ACIIM Text Reading for June 23
Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness
IV. Entering the Ark
Nothing can hurt you unless you give it the power to do so. Yet you give power as the laws of this world interpret giving; as you give you lose. It is not up to you to give power at all. Power is of God, given by Him and reawakened by the Holy Spirit, who knows that as you give you gain. He gives no power to sin, and therefore it has none; nor to its results as this world sees themâ€”sickness and death and misery and pain. These things have not occurred because the Holy Spirit sees them not, and gives no power to their seeming source. Thus would He keep you free of them. Being without illusion of what you are, the Holy Spirit merely gives everything to God, Who has already given and received all that is true. The untrue He has neither received nor given.
Sin has no place in Heaven, where its results are alien and can no more enter than can their source. And therein lies your need to see your brother sinless. In him is Heaven. See sin in him instead, and Heaven is lost to you. But see him as he is, and what is yours shines from him to you. Your saviour gives you only love, but what you would receive of him is up to you. It lies in him to overlook all your mistakes, and therein lies his own salvation. And so it is with yours. Salvation is a lesson in giving, as the Holy Spirit interprets it. It is the reawakening of the laws of God in minds that have established other laws, and given them power to enforce what God created not.
Your insane laws were made to guarantee that you would make mistakes, and give them power over you by accepting their results as your just due. What could this be but madness? And is it this that you would see within your saviour from insanity? He is as free from this as you are, and in the freedom that you see in him you see your own. For this you share. What God has given follows His laws, and His alone. Nor is it possible for those who follow them to suffer the results of any other source.
Those who choose freedom will experience only its results. Their power is of God, and they will give it only to what God has given, to share with them. Nothing but this can touch them, for they see only this, sharing their power according to the Will of God. And thus their freedom is established and maintained. It is upheld through all temptation to imprison and to be imprisoned. It is of them who learned of freedom that you should ask what freedom is. Ask not the sparrow how the eagle soars, for those with little wings have not accepted for themselves the power to share with you.
The sinless give as they received. See, then, the power of sinlessness within your brother, and share with him the power of the release from sin you offered him. To each who walks this earth in seeming solitude is a saviour given, whose special function here is to release him, and so to free himself. In the world of separation each is appointed separately, though they are all the same. Yet those who know that they are all the same need not salvation. And each one finds his saviour when he is ready to look upon the face of Christ, and see Him sinless.
The plan is not of you, nor need you be concerned with anything except the part that has been given you to learn. For He Who knows the rest will see to it without your help. But think not that He does not need your part to help Him with the rest. For in your part lies all of it, without which is no part complete, nor is the whole completed without your part. The ark of peace is entered two by two, yet the beginning of another world goes with them. Each holy relationship must enter here, to learn its special function in the Holy Spirit’s plan, now that it shares His purpose. And as this purpose is fulfilled, a new world rises in which sin can enter not, and where the Son of God can enter without fear and where he rests a while, to forget imprisonment and to remember freedom. How can he enter, to rest and to remember, without you? Except you be there, he is not complete. And it is his completion that he remembers there.
This is the purpose given you. Think not that your forgiveness of your brother serves but you two alone. For the whole new world rests in the hands of every two who enter here to rest. And as they rest, the face of Christ shines on them and they remember the laws of God, forgetting all the rest and yearning only to have His laws perfectly fulfilled in them and all their brothers. Think you when this has been achieved that you will rest without them? You could no more leave one of them outside than I could leave you, and forget part of myself.
You may wonder how you can be at peace when, while you are in time, there is so much that must be done before the way to peace is open. Perhaps this seems impossible to you. But ask yourself if it is possible that God would have a plan for your salvation that does not work. Once you accept His plan as the one function that you would fulfil, there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not arrange for you without your effort. He will go before you making straight your path, and leaving in your way no stones to trip on, and no obstacles to bar your way. Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. You need take thought for nothing, careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfil. As that was given you, so will its fulfilment be. God’s guarantee will hold against all obstacles, for it rests on certainty and not contingency. It rests on you. And what can be more certain than a Son of God?
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.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #223: I would like an understanding of “Entering the Ark” (T.20.1V). This section seems to indicate that we have one special person with whom we work out our salvation, whereas my understanding is that every seemingly separate individual out there is our brother and so we must see the face of Christ in every living thing. I am in a marriage where my wife does not study A Course in Miracles and, in my perception, is afraid of what it is teaching us. I have also encountered a Course teaching institution that tells us we must have one special buddy with whom we can really study and work out our salvation. Can you resolve this confusion for me?
A: You seem to be raising two related questions: the first is whether there is only one relationship or many in which we must practice forgiveness; the second is whether we can really practice the Course and learn our forgiveness lessons if our learning partner is not a student of the Course.
For the first, you are no doubt referring in particular to the sentence in “The Ark of Peace” that says, “To each who walks this earth in seeming solitude is a savior given, whose special function here is to release him, and so to free himself” (T.20.IV.5:3). Jesus then adds, “In the world of separation each is appointed separately, though they are all the same” (T.20.IV.5:4). You are correct, as this second sentence suggests, in observing that forgiveness must come to rest upon every seemingly separate brother until we see them as all the same. But it is also usually the case that, at any point in time, there is one particular person with whom we are struggling, who provides our most challenging lessons in forgiveness. Who this other is may or may not change over time. But even though the faces may change, the underlying lessons will remain the same, until we are willing to look at and then release the guilt that we have projected on to them because we have not wanted to acknowledge it is in our own minds. So every relationship provides opportunities to practice forgiveness, but those that seem to push more of our buttons are the greater symbols of our own buried guilt and so provide the maximal opportunities for learning our lessons. Jesus speaks in the manual of these different levels of learning opportunities in the context of teacher-student relationships (M.3).
As for your second question, a careful reading of the section you refer to should make it clear that Jesus is only talking about how we perceive our learning partner and not about what specifically happens at the level of behavior or form between the two of us. It is our ego that wants to bring the focus to what we do with our partner at the level of bodies. According to the Course, relationships exist only in the mind and not between bodies in the world (T.28.IV.3). And so my healing in any relationship is completely unrelated to how you as my learning partner may or may not participate in the study and application of Course principles. If I were dependent on your involvement in any way, I would be at the mercy of your choices, and not simply dependent on my own internal decision about how to perceive you. Now in some cases, it may be helpful if a partner is also studying the Course and there are opportunities for sharing and discussing on the level of form. But this can in no way be necessary for my salvation or Jesus would be selling us the same bill of goods that the ego has been trying to pass off on us from the beginning — victimization of myself by another would be alive and well and inescapable.
Furthermore, whether you as my learning partner are in your right mind or your wrong mind in any of our interactions, if the Holy Spirit is my Guide for how I perceive you, my response will always be the same. For, accepting the Holy Spirit’s judgment rather than my own, I will know that you are only either extending love or giving a call for love, and my response is always the same — I allow myself to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit’s Love (T.12.I). My resistance to accepting the Holy Spirit’s perception of you in any aspects of our relationship simply points to those areas where my forgiveness lessons remain unlearned. And that is how you, as my learning partner, are really my savior, for you direct me to the unhealed thoughts of darkness in my mind, so that now I can make a different choice about how to see myself.