“The ego’s plan for salvation centers around holding grievances. It maintains that, if someone else spoke or acted differently, if some external circumstance or event were changed, you would be saved. Thus, the source of salvation is constantly perceived as outside yourself. Each grievance you hold is a declaration, and an assertion in which you believe, that says, “If this were different, I would be saved.” The change of mind necessary for salvation is thus demanded of everyone and everything except yourself.” (W-71.2:1-5)
In the beginning, we had a tiny mad idea, or wish, to be special. This wish quickly metastasized into a grievance or a resentment about our wish not being granted. Every grievance in the mind and in the world is a reflection of this original grievance, dressed up in different forms. This prevents the grievances from being seen as all the same. There is no order of magnitude in grievances. Presently, our choice is never about whether we accept the original grievance or not, but what form we prefer the grievance take. Nor do we question the entire premise of the idea of grievances.
“All questions asked within this world are but a way of looking, not a question asked. A question asked in hate cannot be answered, because it is an answer in itself. A double question asks and answers, both attesting the same thing in different form. The world asks but one question. It is this: “Of these illusions (grievances), which of them is true? Which ones establish peace and offer joy? And which can bring escape from all the pain of which this world is made?” Whatever form the question takes, its purpose is the same. It asks but to establish sin (separation) is real, and answers in the form of preference. “Which sin (form of separation) do you prefer? That is the one that you should choose.” (T-27.IV.4:1-11)
The distinction between grievances and wishes and will…
“Today we are considering the will you share with God. This is not the same as the ego’s idle wishes, out of which darkness and nothingness arise. The will you share with God has all the power of creation in it. The ego’s idle wishes are unshared, and therefore have no power at all. Its wishes are not idle in the sense that they can make a world of illusions in which your belief can be very strong. But they are idle indeed in terms of creation. They make nothing that is real.
Idle wishes and grievances are partners or co-makers in picturing the world you see. The wishes of the ego gave rise to it, and the ego’s need for grievances, which are necessary to maintain it, peoples it with figures that seem to attack you and call for “righteous” judgment.” (W-73.1:1–2:2)
In order to maintain the world we see, the ego needs grievances. Why? Because the world was made by our believing it. When we have a grievance or resentment or an “if only”about something, we first have to make the situation real. Why would we have a grievance about nothing, about something unreal?
Our temptation is always the temptation to make real. That is how we undo what we have made. We learn how not to make real what we have made, no matter what form it takes. That is what Jesus did. Even unto “death” he did not give into the temptation to “make it real.” He defeated the ego, the program of separation, by transcending it, by not making it real. He kept his focus on reality, on God.
Grievances are simply an invitation to make real. As are many other things. An emotional reaction is an invitation to make real. The prerequisite for having an emotional reaction is that you have made something real, have perceived it in a certain way and have had a reaction to it. Preference of outcome is an invitation to make real. In order to have a preference, we first have to make real the choices. Complaining is an invitation to make real. In order to complain we must think what we are complaining about is real. These activities all require “making it real” as a requisite of participation.
The ego does not care how you make it real, good or bad, as long as you make it real thereby always making the separation, the illusion real. “These fries are not salty enough.” What do I have to make real to believe that? The fries are real. The salt is real. My taste buds are real. My body is real. The person having the preference, doing the complaining is real. I am that person. The world that person lives in is real. I am that person living in that world because I am having that experience and that preference. There is such a thing as too little. There is such a thing as scarcity. Those fries are lacking. Since I am only ever talking about myself, then I am lacking. If I am lacking then I am not whole. If I am not whole then I am not perfect… And on and on we go until we arrive at the ego’s one and only destination, to which it is always diligently driving, the separation is real.
Under all of the entangled web of ego thoughts and beliefs that underpin the statement, “These fries are too salty,” lies the belief that the separation is real. We cannot believe, make real, the grievance without accepting all the underlying beliefs and premises. There are inseparable.
The same all or nothing concept applies to “making it real.” Illusions would be nothing if we had not accepted them as real.
