ACIM Text Reading for June 3
Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream
I. The Substitute Reality
To substitute is to accept instead. If you would but consider exactly what this entails, you would perceive at once how much at variance this is with the goal the Holy Spirit has given you, and would accomplish for you. To substitute is to choose between, renouncing one aspect of the Sonship in favour of the other. For this special purpose, one is judged more valuable and the other is replaced by him. The relationship in which the substitution occurred is thus fragmented, and its purpose split accordingly. To fragment is to exclude, and substitution is the strongest defence the ego has for separation.
The Holy Spirit never uses substitutes. Where the ego perceives one person as a replacement for another, the Holy Spirit sees them joined and indivisible. He does not judge between them, knowing they are one. Being united, they are one because they are the same. Substitution is clearly a process in which they are perceived as different. One would unite; the other separate. Nothing can come between what God has joined and what the Holy Spirit sees as one. But everything seems to come between the fragmented relationships the ego sponsors to destroy.
The one emotion in which substitution is impossible is love. Fear involves substitution by definition, for it is love’s replacement. Fear is both a fragmented and fragmenting emotion. It seems to take many forms, and each one seems to require a different form of acting out for satisfaction. While this appears to introduce quite variable behaviour, a far more serious effect lies in the fragmented perception from which the behaviour stems. No one is seen complete. The body is emphasised, with special emphasis on certain parts, and used as the standard for comparison of acceptance or rejection for acting out a special form of fear.
You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms, because it was the substitution of illusion for truth; of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to, time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship that you have ever made is part of it.
You may be surprised to hear how very different is reality from what you see. You do not realise the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge. What else could come of it? Its fragmented aspects are fearful enough, as you begin to look at them. But nothing you have seen begins to show you the enormity of the original error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and to force you to make further substitutions.
That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it, and became the screen on which it was projected and drawn between you and the truth. For truth extends inward, where the idea of loss is meaningless and only increase is conceivable. Do you really think it strange that a world in which everything is backwards and upside down arose from this projection of error? It was inevitable. For truth brought to this could only remain within in quiet, and take no part in all the mad projection by which this world was made. 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.
When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rising to frighten you, say only, ‘God is not fear, but love’, and it will disappear. The truth will save you. It has not left you, to go out into the mad world and so depart from you. Inward is sanity; insanity is outside you. You but believe it is the other way; that truth is outside, and error and guilt within. Your little, senseless substitutions, touched with insanity and swirling lightly off on a mad course like feathers dancing insanely in the wind, have no substance. They fuse and merge and separate, in shifting and totally meaningless patterns that need not be judged at all. To judge them individually is pointless. Their tiny differences in form are no real differences at all. None of them matters. That they have in common and nothing else. Yet what else is necessary to make them all the same?
Let them all go, dancing in the wind, dipping and turning till they disappear from sight, far, far outside of you. And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left, and Who never left you. The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections and the wild substitutions that you have placed outside you to the truth. Thus He reverses the course of insanity and restores you to reason.
In your relationship with your brother, where He has taken charge of everything at your request, He has set the course inward to the truth you share. In the mad world outside you nothing can be shared but only substituted, and sharing and substituting have nothing in common in reality. Within yourself you love your brother with a perfect love. Here is holy ground, in which no substitution can enter, and where only the truth in your brother can abide. Here you are joined in God, as much together as you are with Him. The original error has not entered here, nor ever will. Here is the radiant truth, to which the Holy Spirit has committed your relationship. Let Him bring it here, where you would have it be. Give Him but a little faith in your brother, to help him show you that no substitute you made for Heaven can keep you from it.
In you there is no separation, and no substitute can keep you from your brother. Your reality was God’s creation, and has no substitute. You are so firmly joined in truth that only God is there. And He would never accept something else instead of you. He loves you both, equally and as one. And as He loves you, so you are. You are not joined together in illusions, but in the Thought so holy and so perfect that illusions cannot remain to darken the holy place in which you stand together. God is with you, my brother. Let us join in Him in peace and gratitude, and accept His gift as our most holy and perfect reality, which we share in Him.
