ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 23

ACIM Text Reading for June 23

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

X. The Incorruptible Body

From the ego came sin and guilt and death, in opposition to life and innocence, and to the Will of God Himself. Where can such opposition lie but in the sick minds of the insane, dedicated to madness and set against the peace of Heaven? One thing is sure; God, Who created neither sin nor death, wills not that you be bound by them. He knows of neither sin nor its results. The shrouded figures in the funeral procession march not in honor of their Creator, Whose Will it is they live. They are not following His Will; they are opposing it.

And what is the black-draped body they would bury? A body which they dedicated to death, a symbol of corruption, a sacrifice to sin, offered to sin to feed upon and keep itself alive; a thing condemned, damned by its maker and lamented by every mourner who looks upon it as himself. You who believe you have condemned the Son of God to this are arrogant. But you who would release him are but honoring the Will of his Creator. The arrogance of sin, the pride of guilt, the sepulchre of separation, all are part of your unrecognized dedication to death. The glitter of guilt you laid upon the body would kill it. For what the ego loves, it kills for its obedience. But what obeys it not, it cannot kill.

You have another dedication that would keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose. The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. It is the result of a tiny, mad idea of corruption that can be corrected. For God has answered this insane idea with His Own; an Answer Which left Him not, and therefore brings the Creator to the awareness of every mind which heard His Answer and accepted It.

You who are dedicated to the incorruptible have been given through your acceptance, the power to release from corruption. What better way to teach the first and fundamental principle in a course on miracles than by showing you the one that seems to be the hardest can be accomplished first? The body can but serve your purpose. As you look on it, so will it seem to be. Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego’s goal.

Those who fear death see not how often and how loudly they call to it, and bid it come to save them from communication. For death is seen as safety, the great dark savior from the light of truth, the answer to the Answer, the silencer of the Voice That speaks for God. Yet the retreat to death is not the end of conflict. Only God’s Answer is its end. The obstacle of your seeming love for death that peace must flow across seems to be very great. For in it lie hidden all the ego’s secrets, all its strange devices for deception, all its sick ideas and weird imaginings. Here is the final end of union, the triumph of the ego’s making over creation, the victory of lifelessness on Life Itself.

Under the dusty edge of its distorted world the ego would lay the Son of God, slain by its orders, proof in his decay that God Himself is powerless before the ego’s might, unable to protect the life that He created against the ego’s savage wish to kill. My brother, child of our Father, this is a dream of death. There is no funeral, no dark altars, no grim commandments nor twisted rituals of condemnation to which the body leads you. Ask not release of it. But free it from the merciless and unrelenting orders you laid upon it, and forgive it what you ordered it to do. In its exaltation you commanded it to die, for only death could conquer life. And what but insanity could look upon the defeat of God, and think it real?

The fear of death will go as its appeal is yielded to love’s real attraction. The end of sin, which nestles quietly in the safety of your relationship, protected by your union with your brother, and ready to grow into a mighty force for God is very near. The infancy of salvation is carefully guarded by love, preserved from every thought that would attack it, and quietly made ready to fulfill the mighty task for which it was given you. Your newborn purpose is nursed by angels, cherished by the Holy Spirit and protected by God Himself. It needs not your protection; it is yours. For it is deathless, and within it lies the end of death.

What danger can assail the wholly innocent? What can attack the guiltless? What fear can enter and disturb the peace of sinlessness? What has been given you, even in its infancy, is in full communication with God and you. In its tiny hands it holds, in perfect safety, every miracle you will perform, held out to you. The miracle of life is ageless, born in time but nourished in eternity. Behold this infant, to whom you gave a resting place by your forgiveness of your brother, and see in it the Will of God. Here is the babe of Bethlehem reborn. And everyone who gives him shelter will follow him, not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life.

When anything seems to you to be a source of fear, when any situation strikes you with terror and makes your body tremble and the cold sweat of fear comes over it, remember it is always for one reason; the ego has perceived it as a symbol of fear, a sign of sin and death. Remember, then, that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves. Their meaning cannot lie in them, but must be sought in what they represent. And they may thus mean everything or nothing, according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect. Confronted with such seeming uncertainty of meaning, judge it not. Remember the holy Presence of the One given to you to be the Source of judgment. Give it to Him to judge for you, and say:

“Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.
Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.
Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace,
But let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming.”

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 23

Lesson 174

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(157) Into His Presence would I enter now.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(158) Today I learn to give as I receive.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #383: What does Ken mean when he says “Say not no to the ego” I believe this was said in an audio-tape series.

A: We are not saying “not no” to the ego. If it was stated this way on the tape, it was misspoken. The ego can be understood as a “no” to God, and to the Identity that God has given us as His innocent Son. Saying “not no” is a way of saying that we deny the reality of the ego’s thought system, and accept the truth of who we are as God’s Son. It means we do notsay no. This is related to the idea that A Course in Miracles is a process of unlearning who we are not, so that who we are can return to our awareness. The truth does not require any affirmative response on our part to be what it is — it only requires that we say “not no.”

The Course tells us that God established our identity as His innocent Son: “I am your Father and you are My Son”(W.pII.10.5:3). We have responded: “No, I am not; I am who I say I am.” And we have a long list of who we say we are. The process of forgiveness is teaching us to let go of all these concepts of the self, attributes of our made up identities, in this process we are saying “not no.”   When we have said “not” to all of our no’s, we will have cleared our minds of all the obstacles that blocked awareness of our true selves: “When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this: I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself. Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself” (T.31.V.17:5,6,7,8,9).


Q #384: I experience a free-floating anxiety or unsettled feeling sometimes after I read A Course in Miracles. This awareness doesn’t seem to have any content other than since I believe the truth of what I read, I should feel peaceful, not unsettled. Yet, what I read doesn’t seem to “stick” in my memory as something I can draw on. My life has been filled with beliefs that have filled my time with worldly concerns about who I am in relation to others and why I am afraid of money, etc. Since I started studying the Course again, I know my fears are not real and I don’t experience fear very often. I’ve experienced some deep feelings of peace and clarity lately and I wish this would become more frequent. I think perhaps I’m trying too hard or that I’m too focused on ME as being solely responsible to learn and not asking the Holy Spirit to help me learn what I need to learn. I’ve felt alone all my life – believing in God but as somehow separate from me.

A: To your right mind, the Course’s message is one that opens the door to peace. But to your ego, or wrong mind, the Course’s message will at some level be experienced as a threat, for the purpose of the Course is to teach us how to undo the ego. So long as you remain identified with your ego in any way — as all of us here continue to do — it is not surprising that you may at times experience anxiety or other unsettled feelings as you read the Course. And you are certainly not alone in finding your memory failing you when you want to be able to apply the Course’s principles, which you may have just been reading and studying five minutes earlier and now find you haven’t a clue as to what you were looking at. Anyone who has attempted to do the workbook lessons and remember them at various intervals throughout the day has found these lapses all too familiar. But again, the “forgetting” is simply an ego defense to protect itself from being undone. The preoccupation with the things of the world –our personal and bodily needs and concerns — is yet another form of defense that keeps us rooted in our ego identity, oblivious to the actual choice such a perception of ourselves represents.

We may know intellectually that our fears are not real and experience some peace as a result of this realization. But there are layers to our fear, so while we may move beyond fear of some of those old familiar monsters under the bed, we find there are others still lurking behind the shut doors of the closets of our minds, continuing to affect us until we are willing to open the doors and let the light shine on their nothingness. But there is no need to be concerned that they still linger for, again, that is to be expected until we get to the bottom of the layers of fear and release all the guilt that is concealed beneath them. And that is a process that for most of us will take time. So be patient with yourself and yes, please don’t forget that you are not alone in this process, that in fact you cannot do it alone, and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ever present in your mind, available to help you remember the way back home, which is where we have been all along, simply with the covers pulled over ourselves so we can’t see beyond the darkness we have hidden ourselves in (T.11.VIII.13,14; T.12.II.4,5).

health is inner peace

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 22

ACIM Text Reading for June 22

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

IX. The Third Obstacle: The Attraction of Death

To you and your brother, in whose special relationship the Holy Spirit entered, it is given to release and be released from the dedication to death. For it was offered you, and you accepted. Yet you must learn still more about this strange devotion, for it contains the third obstacle that peace must flow across. No one can die unless he chooses death. What seems to be the fear of death is really its attraction. Guilt, too, is feared and fearful. Yet it could have no hold at all except on those who are attracted to it and seek it out. And so it is with death. Made by the ego, its dark shadow falls across all living things, because the ego is the “enemy” of life.

And yet a shadow cannot kill. What is a shadow to the living? They but walk past and it is gone. But what of those whose dedication is not to live; the black-draped “sinners,” the ego’s mournful chorus, plodding so heavily away from life, dragging their chains and marching in the slow procession that honors their grim master, lord of death? Touch any one of them with the gentle hands of forgiveness, and watch the chains fall away, along with yours. See him throw aside the black robe he was wearing to his funeral, and hear him laugh at death. The sentence sin would lay upon him he can escape through your forgiveness. This is no arrogance. It is the Will of God. What is impossible to you who chose His Will as yours? What is death to you? Your dedication is not to death, nor to its master. When you accepted the Holy Spirit’s purpose in place of the ego’s you renounced death, exchanging it for life. We know that an idea leaves not its source. And death is the result of the thought we call the ego, as surely as life is the result of the Thought of God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 22

Lesson 173

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(155) I will step back and let Him lead the way.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(156) I walk with God in perfect holiness.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #437: There is one aspect of being a student of A Course in Miracles that just keeps nagging me. In answering Question #235 you stated that neither God nor Jesus intervenes in the world to fix problems. Does this mean that we are just on our own within the dream and have no one we can turn to for help? I understand the ultimate goal of the Course is to undo the dream, but while we are working toward that goal we are “stuck” within the dream and have things we have to accomplish just to be able to continue working with the Course. Is there really no help from within to assist us in doing what we need to do within the dream? A child may believe there is a monster under his bed, and he is terrified. An adult knows there is nothing under the bed, but he doesn’t just dismiss what the child believes and leave him comfortless. The adult does everything it can to make the child feel safe. I just find it difficult to believe that if I need something within the dream, even though to Jesus it may be just as unreal as the monster under that child’s bed, that I can’t get any help from him to accomplish what I need to do just to be able to continue within the dream.

A: Helen Schucman’s experience was that Jesus helped her with very specific things in her life, even with things that were not essential to her being able to “continue within the dream,” as you expressed it. There is nothing wrong in asking Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help with specifics, as Jesus explains in the “Ladder of Prayer” section in The Song of Prayer pamphlet. There he helps us understand what “asking-out-of-need” is all about. In fact, he says that “no one who is uncertain of his Identity can avoid praying in this way” (S.II.2:3). He just does not want us to stay at that level of relationship with either ourselves or him, because there is so much more that awaits us. He wants us to value his love above any specific form in which it may be reflected. In asking for help and comfort within the dream, you will not get stuck as long as you remember, among other things, that “the world was made that problems could not be escaped.” (T.31.IV.2:6). Our egos are sly and always seeking ways to join us in our study of the Course. And this would be one of its favorite ways: in the guise of prayer to reinforce our identity as real individuals with real needs in a real world, rekindling hope that we will yet be happy here. What will help you avoid this trap is to keep in mind that we are always dealing with symbols, symbols for dynamics in our minds that are outside time and space entirely. This is brought to light in Chapter 17 of Kenneth’s book, Absence from Felicity.

Having said this, though, it is still true that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not active in the world. That is the importance of understanding the metaphysics of the Course, particularly the symbolic nature of everything we experience within the illusion of separation, as is made clear in the chapter in Kenneth’s book just referred to. Our experience of Jesus, as well as of ourselves, will change as we identify less and less with the body, and as we take the differences we perceive among us less and less seriously. Jesus’ love will be associated less and less with answers to prayers for specifics, and more and more with the “song”: “Therefore, it is not the form of the question that matters, nor how it is asked. The form of the answer, if given by God, will suit your need as you see it. This is merely an echo of the reply of His Voice [the Holy Spirit]. The real sound is always a song of thanksgiving and of Love.…In true prayer you hear only the song. All the rest is merely added. You have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else has indeed been given you” (S.1.I.2:6,7,8,9; 3:4,5,6).

