ACIM Text Reading for July 4
Chapter 21 ~ Reason And Perception
VI. Reason versus Madness
Reason cannot see sin but can see errors, and leads to their correction. It does not value them, but their correction. Reason will also tell you that when you think you sin, you call for help. Yet if you will not accept the help you call for, you will not believe that it is yours to give. And so you will not give it, thus maintaining the belief. For uncorrected error of any kind deceives you about the power that is in you to make correction. If it can correct, and you allow it not to do so, you deny it to yourself and to your brother. And if he shares this same belief you both will think that you are damned. This you could spare him and yourself. For reason would not make way for correction in you alone.
Correction cannot be accepted or refused by you without your brother. Sin would maintain it can. Yet reason tells you that you cannot see your brother or yourself as sinful and still perceive the other innocent. Who looks upon himself as guilty and sees a sinless world? And who can see a sinful world and look upon himself apart from it? Sin would maintain you and your brother must be separate. But reason tells you that this must be wrong. If you and your brother are joined, how could it be that you have private thoughts? And how could thoughts that enter into what but seems like yours alone have no effect at all on what is yours? If minds are joined, this is impossible.
No one can think but for himself, as God thinks not without His Son. Only were both in bodies could this be. Nor could one mind think only for itself unless the body were the mind. For only bodies can be separate, and therefore unreal. The home of madness cannot be the home of reason. Yet it is easy to leave the home of madness if you see reason. You do not leave insanity by going somewhere else. You leave it simply by accepting reason where madness was. Madness and reason see the same things, but it is certain that they look upon them differently.
Madness is an attack on reason that drives it out of mind, and takes its place. Reason does not attack, but takes the place of madness quietly, replacing madness if it be the choice of the insane to listen to it. But the insane know not their will, for they believe they see the body, and let their madness tell them it is real. Reason would be incapable of this. And if you would defend the body against your reason, you will not understand the body or yourself.
The body does not separate you from your brother, and if you think it does you are insane. But madness has a purpose, and believes it also has the means to make its purpose real. To see the body as a barrier between what reason tells you must be joined must be insane. Nor could you see it, if you heard the voice of reason. What can there be that stands between what is continuous? And if there is nothing in between, how can what enters part be kept away from other parts? Reason would tell you this. But think what you must recognise, if it be so.
If you choose sin instead of healing, you would condemn the Son of God to what can never be corrected. You tell him, by your choice, that he is damned; separate from you and from his Father forever, without a hope of safe return. You teach him this, and you will learn of him exactly what you taught. For you can teach him only that he is as you would have him, and what you choose he be is but your choice for you. Yet think not this is fearful. That you are joined to him is but a fact, not an interpretation. How can a fact be fearful unless it disagrees with what you hold more dear than truth? Reason will tell you that this fact is your release.
Neither your brother nor yourself can be attacked alone. But neither can accept a miracle instead without the other being blessed by it, and healed of pain. Reason, like love, would reassure you, and seeks not to frighten you. The power to heal the Son of God is given you because he must be one with you. You are responsible for how he sees himself. And reason tells you it is given you to change his whole mind, which is one with you, in just an instant. And any instant serves to bring complete correction of his errors and make him whole. The instant that you choose to let yourself be healed, in that same instant is his whole salvation seen as complete with yours. Reason is given you to understand that this is so. For reason, kind as is the purpose for which it is the means, leads steadily away from madness toward the goal of truth. And here you will lay down the burden of denying truth. This is the burden that is terrible, and not the truth.
That you and your brother are joined is your salvation; the gift of Heaven, not the gift of fear. Does Heaven seem to be a burden to you? In madness, yes. And yet what madness sees must be dispelled by reason. Reason assures you Heaven is what you want, and all you want. Listen to Him Who speaks with reason, and brings your reason into line with His. Be willing to let reason be the means by which He would direct you how to leave insanity behind. Hide not behind insanity in order to escape from reason. What madness would conceal the Holy Spirit still holds out, for everyone to look upon with gladness.
You are your brother’s saviour. He is yours. Reason speaks happily indeed of this. This gracious plan was given love by Love. And what Love plans is like Itself in this: Being united, It would have you learn what you must be. And being one with It, it must be given you to give what It has given, and gives still. Spend but an instant in the glad acceptance of what is given you to give your brother, and learn with him what has been given both of you. To give is no more blessed than to receive. But neither is it less.