“Anything in this world that you believe is good and valuable and worth striving for can hurt you, and will do so. Not because it has the power to hurt, but just because you have denied it is but an illusion, and made it real. And it is real to you. It is not nothing. And through its perceived reality has entered all the world of sick illusions. All belief in sin, in power of attack, in hurt and harm, in sacrifice and death, has come to you. For no one can make one illusion real, and still escape the rest. For who can choose to keep the ones that he prefers, and find the safety that the truth alone can give? Who can believe illusions are the same, and still maintain that even one is best?”(T-26.VI.1:1-9)
Let us look at a grievance, a resentment we might have towards a brother. It is not ultimately the grievance that is the problem, but our having made real our projection of guilt onto him resulting in him showing up as a blank, blank or blank. Then the ego distracts us with the grievance, the “if only.” If we ask for a miracle, we are asking for a way not to make real what we have made, ultimately the guilt, the idea of separation. By using this grievance for the Holy Spirit’s purpose of salvation, we can be given the next right thought or action, the miracle, that will support us in moving up the ladder of forgiveness.
The Holy Spirit might give us another way to look at the situation or a course quote to read or repeat or might even tell us to ignore the situation. The Holy Spirit may tell us to do something that might loosen the grip of the grievance. For those of you who have heard the Holy Spirit tell you to do something specific in the illusion, you know of what I speak. For those of you who have not yet, it is the best.
“Let me realize today that the problem is always some form of grievance that I would cherish. Let me also understand that the solution is always a miracle with which I let the grievance be replaced. Today I would remember the simplicity of salvation by reinforcing the lesson that there is one problem and one solution. The problem is a grievance; the solution is a miracle. And I invite the solution to come to me through my forgiveness of the grievance, and my welcome of the miracle that takes its place.” (W-90.1:2-6)
Letting go of grievances, of preference of outcome and even of complaining is all part of the forgiveness process or learning not to make real. These are all ego distractions to tempt us to make real. No matter where we are in our forgiveness practice, let us remember that in perceptionland we cannot “know” anything, none of us. We can only let ourselves, blind and deaf, be led, by the Holy Spirit, up the ladder of awareness home to God. What were concepts that supported us on the last rung of the ladder, may not be supporting us now. We may have to let them go. In all things, let the Holy Spirit lead the way. Be willing to release old ways of thinking about things at His behest. Each day come with empty hands to Him willing to be taught.
The importance of learning to let go of grievances…
“You who were created by love like itself can hold no grievances and know your Self. To hold a grievance is to forget who you are. To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body. To hold a grievance is to let the ego rule your mind and to condemn the body to death. Perhaps you do not yet fully realize just what holding grievances does to your mind. It seems to split you off from your Source and make you unlike Him. It makes you believe that He is like what you think you have become, for no one can conceive of his Creator as unlike himself.” (W-68.1:1-7)
“Perhaps it is not yet quite clear to you that each decision that you make is one between a grievance and a miracle. Each grievance stands like a dark shield of hate before the miracle it would conceal. And as you raise it up before your eyes, you will not see the miracle beyond. Yet all the while it waits for you in light, but you behold your grievances instead.” (W-78.1:1-4)
Finally. Our job is not to perceive the illusion differently with Holy Spirit, although that practice might support a student on the way up the ladder. Our job is to look, unabashedly at the darkness, and not make it real. We must look at what we have made, stripping away all the layers made to hide its core of fear, sin and guilt. Only then can we be free of it.
“As long as the illusion of hatred lasts, so long will love be an illusion to you. And then the only choice remaining possible is which illusion you prefer. There is no conflict in the choice between truth and illusion. Seen in these terms, no one would hesitate. But conflict enters the instant the choice seems to be one between illusions, but this choice does not matter. Where one choice is as dangerous as the other, the decision must be one of despair.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false. Every illusion is one of fear, whatever form it takes. And the attempt to escape from one illusion into another must fail. If you seek love outside yourself you can be certain that you perceive hatred within, and are afraid of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but only from its reality.” (T-16.IV.5:4–6:6)