Finally, sometimes it helps to remember his reassuring words and simply trust that we will get through what seems like a very trying existence in this world: “You do not walk alone. God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless” (W.pII.ep.6:6,7,8).


Q #438: I have been wondering about a passage in A Course in Miracles that says that a conflict arises because a voice demands we obey. If we do obey, rage will follow because we will feel coerced, and if we don’t, that part of the mind will be outraged. Either way, rage will result. The Course says that this state is caused by a lack of love. My question regards my own experience. I have usually disobeyed that voice because of its cruel demanding way. I feel intense guilt because this voice reminds me that I hurt someone because I didn’t follow its instructions. So how should I feel about this voice that tells me I am wrong or I don’t deserve what I have because I didn’t follow its decree? I really need to know if I need to do anything to right the wrong because I really desperately want to get rid of all this and replace it with forgiveness.

A: The only voice that would cruelly demand obedience, or judge you in any way belongs to the ego. It is a voice that will always reflect the painful effects of having chosen to believe that the separation is real, that such a belief is a sin, guilt is justified, and punishment is inevitable. There is no resolution to this through retribution, or behavior of any kind. For a student of the Course, the only way out of its circuitous system of judgment and condemnation is to apply its principles as carefully and consistently as possible. There is no need to “do” anything else. That is how to listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit in a practical way, and only this will lead to freedom from guilt.

The passage you refer to, T.2.VI.5, is speaking about the conflict in the wrong mind. It is not contrasting the wrong mind with the right mind. It describes the insanity that follows a choice to identify with the ego thought system, and then to attempt to assuage the inevitable fear by controlling behavior, without making another choice in the mind. It is one of the ways the ego tries to have its cake and eat it, too: keep the thought of separation real, but get rid of the guilt and fear that go with it.

The passage says that “conflict is an expression of fear” (T.2.VI.7:1, italics ours); in other words, conflict is telling us that we have become afraid. In the same paragraph the Course goes on to say: “Fear arises from lack of love”(T.2.VI.7:6). Thus, fear is the result of the choice to be separate from love. Conflicted behavior and rage are the outcome when we choose separation, and then try to behave in a way that seems loving, convinced that in this way we will appease a punishing god. The bottom line in all of this is that it doesn’t work. The only thing that does work is to be honest about what we want. The process the Course leads us through can be effective only if learn to recognize all the ways our thoughts, beliefs, and acts show us the choice we have made in the mind to be separate, and then recognize the heavy price we pay (all the pain, anguish, and conflict experienced in our individual lives, and in the world). Jesus invites us to ask ourselves if we really want to pay this price for our individual, separate, and meaningless existence in the world. The process takes practice because we are so strongly attached to belief in our identity as bodies.

The Course is clear and uncompromising, but coercion of any kind is completely inconsistent with the gentleness and love of Jesus’ message. When the Course speaks of “obeying” the laws of the mind, it is not referring to a choice to be obedient or not, especially not forced obedience. It means that because “ideas leave not their source” (T.27.VII.13), a choice in the mind will have certain inevitable effects. In other words, the effect “obeys” the cause. The choice for separation always produces guilt and fear. It reinforces the ego thought system and belief in the identity of the body. The choice for the Holy Spirit’s correction (not coercion) results in peace, and allows the extension of love, which reinforces the truth of who we are. Eventually this will be all we truly want.

kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 21

ACIM Text Reading for June 21

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VIII. The Attraction of Pain

Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gives instead, without the limits that would hold its extension back, and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power, and use it for the Son of God’s release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your wish? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?

Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means, and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind, to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion that calls them forth, and therefore is compatible with them.

But think you which it is that is compatible with you. Here is your choice, and it is free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment, and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.

It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.

Is not this inevitable? Under fear’s orders the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego’s heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship that it keeps hidden, and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body’s pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, “It is death.”

Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this, and both also recognize that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himself? Who would accuse, make guilty and condemn himself?

The ego’s messages are always sent away from you, in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognizes that this is not so, but as the “enemy” of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom from attack.

Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin, and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body’s praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego’s rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.

It is not given to the ego’s disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received, to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way, and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 21

Lesson 172

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(153) In my defenselessness my safety lies.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(154) I am among the ministers of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #56: If on one level, as the Course suggests, we are responsible for our lives and our choices and deeds, why would I choose to be such a fool? Why wouldn’t all of us or most of us choose to enter this world as children of loving, spiritual, intelligent, wealthy and genetically sound parents?

A: Yes, if it’s really my choice, why indeed would I set things up so miserably for myself? The answer lies in understanding that my secret goal, kept hidden even from myself, is to be the victim of others in all of my relationships so that I never get in touch with the real cause of my misery. We think the world, beginning with our parents and continuing with all our subsequent relationships, is the cause of our pain and unhappiness. But it is not. The world and all of our relationships are only a clever, self-manufactured diversion to keep the real source of our unhappiness — our all-consuming desire that the separation be real, at any cost — hidden from ourselves. But why would we want to keep the real source hidden? The reason is that we value our individual, separate self more than all the love and happiness in the universe, and we’d even be willing to kill for it. But we’d rather not admit to that. Because if we did, then we might be more willing to let go of our identification with the ego and the special individual self that we each think we are. For what could our experience be but pain and unhappiness and lovelessness if we could in reality separate ourselves from Love?

We make up an external world, starting with our parents, out of all the guilt, pain, attack and murder that we have imagined in our mind — thoughts that seem very real and frightening to us once we seek to make the separation real. As the Course describes it, “The world you perceive is a world of separation. Perhaps you are willing to accept even death to deny your Father…it is governed by the desire to be unlike God…The world you made is therefore totally chaotic, governed by arbitrary and senseless ‘laws,’ and without meaning of any kind. For it is made out of what you do not want, projected from your mind because you are afraid of it” (T.12.III.9:1,2,5,6,7)

The world then is the effect and not the cause of how we feel, no matter how much we may have convinced ourselves otherwise. And so it follows, “If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically” (W.pI.23.2).

And so even if we could make the world and all of our relationships in any way we want, the building blocks are still the contents of the ego mind, and the goal remains the same — to see myself as a victim, with anyone but myself responsible for all my problems and how I feel. And that is what determines our experience in the world, regardless of the form the world may take, so long as the ego thought system remains our choice. As a result, even if I set it up to be the child of “loving, intelligent, wealthy and genetically sound parents”, I will still not be happy. And I will still find some reason to blame others, starting with my parents, for my unhappiness, until I’m ready to ask for another way. And that other way will involve looking within my own mind to uncover the blocks that I have placed there to the awareness of love’s presence, so that they can be removed (T.in.1:7). And the happiness I will then experience will have nothing to do with anything in the external world, including my parents.

awake & remember

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 20

ACIM Text Reading for June 20

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VII. The Second Obstacle: The Belief the Body is Valuable for What It Offers

We said that peace must first surmount the obstacle of your desire to get rid of it. Where the attraction of guilt holds sway, peace is not wanted. The second obstacle that peace must flow across, and closely related to the first, is the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers. For here is the attraction of guilt made manifest in the body, and seen in it.

This is the value that you think peace would rob you of. This is what you believe that it would dispossess, and leave you homeless. And it is this for which you would deny a home to peace. This “sacrifice” you feel to be too great to make, too much to ask of you. Is it a sacrifice, or a release? What has the body really given you that justifies your strange belief that in it lies salvation? Do you not see that this is the belief in death? Here is the focus of the perception of Atonement as murder. Here is the source of the idea that love is fear.

The Holy Spirit’s messengers are sent far beyond the body, calling the mind to join in holy communion and be at peace. Such is the message that I gave them for you. It is only the messengers of fear that see the body, for they look for what can suffer. Is it a sacrifice to be removed from what can suffer? The Holy Spirit does not demand you sacrifice the hope of the body’s pleasure; it has no hope of pleasure. But neither can it bring you fear of pain. Pain is the only “sacrifice” the Holy Spirit asks, and this He would remove.

Peace is extended from you only to the eternal, and it reaches out from the eternal in you. It flows across all else. The second obstacle is no more solid than the first. For you want neither to get rid of peace nor limit it. What are these obstacles that you would interpose between peace and its going forth but barriers you place between your will and its accomplishment? You want communion, not the feast of fear. You want salvation, not the pain of guilt. And you want your Father, not a little mound of clay, to be your home. In your holy relationship is your Father’s Son. He has not lost communion with Him, nor with himself. When you agreed to join your brother, you acknowledged this is so. This has no cost, but it has release from cost.

You have paid very dearly for your illusions, and nothing you have paid for brought you peace. Are you not glad that Heaven cannot be sacrificed, and sacrifice cannot be asked of you? There is no obstacle that you can place before our union, for in your holy relationship I am there already. We will surmount all obstacles together, for we stand within the gates and not outside. How easily the gates are opened from within, to let peace through to bless the tired world! Can it be difficult for us to walk past barriers together, when you have joined the limitless? The end of guilt is in your hands to give. Would you stop now to look for guilt in your brother?

Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look upon me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was. I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you you see within yourself?

From your holy relationship truth proclaims the truth, and love looks on itself. Salvation flows from deep within the home you offered to my Father and to me. And we are there together, in the quiet communion in which the Father and the Son are joined. O come ye faithful to the holy union of the Father and the Son in you! And keep you not apart from what is offered you in gratitude for giving peace its home in Heaven. Send forth to all the world the joyous message of the end of guilt, and all the world will answer. Think of your happiness as everyone offers you witness of the end of sin, and shows you that its power is gone forever. Where can guilt be, when the belief in sin is gone? And where is death, when its great advocate is heard no more?

Forgive me your illusions, and release me from punishment for what I have not done. So will you learn the freedom that I taught by teaching freedom to your brother, and so releasing me. I am within your holy relationship, yet you would imprison me behind the obstacles you raise to freedom, and bar my way to you. Yet it is not possible to keep away One Who is there already. And in Him it is possible that our communion, where we are joined already, will be the focus of the new perception that will bring light to all the world, contained in you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 20

Lesson 171

REVIEW V
Introduction

We now review again. This time we are ready to give more effort and more time to what we undertake. We recognize we are preparing for another phase of understanding. We would take this step completely, that we may go on again more certain, more sincere, with faith upheld more surely. Our footsteps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly and slowly on the road this course sets forth. But now we hasten on, for we approach a greater certainty, a firmer purpose and a surer goal.

Steady our feet, our Father. Let our doubts be quiet and our holy minds be still, and speak to us. We have no words to give to You. We would but listen to Your Word, and make it ours. Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him.

So do we bring our practicing to You. And if we stumble, You will raise us up. If we forget the way, we count upon Your sure remembering. We wander off, but You will not forget to call us back. Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk more certainly and quickly unto You. And we accept the Word You offer us to unify our practicing, as we review the thoughts that You have given us.

This is the thought which should precede the thoughts that we review. Each one but clarifies some aspect of this thought, or helps it be more meaningful, more personal and true, and more descriptive of the holy Self we share and now prepare to know again:

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

This Self alone knows Love. This Self alone is perfectly consistent in Its Thoughts; knows Its Creator, understands Itself, is perfect in Its knowledge and Its Love, and never changes from Its constant state of union with Its Father and Itself.

And it is this that waits to meet us at the journey’s ending. Every step we take brings us a little nearer. This review will shorten time immeasurably, if we keep in mind that this remains our goal, and as we practice it is this to which we are approaching. Let us raise our hearts from dust to life, as we remember this is promised us, and that this course was sent to open up the path of light to us, and teach us, step by step, how to return to the eternal Self we thought we lost.

I take the journey with you. For I share your doubts and fears a little while, that you may come to me who recognize the road by which all fears and doubts are overcome. We walk together. I must understand uncertainty and pain, although I know they have no meaning. Yet a savior must remain with those he teaches, seeing what they see, but still retaining in his mind the way that led him out, and now will lead you out with him. God’s Son is crucified until you walk along the road with me.

My resurrection comes again each time I lead a brother safely to the place at which the journey ends and is forgot. I am renewed each time a brother learns there is a way from misery and pain. I am reborn each time a brother’s mind turns to the light in him and looks for me. I have forgotten no one. Help me now to lead you back to where the journey was begun, to make another choice with me.

Release me as you practice once again the thoughts I brought to you from Him Who sees your bitter need, and knows the answer God has given Him. Together we review these thoughts. Together we devote our time and effort to them. And together we will teach them to our brothers. God would not have Heaven incomplete. It waits for you, as I do. I am incomplete without your part in me. And as I am made whole we go together to our ancient home, prepared for us before time was and kept unchanged by time, immaculate and safe, as it will be at last when time is done.

