ACIM Text Reading for September 16
THE FINAL VISION
I. The Simplicity of Salvation
How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all. Can this be hard to learn by anyone who wants it to be true? Only unwillingness to learn it could make such an easy lesson difficult. How hard is it to see that what is false can not be true, and what is true can not be false? You can no longer say that you perceive no differences in false and true. You have been told exactly how to tell one from the other, and just what to do if you become confused. Why, then, do you persist in learning not such simple things?
There is a reason. But confuse it not with difficulty in the simple things salvation asks you learn. It teaches but the very obvious. It merely goes from one apparent lesson to the next, in easy steps that lead you gently from one to another, with no strain at all. This cannot be confusing, yet you are confused. For somehow you believe that what is totally confused is easier to learn and understand. What you have taught yourself is such a giant learning feat it is indeed incredible. But you accomplished it because you wanted to, and did not pause in diligence to judge it hard to learn or too complex to grasp.
No one who understands what you have learned, how carefully you learned it, and the pains to which you went to practise and repeat the lessons endlessly, in every form you could conceive of them, could ever doubt the power of your learning skill. There is no greater power in the world. The world was made by it, and even now depends on nothing else. The lessons you have taught yourself have been so over-learned and fixed they rise like heavy curtains to obscure the simple and the obvious. Say not you cannot learn them. For your power to learn is strong enough to teach you that your will is not your own, your thoughts do not belong to you, and even you are someone else.
Who could maintain that lessons such as these are easy? Yet you have learned more than this. You have continued, taking every step, however difficult, without complaint, until a world was built that suited you. And every lesson that makes up the world arises from the first accomplishment of learning; an enormity so great the Holy Spirit’s Voice seems small and still before its magnitude. The world began with one strange lesson, powerful enough to render God forgotten, and His Son an alien to himself, in exile from the home where God Himself established him. You who have taught yourself the Son of God is guilty, say not that you cannot learn the simple things salvation teaches you!
Learning is an ability you made and gave yourself. It was not made to do the Will of God, but to uphold a wish that it could be opposed, and that a will apart from it was yet more real than it. And this has learning sought to demonstrate, and you have learned what it was made to teach. Now does your ancient over-learning stand implacable before the Voice of truth, and teach you that Its lessons are not true; too hard to learn, too difficult to see, and too opposed to what is really true. Yet you will learn them, for their learning is the only purpose for your learning skill the Holy Spirit sees in all the world. His simple lessons in forgiveness have a power mightier than yours, because they call from God and from your Self to you.
Is this a little Voice, so small and still It cannot rise above the senseless noise of sounds that have no meaning? God willed not His Son forget Him. And the power of His Will is in the Voice That speaks for Him. Which lesson will you learn? What outcome is inevitable, sure as God, and far beyond all doubt and question? Can it be your little learning, strange in outcome and incredible in difficulty will withstand the simple lessons being taught to you in every moment of each day, since time began and learning had been made?
The lessons to be learned are only two. Each has its outcome in a different world. And each world follows surely from its source. The certain outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guilty is the world you see. It is a world of terror and despair. Nor is there hope of happiness in it. There is no plan for safety you can make that ever will succeed. There is no joy that you can seek for here and hope to find. Yet this is not the only outcome which your learning can produce. However much you may have over-learned your chosen task, the lesson that reflects the Love of God is stronger still. And you will learn God’s Son is innocent, and see another world.
The outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guiltless is a world in which there is no fear, and everything is lit with hope and sparkles with a gentle friendliness. Nothing but calls to you in soft appeal to be your friend, and let it join with you. And never does a call remain unheard, misunderstood, nor left unanswered in the self- same tongue in which the call was made. And you will understand it was this call that everyone and everything within the world has always made, but you had not perceived it as it was. And now you see you were mistaken. You had been deceived by forms the call was hidden in. And so you did not hear it, and had lost a friend who always wanted to be part of you. The soft, eternal calling of each part of God’s creation to the whole is heard throughout the world this second lesson brings.