Heaven is restored to all the Sonship through your relationship, for in it lies the Sonship, whole and beautiful, safe in your love. Heaven has entered quietly, for all illusions have been gently brought unto the truth in you, and love has shined upon you, blessing your relationship with truth. God and His whole creation have entered it together. How lovely and how holy is your relationship, with the truth shining upon it! Heaven beholds it, and rejoices that you have let it come to you. And God Himself is glad that your relationship is as it was created. The universe within you stands with you, together with your brother. And Heaven looks with love on what is joined in it, along with its Creator.
Whom God has called should hear no substitutes. Their call is but an echo of the original error that shattered Heaven. And what became of peace in those who heard? Return with me to Heaven, walking together with your brother out of this world and through another, to the loveliness and joy the other holds within it. Would you still further, weaken and break apart what is already broken and hopeless? Is it here that you would look for happiness? Or would you not prefer to heal what has been broken, and join in making whole what has been ravaged by separation and disease?
You have been called, together with your brother, to the most holy function this world contains. It is the only one that has no limits, and reaches out to every broken fragment of the Sonship with healing and uniting comfort. This is offered you, in your holy relationship. Accept it here, and you will give as you have accepted. The peace of God is given you with the glowing purpose in which you join with your brother. The holy light that brought you and him together must extend, as you accepted it.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 3
I am among the ministers of God.
Let us today be neither arrogant nor falsely humble. We have gone beyond such foolishness. We cannot judge ourselves, nor need we do so. These are but attempts to hold decision off, and to delay commitment to our function. It is not our part to judge our worth, nor can we know what role is best for us; what we can do within a larger plan we cannot see in its entirety. Our part is cast in Heaven, not in hell. And what we think is weakness can be strength; what we believe to be our strength is often arrogance.
Whatever your appointed role may be, it was selected by the Voice for God, Whose function is to speak for you as well. Seeing your strengths exactly as they are, and equally aware of where they can be best applied, for what, to whom and when, He chooses and accepts your part for you. He does not work without your own consent. But He is not deceived in what you are, and listens only to His Voice in you.
It is through His ability to hear one Voice which is His Own that you become aware at last there is one Voice in you. And that one Voice appoints your function, and relays it to you, giving you the strength to understand it, do what it entails, and to succeed in everything you do that is related to it. God has joined His Son in this, and thus His Son becomes His messenger of unity with Him.
It is this joining, through the Voice for God, of Father and of Son, that sets apart salvation from the world. It is this Voice which speaks of laws the world does not obey; which promises salvation from all sin, with guilt abolished in the mind that God created sinless. Now this mind becomes aware again of Who created it, and of His lasting union with itself. So is its Self the one reality in which its will and that of God are joined.
A messenger is not the one who writes the message he delivers. Nor does he question the right of him who does, nor ask why he has chosen those who will receive the message that he brings. It is enough that he accept it, give it to the ones for whom it is intended, and fulfill his role in its delivery. If he determines what the messages should be, or what their purpose is, or where they should be carried, he is failing to perform his proper part as bringer of the Word.
There is one major difference in the role of Heaven’s messengers, which sets them off from those the world appoints. The messages that they deliver are intended first for them. And it is only as they can accept them for themselves that they become able to bring them further, and to give them everywhere that they were meant to be. Like earthly messengers, they did not write the messages they bear, but they become their first receivers in the truest sense, receiving to prepare themselves to give.
An earthly messenger fulfills his role by giving all his messages away. The messengers of God perform their part by their acceptance of His messages as for themselves, and show they understand the messages by giving them away. They choose no roles that are not given them by His authority. And so they gain by every message that they give away.
Would you receive the messages of God? For thus do you become His messenger. You are appointed now. And yet you wait to give the messages you have received. And so you do not know that they are yours, and do not recognize them. No one can receive and understand he has received until he gives. For in the giving is his own acceptance of what he received.
You who are now the messenger of God, receive His messages. For that is part of your appointed role. God has not failed to offer what you need, nor has it been left unaccepted. Yet another part of your appointed task is yet to be accomplished. He Who has received for you the messages of God would have them be received by you as well. For thus do you identify with Him and claim your own.