Let this review be then your gift to me. For this alone I need; that you will hear the words I speak, and give them to the world. You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands through which I save the world. The Self from which I call to you is but your own. To Him we go together. Take your brother’s hand, for this is not a way we walk alone. In him I walk with you, and you with me. Our Father wills His Son be one with Him. What lives but must not then be one with you?

Let this review become a time in which we share a new experience for you, yet one as old as time and older still. Hallowed your Name. Your glory undefiled forever. And your wholeness now complete, as God established it. You are His Son, completing His extension in your own. We practice but an ancient truth we knew before illusion seemed to claim the world. And we remind the world that it is free of all illusions every time we say:

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

With this we start each day of our review. With this we start and end each period of practice time. And with this thought we sleep, to waken once again with these same words upon our lips, to greet another day. No thought that we review but we surround with it, and use the thoughts to hold it up before our minds, and keep it clear in our rememberance throughout the day. And thus, when we have finished this review, we will have recognized the words we speak are true.

Yet are the words but aids, and to be used, except at the beginning and the end of practice periods, but to recall the mind, as needed, to its purpose. We place faith in the experience that comes from practice, not the means we use. We wait for the experience, and recognize that it is only here conviction lies. We use the words, and try and try again to go beyond them to their meaning, which is far beyond their sound. The sound grows dim and disappears, as we approach the Source of meaning. It is Here that we find rest.


Lesson 171

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(151) All things are echoes of the Voice for God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(152) The power of decision is my own.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #221: As I understand it, all things of form in this world, both animate and inanimate, are part of the Sonship, and all parts of the Sonship need to be in the real world for the Second Coming to occur. I know there really is only one mind, but within the illusion of separation there seems to be many split minds. Also, since I need only be concerned with the healing of my own mind, there seems to be a direct relationship between my body and my mind. Does each thing of form in this world of separation have a mind that needs to be healed? How can this be? I know some form of this question has been asked before, but I still don’t get it.

A: Yes, A Course in Miracles teaches that there really is only one mind, but we have the illusion of there being many split minds. The Second Coming is the collective return to awareness of our reality as the one Son of God; it is the complete healing of the mind of the Sonship.

This is extremely difficult to understand. In fact, it is impossible to understand if you are identified with your individual existence as a human being, because that identity was set up by the ego to block all understanding of the mind that is outside time and space, and which contains the key to understanding the origin of our existence as separated, fragmented beings. Very little in the Course will make sense if you try to relate it to your experience in the world. We all try to do that, of course, because that is our only reference point for understanding anything. That is why Jesus starts us out on that level, but if we stay on that level, where we still think of ourselves as physical/psychological beings in the world, we will not get very far with the Course. Once again, that is because we always try to understand it from a perspective within time and space, and Jesus is teaching us that that perspective was made to block us from getting back to our minds. It was made to proliferate problems and mysteries that would grab our attention and then occupy our attention completely, so that we would never realize it is all a defense against the truth.

Jesus is outside this limited perspective entirely, and he is training us — through the exercises in the workbook — to gradually let go of our way of perceiving, and replace it with his. As we get further along the path of this thought-reversal, these types of questions will disappear, because we will identify less and less with our separated existence, and therefore we will have first-hand experiences of a shared identity. We will be more attracted to oneness than to division and separation.


Q #222: For some time now I have been studying the “human relations” techniques as taught by Dale Carnegie in his best selling books and famous seminar. Carnegie teaches that I should always talk in terms of others’ interests, that I should never tell others they’re wrong (but should call attention to their mistakes indirectly), and that the only way to win an argument is not to have one. I had avoided using these techniques until quite recently because I had considered them to be quite manipulative. In the language of A Course in Miracles, I believed it could even be stated that such techniques are attempts to murder other people because they are attempts to control others and get from them what I want. But over the last few weeks I have been using these techniques consistently, and I have been stunned at how well they have worked!

It recently occurred to me that Carnegie’s human relations techniques ultimately reveal the investment most of us have in maintaining our specialness and our separateness. In fact, such techniques seem to be geared toward helping others reinforce their own specialness and separateness as well. But there have also been times I realize when I could not have dealt in a civil manner with some people without using the Carnegie techniques. For some people (myself among them, I’m sure), the idea that they are not special or separate is a fearful idea. Could it be that in some cases the Carnegie techniques could actually be a form of forgiveness, just as taking medication for an illness is a form of forgiveness?

A: What you are recognizing is a fundamental teaching of the Course: that purpose is everything (T.4.V.6:8,9,10,11; T.24.VII.6:1,2,3). One of the most significant contributions of the Course to the world’s spiritualities is that, rather than advocating denial and rejection of the ways of the world, it teaches that we can use what the ego has made for separation and attack to serve a different purpose — forgiveness. The key is to be willing to allow the specific forms to serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose rather than our own (T.6.V.A.2:4,5).

You have recognized that tools of manipulation and murder in the hands of the ego can become the means for seeing both your brother and yourself in a different light. But first, you must have made a decision to see both of you differently — as having shared rather than separate interests. Your intent has shifted from having your own needs met through controlling your brother to recognizing at some level that you both have the same need to be forgiven, to be seen in the light of true charity. So now, what was made to reinforce separation and specialness becomes a means for undoing them. As always, the value lies not in the specific technique or form, but in the purpose you are giving it.

The issue of purpose is addressed further in Question #57.

the journey to god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 19

ACIM Text Reading for June 19

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VI. The Attraction of Guilt

The attraction of guilt produces fear of love, for love would never look on guilt at all. It is the nature of love to look upon only the truth, for there it sees itself, with which it would unite in holy union and completion. As love must look past fear, so must fear see love not. For love contains the end of guilt, as surely as fear depends on it. Overlooking guilt completely, it sees no fear. Being wholly without attack, it could not be afraid. Fear is attracted to what love sees not, and each believes that what the other looks upon does not exist. Fear looks on guilt with just the same devotion that love looks on itself. And each has messengers which they send forth, and which return to them with messages written in the language in which their going forth was asked.

Love’s messengers are gently sent, and return with messages of love and gentleness. The messengers of fear are harshly ordered to seek out guilt, and cherish every scrap of evil and of sin that they can find, losing none of them on pain of death, and laying them respectfully before their lord and master. Perception cannot obey two masters, each asking for messages of different things in different languages. What fear would feed upon, love overlooks. What fear demands, love cannot even see. The fierce attraction that guilt holds for fear is wholly absent from love’s gentle perception. What love would look upon is meaningless to fear, and quite invisible.

Relationships in this world are the result of how the world is seen. And this depends on which emotion was called on to send its messengers to look upon it, and return with word of what they saw. Fear’s messengers are trained through terror, and they tremble when their master calls on them to serve him. For fear is merciless even to its friends. Its messengers steal guiltily away in hungry search of guilt, for they are kept cold and starving and made very vicious by their master, who allows them to feast only upon what they return to him. No little shred of guilt escapes their hungry eyes. And in their savage search for sin they pounce on any living thing they see, and carry it screaming to their master, to be devoured.

Send not these savage messengers into the world, to feast upon it and to prey upon reality. For they will bring you word of bones and skin and flesh. They have been taught to seek for the corruptible, and to return with gorges filled with things decayed and rotted. To them such things are beautiful, because they seem to allay their savage pangs of hunger. For they are frantic with pain of fear, and would avert the punishment of him who sends them forth by offering him what they hold dear.

The Holy Spirit has given you love’s messengers to send instead of those you trained through fear. They are as eager to return to you what they hold dear as are the others. If you send them forth, they will see only the blameless and the beautiful, the gentle and the kind. They will be as careful to let no little act of charity, no tiny expression of forgiveness, no little breath of love escape their notice. And they will return with all the happy things they found, to share them lovingly with you. Be not afraid of them. They offer you salvation. Theirs are the messages of safety, for they see the world as kind.

If you send forth only the messengers the Holy Spirit gives you, wanting no messages but theirs, you will see fear no more. The world will be transformed before your sight, cleansed of all guilt and softly brushed with beauty. The world contains no fear that you laid not upon it. And none you cannot ask love’s messengers to remove from it, and see it still. The Holy Spirit has given you His messengers to send to your brother and return to you with what love sees. They have been given to replace the hungry dogs of fear you sent instead. And they go forth to signify the end of fear.

Love, too, would set a feast before you, on a table covered with a spotless cloth, set in a quiet garden where no sound but singing and a softly joyous whispering is ever heard. This is a feast that honors your holy relationship, and at which everyone is welcomed as an honored guest. And in a holy instant grace is said by everyone together, as they join in gentleness before the table of communion. And I will join you there, as long ago I promised and promise still. For in your new relationship am I made welcome. And where I am made welcome, there I am.

I am made welcome in the state of grace, which means you have at last forgiven me. For I became the symbol of your sin, and so I had to die instead of you. To the ego sin means death, and so atonement is achieved through murder. Salvation is looked upon as a way by which the Son of God was killed instead of you. Yet no one can die for anyone, and death does not atone for sin. But you can live to show it is not real. The body does appear to be the symbol of sin while you believe that it can get you what you want. While you believe that it can give you pleasure, you will also believe that it can bring you pain. To think you could be satisfied and happy with so little is to hurt yourself, and to limit the happiness that you would have calls upon pain to fill your meager store and make your life complete. This is completion as the ego sees it. For guilt creeps in where happiness has been removed, and substitutes for it. Communion is another kind of completion, which goes beyond guilt, because it goes beyond the body.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 19

Lesson 170

There is no cruelty in God and none in me.

No one attacks without intent to hurt. This can have no exception. When you think that you attack in self-defense, you mean that to be cruel is protection; you are safe because of cruelty. You mean that you believe to hurt another brings you freedom. And you mean that to attack is to exchange the state in which you are for something better, safer, more secure from dangerous invasion and from fear.

How thoroughly insane is the idea that to defend from fear is to attack! For here is fear begot and fed with blood, to make it grow and swell and rage. And thus is fear protected, not escaped. Today we learn a lesson which can save you more delay and needless misery than you can possibly imagine. It is this:

You make what you defend against, and by your own
defense against it is it real and inescapable. Lay down
your arms, and only then do you perceive it false.

It seems to be the enemy without that you attack. Yet your defense sets up an enemy within; an alien thought at war with you, depriving you of peace, splitting your mind into two camps which seem wholly irreconcilable. For love now has an “enemy,” an opposite; and fear, the alien, now needs your defense against the threat of what you really are.

If you consider carefully the means by which your fancied self-defense proceeds on its imagined way, you will perceive the premises on which the idea stands. First, it is obvious ideas must leave their source, for it is you who make attack, and must have first conceived of it. Yet you attack outside yourself, and separate your mind from him who is to be attacked, with perfect faith the split you made is real.

Next, are the attributes of love bestowed upon its “enemy.” For fear becomes your safety and protector of your peace, to which you turn for solace and escape from doubts about your strength, and hope of rest in dreamless quiet. And as love is shorn of what belongs to it and it alone, love is endowed with attributes of fear. For love would ask you lay down all defense as merely foolish. And your arms indeed would crumble into dust. For such they are.

With love as enemy, must cruelty become a god. And gods demand that those who worship them obey their dictates, and refuse to question them. Harsh punishment is meted out relentlessly to those who ask if the demands are sensible or even sane. It is their enemies who are unreasonable and insane, while they are always merciful and just.

Today we look upon this cruel god dispassionately. And we note that though his lips are smeared with blood, and fire seems to flame from him, he is but made of stone. He can do nothing. We need not defy his power. He has none. And those who see in him their safety have no guardian, no strength to call upon in danger, and no mighty warrior to fight for them.

This moment can be terrible. But it can also be the time of your release from abject slavery. You make a choice, standing before this idol, seeing him exactly as he is. Will you restore to love what you have sought to wrest from it and lay before this mindless piece of stone? Or will you make another idol to replace it? For the god of cruelty takes many forms. Another can be found.

Yet do not think that fear is the escape from fear. Let us remember what the text has stressed about the obstacles to peace. The final one, the hardest to believe is nothing, and a seeming obstacle with the appearance of a solid block, impenetrable, fearful and beyond surmounting, is the fear of God Himself. Here is the basic premise which enthrones the thought of fear as god. For fear is loved by those who worship it, and love appears to be invested now with cruelty.

