ACIM Text Reading for May 21
Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions
III. The Reward of Teaching
We have already learned that everyone teaches, and teaches all the time. You may have taught well, and yet you may not have learned how to accept the comfort of your teaching. If you will consider what you have taught, and how alien it is to what you thought you knew, you will be compelled to realise that your Teacher came from beyond your thought system. Therefore He could look upon it fairly, and perceive it was untrue. He must have done so from the basis of a very different thought system, and one with nothing in common with yours. For certainly what He has taught, and what you have taught through Him, have nothing in common with what you taught before He came. And the results have been to bring peace where there was pain, and suffering has disappeared to be replaced by joy.
You may have taught freedom, but you have not learned how to be free. I said earlier, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them, and they shall know themselves’. For it is certain that you judge yourself according to your teaching. The ego’s teaching produces immediate results, because its decisions are immediately accepted as your choice. And this acceptance means that you are willing to judge yourself accordingly. Cause and effect are very clear in the ego’s thought system, because all your learning has been directed toward establishing the relationship between them. And would you not have faith in what you have so diligently taught yourself to believe? Yet remember how much care you have exerted in choosing its witnesses, and in avoiding those which spoke for the cause of truth and its effects.
Does not the fact that you have not learned what you have taught show you that you do not perceive the Sonship as one? And does it not also show you that you do not regard yourself as one? For it is impossible to teach successfully wholly without conviction, and it is equally impossible that conviction be outside of you. You could never have taught freedom unless you did believe in it. And it must be that what you taught came from yourself. Yet this Self you clearly do not know, and do not recognise It even though. It functions. What functions must be there. And it is only if you deny what It has done that you could possibly deny Its presence.
This is a course in how to know yourself. You have taught what you are, but have not let what you are teach you. You have been very careful to avoid the obvious, and not to see the real cause and effect relationship that is perfectly apparent. Yet within you is everything you taught. What can it be that has not learned it? It must be this part that is really outside yourself, not by your own projection, but in truth. And it is this part that you have taken in that is not you. What you accept into your mind does not really change it. Illusions are but beliefs in what is not there. And the seeming conflict between truth and illusion can only be resolved by separating yourself from the illusion and not from truth.
Your teaching has already done this, for the Holy Spirit is part of you. Created by God, He left neither God nor His creation. He is both God and you, as you are God and Him together. For God’s Answer to the separation added more to you than you tried to take away. He protected both your creations and you together, keeping one with you what you would exclude. And they will take the place of what you took in to replace them. They are quite real, as part of the Self you do not know. They communicate to you through the Holy Spirit, and their power and gratitude to you for their creation they offer gladly to your teaching of yourself, who is their home. You who are host to God are also host to them. For nothing real has ever left the mind of its creator. And what is not real was never there.
You are not two selves in conflict. What is beyond God? If you who hold Him and whom He holds are the universe, all else must be outside, where nothing is. You have taught this, and from far off in the universe, yet not beyond yourself, the witnesses to your teaching have gathered to help you learn. Their gratitude has joined with yours and God’s to strengthen your faith in what you taught. For what you taught is true. Alone, you stand outside your teaching and apart from it. But with them you must learn that you but taught yourself, and learned from the conviction you shared with them.
This year you will begin to learn, and make learning commensurate with teaching. You have chosen this by your own willingness to teach. Though you seemed to suffer for it, the joy of teaching will yet be yours. For the joy of teaching is in the learner, who offers it to the teacher in gratitude, and shares it with him. As you learn, your gratitude to your Self, Who teaches you what He is, will grow and help you honour Him. And you will learn His power and strength and purity, and love Him as His Father does. His Kingdom has no limits and no end, and there is nothing in Him that is not perfect and eternal. All this is you, and nothing outside of this is you.
