ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 15
13. WHAT IS THE REAL MEANING OF SACRIFICE?
Although in truth the term sacrifice is altogether meaningless, it does have meaning in the world. Like all things in the world, its meaning is temporary and will ultimately fade into the nothingness from which it came when there is no more use for it. Now its real meaning is a lesson. Like all lessons it is an illusion, for in reality there is nothing to learn. Yet this illusion must be replaced by a corrective device; another illusion that replaces the first, so both can finally disappear. The first illusion, which must be displaced before another thought system can take hold, is that it is a sacrifice to give up the things of this world. What could this be but an illusion, since this world itself is nothing more than that?
It takes great learning both to realise and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean? It cannot mean that you have less because of it. There is no sacrifice in the world’s terms that does not involve the body. Think a while about what the world calls sacrifice. Power, fame, money, physical pleasure; who is the “hero” to whom all these things belong? Could they mean anything except to a body? Yet a body cannot evaluate. By seeking after such things the mind associates itself with the body, obscuring its identity and losing sight of what it really is.
Once this confusion has occurred, it becomes impossible for the mind to understand that all the “pleasures” of the world are nothing. But what a sacrifice,—and it is sacrifice indeed!—all this entails. Now has the mind condemned itself to seek without finding; to be forever dissatisfied and discontented; to know not what it really wants to find. Who can escape this self-condemnation? Only through God’s Word could this be possible. For self-condemnation is a decision about identity, and no one doubts what he believes he is. He can doubt all things, but never this.
God’s teachers can have no regret on giving up the pleasures of the world. Is it a sacrifice to give up pain? Does an adult resent the giving up of children’s toys? Does one whose vision has already glimpsed the face of Christ look back with longing on a slaughter house? No one who has escaped the world and all its ills looks back on it with condemnation. Yet he must rejoice that he is free of all the sacrifice its values would demand of him. To them he sacrifices all his peace. To them he sacrifices all his freedom. And to possess them must he sacrifice his hope of Heaven and remembrance of his Father’s Love. Who in his sane mind chooses nothing as a substitute for everything?
What is the real meaning of sacrifice? It is the cost of believing in illusions. It is the price that must be paid for the denial of truth. There is no pleasure of the world that does not demand this, for otherwise the pleasure would be seen as pain, and no one asks for pain if he recognises it. It is the idea of sacrifice that makes him blind. He does not see what he is asking for. And so he seeks it in a thousand ways and in a thousand places, each time believing it is there, and each time disappointed in the end. “Seek but do not find” remains this world’s stern decree, and no one who pursues the world’s goal can do otherwise.
You may believe this course requires sacrifice of all you really hold dear. In one sense this is true, for you hold dear the things that crucify God’s Son, and it is the course’s aim to set him free. But do not be mistaken about what sacrifice means. It always means the giving up of what you want. And what, O teacher of God, is it that you want? You have been called by God, and you have answered. Would you now sacrifice that Call? Few have heard it as yet, and they can but turn to you. There is no other hope in all the world that they can trust. There is no other voice in all the world that echoes God’s. If you would sacrifice the truth, they stay in hell. And if they stay, you will remain with them.
Do not forget that sacrifice is total. There are no half sacrifices. You cannot give up Heaven partially. You cannot be a little bit in hell. The Word of God has no exceptions. It is this that makes it holy and beyond the world. It is its holiness that points to God. It is its holiness that makes you safe. It is denied if you attack any brother for anything. For it is here the split with God occurs. A split that is impossible. A split that cannot happen. Yet a split in which you surely will believe, because you have set up a situation that is impossible. And in this situation the impossible can seem to happen. It seems to happen at the “sacrifice” of truth.
Teacher of God, do not forget the meaning of sacrifice, and remember what each decision you make must mean in terms of cost. Decide for God, and everything is given you at no cost at all. Decide against Him, and you choose nothing, at the expense of the awareness of everything. What would you teach? Remember only what you would learn. For it is here that your concern should be. Atonement is for you. Your learning claims it and your learning gives it. The world contains it not. But learn this course and it is yours. God holds out His Word to you, for He has need of teachers. What other way is there to save His Son?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 15
Let me forget my brother’s past today.
This is the thought that leads the way to You, and brings me to my goal. I cannot come to You without my brother. And to know my Source, I first must recognize what You created one with me. My brother’s is the hand that leads me on the way to You. His sins are in the past along with mine, and I am saved because the past is gone. Let me not cherish it within my heart, or I will lose the way to walk to You. My brother is my savior. Let me not attack the savior You have given me. But let me honor him who bears Your Name, and so remember that It is my own.
Forgive me, then, today. And you will know you have forgiven me if you behold your brother in the light of holiness. He cannot be less holy than can I, and you can not be holier than he.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1164: I am having a problem identifying who my brother is. I know you are supposed to love your brother as yourself, no matter who he is. I am on chapter 25 now and I get confused as to who my brother is. Is it myself? I know this sounds preposterous but I really do not know.
A: The source of the physical universe, including all the bodies it contains, is the thought of separation taken seriously in the one mind of the sonship. This thought gives birth to the brotherhood of all the separated ones. From within the dream of separation there appear to be a multitude of separate bodies living separate lives, all of whom are referred to in A Course in Miracles as “your brother” because they are split off parts of the one mind. That is what is meant when Jesus tells us: “One brother is all brothers. Every mind contains all minds, for every mind is one. Such is the truth” (W.161.4:1,2,3). Thus, everyone is your brother. Everything the Course teaches about the practice of forgiveness in relationship with “your brother” applies to everyone. As long as the split mind perceives other bodies as separate from oneself, there is need for forgiveness. What simplifies the practice of forgiveness is its universal applicability. Every encounter is an opportunity to see the mind’s choice for separation reflected in the thoughts and judgments projected onto others. In the manual, Jesus tells us there are no accidents, no chance encounters, no strangers (M.3.1,2) . Your brother is the person you are with at the moment: “ [a stranger] in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult ‘by chance,’ two students ‘happening’ to walk home together” (M.3.2.2).
To love a brother who is a seeming stranger is to recognize that any perceived differences are irrelevant in the face of the underlying oneness that unites every fragmented part of the Sonship. Every brother has a mind that holds the ego’s lie of separation, the Holy Spirit’s memory of truth, and the power to choose between them. To love a brother as one’s self is to recognize that perceiving him as separate is a projection of the mind. When the mind chooses separation, it projects guilt for this choice onto the body — one’s own, as well as that of others — and then mistakenly believes that external agents are responsible for what is experienced in the illusion. Thus, in the practice of the Course, to love a brother is to forgive him for what he did not do (T.17.III.1:5) . He may attack in a hateful, hurtful way, but he cannot take away the peace that abides in the mind. That is relinquished only by the choice to identify with the ego rather than the Holy Spirit.
To speak of separated parts is to speak in dualistic terms that apply within the dream of separation. In reality there are no “brothers”; only the one Son joined with the Father in a oneness that cannot be expressed in the language of separation. Jesus uses dualistic language in the Course because we believe in the duality of separation. He teaches forgiveness that we may undo this belief by learning that we are minds, not bodies. To that end, Jesus tells us: “Think [of your brother] as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, ‘hero’ of the dream, your brother. It is his reality that is your brother, as is yours to him. Your mind and his are joined in brotherhood” (T.28.IV.3:3,4,5,6). The process of learning that as minds, we are all the same will lead to the awareness that we are all one.