Where does the totally insane belief in gods of vengeance come from? Love has not confused its attributes with those of fear. Yet must the worshippers of fear perceive their own confusion in fear’s “enemy”; its cruelty as now a part of love. And what becomes more fearful than the Heart of Love Itself? The blood appears to be upon His Lips; the fire comes from Him. And He is terrible above all else, cruel beyond conception, striking down all who acknowledge Him to be their God.

The choice you make today is certain. For you look for the last time upon this bit of carven stone you made, and call it god no longer. You have reached this place before, but you have chosen that this cruel god remain with you in still another form. And so the fear of God returned with you. This time you leave it there. And you return to a new world, unburdened by its weight; beheld not in its sightless eyes, but in the vision that your choice restored to you.

Now do your eyes belong to Christ, and He looks through them. Now your voice belongs to God and echoes His. And now your heart remains at peace forever. You have chosen Him in place of idols, and your attributes, given by your Creator, are restored to you at last. The Call for God is heard and answered. Now has fear made way for love, as God Himself replaces cruelty.

Father, we are like You. No cruelty abides in us, for there is none in You. Your peace is ours. And we bless the world with what we have received from You alone. We choose again, and make our choice for all our brothers, knowing they are one with us. We bring them Your salvation as we have received it now. And we give thanks for them who render us complete. In them we see Your glory, and in them we find our peace. Holy are we because Your Holiness has set us free. And we give thanks. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #70: What we see and experience are the forms of the mortal mind. Is it right to think about forms of beauty in nature and art and all lovable things, as the underlying content of divine Mind?

A: A Course in Miracles actually teaches something different. There is nothing in the world of form that comes from the divine Mind, including the underlying content. This is the strict nondualism that is the core of the metaphysics of the Course. It is uncompromising on this level. The extension of God’s Love — known in the Course as creations — has no equivalent in the world. Therefore, to the extent to which we are identified with the world of form, we would not be able to understand what these creations are.

The world of form and everything we see and experience — whether beautiful or grotesque, lovable or repulsive — comes from the split mind, the post-separation mind that seems to have broken away from its oneness as a Thought in the Mind of God. This, of course, is all illusory, and is why the very first lesson in the workbook is “Nothing I see…means anything” and is followed by “I have given everything…all the meaning it has for me.”

The focus of the teachings and exercises in the Course is the mind rather than the outside world. The training is geared towards having us recognize that our perceptions are directly caused by the choice we make in our minds to identify either with the ego (our wrong mind) or the Holy Spirit (our right mind). Thus, we are taught that the world “is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5). This means that if we have chosen the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness to direct our thinking, this will be the content of all our perceptions. Then anything at all could be a source of inspiration to us and remind us of the truth and beauty of God. But this would not be because of some quality inherent in the form itself. A work of art or a beautiful scene in nature could inspire us and lift us out of our finite world only because a choice has already been made in our minds to let go of our investment in seeing separation and limitation as reality. The content of the divine Mind is pure Love, pure oneness, pure formlessness. Within the illusion, within the dream, we can experience the reflection of this in our minds, but again only because we have first denied the denial of truth, which removes the barriers to the awareness of the love that is always present in our minds.

The key is to regard everything we perceive as a symbol of either the Holy Spirit or the ego, remembering “that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves” (T.19.C.11:2).

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 18

ACIM Text Reading for June 18

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

V. The First Obstacle: The Desire to Get Rid of It

The first obstacle that peace must flow across is your desire to get rid of it. For it cannot extend unless you keep it. You are the center from which it radiates outward, to call the others in. You are its home; its tranquil dwelling place from which it gently reaches out, but never leaving you. If you would make it homeless, how can it abide within the Son of God? If it would spread across the whole creation, it must begin with you, and from you reach to everyone who calls, and bring him rest by joining you.

Why would you want peace homeless? What do you think that it must dispossess to dwell with you? What seems to be the cost you are so unwilling to pay? The little barrier of sand still stands between you and your brother. Would you reinforce it now? You are not asked to let it go for yourself alone. Christ asks it of you for Himself. He would bring peace to everyone, and how can He do this except through you? Would you let a little bank of sand, a wall of dust, a tiny seeming barrier, stand between your brothers and salvation? And yet, this little remnant of attack you cherish still against each other is the first obstacle the peace in you encounters in its going forth. This little wall of hatred would still oppose the Will of God, and keep it limited.

The Holy Spirit’s purpose rests in peace within you. Yet you are still unwilling to let it join you wholly. You still oppose the Will of God, just by a little. And that little is a limit you would place upon the whole. God’s Will is one, not many. It has no opposition, for there is none beside it. What you would still contain behind your little barrier and keep separate from your brother seems mightier than the universe, for it would hold back the universe and its Creator. This little wall would hide the purpose of Heaven, and keep it from Heaven.

Would you thrust salvation away from the giver of salvation? For such have you become. Peace could no more depart from you than from God. Fear not this little obstacle. It cannot contain the Will of God. Peace will flow across it, and join you without hindrance. Salvation cannot be withheld from you. It is your purpose. You cannot choose apart from this. You have no purpose apart from your brother, nor apart from the one you asked the Holy Spirit to share with you. The little wall will fall away so quietly beneath the wings of peace. For peace will send its messengers from you to all the world, and barriers will fall away before their coming as easily as those that you interpose will be surmounted.

To overcome the world is no more difficult than to surmount your little wall. For in the miracle of your holy relationship, without this barrier, is every miracle contained. There is no order of difficulty in miracles, for they are all the same. Each is a gentle winning over from the appeal of guilt to the appeal of love. How can this fail to be accomplished, wherever it is undertaken? Guilt can raise no real barriers against it. And all that seems to stand between you must fall away because of the appeal you answered. From you who answered, He Who answered you would call. His home is in your holy relationship. Do not attempt to stand between Him and His holy purpose, for it is yours. But let Him quietly extend the miracle of your relationship to everyone contained in it as it was given.

There is a hush in Heaven, a happy expectancy, a little pause of gladness in acknowledgment of the journey’s end. For Heaven knows you well, as you know Heaven. No illusions stand between you now. Look not upon the little wall of shadows. The sun has risen over it. How can a shadow keep you from the sun? No more can you be kept by shadows from the light in which illusions end. Every miracle is but the end of an illusion. Such was the journey; such its ending. And in the goal of truth which you accepted must all illusions end.

The little insane wish to get rid of Him Whom you invited in and push Him out must produce conflict. As you look upon the world, this little wish, uprooted and floating aimlessly, can land and settle briefly upon anything, for it has no purpose now. Before the Holy Spirit entered to abide with you it seemed to have a mighty purpose; the fixed and unchangeable dedication to sin and its results. Now it is aimless, wandering pointlessly, causing no more than tiny interruptions in love’s appeal.

This feather of a wish, this tiny illusion, this microscopic remnant of the belief in sin, is all that remains of what once seemed to be the world. It is no longer an unrelenting barrier to peace. Its pointless wandering makes its results appear to be more erratic and unpredictable than before. Yet what could be more unstable than a tightly organized delusional system? Its seeming stability is its pervasive weakness, which extends to everything. The variability the little remnant induces merely indicates its limited results.

How mighty can a little feather be before the great wings of truth? Can it oppose an eagle’s flight, or hinder the advance of summer? Can it interfere with the effects of summer’s sun upon a garden covered by snow? See but how easily this little wisp is lifted up and carried away, never to return, and part with it in gladness, not regret. For it is nothing in itself, and stood for nothing when you had greater faith in its protection. Would you not rather greet the summer sun than fix your gaze upon a disappearing snowflake, and shiver in remembrance of the winter’s cold?

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 18

Lesson 169

By grace I live. By grace I am released.

Grace is an aspect of the Love of God which is most like the state prevailing in the unity of truth. It is the world’s most lofty aspiration, for it leads beyond the world entirely. It is past learning, yet the goal of learning, for grace cannot come until the mind prepares itself for true acceptance. Grace becomes inevitable instantly in those who have prepared a table where it can be gently laid and willingly received; an altar clean and holy for the gift.

Grace is acceptance of the Love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear. By grace alone the hate and fear are gone, for grace presents a state so opposite to everything the world contains, that those whose minds are lighted by the gift of grace can not believe the world of fear is real.

Grace is not learned. The final step must go beyond all learning. Grace is not the goal this course aspires to attain. Yet we prepare for grace in that an open mind can hear the Call to waken. It is not shut tight against God’s Voice. It has become aware that there are things it does not know, and thus is ready to accept a state completely different from experience with which it is familiarly at home.

We have perhaps appeared to contradict our statement that the revelation of the Father and the Son as One has been already set. But we have also said the mind determines when that time will be, and has determined it. And yet we urge you to bear witness to the Word of God to hasten the experience of truth, and speed its advent into every mind that recognizes truth’s effects on you.

Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is.

We cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all. It comes to every mind when total recognition that its will is God’s has been completely given and received completely. It returns the mind into the endless present, where the past and future cannot be conceived. It lies beyond salvation; past all thought of time, forgiveness and the holy face of Christ. The Son of God has merely disappeared into his Father, as his Father has in him. The world has never been at all. Eternity remains a constant state.

This is beyond experience we try to hasten. Yet forgiveness, taught and learned, brings with it the experiences which bear witness that the time the mind itself determined to abandon all but this is now at hand. We do not hasten it, in that what you will offer was concealed from Him Who teaches what forgiveness means.

All learning was already in His Mind, accomplished and complete. He recognized all that time holds, and gave it to all minds that each one might determine, from a point where time was ended, when it is released to revelation and eternity. We have repeated several times before that you but make a journey that is done.

For oneness must be here. Whatever time the mind has set for revelation is entirely irrelevant to what must be a constant state, forever as it always was; forever to remain as it is now. We merely take the part assigned long since, and fully recognized as perfectly fulfilled by Him Who wrote salvation’s script in His Creator’s Name, and in the Name of His Creator’s Son.

There is no need to further clarify what no one in the world can understand. When revelation of your oneness comes, it will be known and fully understood. Now we have work to do, for those in time can speak of things beyond, and listen to words which explain what is to come is past already. Yet what meaning can the words convey to those who count the hours still, and rise and work and go to sleep by them?

Suffice it, then, that you have work to do to play your part. The ending must remain obscure to you until your part is done. It does not matter. For your part is still what all the rest depends on. As you take the role assigned to you, salvation comes a little nearer each uncertain heart that does not beat as yet in tune with God.

Forgiveness is the central theme that runs throughout salvation, holding all its parts in meaningful relationships, the course it runs directed and its outcome sure. And now we ask for grace, the final gift salvation can bestow. Experience that grace provides will end in time, for grace foreshadows Heaven, yet does not replace the thought of time but for a little while.

The interval suffices. It is here that miracles are laid; to be returned by you from holy instants you receive, through grace in your experience, to all who see the light that lingers in your face. What is the face of Christ but his who went a moment into timelessness, and brought a clear reflection of the unity he felt an instant back to bless the world? How could you finally attain to it forever, while a part of you remains outside, unknowing, unawakened, and in need of you as witness to the truth?

Be grateful to return, as you were glad to go an instant, and accept the gifts that grace provided you. You carry them back to yourself. And revelation stands not far behind. Its coming is ensured. We ask for grace, and for experience that comes from grace. We welcome the release it offers everyone. We do not ask for the unaskable. We do not look beyond what grace can give. For this we can give in the grace that has been given us.

Our learning goal today does not exceed this prayer. Yet in the world, what could be more than what we ask this day of Him Who gives the grace we ask, as it was given Him?

By grace I live. By grace I am released.
By grace I give. By grace I will release.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #7: How does one forgive oneself? I have a pen pal in prison who is new to the Course. He is in prison for assaulting his girlfriend. He says he is learning to forgive others but not himself. He is angry and ashamed of himself for hurting her. I can see his actions as a “call for love,” a mistake to be corrected and not a sin to be punished. He no doubt was a victim who became a victimizer, and keeps reliving it now. I would tell him to let it go — “Brother, choose again.” But could I say this to myself? I have dealt with depression most of my life and guilt is a familiar companion. My ego’s accusations seem overwhelming when I do one thing wrong. I see when I project my guilt onto others and I know it’s not helpful to blame and accuse myself when I judge others. But what if I really hurt someone else in some way? I could try to make amends and move on, but I don’t think my ego would let me off the hook that easily. I seem only to be able to release myself from guilt by experiencing pain for the length of time my ego dictates. I know there has to be “another way.” Why am I kind to others and mean to myself? To top it all off, I seek my addictions to get some relief from the pain of the guilt, and then I feel guilty for indulging in the addiction. I need a way out of this. Can we project guilt onto ourselves as well as others? I know I will come to understand why I don’t love myself and why I even hate myself at times. I am still learning. It is ironic that, as my friend in prison is trying to forgive himself, I am in my own prison trying to do the same.