It is this joining that we undertake to recognize today. We will not seek to keep our minds apart from Him Who speaks for us, for it is but our voice we hear as we attend Him. He alone can speak to us and for us, joining in one Voice the getting and the giving of God’s Word; the giving and receiving of His Will.
We practice giving Him what He would have, that we may recognize His gifts to us. He needs our voice that He may speak through us. He needs our hands to hold His messages, and carry them to those whom He appoints. He needs our feet to bring us where He wills, that those who wait in misery may be at last delivered. And He needs our will united with His Own, that we may be the true receivers of the gifts He gives.
Let us but learn this lesson for today: We will not recognize what we receive until we give it. You have heard this said a hundred ways, a hundred times, and yet belief is lacking still. But this is sure; until belief is given it, you will receive a thousand miracles and then receive a thousand more, but will not know that God Himself has left no gift beyond what you already have; nor has denied the tiniest of blessings to His Son. What can this mean to you, until you have identified with Him and with His Own?
Our lesson for today is stated thus:
I am among the ministers of God, and I am grateful that
I have the means by which to recognize that I am free.
The world recedes as we light up our minds, and realize these holy words are true. They are the message sent to us today from our Creator. Now we demonstrate how they have changed our minds about ourselves, and what our function is. For as we prove that we accept no will we do not share, our many gifts from our Creator will spring to our sight and leap into our hands, and we will recognize what we received.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #987: Are Gloria and Kenneth Wapnick married? If they are married, doesn’t this mean that they still have egos’?
A: To answer your first question: Yes, they are married. Your second question seems to imply a couple of misunderstandings involving assumptions about what we can tell about others from the external facts of their lives, and possibly about what is required to be a teacher of A Course in Miracles .
Many students of the Course have erroneously reached the conclusion that marriage — or even intimate relationships of any kind — is a form of special relationship and that therefore it is more spiritually advanced not to be in them. However, this is absolutely not what Jesus is trying to teach us in his course. He is not concerned with the form of our relationships. After all, how could he be concerned with something that he knows is not really happening? As Course students, we could avoid a lot of errors if we remembered this central teaching: “All [our] time [here] is spent in dreaming” (T.18.II.5:12) . In other words, nothing is actually happening here . So Jesus seeks to help us return to where the action is: our minds .
He defines the special relationship as our attempt to get from outside ourselves that which we think we lack. It is an effort to find a substitute for God’s Love, which we think we have destroyed and lost forever. Note that this could be a description of our relationship with another person, but it could just as easily describe our relationship with such things as food, air, and water. And Jesus certainly is not telling us to stop breathing (nor to feel guilty about it). Rather, he wants us to gradually recognize that the special relationships we seem to have within this world are but reflections of the one special relationship we have with the dream itself. He would have us learn that we do not need to continue dreaming of exile because our guilt is made up.
The process he gives us for achieving this goal involves changing internal teachers — dropping the ego’s hand and taking the Holy Spirit’s. He tells us that, “In His function as Interpreter of what you made, 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.4:5,6) . And so any relationship may be special or holy. What makes them one or the other is not the form our relationships take, but simply whether we use them to project guilt or to extend love. And again, this is an internal choice and not something we could judge about another person. Furthermore, as we attempt to follow Jesus’ curriculum, most of us will go back and forth between a right-minded and a wrong-minded purpose in all our relationships, as long as any guilt or fear remains in our mind.
In case you asked your question because you think that a teacher needs to be ego free in order to teach the Course, remember the statement from the manual that “A teacher of God is anyone who chooses to be one. His qualifications consist solely in this; somehow, somewhere he has made a deliberate choice in which he did not see his interests as apart from someone else’s” (M.1.1:1,2) . So, rather than focusing on whether a teacher is ego free (which again, we could never know about another person), it is much more useful to ask ourselves whether someone’s teaching triggers our guilt or helps us to feel more loving. Ultimately, we need not concern ourselves with where others are in their process or even with where we are in ours. What matters is whether we are choosing love now .