ACIM Text Reading for March 10
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
VII. The Body as a Means of Communication
Attack is always physical. When attack in any form enters your mind you are equating yourself with a body, since this is the ego’s interpretation of the body. You do not have to attack physically to accept this interpretation. You are accepting it simply by the belief that attack can get you something you want. If you did not believe this, the idea of attack would have no appeal for you. When you equate yourself with a body you will always experience depression. When a child of God thinks of himself in this way he is belittling himself, and seeing his brothers as similarly belittled. Since he can find himself only in them, he has cut himself off from salvation.
Remember that the Holy Spirit interprets the body only as a means of communication. Being the communication link between God and His separated Sons, the Holy Spirit interprets everything you have made in the light of what He is. The ego separates through the body. The Holy Spirit reaches through it to others. You do not perceive your brothers as the Holy Spirit does, because you do not regard bodies solely as a means of joining minds and uniting them with yours and mine. This interpretation of the body will change your mind entirely about its value. Of itself it has none.
If you use the body for attack, it is harmful to you. If you use it only to reach the minds of those who believe they are bodies, and teach them through the body that this is not so, you will understand the power of the mind that is in you. If you use the body for this and only for this, you cannot use it for attack. In the service of uniting it becomes a beautiful lesson in communion, which has value until communion is. This is God’s way of making unlimited what you have limited. The Holy Spirit does not see the body as you do, because He knows the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it.
Communication ends separation. Attack promotes it. The body is beautiful or ugly, peaceful or savage, helpful or harmful, according to the use to which it is put. And in the body of another you will see the use to which you have put yours. If the body becomes a means you give to the Holy Spirit to use on behalf of union of the Sonship, you will not see anything physical except as what it is. Use it for truth and you will see it truly. Misuse it and you will misunderstand it, because you have already done so by misusing it. Interpret anything apart from the Holy Spirit and you will mistrust it. This will lead you to hatred and attack and loss of peace.
Yet all loss comes only from your own misunderstanding. Loss of any kind is impossible. But when you look upon a brother as a physical entity, his power and glory are ‘lost’ to you and so are yours. You have attacked him, but you must have attacked yourself first. Do not see him this way for your own salvation, which must bring him his. Do not allow him to belittle himself in your mind, but give him freedom from his belief in littleness, and thus escape from yours. As part of you, he is holy. As part of me, you are. To communicate with part of God Himself is to reach beyond the Kingdom to its Creator, through His Voice Which He has established as part of you.
Rejoice, then, that of yourself you can do nothing. You are not of yourself. He of Whom you are has willed your power and glory for you, with which you can perfectly accomplish His holy Will for you when you accept it for yourself. He has not withdrawn His gifts from you, but you believe you have withdrawn them from Him. Let no Son of God remain hidden for His Name’s sake, because His Name is yours.
The Bible says, ‘The word (or thought) was made flesh’. Strictly speaking this is impossible, since it seems to involve the translation of one order of reality into another. Different orders of reality merely appear to exist, just as different orders of miracles do. Thought cannot be made into flesh except by belief, since thought is not physical. Yet thought is communication, for which the body can be used. This is the only natural use to which it can be put. To use the body unnaturally is to lose sight of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and thus to confuse the goal of His curriculum.
There is nothing so frustrating to a learner as a curriculum he cannot learn. His sense of adequacy suffers, and he must become depressed. Being faced with an impossible learning situation is the most depressing thing in the world. In fact, it is ultimately why the world itself is depressing. The Holy Spirit’s curriculum is never depressing, because it is a curriculum of joy. Whenever the reaction to learning is depression, it is because the true goal of the curriculum has been lost sight of.
In this world, not even the body is perceived as whole. Its purpose is seen as fragmented into many functions with little or no relationship to each other, so that it appears to be ruled by chaos. Guided by the ego, it is. Guided by the Holy Spirit, it is not. It becomes a means by which the part of the mind you tried to separate from spirit can reach beyond its distortions and return to spirit. The ego’s temple thus becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, where devotion to Him replaces devotion to the ego. In this sense the body does become a temple to God; His Voice abides in it by directing the use to which it is put.
Healing is the result of using the body solely for communication. Since this is natural it heals by making whole, which is also natural. All mind is whole, and the belief that part of it is physical, or not mind, is a fragmented or sick interpretation. Mind cannot be made physical, but it can be made manifest through the physical if it uses the body to go beyond itself. By reaching out, the mind extends itself. It does not stop at the body, for if it does it is blocked in its purpose. A mind that has been blocked has allowed itself to be vulnerable to attack, because it has turned against itself.
The removal of blocks, then, is the only way to guarantee help and healing. Help and healing are the normal expressions of a mind that is working through the body, but not in it. If the mind believes the body is its goal it will distort its perception of the body, and by blocking its own extension beyond it, will induce illness by fostering separation. Perceiving the body as a separate entity cannot but foster illness, because it is not true. A medium of communication loses its usefulness if it is used for anything else. To use a medium of communication as a medium of attack is an obvious confusion in purpose.