A: It does seem that as we learn more and more to release others from the projections of our own guilt, we then feel stuck with the guilt ourselves. Jesus tells us that “as blame is withdrawn from without, there is a strong tendency to harbor it within” (T.11.IV.4:5). But he goes on to say, “It is difficult at first to realize that this is exactly the same thing, for there is no distinction between within and without” (4:6), and then, “Blame must be undone, not seen elsewhere” (5:3). So how do we do that?

The question you raise, “How does one forgive oneself?”, is a good one, but it is actually the wrong question. Because we are still so strongly identified with our egos, we can not forgive ourselves, at least not by ourselves (i.e., on our own, which is the ego state). That is why we need Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or whatever nonjudgmental symbol of love and acceptance we feel comfortable with, to look with us at our “sins”. We need someone outside of our guilt-based thought system who knows the truth about who we really are, to whom we can give our guilt, once we have uncovered it and recognized its purpose and its cost. We believe that we are bodies that can hurt and be hurt by each other. Jesus knows we are spirit, the guiltless Son of God who is incapable of attack. We don’t believe that and in fact we don’t want to believe it, because we still want the separation and our own individuality to be real. And so the forgiveness process must involve joining with someone or something outside of ourselves, such as Jesus, who knows separation and attack and guilt are not real. We are incapable of this realization on our own, by definition.

The ego, as you are experiencing it for yourself, tells us that we need to atone for our sins through suffering and sacrifice. But that only reinforces our belief that our guilt is real and that God is a punishing God who seeks revenge for our very real sins. And all of our attempts then to gain release through expiation are just forms of magic that fail to address the real problem in the mind. We need to understand that the problem is not the guilt we believe we are experiencing for our transgressions here in the world. Those “sins” are really deliberate distractions, serving the purpose of keeping our focus here in the world, looking for magical solutions to release our guilt (e.g., making amends) or to avoid experiencing it (e.g., addictions). But these only prevent us from looking deeper into our mind to the real source of all of our pain and guilt (and everyone else’s) — the belief that we have not only separated ourselves from our loving Source, but that we have been willing to kill Him, to destroy Love, to be on our own. However, if we can join with a reflection of that Love, such as Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and look at our self-accusations with their loving presence beside us, we will have to realize at some level that we have not destroyed love. And in that recognition, real forgiveness — for what has never happened — is possible, dissolving all guilt and releasing us from our self-imposed prison. And then whatever action or behavior, if any, may be most helpful and healing in response to our so-called transgressions against others in the world will simply flow through us.

*

Q #8: When we try to look at our ego, shall we look without judgment at the problems of the world or shall we only realize, that we choose the ego? Or is this the same?

A: Your questions presuppose that one can choose the ego and look without judgment, which is only possible if one is in a state of denial. The ego knows only judgment, which is based on its fundamental mistake of making the error real. What you want to do is live your life by paying attention to what you think and how you feel. If you find yourself getting angry, fearful, gleeful, etc. from problems in the world, whether personal or general, recognize that you have chosen the ego. It is this recognition that is the “looking.” You look at your ego’s choices with Jesus beside you. You look without judgment as illustrated in this quote:

Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it (T.18.I.6:7,8,9).

Remembering that the ego is a choice, you simply acknowledge the choice you have made without giving it power to take away your peace.

this is practical course

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 17

ACIM Text Reading for June 17

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

IV. The Obstacles to Peace

As peace extends from deep inside yourself to embrace all the Sonship and give it rest, it will encounter many obstacles. Some of them you will try to impose. Others will seem to arise from elsewhere; from your brothers, and from various aspects of the world outside. Yet peace will gently cover them, extending past completely unencumbered. The extension of the Holy Spirit’s purpose from your relationship to others, to bring them gently in, will quietly extend to every aspect of your lives, surrounding each of you with glowing happiness and the calm awareness of complete protection. And you will carry its message of love and safety and freedom to everyone who draws nigh unto your temple, where healing waits for him. You will not wait to give him this, for you will call to him and he will answer you, recognizing in your call the Call for God. And you will draw him in and give him rest, as it was given you.

All this will you do. Yet the peace that already lies deeply within must first expand, and flow across the obstacles you placed before it. This will you do, for nothing undertaken with the Holy Spirit remains unfinished. You can indeed be sure of nothing you see outside you, but of this you can be sure: The Holy Spirit asks that you offer Him a resting place where you will rest in Him. He answered you, and entered your relationship. Would you not now return His graciousness, and enter into a relationship with Him? For it is He who offered your relationship the gift of holiness, without which it would have been forever impossible to appreciate your brother.

The gratitude you owe to Him He asks but that you receive for Him. And when you look with gentle graciousness upon your brother, you are beholding Him. For you are looking where He is, and not apart from Him. You cannot see the Holy Spirit, but you can see your brothers truly. And the light in them will show you all that you need to see. When the peace in you has been extended to encompass everyone, the Holy Spirit’s function here will be accomplished. What need is there for seeing, then? When God has taken the last step Himself, the Holy Spirit will gather all the thanks and gratitude that you have offered Him, and lay them gently before His Creator in the name of His most holy Son. And the Father will accept them in His Name. What need is there of seeing, in the presence of His gratitude?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 17

Lesson 168

Your grace is given me. I claim it now.

God speaks to us. Shall we not speak to Him? He is not distant. He makes no attempt to hide from us. We try to hide from Him, and suffer from deception. He remains entirely accessible. He loves His Son. There is no certainty but this, yet this suffices. He will love His Son forever. When his mind remains asleep, He loves him still. And when his mind awakes, He loves him with a never-changing Love.

If you but knew the meaning of His Love, hope and despair would be impossible. For hope would be forever satisfied; despair of any kind unthinkable. His grace His answer is to all despair, for in it lies remembrance of His Love. Would He not gladly give the means by which His Will is recognized? His grace is yours by your acknowledgment. And memory of Him awakens in the mind that asks the means of Him whereby its sleep is done.

Today we ask of God the gift He has most carefully preserved within our hearts, waiting to be acknowledged. This the gift by which God leans to us and lifts us up, taking salvation’s final step Himself. All steps but this we learn, instructed by His Voice. But finally He comes Himself, and takes us in His Arms and sweeps away the cobwebs of our sleep. His gift of grace is more than just an answer. It restores all memories the sleeping mind forgot; all certainty of what Love’s meaning is.

God loves His Son. Request Him now to give the means by which this world will disappear, and vision first will come, with knowledge but an instant later. For in grace you see a light that covers all the world in love, and watch fear disappear from every face as hearts rise up and claim the light as theirs. What now remains that Heaven be delayed an instant longer? What is still undone when your forgiveness rests on everything?

It is a new and holy day today, for we receive what has been given us. Our faith lies in the Giver, not our own acceptance. We acknowledge our mistakes, but He to Whom all error is unknown is yet the One Who answers our mistakes by giving us the means to lay them down, and rise to Him in gratitude and love.

And He descends to meet us, as we come to Him. For what He has prepared for us He gives and we receive. Such is His Will, because He loves His Son. To Him we pray today, returning but the word He gave to us through His Own Voice, His Word, His Love:

Your grace is given me. I claim it now. Father, I come
to You. And You will come to me who ask.
I am the Son You love.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #545: A Course in Miracles speaks about the “incorruptible body” (T.19.IV.C.i), saying that it is possible to “keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose.” Is the Course actually telling us that we can achieve a state (within the world of illusion) in which our body will remain in perfect physical condition as long as we remain here? Is this part of the condition we are able to achieve as we move closer to the real world, perhaps one of the characteristics of what the Course calls the “Happy Learner” in chapter 14, ii? If we had a completely disease free and healthy body, then we could be drawn toward reality motivated by a genuine desire to regain our awareness of our Father rather than being “driven” by physical pain and fear. Would you please comment on all this?

A: Sorry, but that’s not what Jesus means here. It could appear to happen that way in form in some individual cases, but you can never judge anything real by form. If you read the next few sentences after the line you cite, it is clear that Jesus is not describing what happens to the body itself: “The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing” (T.19.IV.C.5:2,3,4,5). He is simply saying that we will no longer see our bodies serving the purpose of corruption. The body will no longer be corrupted by the guilt of the ego thought system, for we will know that the ego’s guilt is not true. And even though the body may change in form, appearing to age and even become disabled or diseased, if there is no thought of sickness or death — guilt — in the mind, these changes in form will have no connotations of death and sickness to us — “The body can but serve your purpose. As you look on it, so will it seem to be” (T.19.IV.C.6:3,4).

What happened to Jesus’ body at the end of his earthly “life” illustrates this principle. His body did not represent any thought of death or disease or pain in his mind, since his mind was free of guilt. He did not use his body to reinforce a belief in sin and victimization in his mind (T.6.I.5) — and so it remained incorruptible in his perception, despite how its form may have seemed to change. He did not allow it to be corrupted in his thinking by making it a symbol of accusation against others.

We can also see the Course’s discussion here of the incorruptible body as a correction for the glorified, resurrected body that Christian doctrine teaches Jesus’ physical resurrection has assured all of his faithful followers. As he says of his own body earlier in this section: “Yet would I offer you my body, you whom I love, knowing its littleness? Or would I teach that bodies cannot keep us apart? Mine was of no greater value than yours…. To think you could be satisfied and happy with so little is to hurt yourself” (T.19.IV.A.17:5,6,7,12).

One final point of clarification: it is not physical pain or fear that drive us either toward or away from an awareness of our Father. The body, as nothing, feels nothing, as we noted above. All pain and fear are in the mind and it is here that they must be addressed and released. The body only returns to the mind the messages that the mind first wants and then sends out (T.19.IV.A.10,11,12,13,14,15).

*

Q #506: In T.19:D:1:4 of A Course in Miracles, Jesus refers to the Divine Abstraction as: “The Creator of life, the Source of everything that lives, the Father of the universe and of the universe of universes, and of everything that lies even beyond them….” I would appreciate your helping me to understand why this particular wording of “universe of universes” has been chosen, since the universe and everything that appears to ‘live’ is a fabrication of our minds.

A: Throughout the Course, Jesus uses symbols and the language of duality because that is what we understand. Since he knows how terrified we are of God and of our truth, his use of specific words is a loving and gentle way to lead us beyond our fear. He speaks to us of bodies, toys, houses, cities, money; all the things we believe are real and to which we cling. He uses words to describe the indescribable: Heaven, God, totality, oneness, timelessness. He speaks in poetic terms of experiences that are beyond words. While the form varies, the content is always a loving message.

The passage you quote is a poetic way of telling us that as Father of the universe of spirit, of Christ and His creations, God is everything. If we were ready to accept the truth of who God is and who we are, we would not need A Course in Miracles, or it would be sufficient to say: “Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say ‘God is,’ and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself” (W.pI.169.5:1,2,3,4,5).

Because we are fiercely attached to our belief in separation and our identity as bodies, we need the truth to be presented to us in a variety of ways, over and over, so we can grasp its meaning and find our way through the labyrinth of confusion our upside-down thinking has fabricated. That is why the basic principles of the Course are repeated in many different ways, and the message of God’s Love for us is expressed in poetic, inspiring words intended to help us past our fear.

sun of god guiltless

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 16

ACIM Text Reading for June 16

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

III. The Unreality of Sin

The attraction of guilt is found in sin, not error. Sin will be repeated because of this attraction. Fear can become so acute that the sin is denied the acting out. But while the guilt remains attractive the mind will suffer, and not let go of the idea of sin. For guilt still calls to it, and the mind hears it and yearns for it, making itself a willing captive to its sick appeal. Sin is an idea of evil that cannot be corrected, and yet will be forever desirable. As an essential part of what the ego thinks you are, you will always want it. And only an avenger, with a mind unlike your own, could stamp it out through fear.

