ACIM Text Reading for July 14
THE WAR AGAINST YOURSELF
Do you not see the opposite of frailty and weakness is sinlessness? Innocence is strength, and nothing else is strong. The sinless cannot fear, for sin of any kind is weakness. The show of strength attack would use to cover frailty conceals it not, for how can the unreal be hidden? No one is strong who has an enemy, and no one can attack unless he thinks he has. Belief in enemies is therefore the belief in weakness, and what is weak is not the Will of God. Being opposed to it, it is God’s ‘enemy’. And God is feared as an opposing will.
How strange indeed becomes this war against yourself! You will believe that everything you use for sin can hurt you and become your enemy. And you will fight against it, and try to weaken it because of this; and you will think that you succeeded, and attack again. It is as certain you will fear what you attack as it is sure that you will love what you perceive as sinless. He walks in peace who travels sinlessly along the way love shows him. For love walks with him there, protecting him from fear. And he will see only the sinless, who can not attack.
Walk you in glory, with your head held high, and fear no evil. The innocent are safe because they share their innocence. Nothing they see is harmful, for their awareness of the truth releases everything from the illusion of harmfulness. And what seemed harmful now stands shining in their innocence, released from sin and fear and happily returned to love. They share the strength of love because they looked on innocence. And every error disappeared because they saw it not. Who looks for glory finds it where it is. Where could it be but in the innocent?
Let not the little interferers pull you to littleness. There can be no attraction of guilt in innocence. Think what a happy world you walk, with truth beside you! Do not give up this world of freedom for a little sigh of seeming sin, nor for a tiny stirring of guilt’s attraction. Would you, for all these meaningless distractions, lay Heaven aside? Your destiny and purpose are far beyond them, in the clean place where littleness does not exist. Your purpose is at variance with littleness of any kind. And so it is at variance with sin.
Let us not let littleness lead God’s Son into temptation. His glory is beyond it, measureless and timeless as eternity. Do not let time intrude upon your sight of him. Leave him not frightened and alone in his temptation, but help him rise above it and perceive the light of which he is a part. Your innocence will light the way to his, and so is yours protected and kept in your awareness. For who can know his glory, and perceive the little and the weak about him? Who can walk trembling in a fearful world, and realise that heaven’s glory shines on him?
Nothing around you but is part of you. Look on it lovingly, and see the light of Heaven in it. So will you come to understand all that is given you. In kind forgiveness will the world sparkle and shine, and everything you once thought sinful now will be reinterpreted as part of Heaven. How beautiful it is to walk, clean and redeemed and happy, through a world in bitter need of the redemption that your innocence bestows upon it! What can you value more than this? For here is your salvation and your freedom. And it must be complete if you would recognise it.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 14
Love is the way I walk in gratitude.
Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss. The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others. And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they. How pitiful and deprecating are such thoughts! For who has cause for thanks while others have less cause? And who could suffer less because he sees another suffer more? Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world.
It is insane to offer thanks because of suffering. But it is equally insane to fail in gratitude to One Who offers you the certain means whereby all pain is healed, and suffering replaced with laughter and with happiness. Nor could the even partly sane refuse to take the steps which He directs, and follow in the way He sets before them, to escape a prison that they thought contained no door to the deliverance they now perceive.
Your brother is your “enemy” because you see in him the rival for your peace; a plunderer who takes his joy from you, and leaves you nothing but a black despair so bitter and relentless that there is no hope remaining. Now is vengeance all there is to wish for. Now can you but try to bring him down to lie in death with you, as useless as yourself; as little left within his grasping fingers as in yours.
You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you, nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love. We offer thanks to God our Father that in us all things will find their freedom. It will never be that some are loosed while others still are bound. For who can bargain in the name of love?
Therefore give thanks, but in sincerity. And let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you; the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you. Let us not compare ourselves with them, for thus we split them off from our awareness of the unity we share with them, as they must share with us.
We thank our Father for one thing alone; that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. And we rejoice that no exceptions ever can be made which would reduce our wholeness, nor impair or change our function to complete the One Who is Himself completion. We give thanks for every living thing, for otherwise we offer thanks for nothing, and we fail to recognize the gifts of God to us.
Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while. We offer thanks for them. For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us. An ancient door is swinging free again; a long forgotten Word re-echoes in our memory, and gathers clarity as we are willing once again to hear.
Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. What more remains as obstacles to peace? The fear of God is now undone at last, and we forgive without comparing. Thus we cannot choose to overlook some things, and yet retain some other things still locked away as “sins.” When your forgiveness is complete you will have total gratitude, for you will see that everything has earned the right to love by being loving, even as your Self.
Today we learn to think of gratitude in place of anger, malice and revenge. We have been given everything. If we refuse to recognize it, we are not entitled therefore to our bitterness, and to a self-perception which regards us in a place of merciless pursuit, where we are badgered ceaselessly, and pushed about without a thought or care for us or for our future. Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for these insane perceptions. God has cared for us, and calls us Son. Can there be more than this?
Our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than you could ever dream of. Gratitude goes hand in hand with love, and where one is the other must be found. For gratitude is but an aspect of the Love which is the Source of all creation. God gives thanks to you, His Son, for being what you are; His Own completion and the Source of love, along with Him. Your gratitude to Him is one with His to you. For love can walk no road except the way of gratitude, and thus we go who walk the way to God.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #934: To learn A Course in Miracles, a student needs to form a relationship in his mind with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The Course tells us this repeatedly. But it offers hardly any practical advice about how to contact them. Helen Schucman, the scribe of the Course, clearly had a personal relationship with Jesus. She knew how to commune with him. But what do the rest of us do?
A: Undoubtedly, many students of A Course in Miracles have at some point envied Helen’s experience of hearing Jesus’ voice. It is easy to feel that Jesus must have had a special love for Helen that he is withholding from the rest of us. This is exactly what the ego would like us to think because it justifies its claim that we did not abandon God’s Love; God’s Love abandoned us. But believing that Helen had something we do not because we cannot literally hear a voice misses the Course’s entire point.
It is not the words Jesus gave Helen that we need in our own mind; it is the love that inspired them. It is not Jesus as an historical, human figure, nor the Holy Spirit as an Entity whom we need; it is the abstract love they represent.
The Course tells us that the body is but a figure in a dream (T.27.VIII.4:3) . That means every body — including Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and ourselves as the individuals we think we are. Anything we perceive as having an individual identity and physical existence is but a symbol in our dream.
But because we are so completely convinced of the reality of our symbols, a book that only spoke of abstract love without personalizing it would not be of much help to us. We have no way to grasp abstract love on the level of human thought. So, when that abstract love that comes from outside of this dream entered Helen’s mind, she experienced it as the voice of Jesus — a potent symbol for her. Fortunately, Jesus is a potent symbol for most of the rest of us in the Western world too. So, the happy result is a book that gives us a way within the dream of conceptualizing the love that comes from outside it.
As students of the Course, we should note that we have probably never told ourselves that we cannot follow the dictates of the ego because we do not hear its voice. On one level, we know that the ego is just a symbol. Yet, when the Course talks of the ego’s “senseless shrieks” (T.25.V.3:5) we do not protest that we have never heard them. Rather, we feel an at times painful sense of recognition. And so we accept the ego as a useful symbol, both real and unreal.
However, when the Course tells us the Holy Spirit is “a still small Voice” (T.21.V.1:6) , we think we need to literally hear a voice. And there is a reason we instantly decide that. On a level we are not aware of, we do know that this Voice of Love is really a thought of love that still remains within our mind. We also know (again, unconsciously) that we could turn to it at any time and that terrifies us. So, in the blink of an eye, the part of our mind that is afraid (symbolized by the ego) finds this clever setup that will once again allow us to seek but never find.
Because we are so skilled at keeping ourselves firmly rooted in this dynamic and in this dream, it is very helpful to have the image of an older, wiser, gentle, and loving brother as our guide. But again, it is only in our mind that we need him. He is not coming to us. Rather, we are symbolically coming to him by making a choice for a different thought system.
Furthermore, we do not even need to look for this thought system. As the Course says, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” (T.16.IV.6:1). And so, all we have to do is watch our unloving thoughts and actions without justifying or judging them. Ultimately, this will teach us that our pain is self-inflicted and that we would be much happier if we made a different choice. This is what it means to reach for Jesus’ hand to transcend the ego (T.8.V.6:8) . To do this requires no special attributes or abilities — only a little willingness (T.18.V.2:5) .
For related discussions about listening to Jesus and the Holy Spirit, please see Questions #11, and #401a.