To communicate is to join and to attack is to separate. How can you do both simultaneously with the same thing and not suffer? Perception of the body can be unified only by one purpose. This releases the mind from the temptation to see the body in many lights, and gives it over entirely to the One Light in Which it can be really understood. To confuse a learning device with a curriculum goal is a fundamental confusion that blocks the understanding of both. Learning must lead beyond the body to the re-establishment of the power of the mind in it. This can be accomplished only if the mind extends to other minds, and does not arrest itself in its extension. This arrest is the cause of all illness, because only extension is the mind’s function.
The opposite of joy is depression. When your learning promotes depression instead of joy, you cannot be listening to God’s joyous Teacher and learning His lessons. To see a body as anything except a means of communication is to limit your mind and to hurt yourself. Health is therefore nothing more than united purpose. If the body is brought under the purpose of the mind, it becomes whole because the mind’s purpose is one. Attack can only be an assumed purpose of the body, because apart from the mind the body has no purpose at all.
You are not limited by the body, and thought cannot be made flesh. Yet mind can be manifested through the body if it goes beyond it and does not interpret it as limitation. Whenever you see another as limited to or by the body, you are imposing this limit on yourself. Are you willing to accept this, when your whole purpose for learning should be to escape from limitations? To conceive of the body as a means of attack and to believe that joy could possibly result, is a clear-cut indication of a poor learner. He has accepted a learning goal in obvious contradiction to the unified purpose of the curriculum, and one that is interfering with his ability to accept its purpose as his own.
Joy is unified purpose, and unified purpose is only God’s. When yours is unified it is His. Believe you can interfere with His purpose, and you need salvation. You have condemned yourself, but condemnation is not of God. Therefore it is not true. No more are any of its seeming results. When you see a brother as a body, you are condemning him because you have condemned yourself. Yet if all condemnation is unreal, and it must be unreal since it is a form of attack, then it can have no results.
Do not allow yourself to suffer from imagined results of what is not true. Free your mind from the belief that this is possible. In its complete impossibility lies your only hope for release. But what other hope would you want? Freedom from illusions lies only in not believing them. There is no attack, but there is unlimited communication and therefore unlimited power and wholeness. The power of wholeness is extension. Do not arrest your thought in this world, and you will open your mind to creation in God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 10
My grievances hide the light of the world in me.
No one can look upon what your grievances conceal. Because your grievances are hiding the light of the world in you, everyone stands in darkness, and you beside him. But as the veil of your grievances is lifted, you are released with him. Share your salvation now with him who stood beside you when you were in hell. He is your brother in the light of the world that saves you both.
Today let us make another real attempt to reach the light in you. Before we undertake this in our more extended practice period, let us devote several minutes to thinking about what we are trying to do. We are literally attempting to get in touch with the salvation of the world. We are trying to see past the veil of darkness that keeps it concealed. We are trying to let the veil be lifted, and to see the tears of God’s Son disappear in the sunlight.
Let us begin our longer practice period today with the full realization that this is so, and with real determination to reach what is dearer to us than all else. Salvation is our only need. There is no other purpose here, and no other function to fulfill. Learning salvation is our only goal. Let us end the ancient search today by finding the light in us, and holding it up for everyone who searches with us to look upon and rejoice.
Very quietly now, with your eyes closed, try to let go of all the content that generally occupies your consciousness. Think of your mind as a vast circle, surrounded by a layer of heavy, dark clouds. You can see only the clouds because you seem to be standing outside the circle and quite apart from it.
From where you stand, you can see no reason to believe there is a brilliant light hidden by the clouds. The clouds seem to be the only reality. They seem to be all there is to see. Therefore, you do not attempt to go through them and past them, which is the only way in which you would be really convinced of their lack of substance. We will make this attempt today.
After you have thought about the importance of what you are trying to do for yourself and the world, try to settle down in perfect stillness, remembering only how much you want to reach the light in you today,–now! Determine to go past the clouds. Reach out and touch them in your mind. Brush them aside with your hand; feel them resting on your cheeks and forehead and eyelids as you go through them. Go on; clouds cannot stop you.
If you are doing the exercises properly, you will begin to feel a sense of being lifted up and carried ahead. Your little effort and small determination call on the power of the universe to help you, and God Himself will raise you from darkness into light. You are in accord with His Will. You cannot fail because your will is His.
Have confidence in your Father today, and be certain that He has heard you and answered you. You may not recognize His answer yet, but you can indeed be sure that it is given you and you will yet receive it. Try, as you attempt to go through the clouds to the light, to hold this confidence in your mind. Try to remember that you are at last joining your will to God’s. Try to keep the thought clearly in mind that what you undertake with God must succeed. Then let the power of God work in you and through you, that His Will and yours be done.
