ACIM Text Reading for March 13
THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE ATONEMENT
I. The Acceptance of Reality
Fear of the Will of God is one of the strangest beliefs the human mind has ever made. It could not possibly have occurred unless the mind were already profoundly split, making it possible for it to be afraid of what it really is. Reality cannot ‘threaten’ anything except illusions, since reality can only uphold truth. The very fact that the Will of God, which is what you are, is perceived as fearful, demonstrates that you are afraid of what you are. It is not, then, the Will of God of which you are afraid, but yours.
Your will is not the ego’s, and that is why the ego is against you. What seems to be the fear of God is really the fear of your own reality. It is impossible to learn anything consistently in a state of panic. If the purpose of this course is to help you remember what you are, and if you believe that what you are is fearful, then it must follow that you will not learn this course. Yet the reason for the course is that you do not know what you are.
If you do not know what your reality is, why would you be so sure that it is fearful? The association of truth and fear, which would be highly artificial at most, is particularly inappropriate in the minds of those who do not know what truth is. All this could mean is that you are arbitrarily associating something beyond your awareness with something you do not want. It is evident, then, that you are judging something of which you are totally unaware. You have set up this strange situation so that it is impossible to escape from it without a Guide Who does know what your reality is. The purpose of this Guide is merely to remind you of what you want. He is not attempting to force an alien will upon you. He is merely making every possible effort, within the limits you impose on Him, to re-establish your own will in your awareness.
You have imprisoned your will beyond your own awareness, where it remains, but cannot help you. When I said that the Holy Spirit’s function is to sort out the true from the false in your mind, I meant that He has the power to look into what you have hidden and recognise the Will of God there. His recognition of this Will can make it real to you because He is in your mind, and therefore He is your reality. If, then, His perception of your mind bring its reality to you, He is helping you to remember what you are. The only source of fear in this process is what you think you will lose. Yet it is only what the Holy Spirit sees that you can possibly have.
I have emphasised many times that the Holy Spirit will never call upon you to sacrifice anything: But if you ask the sacrifice of reality of yourself, the Holy Spirit must remind you that this is not God’s Will because it is not yours. There is no difference between your will and God’s. If you did not have a split mind, you would recognise that willing is salvation because it is communication.
It is impossible to communicate in alien tongues. You and your Creator can communicate through creation, because that, and only that is your joint Will. A divided mind cannot communicate, because it speaks for different things to the same mind. This loses the ability to communicate simply because confused communication does not mean anything. A message cannot be communicated unless it makes sense. How sensible can your messages be, when you ask for what you do not want? Yet as long as you are afraid of your will, that is precisely what you are asking for.
You may insist that the Holy Spirit does not answer you, but it might be wiser to consider the kind of questioner you are. You do not ask only for what you want. This is because you are afraid you might receive it, and you would. That is why you persist in asking the teacher who could not possibly give you what you want. Of him you can never learn what it is, and this gives you the illusion of safety. Yet you cannot be safe from truth, but only in truth. Reality is the only safety. Your will is your salvation because it is the same as God’s. The separation is nothing more than the belief that it is different.
No right mind can believe that its will is stronger than God’s. If, then, a mind believes that its will is different from His, it can only decide either that there is no God or that God’s Will is fearful. The former accounts for the atheist and the latter for the martyr, who believes that God demands sacrifices. Either of these insane decisions will induce panic, because the atheist believes he is alone, and the martyr believes that God is crucifying him. Yet no one really wants either abandonment or retaliation, even though many may seek both. Can you ask the Holy Spirit for ‘gifts’ such as these, and actually expect to receive them? He cannot give you something you do not want. When you ask the Universal Giver for what you do not want, you are asking for what cannot be given because it was never created. It was never created, because it was never your will for you.
