ACIM Text Reading for May 31
Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness & The Holy Relationship
VI. Setting the Goal
The practical application of the Holy Spirit’s purpose is extremely simple, but it is unequivocal. In fact, in order to be simple it must be unequivocal. The simple is merely what is easily understood, and for this it is apparent that it must be clear. The setting of the Holy Spirit’s goal is general. Now He will work with you to make it specific, for application is specific. There are certain very specific guidelines He provides for any situation, but remember that you do not yet realise their universal application. Therefore, it is essential at this point to use them in each situation separately, until you can more safely look beyond each situation, in an understanding far broader than you now possess.
In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is ‘What do I want to come of this? What is it for?’ The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome. In the ego’s procedure this is reversed. The situation becomes the determiner of the outcome, which can be anything. The reason for this disorganised approach is evident. The ego does not know what it wants to come of the situation. It is aware of what it does not want, but only that. It has no positive goal at all.
Without a clear-cut, positive goal, set at the outset, the situation just seems to happen, and makes no sense until it has already happened. Then you look back at it, and try to piece together what it must have meant. And you will be wrong. Not only is your judgement in the past, but you have no idea what should happen. No goal was set with which to bring the means in line. And now the only judgement left to make is whether or not the ego likes it; is it acceptable, or does it call for vengeance? The absence of a criterion for outcome, set in advance, makes understanding doubtful and evaluation impossible.
The value of deciding in advance what you want to happen is simply that you will perceive the situation as a means to make it happen. You will therefore make every effort to overlook what interferes with the accomplishment of your objective, and concentrate on everything that helps you meet it. It is quite noticeable that this approach has brought you closer to the Holy Spirit’s sorting out of truth and falsity. The true becomes what can be used to meet the goal. The false becomes the useless from this point of view. The situation now has meaning, but only because the goal has made it meaningful.
The goal of truth has further practical advantages. If the situation is used for truth and sanity, its outcome must be peace. And this is quite apart from what the outcome is. If peace is the condition of truth and sanity, and cannot be without them, where peace is they must be. Truth comes of itself. If you experience peace, it is because the truth has come to you and you will see the outcome truly, for deception cannot prevail against you. You will recognise the outcome because you are at peace. Here again you see the opposite of the ego’s way of looking, for the ego believes the situation brings the experience. The Holy Spirit knows that the situation is as the goal determines it, and is experienced according to the goal.
The goal of truth requires faith. Faith is implicit in the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and this faith is all-inclusive. Where the goal of truth is set, there faith must be. The Holy Spirit sees the situation as a whole. The goal establishes the fact that everyone involved in it will play his part in its accomplishment. This is inevitable. No one will fail in anything. This seems to ask for faith beyond you, and beyond what you can give. Yet this is so only from the viewpoint of the ego, for the ego believes in ‘solving’ conflict through fragmentation, and does not perceive the situation as a whole. Therefore, it seeks to split off segments of the situation and deal with them separately, for it has faith in separation and not in wholeness.
Confronted with any aspect of the situation that seems to be difficult, the ego will attempt to take this aspect elsewhere, and resolve it there. And it will seem to be successful, except that this attempt conflicts with unity, and must obscure the goal of truth. And peace will not be experienced except in fantasy. Truth has not come because faith has been denied, being withheld from where it rightfully belonged. Thus do you lose the understanding of the situation the goal of truth would bring. For fantasy solutions bring but the illusion of experience, and the illusion of peace is not the condition in which truth can enter.
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ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 31
All things are echoes of the Voice for God.
No one can judge on partial evidence. That is not judgment. It is merely an opinion based on ignorance and doubt. Its seeming certainty is but a cloak for the uncertainty it would conceal. It needs irrational defense because it is irrational. And its defense seems strong, convincing, and without a doubt because of all the doubting underneath.
You do not seem to doubt the world you see. You do not really question what is shown you through the body’s eyes. Nor do you ask why you believe it, even though you learned a long while since your senses do deceive. That you believe them to the last detail which they report is even stranger, when you pause to recollect how frequently they have been faulty witnesses indeed! Why would you trust them so implicitly? Why but because of underlying doubt, which you would hide with show of certainty?