In the shorter practice periods, which you will want to do as often as possible in view of the importance of today’s idea to you and your happiness, remind yourself that your grievances are hiding the light of the world from your awareness. Remind yourself also that you are not searching for it alone, and that you do know where to look for it. Say, then:
My grievances hide the light of the world in me. I cannot
see what I have hidden. Yet I want to let it be revealed to
me, for my salvation and the salvation of the world.
Also, be sure to tell yourself:
If I hold this grievance the light of the world will be hidden
if you are tempted to hold anything against anyone today.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #816: If it’s true that we are all one then why is not Jesus’ return to God ours as well?
A: It is. We are with him at home in God. The only difference between Jesus (as well as others who have awakened) and the rest of us is that he is aware only of his oneness with God’s Love. We have chosen to forget it, dream of separation, and only catch a glimpse of love’s reflection when we are willing to forget the dream for an instant. Knowing we perceive him as different from us, Jesus explains the seeming difference in the first chapter of the text: “ There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you” (T.1.II.3:10,11,12,13).
What we have, that he does not, are all our illusions of specialness that keep us separate from him, from one another, and from our Selves. By choosing the “tiny mad idea” (T.27.VIII.6:2) of separation, we keep awareness of our oneness with God blocked. This insane thought did not truly shatter our oneness; it is only our choosing it that makes it real in our experience: “The tiny instant you would keep and make eternal, passed away in Heaven too soon for anything to notice it had come …Yet in each unforgiving act or thought, in every judgment and in all belief in sin, is that one instant still called back, as if it could be made again in time. You keep an ancient memory [the thought of separation] before your eyes. And he who lives in memories alone is unaware of where he is” (T.26.V.5:1,5,6). We do not know where we are; Jesus knows where he is. We dream of being bodies in a world of form, which literally takes us out of our minds.
Our hope lies in the fact that we cannot completely obliterate all memory of the truth of our oneness from our minds. This is witnessed to by the very fact of having Jesus come to us in the form of A Course in Miracles to awaken us from the nightmare of exile. His message of forgiveness reflects the part of our minds that remembers oneness. The practice of forgiveness that he teaches gently wakens us by leading us back to the mind; the source of every experience. Each step in forgiveness strengthens our identity with Jesus and weakens identity with the body. Eventually, his identity and his experience will become ours because we will have accepted what was always there.
Q #1103: If it only takes one mind to see the truth, to see another’s needs as important/more important than one’s own to heal the entire Sonship, why isn’t Jesus’ obvious success in this area enough to bring us all home? He speaks of himself as our older brother, yet the fact that his success didn’t heal the Sonship seems to say that he is not truly — that only someone who is among the illusory “separated” must be the one who sees himself as healed to initiate the Atonement.
A: The Sonship is healed. In fact, healing was never truly needed. In the workbook Jesus clarifies this for us: “Just as forgiveness overlooks all sins that never were accomplished, healing but removes illusions that have not occurred” (W.pI.137.5:2). Healing is thus understood as a process of removing the blocks to the awareness of what has never changed (T.in.1:7) . It is the acceptance of what is true and the denial of what is not. Since everyone has a right mind where the reflection of changeless truth abides, and Jesus is a symbol of the right mind, his healing is everyone’s. Healing simply means choosing the right mind. Choosing against the right mind by choosing the ego does not void the truth, nor abolish the memory of love’s presence; it merely draws a veil over them. The veil is lifted and healing is accepted by the mind’s choice that it be so; that is all. Thus, Jesus didn’t really do anything, nor could he. He is neither a success nor a failure. A Course in Miracles does not view time linearly, and nor does it teach the accomplishment of a historical Jesus who attained salvation and redeemed the world, as does Christianity. He is the name given to a symbolic figure who represents the right mind of the Sonship. He has what we all have. As he himself tells us the only difference between us is that he has nothing else: “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you” (T.1.II.3:10,11,12,13). What we have that blocks healing from awareness is the belief that illusion is true. The desire that some form of specialness replace the oneness the Son shares with the Father keeps the insanity of the ego thought system alive and “sick.” Jesus seems like a failure as long as the mind chooses to turn away from the sanity of truth, while healing occurs when the mind decides to accept, even partially, that what it sees in the nightmare of separation is not true. In that instant the mind shares in Jesus’ healing.
Jesus gives us a very simple description of the state of mind we share with him whenever we choose to: “How simple is salvation [healing] ! 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” (T.31.I.1:1,2,3,4). The only “one” needed to see everything in the light of this true perspective is oneself. That is why it only takes one teacher of God to heal the world (M.12) . We take a step closer to the healing we share with Jesus each time we are willing to question the ego’s interpretation of any situation (to prove separation is real) and accept the Holy Spirit’s perspective (separation is not real). One is true, the other false. It is for us to choose.