Ultimately everyone must remember the Will of God, because ultimately everyone must recognise himself. This recognition is the recognition that his will and God’s are one. In the presence of truth, there are no unbelievers and no sacrifices. In the security of reality, fear is totally meaningless. To deny what is can only seem to be fearful. Fear cannot be real without a cause, and God is the only Cause. God is Love and you do want Him. This is your will. Ask for this and you will be answered, because you will be asking only for what belongs to you.
When you ask the Holy Spirit for what would hurt you He cannot answer because nothing can hurt you, and so you are asking for nothing. Any wish that stems from the ego is a wish for nothing, and to ask for it is not a request. It is merely a denial in the form of a request. The Holy Spirit is not concerned with form, being aware only of meaning. The ego cannot ask the Holy Spirit for anything, because there is complete communication failure between them. Yet you can ask for everything of the Holy Spirit, because your requests to Him are real, being of your right mind. Would the Holy Spirit deny the Will of God? And could He fail to recognise it in His Son?
You do not recognise the enormous waste of energy you expend in denying truth. What would you say of someone who persists in attempting the impossible, believing that to achieve it is to succeed? The belief that you must have the impossible in order to be happy is totally at variance with the principle of creation. God could not will that happiness depended on what you could never have. The fact that God is Love does not require belief, but it does require acceptance. It is indeed possible for you to deny facts, although it is impossible for you to change them. If you hold your hands over your eyes, you will not see because you are interfering with the laws of seeing. If you deny love, you will not know it because your co-operation is the law of its being. You cannot change laws you did not make, and the laws of happiness were created for you, not by you.
Any attempt to deny what is must be fearful, and if the attempt is strong it will induce panic. Willing against reality, though impossible, can be made into a very persistent goal even though you do not want it. But consider the result of this strange decision. You are devoting your mind to what you do not want. How real can this devotion be? If you do not want it, it was never created. If it were never created, it is nothing. Can you really devote yourself to nothing?
God in His devotion to you created you devoted to everything, and gave you what you are devoted to. Otherwise you would not have been created perfect. Reality is everything, and you have everything because you are real. You cannot make the unreal because the absence of reality is fearful, and fear cannot be created. As long as you believe that fear is possible, you will not create. Opposing orders of reality make reality meaningless, and reality is meaning.
Remember, then, that God’s Will is already possible, and nothing else will ever be. This is the simple acceptance of reality, because only that is real. You cannot distort reality and know what it is. And if you do distort reality you will experience anxiety, depression and ultimately panic, because you are trying to make yourself unreal, When you feel these things, do not try to look beyond yourself for truth, for truth can only be within you. Say, therefore:
Christ is in me, and where He is God must be, for Christ is part of Him.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 13
Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.
While we have recognized that the ego’s plan for salvation is the opposite of God’s, we have not yet emphasized that it is an active attack on His plan, and a deliberate attempt to destroy it. In the attack, God is assigned the attributes which are actually associated with the ego, while the ego appears to take on the attributes of God.
The ego’s fundamental wish is to replace God. In fact, the ego is the physical embodiment of that wish. For it is that wish that seems to surround the mind with a body, keeping it separate and alone, and unable to reach other minds except through the body that was made to imprison it. The limit on communication cannot be the best means to expand communication. Yet the ego would have you believe that it is.
Although the attempt to keep the limitations that a body would impose is obvious here, it is perhaps not so apparent why holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation. But let us consider the kinds of things you are apt to hold grievances for. Are they not always associated with something a body does? A person says something you do not like. He does something that displeases you. He “betrays” his hostile thoughts in his behavior.
You are not dealing here with what the person is. On the contrary, you are exclusively concerned with what he does in a body. You are doing more than failing to help in freeing him from the body’s limitations. You are actively trying to hold him to it by confusing it with him, and judging them as one. Herein is God attacked, for if His Son is only a body, so must He be as well. A creator wholly unlike his creation is inconceivable.
