ACIM Text Reading for September 23
Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision
VII. The Saviour’s Vision
Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful, nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognise. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation’s task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world’s concepts are the guilty ‘bad’; the ‘good’ are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the ‘good’ to pardon him the ‘bad’. Nor does he trust the ‘good’ in anyone, believing that the ‘bad’ must lurk behind. This concept emphasises treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the ‘bad’ in you.
You could not recognise your ‘evil’ thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another ‘crime’. You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed. Your ‘evil’ thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer do you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you give your trust to what is good in him, you give it to the good in you.
In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the ‘baser’ part of you, and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid That God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.
You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself, which can be interchanged but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself, because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.
Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your ‘evil’ thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself that now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand, that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one that brings the peace of God.
The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed, unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace, that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world, instead of as salvation’s enemy?
The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them.
Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a saviour to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself, and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon, to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ, and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this one. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.
The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him. The sword of judgement is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is, and thus what you must be.
What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable, and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a saviour to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial saviour would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet; the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.
Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the saviour of the Son of God? How would you know his holiness while you set him apart from yours? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within, and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon, that he may be what they expect of him. This is the saviour’s vision; that he see his innocence in all he looks upon, and see his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.
Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not. And from that wish a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For seeing can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see, or keep yourself apart and separate.
The saviour’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgement made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognising this, it merely asks, ‘What is the meaning of what I behold?’ Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.
Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.
Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the saviour’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their saviour stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, ‘Release My Son!’ be tempted not to listen, when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 23
My holy Self abides in you, God’s Son.
Father, You gave me all Your Sons, to be my saviors and my counselors in sight; the bearers of Your holy Voice to me. In them are You reflected, and in them does Christ look back upon me from my Self. Let not Your Son forget Your holy Name. Let not Your Son forget his holy Source. Let not Your Son forget his Name is Yours.
This day we enter into Paradise, calling upon God’s Name and on our own, acknowledging our Self in each of us; united in the holy Love of God. How many saviors God has given us! How can we lose the way to Him, when He has filled the world with those who point to Him, and given us the sight to look on them?
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #905: For years my husband has expressed uneasiness about my assertive personality. As a student of A Course in Miracles , I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to help me look at my feelings about this issue. This process has made me more accepting of myself and less concerned about other people’s opinions. But recently I had to make some difficult business decisions. My decisions seemed to make my business partners uneasy (my husband is one of my business partners). Now I sense that they’re all judging me for being overly assertive. I’m having tremendous guilt about this and am not sure how to deal with it.
A: Since all of us who think we are here have chosen to drown out God’s Voice and listen to our own instead, you might say that we all have overly assertive personalities. The Course teaches us that the one cause of all our guilt is the decision to see ourselves as separate from God’s Love. Further the Course states, “As long as you believe that guilt is justified in any way…you will not look within, where you would always find Atonement. The end of guilt will never come as long as you believe there is a reason for it.” (T.13.X.6:1,2).
In other words, our ego continually makes up reasons for our guilt in order to make sure we never recognize that the guilt itself is made up and that our minds have the power to let it go. So whenever we think that our guilt comes from something we have said or done, we have (once again) been tricked by the ego’s smokescreen. Remember too that the ego doesn’t care whether we see others or ourselves as guilty. The ego is happy as long as we believe that guilt is real and remain focused on the effect our ego has on other egos.
As a Course student, you probably realize that the judgments of your husband or your business partners would not be causing you guilt if you had not first accused yourself of something. The fact that your recent business decisions triggered your guilt is undoubtedly because, at some point in the process, you saw your interests as separate from others. Thus your decisions (whether you feel you made “the right” decisions or not) have become symbols in your mind for the original decision to see your interests as separate from God’s. Therefore in your thinking, your decisions now equal attack.
The Course doesn’t give us any guidelines for behavior — you may or may not, for example, be assertive as the world judges it. But the Course does make clear that we are always listening to either the voice of the ego or the Holy Spirit. So the way to “deal with” guilt is to ask the Holy Spirit for help before we make decisions or take actions (and of course, recognize that our ego- driven actions of the past were merely mistakes calling for correction not punishment). As we learn more and more to join with Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our mind, the choices we make will increasingly reflect God’s all-inclusive Love. When our actions become reflections of love rather than symbols of attack, our guilt will automatically disappear.