ACIM Text Reading for July 1
Chapter 21 ~ Reason And Perception
Section III ~ Faith, Belief and Vision
III. Faith, Belief and Vision
All special relationships have sin as their goal. For they are bargains with reality, toward which the seeming union is adjusted. Forget not this; to bargain is to set a limit, and any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate. You may attempt to keep the bargain in the name of ‘fairness’, sometimes demanding payment of yourself, perhaps more often of the other. Thus in the ‘fairness’ you attempt to ease the guilt that comes from the accepted purpose of the relationship. And that is why the Holy Spirit must change its purpose to make it useful to Him and harmless to you.
If you accept this change, you have accepted the idea of making room for truth. The source of sin is gone. You may imagine that you still experience its effects, but it is not your purpose and you no longer want it. No one allows a purpose to be replaced while he desires it, for nothing is so cherished and protected as is a goal the mind accepts. This it will follow, grimly or happily, but always with faith and with the persistence that faith inevitably brings. The power of faith is never recognised if it is placed in sin. But it is always recognised if it is placed in love.
Why is it strange to you that faith can move mountains? This is indeed a little feat for such a power. For faith can keep the Son of God in chains as long as he believes he is in chains. And when he is released from them it will be simply because he no longer believes in them, withdrawing faith that they can hold him, and placing it in his freedom instead. It is impossible to place equal faith in opposite directions. What faith you give to sin you take away from holiness. And what you offer holiness has been removed from sin.
Faith and belief and vision are the means by which the goal of holiness is reached. Through them the Holy Spirit leads you to the real world, and away from all illusions where your faith was laid. This is His direction; the only one He ever sees. And when you wander, He reminds you there is but one. His faith and His belief and vision are all for you. And when you have accepted them completely instead of yours, you will have need of them no longer. For faith and vision and belief are meaningful only before the state of certainty is reached. In Heaven they are unknown. Yet Heaven is reached through them.
It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be. Faithlessness is not a lack of faith, but faith in nothing. Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless. Thus is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. For faith, perception and belief you made, as means for losing certainty and finding sin. This mad direction was your choice, and by your faith in what you chose, you made what you desired.
The Holy Spirit has a use for all the means for sin by which you sought to find it. But as He uses them they lead away from sin, because His purpose lies in the opposite direction. He sees the means you use, but not the purpose for which you made them. He would not take them from you, for He sees their value as a means for what He wills for you. You made perception that you might choose among your brothers, and seek for sin with them. The Holy Spirit sees perception as a means to teach you that the vision of the holy relationship is all you want to see. Then will you give your faith to holiness, desiring and believing in it because of your desire.
Faith and belief become attached to vision, as all the means that once served sin are redirected now toward holiness. For what you think is sin is limitation, and whom you try to limit to the body you hate because you fear. In your refusal to forgive him, you would condemn him to the body because the means for sin are dear to you. And so the body has your faith and your belief. But holiness would set your brother free, removing hatred by removing fear, not as a symptom, but at its source.
Those who would free their brothers from the body can have no fear. They have renounced the means for sin by choosing to let all limitations be removed. As they desire to look upon their brothers in holiness, the power of their belief and faith sees far beyond the body, supporting vision, not obstructing it. But first they chose to recognise how much their faith had limited their understanding of the world, desiring to place its power elsewhere should another point of view be given them. The miracles that follow this decision are also born of faith. For all who choose to look away from sin are given vision, and are led to holiness.
Those who believe in sin must think the Holy Spirit asks for sacrifice, for this is how they think their purpose is accomplished. Brother, the Holy Spirit knows that sacrifice brings nothing. He makes no bargains. And if you seek to limit Him, you will hate Him because you are afraid. The gift that He has given you is more than anything that stands this side of Heaven. The instant for its recognition is at hand. Join your awareness to what has been already joined. The faith you give your brother can accomplish this. For He Who loves the world is seeing it for you, without one spot of sin upon it, and in the innocence that makes the sight of it as beautiful as Heaven.
Your faith in sacrifice has given it great power in your sight; except you do not realise you cannot see because of it. For sacrifice must be exacted of a body, and by another body. The mind could neither ask it nor receive it of itself. And no more could the body. The intention is in the mind, which tries to use the body to carry out the means for sin in which the mind believes. Thus is the joining of mind and body an inescapable belief of those who value sin. And so is sacrifice invariably a means for limitation, and thus for hate.
