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When ACIM talks about guilt is it talking about guilt for things I’ve done or is it talking about guilt for separating from God or both?
In a practical sense both, not because they are the same, but because the personal thought system (ego) blends them.
In the world there are laws and moral codes that are set up for the civilized functioning of society. These laws and codes vary from culture to culture and over time. When you are a child adults are supposed to teach you the laws and codes of your culture and instill in you a social conscience that is bothered when you violate them. When you do violate them you make amends or “pay your debt to society”. In theory your conscience could be wiped clean. But the personal thought system in your mind will never allow you to have a clear conscience because it requires guilt to maintain itself in your mind.
Your mind’s natural state is limitlessness. In your identification with a personal self it is limited. So you are uncomfortable. You feel that something is “wrong”. All that is occurring is a mis-identification. It is only a mistake. And a mistake can be easily corrected. But to defend itself as your reality, the personal thought system needs you to believe that something real, not just a mistake, occurred. The personal thought system whispers in your subconscious that the feeling of “wrong” that you experience in your identification with it is “you have done something wrong”. Since the personal experience is the opposite of Truth (God) in every way you are guilty of attacking, separating from, or killing Truth.
So unconscious guilt is the personal thought system’s way of maintaining your belief in it. Your guilt is the “proof” that you have attacked Truth and that the personal self is real. You won’t look inward, where you would find Truth, because you think that if you look within you will find out what a horrible “sinner” you really are. Further, you don’t want to find Truth anyway because you think that It wants to get retribution on you for your attack on It.
So there is no personal thought system in your mind without guilt to defend it. And there is no guilt in your mind without the personal thought system to cause it. This is why you can only release your mind from guilt by releasing yourself from identifying with a personal thought system.
The idea that you have attacked Truth is not something that the personal thought system says to you directly. It is important to it that this idea stay buried in your subconscious so you won’t question it and undo it. One of its ways of dealing with your discomfort is to have you project away guilt and see it in others instead of in yourself. Of course, this does not really release you from the belief that guilt is real. It’s actually a way of keeping the belief in guilt in your subconscious. And if you see guilt as real anywhere, you believe that guilt is real in you.
But feelings of guilt are bound to rise to the surface anyway, especially since they are heavily reinforced by the world. So the personal thought system projects the source of guilt onto the personal self’s mistakes, imperfections, and limitations. This blending of social conscience and the personal self’s inevitable mistakes with the inherent guilt of the personal thought system serves three purposes: as something to which to point as the source of your guilt, as a way to spiritualize the personal self by giving its behavior spiritual significance, and to reinforce your fear of punishment from Truth.
So the way out of guilt is to question it when it comes up. Sort out what is social conscience and what is guilt. If you feel guilt, is it justified? Is Truth changed by the personal self’s imperfections and mistakes? This is impossible. Remind yourself that only the Truth in you is true. It is eternal, unchanging, and unchangeable. The personal identity is just a passing, imperfect, mistaken thought. It does not affect the Truth in you in any way.
You will know that you are undoing (forgiving) the guilt in your mind when you find that you can accept your mistakes and the mistakes of others as simply part of the limited, imperfect, and passing human experience. When you behave imperfectly you apologize, make correction or amends, and you let go of the situation. And when others make an apology, correction, or amends you accept it and let go of the situation. In fact, you will realize that no apology, correction, or amends was really required because nothing real has occurred. The Truth is untouched by anything that seems to happen in the world. So guilt is not real.