There is no living thing that does not share the universal Will that it be whole, and that you do not leave its call unheard. Without your answer is it left to die, as it is saved from death when you have heard its calling as the ancient call to life, and understood that it is but your own. The Christ in you remembers God with all the certainty with which He knows His Love. But only if His Son is innocent can He be Love. For God were fear indeed if he whom He created innocent could be a slave to guilt. God’s perfect Son remembers his creation. But in guilt he has forgotten what he really is.
The fear of God results as surely from the lesson that His Son is guilty as God’s Love must be remembered when he learns his innocence. For hate must father fear, and look upon its father as itself. How wrong are you who fail to hear the call that echoes past each seeming call to death, that sings behind each murderous attack and pleads that love restore the dying world. You do not understand Who calls to you beyond each form of hate; each call to war. Yet you will recognise Him as you give Him answer in the language that He calls. He will appear when you have answered Him, and you will know in Him that God is Love.
What is temptation but a wish to make the wrong decision on what you would learn, and have an outcome that you do not want? It is the recognition that it is a state of mind unwanted that becomes the means whereby the choice is reassessed; another outcome seen to be preferred. You are deceived if you believe you want disaster and disunity and pain. Hear not the call for this within yourself. But listen, rather, to the deeper call beyond it that appeals for peace and joy. And all the world will give you joy and peace. For as you hear, you answer. And behold! Your answer is the proof of what you learned. Its outcome is the world you look upon.
Let us be still an instant, and forget all things we ever learned, all thoughts we had, and every preconception that we hold of what things mean and what their purpose is. Let us remember not our own ideas of what the world is for. We do not know. Let every image held of everyone be loosened from our minds and swept away.
Be innocent of judgement, unaware of any thoughts of evil or of good that ever crossed your mind of anyone. Now do you know him not. But you are free to learn of him, and learn of him anew. Now is he born again to you, and you are born again to him, without the past that sentenced him to die, and you with him. Now is he free to live as you are free, because an ancient learning passed away, and left a place for truth to be reborn.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 16
Let me remember that there is no sin.
Sin is the only thought that makes the goal of God seem unattainable. What else could blind us to the obvious, and make the strange and the distorted seem more clear? What else but sin engenders our attacks? What else but sin could be the source of guilt, demanding punishment and suffering? And what but sin could be the source of fear, obscuring God’s creation; giving love the attributes of fear and of attack?
Father, I would not be insane today. I would not be afraid of love, nor seek for refuge in its opposite. For love can have no opposite. You are the Source of everything there is. And everything that is remains with You, and You with it.
ACIM Miracle Principle for September 16
The Fifty Miracle Principles of A Course in Miracles
by Kenneth Wapnick
Miracles are expressions of love, but they may not always have observable effects.
This is very important. One of the traps that people fall into, as I have already said, whether they work with A Course in Miracles or they are into any other form of healing, is that they want results. If I do not get results, if your cold does not disappear, if the wound does not heal, if this tumor does not go away, then that means I am not a good healer. All that has happened is that we have fallen into the same trap of making the body real.
One of the major cautions the Course consistently expresses is: Do not make the error real. A Course in Miracles does not believe in sin; but if it did, the sin against the Course would be to make the error real. We make the error real by believing we have to do something for or against the error. Once we believe there is a problem on the level of the body which has to be healed, then we are making the error real. Trying to project a circle of light around you or around someone else is an example of making the error real, because then you are saying that the light must protect this person or myself against the darkness. Obviously, then, you are making the darkness real. You do not have to fight against something if it is unreal. You only fight against it or protect against it when you believe it is real. The protection the Course talks about is the protection of our thought system, which means that we correct the misthoughts that we have.