The Son of God is always blessed as one. And as his gratitude goes out to you who blessed him, reason will tell you that it cannot be you stand apart from blessing. The gratitude he offers you reminds you of the thanks your Father gives you for completing Him. And here alone does reason tell you that you can understand what you must be. Your Father is as close to you as is your brother. Yet what is there that could be nearer you than is your Self?
The power you have over the Son of God is not a threat to his reality. It but attests to it. Where could his freedom lie but in himself, if he be free already? And who could bind him but himself, if he deny his freedom? God is not mocked; no more His Son can be imprisoned save by his own desire. And it is by his own desire that he is freed. Such is his strength, and not his weakness. He is at his own mercy. And where he chooses to be merciful, there is he free. But where he chooses to condemn instead, there is he held a prisoner, waiting in chains his pardon on himself to set him free.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 4
I want the peace of God.
To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything. If you could but mean them for just an instant, there would be no further sorrow possible for you in any form; in any place or time. Heaven would be completely given back to full awareness, memory of God entirely restored, the resurrection of all creation fully recognized.
No one can mean these words and not be healed. He cannot play with dreams, nor think he is himself a dream. He cannot make a hell and think it real. He wants the peace of God, and it is given him. For that is all he wants, and that is all he will receive. Many have said these words. But few indeed have meant them. You have but to look upon the world you see around you to be sure how very few they are. The world would be completely changed, should any two agree these words express the only thing they want.
Two minds with one intent become so strong that what they will becomes the Will of God. For minds can only join in truth. In dreams, no two can share the same intent. To each, the hero of the dream is different; the outcome wanted not the same for both. Loser and gainer merely shift about in changing patterns, as the ratio of gain to loss and loss to gain takes on a different aspect or another form.
Yet compromise alone a dream can bring. Sometimes it takes the form of union, but only the form. The meaning must escape the dream, for compromising is the goal of dreaming. Minds cannot unite in dreams. They merely bargain. And what bargain can give them the peace of God? Illusions come to take His place. And what He means is lost to sleeping minds intent on compromise, each to his gain and to another’s loss.
To mean you want the peace of God is to renounce all dreams. For no one means these words who wants illusions, and who therefore seeks the means which bring illusions. He has looked on them, and found them wanting. Now he seeks to go beyond them, recognizing that another dream would offer nothing more than all the others. Dreams are one to him. And he has learned their only difference is one of form, for one will bring the same despair and misery as do the rest.
The mind which means that all it wants is peace must join with other minds, for that is how peace is obtained. And when the wish for peace is genuine, the means for finding it is given, in a form each mind that seeks for it in honesty can understand. Whatever form the lesson takes is planned for him in such a way that he can not mistake it, if his asking is sincere. But if he asks without sincerity, there is no form in which the lesson will meet with acceptance and be truly learned.
Let us today devote our practicing to recognizing that we really mean the words we say. We want the peace of God. This is no idle wish. These words do not request another dream be given us. They do not ask for compromise, nor try to make another bargain in the hope that there may yet be one that can succeed where all the rest have failed. To mean these words acknowledges illusions are in vain, requesting the eternal in the place of shifting dreams which seem to change in what they offer, but are one in nothingness.
Today devote your practice periods to careful searching of your mind, to find the dreams you cherish still. What do you ask for in your heart? Forget the words you use in making your requests. Consider but what you believe will comfort you, and bring you happiness. But be you not dismayed by lingering illusions, for their form is not what matters now. Let not some dreams be more acceptable, reserving shame and secrecy for others. They are one. And being one, one question should be asked of all of them, “Is this what I would have, in place of Heaven and the peace of God?”
This is the choice you make. Be not deceived that it is otherwise. No compromise is possible in this. You choose God’s peace, or you have asked for dreams. And dreams will come as you requested them. Yet will God’s peace come just as certainly, and to remain with you forever. It will not be gone with every twist and turning of the road, to reappear, unrecognized, in forms which shift and change with every step you take.
You want the peace of God. And so do all who seem to seek for dreams. For them as well as for yourself, you ask but this when you make this request with deep sincerity. For thus you reach to what they really want, and join your own intent with what they seek above all things, perhaps unknown to them, but sure to you. You have been weak at times, uncertain in your purpose, and unsure of what you wanted, where to look for it, and where to turn for help in the attempt. Help has been given you. And would you not avail yourself of it by sharing it?