The ego does not think it possible that love, not fear, is really called upon by sin, and always answers. For the ego brings sin to fear, demanding punishment. Yet punishment is but another form of guilt’s protection, for what is deserving punishment must have been really done. Punishment is always the great preserver of sin, treating it with respect and honoring its enormity. For what you think is real you want, and will not let it go.

An error, on the other hand, is not attractive. What you see clearly as a mistake you want corrected. Sometimes a sin can be repeated over and over, with obviously distressing results, but without the loss of its appeal. And suddenly, you change its status from a sin to a mistake. Now you will not repeat it; you will merely stop and let it go, unless the guilt remains. For then you will but change the form of sin, granting that it was an error, but keeping it uncorrectable. This is not really a change in your perception, for it is sin that calls for punishment, not error.

The Holy Spirit cannot punish sin. Mistakes He recognizes, and would correct them all as God entrusted Him to do. But sin He knows not, nor can He recognize mistakes that cannot be corrected. For a mistake that cannot be corrected is meaningless to Him. Mistakes are for correction, and they call for nothing else. What calls for punishment must call for nothing. Every mistake must be a call for love. What, then, is sin? What could it be but a mistake you would keep hidden; a call for help that you would keep unheard and thus unanswered?

In time, the Holy Spirit clearly sees the Son of God can make mistakes. On this you share His vision. Yet you do not share His recognition of the difference between time and eternity. And when correction is completed, time is eternity. The Holy Spirit can teach you how to look on time differently and see beyond it, but not while you believe in sin. In error, yes, for this can be corrected by the mind. But sin is the belief that your perception is unchangeable, and that the mind must accept as true what it is told through it. If it does not obey, the mind is judged insane. The only power that could change perception is thus kept impotent, held to the body by the fear of changed perception which its Teacher, Who is one with it, would bring.

When you are tempted to believe that sin is real, remember this: If sin is real, Both God and you are not. If creation is extension, the Creator must have extended Himself, and it is impossible that what is part of Him is totally unlike the rest. If sin is real, God must be at war with Himself. He must be split, and torn between good and evil; partly sane and partially insane. For He must have created what wills to destroy Him, and has the power to do so. Is it not easier to believe that you have been mistaken than to believe in this?

While you believe that your reality or your brother’s is bounded by a body, you will believe in sin. While you believe that bodies can unite, you will find guilt attractive and believe that sin is precious. For the belief that bodies limit mind leads to a perception of the world in which the proof of separation seems to be everywhere. And God and His creation seem to be split apart and overthrown. For sin would prove what God created holy could not prevail against it, nor remain itself before the power of sin. Sin is perceived as mightier than God, before which God Himself must bow, and offer His creation to its conqueror. Is this humility or madness?

If sin is real, it must forever be beyond the hope of healing. For there would be a power beyond God’s, capable of making another will that could attack His Will and overcome it; and give His Son a will apart from His, and stronger. And each part of God’s fragmented creation would have a different will, opposed to His, and in eternal opposition to Him and to each other. Your holy relationship has, as its purpose now, the goal of proving this is impossible. Heaven has smiled upon it, and the belief in sin has been uprooted in its smile of love. You see it still, because you do not realize that its foundation has gone. Its source has been removed, and so it can be cherished but a little while before it vanishes. Only the habit of looking for it still remains.

And yet you look with Heaven’s smile upon your lips, and Heaven’s blessing on your sight. You will not see sin long. For in the new perception the mind corrects it when it seems to be seen, and it becomes invisible. Errors are quickly recognized and quickly given to correction, to be healed, not hidden. You will be healed of sin and all its ravages the instant that you give it no power over your brother. And you will help each other overcome mistakes by joyously releasing one another from the belief in sin.

In the holy instant, you will see the smile of Heaven shining on both of you. And you will shine upon each other, in glad acknowledgment of the grace that has been given you. For sin will not prevail against a union Heaven has smiled upon. Your perception was healed in the holy instant Heaven gave you. Forget what you have seen, and raise your eyes in faith to what you now can see. The barriers to Heaven will disappear before your holy sight, for you who were sightless have been given vision, and you can see. Look not for what has been removed, but for the glory that has been restored for you to see.

Look upon your Redeemer, and behold what He would show you in your brother, and let not sin arise again to blind your eyes. For sin would keep you separate, but your Redeemer would have you look upon your brother as yourself. Your relationship is now a temple of healing; a place where all the weary ones can come and rest. Here is the rest that waits for all, after the journey. And it is brought nearer to all by your relationship.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 16

Lesson 167

There is one life, and that I share with God.

There are not different kinds of life, for life is like the truth. It does not have degrees. It is the one condition in which all that God created share. Like all His Thoughts, it has no opposite. There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One.

In this world, there appears to be a state that is life’s opposite. You call it death. Yet we have learned that the idea of death takes many forms. It is the one idea which underlies all feelings that are not supremely happy. It is the alarm to which you give response of any kind that is not perfect joy. All sorrow, loss, anxiety and suffering and pain, even a little sigh of weariness, a slight discomfort or the merest frown, acknowledge death. And thus deny you live.

You think that death is of the body. Yet it is but an idea, irrelevant to what is seen as physical. A thought is in the mind. It can be then applied as mind directs it. But its origin is where it must be changed, if change occurs. Ideas leave not their source. The emphasis this course has placed on that idea is due to its centrality in our attempts to change your mind about yourself. It is the reason you can heal. It is the cause of healing. It is why you cannot die. Its truth established you as one with God.

Death is the thought that you are separate from your Creator. It is the belief conditions change, emotions alternate because of causes you cannot control, you did not make, and you can never change. It is the fixed belief ideas can leave their source, and take on qualities the source does not contain, becoming different from their own origin, apart from it in kind as well as distance, time and form.

Death cannot come from life. Ideas remain united to their source. They can extend all that their source contains. In that, they can go far beyond themselves. But they can not give birth to what was never given them. As they are made, so will their making be. As they were born, so will they then give birth. And where they come from, there will they return.

The mind can think it sleeps, but that is all. It cannot change what is its waking state. It cannot make a body, nor abide within a body. What is alien to the mind does not exist, because it has no source. For mind creates all things that are, and cannot give them attributes it lacks, nor change its own eternal, mindful state. It cannot make the physical. What seems to die is but the sign of mind asleep.

The opposite of life can only be another form of life. As such, it can be reconciled with what created it, because it is not opposite in truth. Its form may change; it may appear to be what it is not. Yet mind is mind, awake or sleeping. It is not its opposite in anything created, nor in what it seems to make when it believes it sleeps.

God creates only mind awake. He does not sleep, and His creations cannot share what He gives not, nor make conditions which He does not share with them. The thought of death is not the opposite to thoughts of life. Forever unopposed by opposites of any kind, the Thoughts of God remain forever changeless, with the power to extend forever changelessly, but yet within themselves, for they are everywhere.

What seems to be the opposite of life is merely sleeping. When the mind elects to be what it is not, and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while. It dreams of time; an interval in which what seems to happen never has occurred, the changes wrought are substanceless, and all events are nowhere. When the mind awakes, it but continues as it always was.

Let us today be children of the truth, and not deny our holy heritage. Our life is not as we imagine it. Who changes life because he shuts his eyes, or makes himself what he is not because he sleeps, and sees in dreams an opposite to what he is? We will not ask for death in any form today. Nor will we let imagined opposites to life abide even an instant where the Thought of life eternal has been set by God Himself.

His holy home we strive to keep today as He established it, and wills it be forever and forever. He is Lord of what we think today. And in His Thoughts, which have no opposite, we understand there is one life, and that we share with Him, with all creation, with their thoughts as well, whom He created in a unity of life that cannot separate in death and leave the Source of life from where it came.

We share one life because we have one Source, a Source from which perfection comes to us, remaining always in the holy minds which He created perfect. As we were, so are we now and will forever be. A sleeping mind must waken, as it sees its own perfection mirroring the Lord of life so perfectly it fades into what is reflected there. And now it is no more a mere reflection. It becomes the thing reflected, and the light which makes reflection possible. No vision now is needed. For the wakened mind is one that knows its Source, its Self, its Holiness.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #30: I play computer games, which I really like to do. I believe I have to quit playing these games one day, because I want the Holy Spirit’s alternative. There is another distraction I cherish, which is even an addiction. The addiction pulls me completely out of right-mindedness; it is a kick, a thrill, but with many side effects, disadvantages, the burden of anticipation etc. When I really look at it with Jesus, I do not want it anymore. And this is still not what I choose (up until now). There is an unwillingness to let go of these things. That they conflict with the Course…[Jesus] went shoe shopping with Helen for awhile, but then also advised her to let it go.

A: Keep in mind that this is a process, and that it takes a long time for most of us. Patience and gentleness with ourselves are key parts of this process; otherwise, we fall into the ego’s trap of making the error real. An important piece of advice Jesus gives us at the beginning of the “Rules for Decision” is: Do not fight yourself” (T-30.I.1:7). Therefore, the most helpful approach would be to simply look at your reluctance to accept the Holy Spirit’s alternative, and your feeling that Jesus’ love is not enough for you, and then not condemn yourself for feeling that way. Just continue to be honest with yourself and with Jesus about how much you do notwant to believe and accept what this Course is teaching you, and then don’t judge yourself for it. You will be practicing the Course in a very effective way if you can do this. That is what forgiveness is all about. You will be learning that the “sin” you have accused yourself of has had no effect, and that it was only a “tiny, mad idea” that has not changed love in any way.

Jesus is always and only interested in purpose. Thus, Helen was ready to change the purposeof her shopping sprees. She no longer needed to “protect” herself from Jesus’ love; therefore, she did not need to go shopping anymore. When our fear of accepting Jesus’ love lessens, our involvement in our defenses against accepting that love will lessen as well. While the specific activities may still be a part of our lives, their purpose will have changed entirely. It is always content, not form. The experience of peace or conflict has nothing to do with the activity or object itself. Peace and conflict are the result of our having chosen our ego or Jesus as our teacher.

Finally, speaking in general with regard to addictions: It often is necessary to deal with the behavior first — to take whatever steps can be taken to curtail or stop the destructive behavior. This would reflect the mind’s decision to be more loving towards oneself and others. Then, when the behavior is more under control, the person can begin to deal with the cause of the addiction in the mind. Addictions most often are rooted in overwhelming self-hatred and guilt, which then gets projected onto one’s own and/or another’s body.


Q #31: Please explain how one is to interpret sin. What is it? Does it exist or not? Can one substitute the words “lack of love” when reading the text? Thank you

A: If you were to ask the ego to interpret sin, it’s meaning would be death (T.19.IV.A.17:3), while the Holy Spirit’s meaning would be a mistake to be corrected (e.g., T.19.II, III). The Course teaches us that to the ego sin is the death of God, or better yet the murder of God, and we are the murderers. Therefore, separation is a symbol of God’s death. We are reminded of our sin daily, whenever we see ourselves and others as separate, which is the only way we can see because the ego made the body to “see” this way. However, our attitude can yet be one of unity, even though our bodies’ eyes still see separation. This is one way the Holy Spirit can use what the ego made to serve another purpose (T.28.I.2:8).

Practically speaking, if we are identified with the ego, we interpret sin to be whatever takes away our peace, and the sinners we perceive outside ourselves are those who take it. No matter how big or small the situation, anything which “robs” us of our peace is called sin. It may even be ourselves who take away our own peace, but inevitably someone else made us this way, so we are once again made sinless.

As to whether sin exists or not, the Course teaches us that the separation never happened (M.2.2:6,8). And since separation is the entire foundation of the ego’s meaning of sin, then indeed it does not exist.

Finally, substituting “lack of love” will not necessarily have the same impact on a student as “sin.” We all have conscious and unconscious beliefs around the word “sin,” and by substituting other words for it, we deny ourselves the opportunity of forgiving all the associations we have made. “Lack of love” as a substitute makes it sound as if we are “lacking in love,” something which, of course, would not be our fault. Words such as “withholding,” or “selfish,” would be more in tune with what we really believe sin means.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 15

ACIM Text Reading for June 15

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

II. Sin versus Error

It is essential that error be not confused with sin, and it is this distinction that makes salvation possible. For error can be corrected, and the wrong made right. But sin, were it possible, would be irreversible. The belief in sin is necessarily based on the firm conviction that minds, not bodies, can attack. And thus the mind is guilty, and will forever so remain unless a mind not part of it can give it absolution. Sin calls for punishment as error for correction, and the belief that punishment is correction is clearly insane.

