ACIM Reading for November 27
Supplement: The Song of Prayer
1.- V. The Ladder Ends
1. Prayer is a way to true humility. And here again it rises slowly up, and grows in strength and love and holiness. Let it but leave the ground where it begins to rise to God, and true humility will come at last to grace the mind that thought it was alone and stood against the world. Humility brings peace because it does not claim that you must rule the universe, nor judge all things as you would have them be. All little gods it gladly lays aside, not in resentment, but in honesty and recognition that they do not serve.
2. Illusions and humility have goals so far apart they cannot coexist, nor share a dwelling place where they can meet. Where one has come the other disappears. The truly humble have no goal but God because they need no idols, and defense no longer serves a purpose. Enemies are useless now, because humility does not oppose. It does not hide in shame because it is content with what it is, knowing creation is the Will of God. Its selflessness is Self, and this it sees in every meeting, where it gladly joins with every Son of God, whose purity it recognizes that it shares with him.
3. Now prayer is lifted from the world of things, of bodies, and of gods of every kind, and you can rest in holiness at last. Humility has come to teach you how to understand your glory as God’s Son, and recognize the arrogance of sin. A dream has veiled the face of Christ from you. Now can you look upon His sinlessness. High has the ladder risen. You have come almost to Heaven. There is little more to learn before the journey is complete. Now can you say to everyone who comes to join in prayer with you:
I cannot go without you, for you are a part of me.
And so he is in truth. Now can you pray only for what you truly share with him. For you have understood he never left, and you, who seemed alone, are one with him.
4. The ladder ends with this, for learning is no longer needed. Now you stand before the gate of Heaven, and your brother stands beside you there. The lawns are deep and still, for here the place appointed for the time when you should come has waited long for you. Here will time end forever. At this gate eternity itself will join with you. Prayer has become what it was meant to be, for you have recognized the Christ in you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 27
Section 12. What is the Ego?
The ego is idolatry; the sign of limited and separated self, born in a body, doomed to suffer and to end its life in death. It is the “will” that sees the Will of God as enemy, and takes a form in which it is denied. The ego is the “proof” that strength is weak and love is fearful, life is really death, and what opposes God alone is true.
The ego is insane. In fear it stands beyond the Everywhere, apart from All, in separation from the Infinite. In its insanity it thinks it has become a victor over God Himself. And in its terrible autonomy it “sees” the Will of God has been destroyed. It dreams of punishment, and trembles at the figures in its dreams; its enemies, who seek to murder it before it can ensure its safety by attacking them.
The Son of God is egoless. What can he know of madness and the death of God, when he abides in Him? What can he know of sorrow and of suffering, when he lives in eternal joy? What can he know of fear and punishment, of sin and guilt, of hatred and attack, when all there is surrounding him is everlasting peace, forever conflict-free and undisturbed, in deepest silence and tranquility?
To know reality is not to see the ego and its thoughts, its works, its acts, its laws and its beliefs, its dreams, its hopes, its plans for its salvation, and the cost belief in it entails. In suffering, the price for faith in it is so immense that crucifixion of the Son of God is offered daily at its darkened shrine, and blood must flow before the altar where its sickly followers prepare to die.
Yet will one lily of forgiveness change the darkness into light; the altar to illusions to the shrine of Life Itself. And peace will be restored forever to the holy minds which God created as His Son, His dwelling place, His joy, His love, completely His, completely one with Him.
There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.
How foolish, Father, to believe Your Son could cause himself to suffer! Could he make a plan for his damnation, and be left without a certain way to his release? You love me, Father. You could never leave me desolate, to die within a world of pain and cruelty. How could I think that Love has left Itself? There is no will except the Will of Love. Fear is a dream, and has no will that can conflict with Yours. Conflict is sleep, and peace awakening. Death is illusion; life, eternal truth. There is no opposition to Your Will. There is no conflict, for my will is Yours.
Forgiveness shows us that God’s Will is One, and that we share it. Let us look upon the holy sights forgiveness shows today, that we may find the peace of God. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #592: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles since the age of sixteen, but I am still having trouble releasing myself from the fear of hell that my over-zealous Baptist relatives imposed upon me when I was younger. I was taught to “pray” before I would eat a meal, and I find myself doing this every so often when I am stressed out, as if I was “sucking up” to God. Sometimes I find it easier to revert back to the rituals and idol worship when it seems my awakening is unattainable. My wife was recently deployed to Iraq, and even though I can contain the fear early in the day, later I start to feel overwhelmed and powerless, often performing the Baptist rituals out of desperation. It seems as if I am trying to communicate with two very conflicting ideas of God. What is the most effective method of prayer?