Q: That sounds kind of tough. My question is, can you have your cake and eat it too? For example, if you need aspirin, if you need to go for a little magic now and then …
A: I am not saying you should not do that. All I am saying is: Do whatever it is that makes you feel better, but do not believe it is doing what you think it is doing. The Course talks about the idea of bringing illusions to the truth, or darkness to the light. The ego does it the other way around. It brings truth to the illusion. People will be tempted to take the truth of this Course, which is a very pure system, and bring it to the illusions that we all cherish. There are certain things we do not want to let go of, so if you are fond of circles of light, then you do not want to let that go. Or, if you are fond of asking for parking spaces, you do not want to let that go. And there is nothing here that says you have to let it go. Jesus is not up there with a whip. He is just saying that it is not going to give you what you want, that is all. If you want to indulge yourself along the way, I think that is fine as long as you recognize what you are doing. That is what is important.
A Course in Miracles does not say that we should not get angry. It says that we should not justify the anger. That is the mistake. Everyone is going to get angry, because we have egos. The idea is that when you do get angry and upset, do not justify it. That is what Jesus says in Chapter 3 when he talks about Atonement without sacrifice (text, p. 32; T-3.1). He says that that is where people went wrong. They had to reverse a whole way of thinking in order to justify the misperception that God caused His own Son to suffer. In other words, people created a theology that justified the projection of their own guilt. But when you construct a theology, psychology, philosophy, a theory of economics, or whatever to justify the projection of your own ego, you are going to have trouble. There is nothing wrong in having circles of light around you if that is what makes you feet better, but when you try to make them part of this thought system, that is where the mistake will enter in.
When you talk on Level One, everything does seem very hard, because that is the level which is uncompromising. It says you realize at the end that “what is false is false, and what is true has never changed” (workbook, p. 445; W-pII.10.1:1). Everything in this world is false and, therefore, you should not put any investment in it. But no one living in the world of the body, as we all are, is going to be able to totally let go of all investment in the world. There will always be some little things, hopefully only little things, that we hold on to. That is Level Two, which is a much gentler way of looking at all of this. But what is uncompromising even there is the idea of not making the error real, not trying to justify the misperceptions of the ego. There is nothing wrong with having ego attacks; we are all going to have them. The mistake is in trying to say, “Well, this is what the Course is really saying,” or “This is what the Bible is really saying,” or “This is what God told me I should do.” It is so much better to just say, “Well, I had an ego attack,” or “It makes my ego feel better to have a circle of light around me,” or to ask the Holy Spirit for a parking spot. That is fine as long as you do not try to say that is what this Course is saying. Once you do that, you will fall into the same trap as happened two thousand years ago, of taking a message that was radiantly pure and quickly putting shrouds of darkness and guilt all around it so that it ends up being a religion of hatred rather than one of love.
Q: I assume that indulging oneself, whether it is taking magic, taking naps, sexual pleasure, or any other kind of indulgence is okay, as long as you know that that is what you are doing. But, are we not then making the error real every single time we indulge ourself?
A: Yes, on Level One. But within our experience here in the world of the body (Level Two), such “indulging” can be a way of gently learning that this is not what I really want. But you do have to be careful that you are not deluding yourself, following the ego rather than the Holy Spirit, and thus getting involved in something that will hurt yourself and/or others, making your guilt even stronger. All that the Course would say is: Do whatever it is you want to do, but do not make it into the Kingdom of Heaven. Do not make a big deal out of it. That is the thing. What we usually do is make a big deal out of everything.
Q: But you are making the error real every time you do anything physical.
A: Of course! You cannot help that. But you make it worse when you try to justify it. It is much better to say that I still have this body and I believe I have certain needs, and there are certain things that give me pleasure; there are certain things I want to avoid because they give me pain. As long as I am a body, I am going to have those, but that does not mean anything. What is meaningful is that I forgive this person who works with me or who lives with me, and that I really want this relationship healed. The other stuff is kind of silly. The idea is to do whatever it is, but not to make a big deal of it. In fact, there is a line that comes near the end of this chapter that says that “physical impulses are misdirected miracle impulses” (text, p. 12; T-1.VII.1:3). That is another way of saying that making the body real, whether you are talking about sexuality, sickness, anger, or war, is a defense against who we really are. Specifically in terms of sexuality, it is referring to the idea that joining with people through the body will not make you feel peaceful or comfortable, because the only joining is through the mind.
