ACIM Manual for Teachers Reading for October 26
24. IS REINCARNATION SO?
In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth in a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense. Our only question should be, “Is the concept helpful”? And that depends, of course, on what it is used for. If it is used to strengthen the recognition of the eternal nature of life, it is helpful indeed. Is any other question about it really useful in lighting up the way? Like many other beliefs, it can be bitterly misused. At least, such misuse offers preoccupation and perhaps pride in the past. At worst, it induces inertia in the present. In between, many kinds of folly are possible.
Reincarnation would not, under any circumstances, be the problem to be dealt with now. If it were responsible for some of the difficulties the individual faces now, his task would still be only to escape from them now. If he is laying the groundwork for a future life, he can still work out his salvation only now. To some, there may be comfort in the concept, and if it heartens them its value is self-evident. It is certain, however, that the way to salvation can be found by those who believe in reincarnation and by those who do not. The idea cannot, therefore, be regarded as essential to the curriculum. There is always some risk in seeing the present in terms of the past. There is always some good in any thought which strengthens the idea that life and the body are not the same.
For our purposes, it would not be helpful to take any definite stand on reincarnation. A teacher of God should be as helpful to those who believe in it as to those who do not. If a definite stand were required of him, it would merely limit his usefulness, as well as his own decision-making. Our course is not concerned with any concept that is not acceptable to anyone, regardless of his formal beliefs. His ego will be enough for him to cope with, and it is not the part of wisdom to add sectarian controversies to his burdens. Nor would there be an advantage in his premature acceptance of the course merely because it advocates a long-held belief of his own.
It cannot be too strongly emphasised that this course aims at a complete reversal of thought. When this is finally accomplished, issues such as the validity of reincarnation become meaningless. Until then, they are likely to be merely controversial. The teacher of God is, therefore, wise to step away from all such questions, for he has much to teach and learn apart from them. He should both learn and teach that theoretical issues but waste time, draining it away from its appointed purpose. If there are aspects to any concept or belief that will be helpful, he will be told about it. He will also be told how to use it. What more need he know?
Does this mean that the teacher of God should not believe in reincarnation himself, or discuss it with others who do? The answer is, certainly not! If he does believe in reincarnation, it would be a mistake for him to renounce the belief unless his internal Teacher so advised. And this is most unlikely. He might be advised that he is misusing the belief in some way that is detrimental to his pupil’s advance or his own. Reinterpretation would then be recommended, because it is necessary. All that must be recognised, however, is that birth was not the beginning, and death is not the end. Yet even this much is not required of the beginner. He need merely accept the idea that what he knows is not necessarily all there is to learn. His journey has begun.
The emphasis of this course always remains the same;—it is at this moment that complete salvation is offered you, and it is at this moment that you can accept it. This is still your one responsibility. Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future. Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time. No teaching that does not lead to this is of concern to God’s teachers. All beliefs will point to this if properly interpreted. In this sense, it can be said that their truth lies in their usefulness. All beliefs that lead to progress should be honoured. This is the sole criterion this course requires. No more than this is necessary.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 26
Eternal holiness abides in me.
My holiness is far beyond my own ability to understand or know. Yet God, my Father, Who created it, acknowledges my holiness as His. Our Will, together, understands it. And Our Will, together, knows that it is so.
Father, my holiness is not of me. It is not mine to be destroyed by sin. It is not mine to suffer from attack. Illusions can obscure it, but can not put out its radiance, nor dim its light. It stands forever perfect and untouched. In it are all things healed, for they remain as You created them. And I can know my holiness. For Holiness Itself created me, and I can know my Source because it is Your Will that You be known.
For a Free Downloadable Audio of Today’s Manual for Teachers Reading & Workbook Lesson, Click HERE
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #24: A Course in Miracles seems to allude to reincarnation. If we truly don’t die but instead just “lay this body” down, do we return in another or continue our lessons on another level?
A: Yes, in the Course, Jesus does seem to allude to reincarnation. But to understand what he is saying, and to address your question, we need to remember that in the Course, he is always speaking to us on the level of the mind, which is the only level where any true learning takes place. And specifically, he’s talking to that part of our mind which has to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit, between hate and love, between death and life.
“But remember that understanding is of the mind, and only of the mind” (T.15.VI.7:5).
He tells us in the Course that this “life” is a dream, that the world is an illusion, that the body doesn’t die because the body doesn’t live (T.19.IV.C.5:2,3,4,5), and that our experience of time is simply a part of that illusion. Our “dream” always and only reflects the choice that we have made for either the ego’s purpose to reinforce our guilt and belief in separation, or the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness and undoing the belief in separation. Therefore, the form of the dream never matters, and when that form changes, the learning, or choosing, continues in the mind.