Sin is not an error, for sin entails an arrogance which the idea of error lacks. To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and guilt is justified. It assumes the Son of God is guilty, and has thus succeeded in losing his innocence and making himself what God created not. Thus is creation seen as not eternal, and the Will of God open to opposition and defeat. Sin is the grand illusion underlying all the ego’s grandiosity. For by it God Himself is changed, and rendered incomplete.

The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannot sin. There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way, nor make him really guilty. That is what sin would do, for such is its purpose. Yet for all the wild insanity inherent in the whole idea of sin, it is impossible. For the wages of sin is death, and how can the immortal die?

A major tenet in the ego’s insane religion is that sin is not error but truth, and it is innocence that would deceive. Purity is seen as arrogance, and the acceptance of the self as sinful is perceived as holiness. And it is this doctrine that replaces the reality of the Son of God as his Father created him, and willed that he be forever. Is this humility? Or is it, rather, an attempt to wrest creation away from truth, and keep it separate?

Any attempt to reinterpret sin as error is always indefensible to the ego. The idea of sin is wholly sacrosanct to its thought system, and quite unapproachable except with reverence and awe. It is the most “holy” concept in the ego’s system; lovely and powerful, wholly true, and necessarily protected with every defense at its disposal. For here lies its “best” defense, which all the others serve. Here is its armor, its protection, and the fundamental purpose of the special relationship in its interpretation.

It can indeed be said the ego made its world on sin. Only in such a world could everything be upside down. This is the strange illusion that makes the clouds of guilt seem heavy and impenetrable. The solidness that this world’s foundation seems to have is found in this. For sin has changed creation from an Idea of God to an ideal the ego wants; a world it rules, made up of bodies, mindless and capable of complete corruption and decay. If this is a mistake, it can be undone easily by truth. Any mistake can be corrected, if truth be left to judge it. But if the mistake is given the status of truth, to what can it be brought? The “holiness” of sin is kept in place by just this strange device. As truth it is inviolate, and everything is brought to it for judgment. As a mistake, it must be brought to truth. It is impossible to have faith in sin, for sin is faithlessness. Yet it is possible to have faith that a mistake can be corrected.

There is no stone in all the ego’s embattled citadel that is more heavily defended than the idea that sin is real; the natural expression of what the Son of God has made himself to be, and what he is. To the ego, this is no mistake. For this is its reality; this is the “truth” from which escape will always be impossible. This is his past, his present and his future. For he has somehow managed to corrupt his Father, and change His Mind completely. Mourn, then, the death of God, Whom sin has killed! And this would be the ego’s wish, which in its madness it believes it has accomplished.

Would you not rather that all this be nothing more than a mistake, entirely correctable, and so easily escaped from that its whole correction is like walking through a mist into the sun? For that is all it is. Perhaps you would be tempted to agree with the ego that it is far better to be sinful than mistaken. Yet think you carefully before you allow yourself to make this choice. Approach it not lightly, for it is the choice of hell or Heaven.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 15

Lesson 166

I am entrusted with the gifts of God.

All things are given you. God’s trust in you is limitless. He knows His Son. He gives without exception, holding nothing back that can contribute to your happiness. And yet, unless your will is one with His, His gifts are not received. But what would make you think there is another will than His?

Here is the paradox that underlies the making of the world. This world is not the Will of God, and so it is not real. Yet those who think it real must still believe there is another will, and one that leads to opposite effects from those He wills. Impossible indeed; but every mind that looks upon the world and judges it as certain, solid, trustworthy and true believes in two creators; or in one, himself alone. But never in one God.

The gifts of God are not acceptable to anyone who holds such strange beliefs. He must believe that to accept God’s gifts, however evident they may become, however urgently he may be called to claim them as his own, is to be pressed to treachery against himself. He must deny their presence, contradict the truth, and suffer to preserve the world he made.

Here is the only home he thinks he knows. Here is the only safety he believes that he can find. Without the world he made is he an outcast; homeless and afraid. He does not realize that it is here he is afraid indeed, and homeless, too; an outcast wandering so far from home, so long away, he does not realize he has forgotten where he came from, where he goes, and even who he really is.

Yet in his lonely, senseless wanderings, God’s gifts go with him, all unknown to him. He cannot lose them. But he will not look at what is given him. He wanders on, aware of the futility he sees about him everywhere, perceiving how his little lot but dwindles, as he goes ahead to nowhere. Still he wanders on in misery and poverty, alone though God is with him, and a treasure his so great that everything the world contains is valueless before its magnitude.

He seems a sorry figure; weary, worn, in threadbare clothing, and with feet that bleed a little from the rocky road he walks. No one but has identified with him, for everyone who comes here has pursued the path he follows, and has felt defeat and hopelessness as he is feeling them. Yet is he really tragic, when you see that he is following the way he chose, and need but realize Who walks with him and open up his treasures to be free?

This is your chosen self, the one you made as a replacement for reality. This is the self you savagely defend against all reason, every evidence, and all the witnesses with proof to show this is not you. You heed them not. You go on your appointed way, with eyes cast down lest you might catch a glimpse of truth, and be released from self-deception and set free.

You cower fearfully lest you should feel Christ’s touch upon your shoulder, and perceive His gentle hand directing you to look upon your gifts. How could you then proclaim your poverty in exile? He would make you laugh at this perception of yourself. Where is self-pity then? And what becomes of all the tragedy you sought to make for him whom God intended only joy?

Your ancient fear has come upon you now, and justice has caught up with you at last. Christ’s hand has touched your shoulder, and you feel that you are not alone. You even think the miserable self you thought was you may not be your Identity. Perhaps God’s Word is truer than your own. Perhaps His gifts to you are real. Perhaps He has not wholly been outwitted by your plan to keep His Son in deep oblivion, and go the way you chose without your Self.

God’s Will does not oppose. It merely is. It is not God you have imprisoned in your plan to lose your Self. He does not know about a plan so alien to His Will. There was a need He did not understand, to which He gave an Answer. That is all. And you who have this Answer given you have need no more of anything but this.

Now do we live, for now we cannot die. The wish for death is answered, and the sight that looked upon it now has been replaced by vision which perceives that you are not what you pretend to be. One walks with you Who gently answers all your fears with this one merciful reply, “It is not so.” He points to all the gifts you have each time the thought of poverty oppresses you, and speaks of His Companionship when you perceive yourself as lonely and afraid.

Yet He reminds you still of one thing more you had forgotten. For His touch on you has made you like Himself. The gifts you have are not for you alone. What He has come to offer you, you now must learn to give. This is the lesson that His giving holds, for He has saved you from the solitude you sought to make in which to hide from God. He has reminded you of all the gifts that God has given you. He speaks as well of what becomes your will when you accept these gifts, and recognize they are your own.

The gifts are yours, entrusted to your care, to give to all who chose the lonely road you have escaped. They do not understand they but pursue their wishes. It is you who teach them now. For you have learned of Christ there is another way for them to walk. Teach them by showing them the happiness that comes to those who feel the touch of Christ, and recognize God’s gifts. Let sorrow not tempt you to be unfaithful to your trust.

Your sighs will now betray the hopes of those who look to you for their release. Your tears are theirs. If you are sick, you but withhold their healing. What you fear but teaches them their fears are justified. Your hand becomes the giver of Christ’s touch; your change of mind becomes the proof that who accepts God’s gifts can never suffer anything. You are entrusted with the world’s release from pain.

Betray it not. Become the living proof of what Christ’s touch can offer everyone. God has entrusted all His gifts to you. Be witness in your happiness to how transformed the mind becomes which chooses to accept His gifts, and feel the touch of Christ. Such is your mission now. For God entrusts the giving of His gifts to all who have received them. He has shared His joy with you. And now you go to share it with the world.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #946: It’s my understanding that in A Course in Miracles , Jesus is speaking to our mind not to our brain. It’s also my understanding that there is only one mind. So how can we collectively do anything if there is only one mind and we don’t exist? For example, how do we collectively dream a tsunami or any other disaster such as war?

A: To answer your questions, let’s start by thinking about how nighttime dreams work. In nighttime dreams, there seem to be various people interacting with each other. But when you wake up, you realize that it was all going on inside your head. All the characters in your dream were created, scripted, and directed by your imagination. No matter how many characters appeared, or how real they seemed, in the morning you open your eyes and find that there is still only one of you.

Similarly, A Course in Miracles makes it clear that in reality, outside of this dream of time and space, we remain in Heaven as a “Oneness joined as One” (T.25.I.7). Unfortunately, we have covered this truth over with several layers of illusion, making it virtually impossible for us to understand how this could be so. But the Course helps us understand it by explaining that it all began with one thought of separation. That thought seemed to birth a mind that was separate from its Creator — a state the mind found both thrilling and terrifying. These feelings pushed the one mind to fall more deeply asleep, seeming to fragment into billions of pieces and wind up in this world of multiplicity. But each fragment, born of a single thought, retained the entire thought system of the one mind from which it came. And so, as fragments, we can have individual (and quite different) experiences of being in this world. Yet, fragmented from the same Source, we share an experience of how this world works, and the events that take place within it.

You are correct that in the Course, Jesus is addressing our mind not our brain. But he is not appealing to the one mind which, being already one, does not need the message of the Course. Instead, Jesus speaks to our individual split minds. As the Course makes clear, each of us has three parts to our mind: the ego, the Holy Spirit, and the decision maker, which chooses between the two. Jesus’ purpose in writing his course was to remind us that we can shift from the ego to the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. And so he is really speaking to the decision making part of our mind because that is the part that can make the shift. Like the one mind, the decision maker is outside of time and space. But the choices the decision maker makes determine whether we will use this dream world as a prison or as a classroom for awakening to our true home in Heaven.

When the decision maker chooses the Holy Spirit, we automatically begin to reflect the oneness of Heaven in our thoughts, words, and actions. This is because, as the Course says, ” It is the Holy Spirit’s function to teach you how this oneness is experienced, what you must do that it can be experienced, and where you should go to do it” (T.25.I.6:4). And so the process the Course lays out for us is really one of gradually awakening to our oneness. At the very end of the journey, we will find that even the one mind is an illusion as we at last accept that “nowhere does the Father end [and] the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4).

For a related discussion about the paradox of one mind and separate consciousness, please see Question #127: If there is only one Mind, why do I perceive myself as unique?


Q #947: A Course in Miracles tells me to withdraw from my ego goals, that the ego self is not my real self, and that to disengage from the ego is the only road to peace and joy. I want to do this, but I also want the money. How do I reconcile the two?

A: We will answer your question, but whom should we bill for the service? 🙂

Seriously, though, believe it or not, you do not have to reconcile the two. The Course does not ask us to give up anything we are still attached to. In fact, it states, “It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world…You have need to use the symbols of the world a while” (W.pI.184.9:1,2). Certainly money is one of the most potent symbols in this world. The fact that you have a special relationship with it hardly places you in a unique position. But the fact that you are willing to be honest about it gives you a wonderful opportunity to do what the Course actually advises. That means inviting the Holy Spirit to simply look at it with you. In other words, ask Him to help you watch all your financial transactions without judging or justifying them.

Remember that the Course tells us “the Holy Spirit uses special relationships, which you have chosen to support the ego, as learning experiences that point to truth. Under His teaching, every relationship becomes a lesson in love” (T.15.V.4:5). So you do not want to give up special relationships because they are the very things the Holy Spirit can use to heal your mind. Where there is a special relationship (in other words, a history of the ego running the show), there is always the presence of guilt and fear. And that certainly describes the feelings most of us have – – consciously or unconsciously — around money. So the first lesson in love the Holy Spirit might give you about money could be to have compassion for your own fear-based attachment to it. And since guilt and fear are the ego’s bread and butter, that is the beginning of withdrawing from the ego. As that happens, you will gradually find yourself feeling a greater sense of ease around money, regardless of what is happening externally.