How can you judge? Your judgment rests upon the witness that your senses offer you. Yet witness never falser was than this. But how else do you judge the world you see? You place pathetic faith in what your eyes and ears report. You think your fingers touch reality, and close upon the truth. This is awareness that you understand, and think more real than what is witnessed to by the eternal Voice for God Himself.
Can this be judgment? You have often been urged to refrain from judging, not because it is a right to be withheld from you. You cannot judge. You merely can believe the ego’s judgments, all of which are false. It guides your senses carefully, to prove how weak you are; how helpless and afraid, how apprehensive of just punishment, how black with sin, how wretched in your guilt.
This thing it speaks of, and would yet defend, it tells you is yourself. And you believe that this is so with stubborn certainty. Yet underneath remains the hidden doubt that what it shows you as reality with such conviction it does not believe. It is itself alone that it condemns. It is within itself it sees the guilt. It is its own despair it sees in you.
Hear not its voice. The witnesses it sends to prove to you its evil is your own are false, and speak with certainty of what they do not know. Your faith in them is blind because you would not share the doubts their lord can not completely vanquish. You believe to doubt his vassals is to doubt yourself.
Yet you must learn to doubt their evidence will clear the way to recognize yourself, and let the Voice for God alone be Judge of what is worthy of your own belief. He will not tell you that your brother should be judged by what your eyes behold in him, nor what his body’s mouth says to your ears, nor what your fingers’ touch reports of him. He passes by such idle witnesses, which merely bear false witness to God’s Son. He recognizes only what God loves, and in the holy light of what He sees do all the ego’s dreams of what you are vanish before the splendor He beholds.
Let Him be Judge of what you are, for He has certainty in which there is no doubt, because it rests on Certainty so great that doubt is meaningless before Its face. Christ cannot doubt Himself. The Voice for God can only honor Him, rejoicing in His perfect, everlasting sinlessness. Whom He has judged can only laugh at guilt, unwilling now to play with toys of sin; unheeding of the body’s witnesses before the rapture of Christ’s holy face.
And thus He judges you. Accept His Word for what you are, for He bears witness to your beautiful creation, and the Mind Whose Thought created your reality. What can the body mean to Him Who knows the glory of the Father and the Son? What whispers of the ego can He hear? What could convince Him that your sins are real? Let Him be Judge as well of everything that seems to happen to you in this world. His lessons will enable you to bridge the gap between illusions and the truth.
He will remove all faith that you have placed in pain, disaster, suffering and loss. He gives you vision which can look beyond these grim appearances, and can behold the gentle face of Christ in all of them. You will no longer doubt that only good can come to you who are beloved of God, for He will judge all happenings, and teach the single lesson that they all contain.
He will select the elements in them which represent the truth, and disregard those aspects which reflect but idle dreams. And He will reinterpret all you see, and all occurrences, each circumstance, and every happening that seems to touch on you in any way from His one frame of reference, wholly unified and sure. And you will see the love beyond the hate, the constancy in change, the pure in sin, and only Heaven’s blessing on the world.
Such is your resurrection, for your life is not a part of anything you see. It stands beyond the body and the world, past every witness for unholiness, within the Holy, holy as Itself. In everyone and everything His Voice would speak to you of nothing but your Self and your Creator, Who is One with Him. So will you see the holy face of Christ in everything, and hear in everything no sound except the echo of God’s Voice.
We practice wordlessly today, except at the beginning of the time we spend with God. We introduce these times with but a single, slow repeating of the thought with which the day begins. And then we watch our thoughts, appealing silently to Him Who sees the elements of truth in them. Let Him evaluate each thought that comes to mind, remove the elements of dreams, and give them back again as clean ideas that do not contradict the Will of God.
Give Him your thoughts, and He will give them back as miracles which joyously proclaim the wholeness and the happiness God wills His Son, as proof of His eternal Love. And as each thought is thus transformed, it takes on healing power from the Mind which saw the truth in it, and failed to be deceived by what was falsely added. All the threads of fantasy are gone. And what remains is unified into a perfect Thought that offers its perfection everywhere.