Think you the Holy Spirit is concerned with this? He gives not what it is His purpose to lead you from. You think He would deprive you for your good. But ‘good’ and ‘deprivation’ are opposites, and cannot meaningfully join in any way. It is like saying that the moon and sun are one because they come with night and day, and so they must be joined. Yet sight of one is but the sign the other has disappeared from sight. Nor is it possible that what gives light be one with what depends on darkness to be seen. Neither demands the sacrifice of the other. Yet on the absence of the other does each depend.
The body was made to be a sacrifice to sin, and in the darkness so it still is seen. Yet in the light of vision it is looked upon quite differently. You can have faith in it to serve the Holy Spirit’s goal, and give it power to serve as means to help the blind to see. But in their seeing they look past it, as do you. The faith and the belief you gave it belongs beyond. You gave perception and belief and faith from mind to body. Let them now be given back to what produced them, and can use them still to save itself from what it made.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 1
I will be still an instant and go home.
This world you seem to live in is not home to you. And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true. A memory of home keeps haunting you, as if there were a place that called you to return, although you do not recognize the voice, nor what it is the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. Nothing so definite that you could say with certainty you are an exile here. Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not more than a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again.
No one but knows whereof we speak. Yet some try to put by their suffering in games they play to occupy their time, and keep their sadness from them. Others will deny that they are sad, and do not recognize their tears at all. Still others will maintain that what we speak of is illusion, not to be considered more than but a dream. Yet who, in simple honesty, without defensiveness and self-deception, would deny he understands the words we speak?
We speak today for everyone who walks this world, for he is not at home. He goes uncertainly about in endless search, seeking in darkness what he cannot find; not recognizing what it is he seeks. A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents his restless mind. He does not understand he builds in vain. The home he seeks can not be made by him. There is no substitute for Heaven. All he ever made was hell.
Perhaps you think it is your childhood home that you would find again. The childhood of your body, and its place of shelter, are a memory now so distorted that you merely hold a picture of a past that never happened. Yet there is a Child in you Who seeks His Father’s house, and knows that He is alien here. This childhood is eternal, with an innocence that will endure forever. Where this Child shall go is holy ground. It is His Holiness that lights up Heaven, and that brings to earth the pure reflection of the light above, wherein are earth and Heaven joined as one.
It is this Child in you your Father knows as His Own Son. It is this Child Who knows His Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while. He does not ask for more than just a few instants of respite; just an interval in which He can return to breathe again the holy air that fills His Father’s house. You are His home as well. He will return. But give Him just a little time to be Himself, within the peace that is His home, resting in silence and in peace and love.
This Child needs your protection. He is far from home. He is so little that He seems so easily shut out, His tiny voice so readily obscured, His call for help almost unheard amid the grating sounds and harsh and rasping noises of the world. Yet does He know that in you still abides His sure protection. You will fail Him not. He will go home, and you along with Him.
This Child is your defenselessness; your strength. He trusts in you. He came because He knew you would not fail. He whispers of His home unceasingly to you. For He would bring you back with Him, that He Himself might stay, and not return again where He does not belong, and where He lives an outcast in a world of alien thoughts. His patience has no limits. He will wait until you hear His gentle Voice within you, calling you to let Him go in peace, along with you, to where He is at home and you with Him.
When you are still an instant, when the world recedes from you, when valueless ideas cease to have value in your restless mind, then will you hear His Voice. So poignantly He calls to you that you will not resist Him longer. In that instant He will take you to His home, and you will stay with Him in perfect stillness, silent and at peace, beyond all words, untouched by fear and doubt, sublimely certain that you are at home.
Rest with Him frequently today. For He was willing to become a little Child that you might learn of Him how strong is he who comes without defenses, offering only love’s messages to those who think he is their enemy. He holds the might of Heaven in His hand and calls them friend, and gives His strength to them, that they may see He would be Friend to them. He asks that they protect Him, for His home is far away, and He will not return to it alone.
Christ is reborn as but a little Child each time a wanderer would leave his home. For he must learn that what he would protect is but this Child, Who comes defenseless and Who is protected by defenselessness. Go home with Him from time to time today. You are as much an alien here as He.
Take time today to lay aside your shield which profits nothing, and lay down the spear and sword you raised against an enemy without existence. Christ has called you friend and brother. He has even come to ask your help in letting Him go home today, completed and completely. He has come as does a little child, who must beseech his father for protection and for love. He rules the universe, and yet He asks unceasingly that you return with Him, and take illusions as your gods no more.