In other words, we all yearn to be back home with God because that is the core of our problem. Somehow we feel that if we can get physically close to people, whether you are talking about sexually close or just physically close, somehow that will undo the separation. Obviously, it does not because the problem has nothing whatsoever to do with the body. Again, it is our use of the body that is the mistake, trying to justify or spiritualize something that has nothing to do with anything spiritual. Nothing of the body is spiritual. It is the use of it which is important.
Q: Could the Holy Spirit be saying to you that this is not the right thing to do because it reinforces a lack that you think is real? In other words, you need this pleasure at this time, so by failing into that pitfall of accepting it, you are reinforcing the lack.
A: Yes, if you are looking at this from a very practical point of view, I think the key thing is that if something becomes a preoccupation, such that I cannot be happy unless I sleep with this person, I cannot be happy unless I eat this certain food, I cannot be happy unless I get this certain car, and on and on, that that is a red flag. Then the attainment of this becomes the Kingdom of Heaven, and the absence of it becomes hell. When you get caught in that kind of a trap, it is a red flag that tells you you are dealing very strongly in special relationships, whatever the form. But the idea is not to make a big deal about something that is not a big deal. What is a big deal in this world is guilt, and the answer for that is forgiveness. That is what is important.
Q: Does the Course say anything about the resurrection of the body?
A: How could the body be resurrected if the body does not die? Just as the body cannot be healed because the body was never sick, the body cannot rise from the dead because the body never died. A Course in Miracles does talk a lot about the resurrection. Remember, the body does not do anything. It is the mind that does it. The resurrection is the awakening from the dream of death. What happened with Jesus is that he awoke from the nightmare world we are all in. In our perception of the world and certainly that of the people around him who did not understand what he was talking about, he rose from the dead. They could feel his presence. Therefore, they put two and two together and got five, which is something we are all good at doing. Jesus did appear to them in their minds, in the form in which they could accept him, which obviously would have to be in a form that they would identify as Jesus, which would be in the body. But his resurrection was really an awakening from this nightmare dream, which is a dream of death, of .separation, murder, attack, assault, etc. But, again, the key to it is once you say the body resurrects, you are saying the body died, which means you are saying the body is real. The most powerful witness to the reality of the ego’s world is death, because death says the body lived. If the body lived, then the ego must live and the entire ego thought system must be correct. What Jesus taught us is that the body does not die, the body does not rise, the body does not do anything and, thus, he remains with us despite what happened to his body. There is a line at the end of Chapter 15, written at Christmas time, which says. “The Prince of Peace was born to re-establish the condition of love by teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed, provided that you see not the body as the necessary means of communication” (text, p. 305; T-15.XI.7:2).
Q: Do you mean that he just took the form? How about when he appeared to the apostles?
A: He “appeared” in people’s minds.
Q: And Thomas was told to touch his side?
A: I am not sure how much of that actually happened. John’s gospel, especially, was written in part to combat what they thought was a threat from the Gnostics, who were already starting to be a real threat within Christianity. Some Gnostics taught that Jesus was not a body. These were called “docetists,” a term derived from the Greek word meaning illusion. What that incident in the gospels shows, supposedly, is that Jesus had a body because Thomas touched him. I am reasonably sure that most scripture scholars would deny that that was actually an historical event. They would see it more in terms of the theology that John was teaching that Jesus was in a body; and that teaching was specifically aimed against the Gnostics.
Q: Are you discounting astral projections, then? This seems like a possible explanation of what some people thought they saw.
A: Am I discounting them? No, that is another way of looking at it; but it is still of the ego.