Spend fifteen minutes thus when you awake, and gladly give another fifteen more before you go to sleep. Your ministry begins as all your thoughts are purified. So are you taught to teach the Son of God the holy lesson of his sanctity. No one can fail to listen, when you hear the Voice for God give honor to God’s Son. And everyone will share the thoughts with you which He has retranslated in your mind.
Such is your Eastertide. And so you lay the gift of snow-white lilies on the world, replacing witnesses to sin and death. Through your transfiguration is the world redeemed, and joyfully released from guilt. Now do we lift our resurrected minds in gladness and in gratitude to Him Who has restored our sanity to us.
And we will hourly remember Him Who is salvation and deliverance. As we give thanks, the world unites with us and happily accepts our holy thoughts, which Heaven has corrected and made pure. Now has our ministry begun at last, to carry round the world the joyous news that truth has no illusions, and the peace of God, through us, belongs to everyone.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #387: I have begun reading A Course in Miracles and find that I’m very attracted to its teachings. I believe it has practical application to this world. My dilemma is that although I’m not new to spirituality and I believe in God — I have studied the Bhagavad-Gita for many years and believe it was spoken by God (Krishna) — I have great difficulty in following the Holy Spirit’s directions. My problem is that I work a mind-numbing job as a janitor, which I dislike most of the time. I feel stuck and grudgingly accept my lot in life. I work much on my own and that of course allows my “little self” to indulge in all sorts of judgments and criticisms, bitterness and anger at my position, etc. I also use tobacco to attempt to diminish my “awful” condition. I want to change. I know I’m doing wrong by my thoughts and the tobacco use but my “little mind” tells me that this is the only way I can get through another day of “drudgery.” Please give me some constructive advice.
A: Arjuna may have been on an external battlefield in the Gita as he turned to Krishna for guidance, but it sounds like you’re beginning to recognize your battleground is in your own mind. Fortunately, that is where you’ll also find the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Now since the battleground is in your mind, that is where the Holy Spirit will help you to make changes, and not in the external world — the job, the tobacco, etc., — which are only ever projections of the inner battle. This is not to say that changes won’t happen on the “outside” as well, but that is never the Course’s focus or goal. Those externals are only symbols or symptoms of internal conflict and guilt, and it is only within the mind that meaningful shifts can occur. The inner conflict is always the battle that your ego is waging against the quiet truth that the Holy Spirit represents. And when you are identified with your ego, you can expect to have difficulty even hearing the Holy Spirit’s direction, let alone accepting it and following it.
The challenge you feel in listening to the Holy Spirit may be two-fold — there is often difficulty in understanding just what He is asking of us, although it is very simple, and then, once we understand, being willing to follow-through on His counsel. You may believe that it is your lot in life, trapped in a dead-end job that you don’t like, which is the reason you are so unhappy. But the Holy Spirit wants to help you see that the problem is that you are trapped in a dead-end thought system in your mind, and that is what He wants to help you free yourself from. And any addiction to nicotine is nothing compared to the addiction to guilt. All those thoughts of judgment and criticism and bitterness and anger merely keep you going around in your mind in the cycle of attack and guilt. But the Holy Spirit is not asking you to stop those thoughts. Rather He wants you simply to step back from them and look at them, being honest with yourself about the feelings that accompany them and the purpose that they serve. They keep you trapped in the belief that it is your external situation that dictates how you feel. This kind of thinking assures that you remain mindless and that the guilt in your mind — the real cause of your unhappiness — is never undone. You want to learn that the guilt in your mind is not real, but you’ll never know that if you don’t look at it, instead seeing the external situation as the cause of your misery and grief.
So, once you understand the very simple request that the Holy Spirit is asking of you, all you need do is put it into practice. And that means nothing more, but also nothing less, than being willing to pull back your projections of blame on things outside yourself and accept complete responsibility for how you feel. And then ask for help that your perception of yourself as one who deserves to suffer be changed. This is the process, to be remembered and then put into practice as we are willing. And none of this means you should not look for or take a better job should you have the opportunity, or seek support that may help you give up smoking. But you want to remember that changes only at this level will not bring you the real happiness and peace you seek and deserve.