A: You express an experience common to many students who were raised with strong religious beliefs. You also have a lot of company in practicing rituals and idol worship, since that is the sum and substance of life in a body once the separation is taken seriously: “The world believes in idols. No one comes unless he worshipped them, and still attempts to seek for one that yet might offer him a gift reality does not contain” (T.29.VIII.8:4,5). Identifying with the body necessarily entails a vast array of rituals and idol worship in the form of physical, emotional and psychological care. Though not religious in nature, they are no different from religious beliefs in that they are used as substitutes for God and to defend the ego thought system based on the belief in separation. The underlying belief in our pursuit of comfort in rituals and idols, whatever form they may take, is that something external to the mind has caused our pain, and therefore something external can bring healing. It does not matter whether it be a prayer to a made-up notion of God, a favorite food, or a day at the beach. Having sided with the ego’s belief that the separation is real, we seek escape from the terrible pain of our guilt by hiding in the body and the world. Because we have made them our “friends,” we think they will shelter us from pain and bring us peace. We are mistaken; they won’t. But we are not completely convinced, because our strong attachment to our beliefs makes it difficult for us to reverse them. That is why the Course is a gentle learning process.
It is no more a sin to say a little prayer to a god that doesn’t exist, than it is to relax with enjoyable music: “You do but dream, and idols are the toys you dream you play with” (T.29.IX.4:4).
The important thing is to be aware of the fear, that causes the stress, that results in the ritualistic behavior. It can be very helpful to see this dynamic in operation and to acknowledge to Jesus or the Holy Spirit that you are afraid, concerned for your wife’s safety, and unsure of what to do to feel better. That would be an effective prayer. If then you sincerely invite him to be with you as you say your “Baptist” words, or do whatever you find comforting, they will not make you feel guilty. More importantly, the part of your mind that knows they are not the real answer, and are not what you truly believe, will be strengthened.
You may find it helpful to read “The Song of Prayer,” which is one of the Course supplements. It offers a very beautiful and comprehensive view of prayer in accord with the teaching of the Course.
Q #628: I feel kind of confused about prayer. I have understood that forgiveness means to see something that you desire to change as being something that has been made by the ego. You accept and recognize this as true. Then you ask the Holy Spirit for true perception regarding this thing. I understand that prayers of supplication are not answered by the Holy Spirit. Is not the very asking for true perception a type of prayer of supplication?
A: A Course in Miracles teaches that forgiveness is a process, whereby we recognize that any grievance we have against any person, event, or thing is the result of a projection of guilt. Guilt originates in the mind when a choice is made to be separate from God and from others. The mind seeks to free itself from this guilt by projecting it onto something external to itself. It then dissociates itself from responsibility for choosing separation, denies the guilt, and blames something or someone for causing its discomfort. The forgiveness process begins with the willingness to look at our grievances in the light of this teaching. Whenever we find ourselves blaming something or someone for our feelings of anger, victimization, abandonment, etc., we are asked to remember that the source of our feeling is the guilt in our minds for choosing separation, not the situation or person we are accusing. That is what the Course means when it tells us we “…forgive the Son of God [our brother] for what he did not do” (T.17.III.1:5).
Because we have denied our identity as minds and have a strong attachment to our identity as bodies, this is not an easy process to practice. That is where “prayer” comes in. The Course does not tell us that the Holy Spirit does not answer prayers of supplication. All prayer begins with supplication. Because we perceive Jesus and the Holy Spirit as separate from us, our experience is that we ask them to help us. They represent the part of our minds that remembers our true Identity as God’s innocent Son. The prayer is actually a way of reminding ourselves that we do have a mind with the power to choose “another way” of looking at any situation. The very fact of recognizing misperception as a mistaken choice is already another way of looking, and is in itself the answer to a prayer to see differently. It is not the whole story, but it is a good beginning. Once we have come this far in the process, we have the opportunity to accept that the Holy Spirit’s perception is true, and we would be happier if we let it replace all the judgments about ourselves and others that we have used to keep ourselves rooted in the illusion of separation. This, too, is a prayer, in that it expresses our desire to remember this process each time we find ourselves judging, and becoming upset with the people and circumstances of our lives.
Our prayer then, is to remember, and the answer is our remembering. This is how we join with the Holy Spirit in our minds, and allow Him to teach us to eventually remain there with Him. It is the prayer described in The Song of Prayer (supplement to A Course in Miracles), whereby we “Ask…to receive what is already given; to accept what is already there” (S.1.I.1:7).