not its return. Behold, my children, reality is here. It belongs to you and me and God and is perfectly satisfying to all of us. Only this awareness heals because it is the awareness of truth.