Q: Since he was described as going through walls, appearing and reappearing, it seemed …
A: You really have to question all the resurrection appearances in the gospels. Most scripture scholarship does do that. The resurrection appearances in the four gospels contradict each other. On basic facts they contradict each other, such as who saw him and when. The consensus opinion is that you are getting an expression of the emerging theology of the various Christian churches at the time rather than anything that is historical. That is why to try to say what Jesus did do or did not do is very difficult; no one really knows what he did in the first place. There is very little history in the gospels, but there is a lot of theology and people reading back into the story what they wanted to have there. By the way, the Course does not comment on that and does not deal with that.
Q: Saint Teresa would have interviews with Jesus in the palm of her hand. I understand her visions were very strongly perceptual.
A: Right. If you work with A Course in Miracles you must accept the premise that everything comes from our minds. There is nothing that is outside us. It is all a projection of what is within, which then means you can project anything you want. Psychologists have done this for years and years with projective tests. People see all kinds of things in perceptual stimuli that do not have specific recognizable forms, such as in the Rorschach ink blot test. We see what we want to see, which I do not think takes away from what the basic message of the gospel is at all. In fact, the Course really makes that message of forgiveness very, very clear.
We are still discussing Principle 35, that “miracles may not always have observable effects.” What is important is the effect the miracle does have, which is to bring the miracle worker peace. In fact, when I turn my mind over to Jesus and I no longer see someone as attacking or being attacked, I will feel peaceful. What happens after that is between Jesus and the other person. I have done my part. The gift of my peace will be given to that other person, even though he or she may not accept it. This may mean that the miracle may not have observable effects. There is a series of three questions in the teacher’s manual that deals with healing and makes this same point. One of the questions is, “Should healing be repeated?” (manual, p. 21; M-7). It has to do with a situation in which someone does not seem to be healed. The point is that if you believe someone has not been healed, you are making the body real because you are looking for something on the level of the body.
Another area which has been hinted at here is covered in a lesson that says, “When I am healed, I am not healed alone” (workbook, p. 254; W-pl.137). Since all minds are joined and are one within this hologram, when my mind is healed and I extend peace, or peace is extended through me, it will touch all the other minds, most of whom I will not even be aware of. Since there is no reality to time as a linear expression, or to time at all, then this healing can occur through all dimensions of time. Obviously, we would have no awareness of this at all. Our only job, again, is to have our individual mind healed. What happens after that is up to the Holy Spirit.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1154 I have heard people say “it makes me happy to help others.” I never thought that there was anything “bad” about that statement until I made that comment and my brother said that I was trying to please myself. I started wondering who was doing the talk, the ego or the spirit? I know that God wants us to be happy, but how can you tell if the happiness that comes from helping others comes from the ego? Can you give me your opinion?
A: Yes, God wants us to be happy, but that happiness can be found only through remembering we belong to Him and not to the world in any way ( see Lesson 182 — W.pI.182). When we forget this (which is usually all the time), we will be unhappy and then seek outside us for something that will make us happy. That could be anything at all, including helping others. But the behavior of helping others (the form) does not, in itself, tell you whether it came from your mind’s choice for the ego or the Holy Spirit (the content). If it was a right-minded choice, then you would have no investment in the outcome of what you did; your inner peace and happiness would not be affected by the situation in any way; you would not take anything personally — praise or criticism; you would not perceive the situation in terms of victims and victimizers; you would not exclude anyone from the love and kindness you extended to that particular person — the content of love in your mind, not the form of the help).
Jesus is teaching us in A Course in Miracles to focus on the purpose we have chosen in our minds, a choice that precedes behavioral interaction. That is the only relevant aspect of what we do — our choice of teacher. You have chosen the ego’s thought system of separation if your focus is on the body — what bodies do or don’t do and how that affects you. You have chosen the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness if you focus on seeing shared interests, as opposed to separate interests, and you are increasingly attracted to seeing everyone as part of the Sonship, without exception.