You have not lost your innocence. It is for this you yearn. This is your heart’s desire. This is the voice you hear, and this the call which cannot be denied. The holy Child remains with you. His home is yours. Today He gives you His defenselessness, and you accept it in exchange for all the toys of battle you have made. And now the way is open, and the journey has an end in sight at last. Be still an instant and go home with Him, and be at peace a while.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1147: Today a friend of mine mentioned something related to “sowing your wild oats” and it brought up some conflict within me. I remember when I was married back when I was 22, I was tormented with thinking I needed to sleep with other women to gain my peace of mind because I felt like I didn’t know what it was like to. It was like that whispering voice that says you won’t know until you try it. I would like to think that someone could have one relationship and be content and not wonder that completion lies within another relationship. My friend’s comment brought up some old fears within me and even now I still wonder if I’m missing something in my experience of life. Another fear of mine is that I am not a complete man because I have never gotten into a fist fight with another man and so I feel like I would need to seek this to be whole. I guess I feel like I’m not like other men. Also, Question #202 says that, “Children must first learn to become strong, healthy egos in order to function effectively and to cope with the many challenges in world.” How do I know my ego is developed enough so I can move on and follow the teachings of A Course in Miracles ?
A: That “whispering voice” that tells us that we need to do more, that we are not enough, that we are incomplete, that something needs to be different — in our relationships, in our personalities, in our bodies, in our lives — is always the voice of the ego (T.29.VIII.8) . Always! Now, knowing that, we still may choose to listen to it, and most of us do, most if not all of the time. And that’s no sin. What we seek after won’t make us genuinely happy, but if we believe it’s more spiritual to deny that nagging inner voice or resist its urges, more than likely we will then feel as if we are sacrificing something important, and the ego will still have us in its grip. For the worldly experiences we’ve deprived ourselves of will still feel very real and we will have once again embraced the ego’s religion, whose tenets hold that God and love demand that we sacrifice what we think we want for the sake of some greater good (T.15.X.7:1,2) .
So if you feel you are not whole or complete, or not the man you think you should be, and you believe there is something that may help you feel better about yourself, you may certainly want to check it out. Now of course you may want to choose your fight carefully, and perhaps a round of boxing, with the gloves on could help minimize the risk of broken knuckles and jaws, or brain damage! For most of us, the only way to be willing to move along on our spiritual path is to allow ourselves to experience what we believe will make us feel better about ourselves. Then we can see, after having the experience, that the emptiness and the sense of inadequacy still remain, for those feelings are not coming from what we do or don’t do, but from what we believe about ourselves at the core of our very being . Oh yes, temporarily we may feel better about ourselves after some conquest, but the fix never lasts. For it hasn’t addressed the source of the emptiness and self-loathing, which come from a decision buried deep in our unconscious to be different from God, rejecting the one Relationship that brings the sense of completion that we futilely search for outside ourselves (T.30.III.3) .
To a degree, the observations made about children in the question you cite apply to all of us. We will not be willing to let go of our investment in the ego until we have come to a full realization that it offers us nothing (T4.IV.6:1,2; T.9.I.10:2,3) , for it is nothing (T.7.VI.11:4,5,6,7 ; T.7.X.3:8,9; T.11.II.7:6) . And for most of us, the only way to recognize that is to continue to turn to the ego for guidance and then to look very honestly at the outcome. Now it may be a little like banging our head against a brick wall and wondering why we have a headache and where the blood is coming from, but until we make the connection, we will continue to ask the wrong teacher how to feel better about ourselves. In the end, we will all come to recognize the real content behind the ego thought system, and then it’s just a matter of how much time we decide to continue unnecessarily to prolong our agony. But regardless of how stubborn and childish we may be, Jesus assures us a happy outcome is certain (T.4.II.5; W.pI.71.6) .
This does not mean that, as adults, we are confronted with an “either-or” choice between developing our ego and practicing the Course. As students of the Course, we can learn to be gentle with ourselves about our ego-based decisions so that we do not use them to reinforce our guilt. If we can watch ourselves choosing our ego without guilt, we will be more willing to look at the outcome of our ego identification and will come that much sooner to the recognition that each time we dip into the ego’s well of experiences, we come up empty.
You may find Question #614 on masculinity and spirituality of some relevance to your concerns.