To your most holy Self all praise is due for what you are, and for what He is Who created you as you are. Sooner or later must everyone bridge the gap he imagines exists between his selves. Each one builds this bridge, which carries him across the gap as soon as he is willing to expend some little effort on behalf of bridging it. His little efforts are powerfully supplemented by the strength of Heaven, and by the united will of all who make Heaven what it is, being joined within it. And so the one who would cross over is literally transported there.
Your bridge is builded stronger than you think, and your foot is planted firmly on it. Have no fear that the attraction of those who stand on the other side and wait for you will not draw you safely across. For you will come where you would be, and where your Self awaits you.
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ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 21
Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.
There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:
My mind holds only what I think with God.
That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.
Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.
And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.
Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:
My mind holds only what I think with God.
Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.
They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.
After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:
Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.
We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.
God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.
My mind holds only what I think with God.
(121) Forgiveness is the key to happiness.
(122) Forgiveness offers everything I want.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #986: I’ve begun to understand the relationship between guilt, projection, and blame. Since beginning to see this mechanism, two things have happened. One is that I’ve become incredibly irritable. I sometimes seem to be projecting a low level of guilt all over everyone and everything, which I then experience as a constant buzz of irritation. I can stand back and listen to the litany of blame (this is too loud, he’s chewing funny, she should just shut up, etc.) and I usually say “Jesus please join with me in looking at this situation. I can’t stand feeling this way.” But the whole thing is sometimes so exhausting I feel like I’m just going to jump out of my skin. I have a hard time smiling at it when it reaches that sort of crescendo. Although, I will say that if I can tell my husband about what’s going on when this is happening, and just sit with it, it passes.
The other thing that’s happening is that I’ve become afraid something bad is going to happen to my son. It’s like the ego is saying “well, since you don’t seem to be worried that something bad will happen to you , how about if we consider punishing you by hurting your child.” It scares me! I know, intellectually, that this is just my guilt and my fear of God and of love. I repeat to myself “I am at home, fear is the stranger here.” I try focusing on the Atonement. I also try asking for Jesus or the Holy Spirit to join with me and help me understand my innocence. Do you have any other tips for dealing with all this?
A: Your heightened sense of irritation and fear sounds like the normal reaction of an ego threatened by the message of A Course in Miracles . As you stated, your understanding of the dynamics of guilt and projection seems to have led you to project guilt in an even more obvious way. Meanwhile, the apparent easing of your fears about yourself has led you to focus your fear on an even more potent subject than your own body — the body of your child. Obviously, your ego knows its game could be up and it is fighting to maintain its hold on you. It sounds as if you have a clear understanding of this. That brings you to what is, at some point, virtually every Course student’s million dollar question: Now that I know why I am in pain, how do I get out of it ?
Here is the good news: You came very close to answering your own question! You stated that when you tell your husband what is happening and just sit with it , it passes. Reading between the lines, it would seem from your statement that your husband does not express judgment about what you describe to him. Rather, he simply listens to you and allows you to be with your feelings. A slight alteration in your internal process would make this same comforting companionship available in your own mind. Instead of deciding that you should focus on the Atonement or your innocence, try simply asking the Holy Spirit to help you look at your pain without judgment . Come to Him without any preconceived ideas about how your conflict should be solved.
He knows that when we are in the midst of pain, Atonement and innocence generally feel like distant and even aggravating intellectual concepts. He recognizes that we cannot jump from where we are directly into the Arms of God. Instead, we need to gradually learn that all our projecting of guilt has “caused nothing, and had no effects” (T.28.II.11:7) . Through the Holy Spirit’s eyes, we slowly discover that not only does all the ego’s kicking and screaming have no effect on reality, but in fact, it need not even affect us. This is where Jesus is taking us when he urges us to ” be more aware of this quiet center of the storm than all its raging activity” (T.18.VII.8:2) . Indeed, watching the ego without justifying it or feeling guilty about it is the one thing it cannot use to further its own cause. In contrast, struggling against the ego in order to achieve lofty spiritual goals can fan the ego’s flames just as effectively as funny chewing.