ACIM Text Reading for June 17
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
IV. The Obstacles to Peace
B. 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 on 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.
i. 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. Only the mind can set a purpose, and only the mind can see the means for its accomplishment, and justify its use. 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 recognise this, and both also recognise 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 recognises 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 realise 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.
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ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 17
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 Miracle Principle #22
The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick
Miracles are associated with fear only because of the belief that darkness can hide.
You believe that what your physical eyes cannot see does not exist.
This leads to a denial of spiritual sight.
Let me spend a little time on this one. The ego teaches us that the core of our being is this dark sinful spot which is our guilt, and that this is who we really are. There is a workbook lesson that says that if you really looked within, you would believe that if people saw you the way you believe you are, they would recoil as if jumping back from a poisonous snake (work- book, p. 159; W-pI.93.1:1-2). We feel that we are wretched, sinful persons. Then we believe that somehow we could be protected from the horror of ever getting too close to this by defending ourselves with all the things the ego uses. These are what Freud called the mechanisms of defense, and most important of these are denial and projection. We make believe this is not what we are, after we first made believe that it is exactly what we are. Then we try to hide from it by putting a cloak of unconsciousness around it and projecting it out. Finally, I no longer see that dark spot of guilt in me; I see it in others and I attack them for it.
This means that we believe that this defense can hide what is underneath. By projecting onto someone else, I believe that my guilt can be hidden from me. This is the belief that darkness can hide. The “darkness” in this statement can be equated with the word “defense.” My defense can hide this, which means that I need my defense to protect me from my own guilt. The ego teaches me that if I give this up, I am going to have nothing to protect me from my guilt, and I am going to be in a lot of trouble. The ego teaches that defenses protect us; darkness can hide. This, then, builds up the fear that if I give the darkness up, I am going to be thoroughly exposed to this guilt and I will be in trouble. The ego never tells us that defenses do not hide: the fact that I do not see the guilt does not mean it is not there.
An important line that occurs later on in the text says that “defenses do what they would defend” (text, p. 334; T-17.IV.7:1), which is a very important principle. The reason that we invest such time and effort and energy into maintaining defenses is that we believe they will protect us from what we are afraid of. The purpose of all our defenses is to defend us against our guilt. What the ego never tells us is that the more that we invest in a defense, the more we are saying there is, indeed, something horrible inside us. If I did not have this horrible guilt, then I would not have to bother with the defense. Therefore, the more that I invest in having a defense against my guilt, which I am afraid of, the more fearful I am going to get because the fact that I have the defense is telling me, “You had better watch it; there is something inside of you that is vulnerable.” That is what Course in Miracles means when it says that “defenses do what they would defend.” Their purpose is to protect us from fear, but they really reinforce the fear. The ego never tells us that.
In a very powerful section in Chapter 27 of the text called “The Fear of Healing” (text, p. 628; T-27.11), the Course makes it clear why the ego teaches us to be afraid of the miracle and healing. The ego teaches that if you choose the miracle and give up the defenses of attack (i.e., see your brother as your friend and not your enemy), you will have no place to project your guilt. It will then remain with you and destroy you. And then the fear really grows.
That is another example of what the Course means a little later on when it says that when you begin to hear the Holy Spirit’s Voice and pay attention to what He says, your ego will become vicious (text, p. 164; T-9.VII.4:4-7). The ego’s viciousness is always some expression of fear, of terror, which then gets projected into anger, disruptiveness, etc. The ego teaches us that if we let go of our defenses, then all hell will break loose, literally. Psychologists fall into the same trap when they teach that if you do not have defenses you will go psychotic. It is really the opposite. If you do not have defenses you will go sane; you will not go psychotic. But that does not mean that you strip people’s defenses away. The process has to be very gentle and loving, and the therapist often has to be very patient. To repeat, this does not mean that we should strip all the defenses away. What it does mean is that if you follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the goal will be to have no defenses. And then when you look within, you will not see sin; you will see that there was no sin. That is the end of the journey.
“Miracles are associated with fear only because of the belief that darkness can hide.” Once you can recognize that darkness cannot hide, that defenses do not do what they say that they do, then you are ready to take the next step, which is explained later on in Chapter I of the text. Then you realize that there is nothing that has to be hidden because this guilt is not anything terrible; it is just a silly belief system that will disappear. This is why we are afraid of choosing a miracle, which translates to why we are afraid to truly forgive someone, to really let go of the past and realize that we are not victims, no matter how convincingly the experiences of the world would teach us that belief. We all are very good at rationalizing why we do not want to give all of this up. The real reason we do not want to give it up is that we do not want to be peaceful. That is what the Course talks about later as the ego’s attraction of guilt (text, p. 382; T-19.IV.A.i). We would rather be guilty and make guilt real; then we have to defend against it.