No one who truly seeks the peace of God can fail to find it. For he merely asks that he deceive himself no longer by denying to himself what is God’s Will. Who can remain unsatisfied who asks for what he has already? Who could be unanswered who requests an answer which is his to give? The peace of God is yours.
For you was peace created, given you by its Creator, and established as His Own eternal gift. How can you fail, when you but ask for what He wills for you? And how could your request be limited to you alone? No gift of God can be unshared. It is this attribute that sets the gifts of God apart from every dream that ever seemed to take the place of truth.
No one can lose and everyone must gain whenever any gift of God has been requested and received by anyone. God gives but to unite. To take away is meaningless to Him. And when it is as meaningless to you, you can be sure you share one Will with Him, and He with you. And you will also know you share one Will with all your brothers, whose intent is yours.
It is this one intent we seek today, uniting our desires with the need of every heart, the call of every mind, the hope that lies beyond despair, the love attack would hide, the brotherhood that hate has sought to sever, but which still remains as God created it. With Help like this beside us, can we fail today as we request the peace of God be given us?
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #259: This question has two parts. The first starts from an observation. As I have been advancing through the workbook, I have often found that the daily lesson corresponds uncannily with a need or preoccupation which has only just begun to make itself felt in my mind — as though some subtle synchronicity were at work between the unfolding Course and my own changing inner state. (This has also happened on occasions when reading the text). Do you think this is a frequent experience among students of A Course in Miracles? Maybe my first question goes some way to answering my second, but I’ll ask it anyway. In the workbook, Jesus frequently tells his student about how he or she is responding at that particular point. For example, in Lesson 123, he says, “Today let us be thankful.…There is no thought of turning back, and no implacable resistance to the truth. A bit of wavering remains, some small objections and a little hesitance…” (W.pI.123.1:1,3,4). But how can Jesus make such general pronouncements when referring to thousands of individuals, each with their own way of responding to and progressing with the Course?
A: With regard to the first question: Occasionally, we have had students relate experiences similar to the kind you described, but we have no way of knowing how common this type of experience is. Many students have said that when they were reading certain parts of the Course, they felt that Jesus was speaking very personally to them.
Second, as we know, most of what is written in the Course was given specifically to Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford for their personal spiritual process, and so the wording reflects that context. Jesus was helping Helen, in particular, with undoing what was left of her ego; so he would include comments, observations, gentle rebukes, emphatic directives, etc., that pertained to her personal process. At the same time, though, the Course can easily be understood as reflecting the more general pattern of spiritual advancement that applies to everyone. An excellent example of this are the six stages in the development of trust described in the manual for teachers (M.4.I.A). This discussion of the development of trust is meant to give us a general sense of what occurs during the process of undoing our ego.
It is not surprising that you would experience the kind of synchronicity that you describe. Recall that (a) time is not linear or real; (b) the content of the split mind never changes: the wrong mind is 100% ego — innumerable ways of expressing the one content of separation and sin, guilt, and fear; the right mind is 100% Holy Spirit — innumerable ways of accepting the Atonement through forgiveness; (c) having acceded to the ego’s strategy of making ourselves mindless, we are not aware of the full dimension of the content or dynamics in our minds. And we surely are not aware of the full content of each lesson Jesus gives us.
Thus, what we actually experience is almost always just a miniscule portion of what is going on in our minds, and is almost always in a defined form, rather than its original abstract nature — the tip of the iceberg, to switch metaphors. To simplify, as Jesus does, there is “only one problem, one solution” (W.pI.80.3:5); and we are either calling out for love or extending love. Therefore, our readiness and openness to learn from Jesus reflects the call for love in our minds, and it has already been answered. We would experience this process as something new that is happening as we read words in the workbook, when all it is is our mind’s decision to stop blocking the truth that is always there. It is a perfect match, you might say, between our call for love and the answer to that call, experienced in the only way that would be intelligible to us at that moment. It is a process that happens in our minds outside time and space; but because we are still identified with a body that seems to exist in time and space, that is how we will experience it. Jesus did not know “ahead of time” how his students would respond and what they would be ready for at any given instant. To think that is to make time real. The process is experienced in time, because that is the only form in which we (the decision-making part of ours minds) can accept the truth about ourselves. We are still too invested in our identities as separate, special beings, and too frightened to get beyond them. That is quite normal, and as we continue to practice forgiveness, we will be drawn more and more to the love that inspired the words of the Course that are so meaningful to us.