So when reading a passage that seems to imply reincarnation we could understand it not only on the level of our experience within the dream, but also as the idea of revisiting unforgivenesses. Perhaps it would be helpful to think of “simultaneous” dreams, or to use the model of a hologram where the whole is found in every part. When the mind “revisits” dreams or aspects of the hologram, this could be seen as experiencing different “lifetimes.”
Jesus tells us in the manual that a belief in the concept of reincarnation is not a requirement for his Course. In fact, he says that it is only valuable to the extent to which it is “helpful” or of comfort to his students.
“In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth into a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense” (M.24.1:1,2,3).
“Reincarnation would not, under any circumstances, be the problem to be dealt with now. It is certain, however, that the way to salvation can be found by those who believe in reincarnation and by those who do not. The idea cannot, therefore, be regarded as essential to the curriculum. There is always some risk in seeing the present in terms of the past. There is always some good in any thought which strengthens the idea that life and the body are not the same” (M.24.2:1,5,6,7,8).
When we can accept the fact that time is not linear, the concept of reincarnation becomes meaningless. But, as long as we believe we are separate individuals, the lessons continue in whatever form we can accept and understand until we truly learn that our reality is spirit and we have always been “…at home in God, [only] dreaming of exile” (T.10.I.2:1). In that acceptance of the Atonement for ourselves, all dreaming ends.
Q #94: The Course alludes to reincarnation. Can you develop this in more detail? I am 67 years old and running out of time to learn forgiveness. I would certainly like to learn it in this lifetime because I’ll be darned if I want to go through this world again if I don’t have to. I wish we had the option to go poof from this world into the arms of God. I say I want the peace of God but obviously I don’t because I don’t have the peace of God. So I sometimes wish the option existed for people like me who profess a willingness to change to push a button and just make it happen. Then I could push it and learn forgiveness in spite of my “good intentions”. Sometimes I think my whole problem is that instead of being grateful to God for my creation I resented being created because God was more than I. I know that sounds ridiculous but I have to learn otherwise.
A: So many jerks to forgive, so little time! But that’s just your ego speaking — things don’t really work as you’re supposing. And worrying that you won’t learn forgiveness in this lifetime only keeps you trapped that much longer in the illusion of it all. Since forgiveness happens in the mind outside of time and space, it does not depend on time or space for your progress (e.g., T.15.I.9; T.26.VIII.6:1,2,3,4,5). It depends only on your willingness (in the mind) to practice the lessons of forgiveness as your external world seems to present them to you now, one by one. But to do that, you must understand what forgiveness is and what the purpose of the world is.
Resistance to the world only reinforces your belief that the world is real and that it is the source of all the problems that are upsetting you. The Course’s goal is not to teach us how to escape the world but rather how to escape the thought system buried in the mind that convinces us that we want and need the world and all its victimizers to be real. The world provides us an excuse to keep our focus outside our mind, blaming others for our loss of peace rather than looking at the guilt in our own mind which is the real cause. The world is quite literally the projection of the guilt hidden in our mind (T.20.VIII.9), so seeking to escape the world only plays into the ego’s plan to have us look in the wrong place for the problem and its solution (T.27.IV).
And so, since you are not really here in the world even now, it would be more helpful to focus on the choice in your mind right now for the ego than to concern yourself about possible future (or past) lives, for that only serves the ego purpose of avoiding the present moment, the only time in which forgiveness can happen (M.24.5:6). But if you’d like a further discussion of reincarnation as presented in the Course, you may wish to look at Question #24.
Sincere as it may seem, wanting a button to push that would impose forgiveness on your mind is really just a way of trying to avoid responsibility for your present condition, of not looking at the choice you are making right now to be upset and in pain. In truth, forgiveness is the button you could push or select right now, but you don’t really want to, and that’s what you want to get more in touch with — and why. Your thought about resenting God for being more than you — what the Course calls the authority problem (T.11.in.2:3) — is the kind of awareness that it would be helpful to develop further, for it is playing out in your life right now in your relationships here, a shadow of the real guilt which is hidden in the recesses of your mind.
As an antidote to your impatience with yourself, Jesus’ words on forgiveness provide a gentle reminder: “Forgiveness…is still, and quietly does nothing…It merely looks, and waits, and judges not” (W.pII.1.4:1,3).