We believe that what our physical eyes cannot see does not exist. This is really the principle of the ostrich, which is the principle of repression or denial. If I do not see a problem, it does not exist. If I cover over my guilt, then it is not there. That is the idea again that darkness can hide. This then leads to a denial of “spiritual sight,” the term the early sections of the Course use for “vision.” And, when A Course in Miracles talks about vision, or spiritual sight, it is not talking about seeing with one’s eyes. It is talking about seeing with the Holy Spirit’s eyes, which is an attitude. It has nothing to do with physical sight.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1242: Recently someone close to me died of a drug overdose. I was with him at the time and was under the influence of drugs as well, and therefore I did not act accordingly to save him. How do I begin to deal with the tremendous guilt I have? If I chose the Holy Spirit’s script at that point, could the form of the tape have changed; or would it rather be that my reaction would change: instead of attack and guilt, my reaction would have been forgiveness of myself?
Also, I had another death in my life a few years back that also brought up a lot of guilt. I tried to work through this, and then it did seem like I was in a place of peace for a while. Almost like nothing could bother me. Then I started to do some real stupid things. Was that my ego fighting back? How do I go about dealing with this guilt? I have been studying A Course in Miracles for over five years and thought I was making progress. Please comment.
A: The only thing we can say for sure is that when we choose the Holy Spirit’s script, we would never attack ourselves or anyone else. Attack is impossible when we are identified with love. But what that means in terms of form we cannot know. We have to guard against the assumption that death is always a tragedy, and that it should be prevented if at all possible. We thus cannot automatically conclude that your friend’s drug overdose was an attack on himself and/or anyone else. We just do not know that — it might have been, and it might not have been. Remember, too, that a major principle in A Course in Miracles is that death is always a choice made in one’s mind (T.19.IV.C.1:4; W.pI.152.1:4; M.12.5). Given that, it is possible that even if you were lucid and able to act, your friend may still have died — if that were his choice. There is no way we can know that.
Another important point to keep in mind is that guilt is never justified, no matter what you have done. Undeniably, we all do very unloving things, and we all have very hateful thoughts. That is to be expected, considering that our existence was born out of our grossly selfish decision to separate ourselves from our home in God’s Love. Jesus acknowledges that we can be hideously brutal when we choose the ego as our teacher; but he also makes it clear throughout his course that these choices are mistakes, not unforgivable sins deserving of condemnation, or even forgivable sins for which we must repent and do penance (a practice he says totally distorts the meaning of true forgiveness, turning it into a “scourge” and a “curse” [S.2.I.1:1,2] ).
Judgments of condemnation are just what the ego ordered! They affirm its existence and the supremacy of its thought system in our minds, concealing the other part that quietly calls to us to remember that sin and evil are possible only in an illusion, and that nothing can change the truth that we remain forever sinless (see for example, Lesson 93, W.pI.93 ). The ego would never want us to question guilt, for guilt is its life’s blood, so to speak: “To the ego, the guiltless are guilty . Those who do not attack are its ‘enemies’ because, by not valuing its interpretation of salvation, they are in an excellent position to let it go” (T.13.II.4:2,3). This is why Jesus speaks about our attraction to guilt (T.19.IV.A.i), and that we hold it dear in our minds — as a friend, a protector, and even our home (T.19.IV.D.6). It is because of this that we often wind up thinking, “Who would I be without my guilt?” We cannot even imagine what it would be like to be without guilt and still recognize ourselves! That is the strength of our commitment to the ego thought system in our minds. And that could very well explain your seeming departure from a state of peace after working through some guilt relating to another death. We all just become fearful of being without guilt. Moreover, the ego usually kicks up its heels and retaliates for our “disloyalty” to it. Among the reasons that death plays such a central role in the ego’s strategy is that it almost always brings up a lot of guilt and fear in people. But there is always a correction for this in the sane part of minds.
You can also approach your current situation as a good opportunity to learn that relationships are always in the mind, not between two bodies. They always come down to the decision we make in our minds to take the ego or Jesus as our teacher. The healing of relationships, therefore, is not conditional on time and the state of bodies. In this sense, you can still work on your relationship with your friend even though he has died. The death of the body does not have to interfere with the relationship dynamics in your mind. A very difficult lesson! — and one the ego definitely does not want us to learn. The ego would have you learn instead that there is nothing you can do about your guilt, because your friend is dead.
What all of this means is that you still have a split mind, and that you (and all of us) are going through a process of shifting from the ego to Jesus as your teacher. We go back and forth. The idea is not to judge yourself, or even analyze what happened. It is simply natural (un-natural, really) for us to become afraid of being at peace, and therefore we will do things that bring about the opposite state. By not making a big deal about it, you will loosen your hold on your ego, and consequently will be less inclined to resort to self-destructive behavior. Not judging yourself means you are forgiving yourself, and forgiveness is the only answer that leads to peace.
Question #168 discusses some of the concerns you have raised — especially feelings of guilt over the death of a loved one. You might find it helpful to read our discussion there, and also in Question #7, where we talk about the whole issue of blame and self-hatred. Questions #246, #466, and #598 deal with issues of addiction.