So to summarize: When it comes to switching from the ego to the Holy Spirit, you do not have to make any withdrawals until you lose interest. And when you cannot find your balance, let Jesus reconcile the difference.

hostage or host

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 14

ACIM Text Reading for June 14

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

I. Healing and Faith

We said before that when a situation has been dedicated wholly to truth, peace is inevitable. Its attainment is the criterion by which the wholeness of the dedication can be safely assumed. Yet we also said that peace without faith will never be attained, for what is dedicated to truth as its only goal is brought to truth by faith. This faith encompasses everyone involved, for only thus the situation is perceived as meaningful and as a whole. And everyone must be involved in it, or else your faith is limited and your dedication incomplete.

Every situation, properly perceived, becomes an opportunity to heal the Son of God. And he is healed because you offered faith to him, giving him to the Holy Spirit and releasing him from every demand your ego would make of him. Thus do you see him free, and in this vision does the Holy Spirit share. And since He shares it He has given it, and so He heals through you. It is this joining Him in a united purpose that makes this purpose real, because you make it whole. And this is healing. The body is healed because you came without it, and joined the Mind in which all healing rests.

The body cannot heal, because it cannot make itself sick. It needs no healing. Its health or sickness depends entirely on how the mind perceives it, and the purpose that the mind would use it for. It is obvious that a segment of the mind can see itself as separated from the Universal Purpose. When this occurs the body becomes its weapon, used against this Purpose, to demonstrate the “fact” that separation has occurred. The body thus becomes the instrument of illusion, acting accordingly; seeing what is not there, hearing what truth has never said and behaving insanely, being imprisoned by insanity.

Do not overlook our earlier statement that faithlessness leads straight to illusions. For faithlessness is the perception of a brother as a body, and the body cannot be used for purposes of union. If, then, you see your brother as a body, you have established a condition in which uniting with him becomes impossible. Your faithlessness to him has separated you from him, and kept you both apart from being healed. Your faithlessness has thus opposed the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and brought illusions, centered on the body, to stand between you. And the body will seem to be sick, for you have made of it an “enemy” of healing and the opposite of truth.

It cannot be difficult to realize that faith must be the opposite of faithlessness. Yet the difference in how they operate is less apparent, though it follows directly from the fundamental difference in what they are. Faithlessness would always limit and attack; faith would remove all limitations and make whole. Faithlessness would interpose illusions between the Son of God and his Creator; faith would remove all obstacles that seem to rise between them. Faithlessness is wholly dedicated to illusions; faith wholly to truth. Partial dedication is impossible. Truth is the absence of illusion; illusion the absence of truth. Both cannot be together, nor perceived in the same place. To dedicate yourself to both is to set up a goal forever impossible to attain, for part of it is sought through the body, thought of as a means for seeking out reality through attack. The other part would heal, and therefore calls upon the mind and not the body.

The inevitable compromise is the belief that the body must be healed, and not the mind. For this divided goal has given both an equal reality, which could be possible only if the mind is limited to the body and divided into little parts of seeming wholeness, but without connection. This will not harm the body, but it will keep the delusional thought system in the mind. Here, then, is healing needed. And it is here that healing is. For God gave healing not apart from sickness, nor established remedy where sickness cannot be. They are together, and when they are seen together, all attempts to keep both truth and illusion in the mind, where both must be, are recognized as dedication to illusion; and given up when brought to truth, and seen as totally irreconcilable with truth, in any respect or in any way.

Truth and illusion have no connection. This will remain forever true, however much you seek to connect them. But illusions are always connected, as is truth. Each is united, a complete thought system, but totally disconnected to each other. And to perceive this is to recognize where separation is, and where it must be healed. The result of an idea is never separate from its source. The idea of separation produced the body and remains connected to it, making it sick because of the mind’s identification with it. You think you are protecting the body by hiding this connection, for this concealment seems to keep your identification safe from the “attack” of truth.

If you but understood how much this strange concealment has hurt your mind, and how confused your own identification has become because of it! You do not see how great the devastation wrought by your faithlessness, for faithlessness is an attack that seems to be justified by its results. For by withholding faith you see what is unworthy of it, and cannot look beyond the barrier to what is joined with you.

To have faith is to heal. It is the sign that you have accepted the Atonement for yourself, and would therefore share it. By faith, you offer the gift of freedom from the past, which you received. You do not use anything your brother has done before to condemn him now. You freely choose to overlook his errors, looking past all barriers between yourself and him, and seeing them as one. And in that one you see your faith is fully justified. There is no justification for faithlessness, but faith is always justified.

Faith is the opposite of fear, as much a part of love as fear is of attack. Faith is the acknowledgment of union. It is the gracious acknowledgment of everyone as a Son of your most loving Father, loved by Him like you, and therefore loved by you as yourself. It is His Love that joins you, and for His Love you would keep no one separate from yours. Each one appears just as he is perceived in the holy instant, united in your purpose to be released from guilt. You see the Christ in him, and he is healed because you look on what makes faith forever justified in everyone.

Faith is the gift of God, through Him Whom God has given you. Faithlessness looks upon the Son of God, and judges him unworthy of forgiveness. But through the eyes of faith, the Son of God is seen already forgiven, free of all the guilt he laid upon himself. Faith sees him only now because it looks not to the past to judge him, but would see in him only what it would see in you. It sees not through the body’s eyes, nor looks to bodies for its justification. It is the messenger of the new perception, sent forth to gather witnesses unto its coming, and to return their messages to you.

Faith is as easily exchanged for knowledge as is the real world. For faith arises from the Holy Spirit’s perception, and is the sign you share it with Him. Faith is a gift you offer to the Son of God through Him, and wholly acceptable to his Father as to Him. And therefore offered you. Your holy relationship, with its new purpose, offers you faith to give unto your brother. Your faithlessness has driven you apart, and so you do not recognize salvation in each other. Yet faith unites you in the holiness you see, not through the body’s eyes, but in the sight of Him Who joined you, and in Whom you are united.

Grace is not given to a body, but to a mind. And the mind that receives it looks instantly beyond the body, and sees the holy place where it was healed. There is the altar where the grace was given, in which it stands. Do you, then, offer grace and blessing to your brother, for you stand at the same altar where grace was laid for both of you. And be you healed by grace together, that you may heal through faith.

In the holy instant, you stand before the altar God has raised unto Himself and both of you. Lay faithlessness aside, and come to it together. There will you see the miracle of your relationship as it was made again through faith. And there it is that you will realize that there is nothing faith cannot forgive. No error interferes with its calm sight, which brings the miracle with equal ease to all of them. For what the messengers of love are sent to do they do, returning the glad tidings that it was done to you who stand together before the altar from which they were sent forth.

As faithlessness will keep your little kingdoms barren and separate, so will faith help the Holy Spirit prepare the ground for the most holy garden that He would make of it. For faith brings peace, and so it calls on truth to enter and make lovely what has already been prepared for loveliness. Truth follows faith and peace, completing the process of making lovely that they begin. For faith is still a learning goal, no longer needed when the lesson has been learned. Yet truth will stay forever.

Let, then, your dedication be to the eternal, and learn how not to interfere with it and make it slave to time. For what you think you do to the eternal you do to you. Whom God created as His Son is slave to nothing, being lord of all, along with his Creator. You can enslave a body, but an idea is free, incapable of being kept in prison or limited in any way except by the mind that thought it. For it remains joined to its source, which is its jailer or its liberator, according to which it chooses as its purpose for itself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 14

Lesson 165

Let not my mind deny the Thought of God.

What makes this world seem real except your own denial of the truth that lies beyond? What but your thoughts of misery and death obscure the perfect happiness and the eternal life your Father wills for you? And what could hide what cannot be concealed except illusion? What could keep from you what you already have except your choice to see it not, denying it is there?

The Thought of God created you. It left you not, nor have you ever been apart from it an instant. It belongs to you. By it you live. It is your Source of life, holding you one with it, and everything is one with you because it left you not. The Thought of God protects you, cares for you, makes soft your resting place and smooth your way, lighting your mind with happiness and love. Eternity and everlasting life shine in your mind, because the Thought of God has left you not, and still abides with you.

Who would deny his safety and his peace, his joy, his healing and his peace of mind, his quiet rest, his calm awakening, if he but recognized where they abide? Would he not instantly prepare to go where they are found, abandoning all else as worthless in comparison with them? And having found them, would he not make sure they stay with him, and he remain with them?

Deny not Heaven. It is yours today, but for the asking. Nor need you perceive how great the gift, how changed your mind will be before it comes to you. Ask to receive, and it is given you. Conviction lies within it. Till you welcome it as yours, uncertainty remains. Yet God is fair. Sureness is not required to receive what only your acceptance can bestow.

Ask with desire. You need not be sure that you request the only thing you want. But when you have received, you will be sure you have the treasure you have always sought. What would you then exchange for it? What would induce you now to let it fade away from your ecstatic vision? For this sight proves that you have exchanged your blindness for the seeing eyes of Christ; your mind has come to lay aside denial, and accept the Thought of God as your inheritance.

Now is all doubting past, the journey’s end made certain, and salvation given you. Now is Christ’s power in your mind, to heal as you were healed. For now you are among the saviors of the world. Your destiny lies there and nowhere else. Would God consent to let His Son remain forever starved by his denial of the nourishment he needs to live? Abundance dwells in him, and deprivation cannot cut him off from God’s sustaining Love and from his home.

Practice today in hope. For hope indeed is justified. Your doubts are meaningless, for God is certain. And the Thought of Him is never absent. Sureness must abide within you who are host to Him. This course removes all doubts which you have interposed between Him and your certainty of Him.

We count on God, and not upon ourselves, to give us certainty. And in His Name we practice as His Word directs we do. His sureness lies beyond our every doubt. His Love remains beyond our every fear. The Thought of Him is still beyond all dreams and in our minds, according to His Will.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #157: In his teaching, Ken Wapnick says that God doesn’t even know that we exist; that we are here in the world. Where in A Course in Miracles does it say that, or what passage implies that? I don’t have a problem with the statement, because I understand that in the Course “existence” refers to our belief in the ego, the belief that we are bodies, and “being” refers to our state of oneness in Heaven. So it would make sense that God does not “know” us in our ego state. But can you clarify where it comes from? Also, where in the Course does Jesus make reference to the “decision maker” that Ken refers to so often?

A: The statement that God does not even know that we exist, as you suggest, follows from an understanding of the Course’s metaphysics. The self we believe we are, here in the world, is an illusory projection of an illusory thought in an illusory split mind. It has no reality. God, Who is total Oneness, can not know anything that is not a part of that total Oneness, and His knowing cannot involve a separate observer and an observed. If God knew of our existence in this world, the separation would be real. But the Course asserts over and over again that the separation never happened in reality — the principle of the Atonement (e.g., T.2.I.4:4; T.2.VII.6:7,8,9).

Although the specific wording you ask about is never used in the Course, there are a number of passages that clearly imply that God does not know of our existence here. Among them are the following: “God and His creations remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreations exist” (T.3.IV.7:1). “God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else” (T.3.V.7:3,4). A little later, speaking of our self and God’s Self, Jesus observes, “They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication” (T.4.I.2:11,12). And in the next section: “The ego’s ceaseless attempts to gain the spirit’s acknowledgement and thus establish its own existence are useless. Spirit in its knowledge is unaware of the ego. It does not attack it; it merely cannot conceive of it at all” (T.4.II.8:5,6,7).

The word decision maker as Ken has used it in his teaching is not found in the Course itself. The Course’s one use of that phrase speaks of our resistance to recognizing the power of decision that resides in the mind, preferring instead to see “the body… [as] the decision maker” (M.5.II.1:7). Although that one instance is not describing the mind, the point being made is that the mind and not the body is the decision maker. The word decision maker thus is a convenient shorthand for referring to the part of the split mind that the Course is addressing throughout. It clearly can not be addressing the self that we believe we are, for the Course repeatedly reminds us that that self is not real and that the brain that we believe makes choices has no power at all. For example, in the workbook Jesus, with some amusement, observes, “You also believe the body’s brain can think. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea.” W.pI.92.2:1,2).

That the focus should be on the decision making power of our mind is most appropriate when we consider that Jesus emphasizes that “the power of decision is your one remaining freedom as a prisoner of this world. You can decide to see it [the world] right” (T.12.VII.9:1,2). And later, “Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours” (T.14.III.4:1,2,3; italics added). The centrality of the concept of choice or decision to Course teachings is evident when we consider that variations on the words choose and decide are used well over a thousand times across the three volumes of the Course. And the concluding section of the text, “Choose Once Again” (T.31.VIII), is a beautiful paean to choice.

sinless son