If God is a body, what must His plan for salvation be? What could it be but death? In trying to present Himself as the Author of life and not of death, He is a liar and a deceiver, full of false promises and offering illusions in place of truth. The body’s apparent reality makes this view of God quite convincing. In fact, if the body were real, it would be difficult indeed to escape this conclusion. And every grievance that you hold insists that the body is real. It overlooks entirely what your brother is. It reinforces your belief that he is a body, and condemns him for it. And it asserts that his salvation must be death, projecting this attack onto God, and holding Him responsible for it.
To this carefully prepared arena, where angry animals seek for prey and mercy cannot enter, the ego comes to save you. God made you a body. Very well. Let us accept this and be glad. As a body, do not let yourself be deprived of what the body offers. Take the little you can get. God gave you nothing. The body is your only savior. It is the death of God and your salvation.
This is the universal belief of the world you see. Some hate the body, and try to hurt and humiliate it. Others love the body, and try to glorify and exalt it. But while the body stands at the center of your concept of yourself, you are attacking God’s plan for salvation, and holding your grievances against Him and His creation, that you may not hear the Voice of truth and welcome It as Friend. Your chosen savior takes His place instead. It is your friend; He is your enemy.
We will try today to stop these senseless attacks on salvation. We will try to welcome it instead. Your upside-down perception has been ruinous to your peace of mind. You have seen yourself in a body and the truth outside you, locked away from your awareness by the body’s limitations. Now we are going to try to see this differently.
The light of truth is in us, where it was placed by God. It is the body that is outside us, and is not our concern. To be without a body is to be in our natural state. To recognize the light of truth in us is to recognize ourselves as we are. To see our Self as separate from the body is to end the attack on God’s plan for salvation, and to accept it instead. And wherever His plan is accepted, it is accomplished already.
Our goal in the longer practice periods today is to become aware that God’s plan for salvation has already been accomplished in us. To achieve this goal, we must replace attack with acceptance. As long as we attack it, we cannot understand what God’s plan for us is. We are therefore attacking what we do not recognize. Now we are going to try to lay judgment aside, and ask what God’s plan for us is:
What is salvation, Father? I do not know.
Tell me, that I may understand.
Then we will wait in quiet for His answer. We have attacked God’s plan for salvation without waiting to hear what it is. We have shouted our grievances so loudly that we have not listened to His Voice. We have used our grievances to close our eyes and stop our ears.
Now we would see and hear and learn. “What is salvation, Father?” Ask and you will be answered. Seek and you will find. We are no longer asking the ego what salvation is and where to find it. We are asking it of truth. Be certain, then, that the answer will be true because of Whom you ask.
Whenever you feel your confidence wane and your hope of success flicker and go out, repeat your question and your request, remembering that you are asking of the infinite Creator of infinity, Who created you like Himself:
What is salvation, Father? I do not know.
Tell me, that I may understand.
He will answer. Be determined to hear.
One or perhaps two shorter practice periods an hour will be enough for today, since they will be somewhat longer than usual. These exercises should begin with this:
Holding grievances is an attack on God’s plan for salvation.
Let me accept it instead. What is salvation, Father?
Then wait a minute or so in silence, preferably with your eyes closed, and listen for His answer.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #871: A Course in Miracles makes it very clear that in order to undo the ego and its illusions, one needs to be vigilant only for God’s Kingdom and renounce all false idols and worldly goals. As I’ve begun taking this idea more seriously and applying it diligently in my life, I find that I have little or no motivation to do anything except meditate and read. If one is truly committed to renouncing all worldly goals and being vigilant only for God, then how can one function normally in this world with a job and responsibilities? What would be the purpose of doing anything in this world, if all “doing” is motivated by worldly goals and thus the ego? Please help.
A: Renouncing all false idols and worldly goals is a matter of content, not form. Renouncing the ego thus means to renounce its purpose in your life, which means your responsibility is to look with Jesus at how you fulfill the ego’s purpose of separation in your daily activities and responsibilities. The activities and responsibilities are not the problem; your mind’s decision to use them to reinforce separation is the problem. That decision is what needs to be changed, as opposed to changing what you do during the day. So being vigilant only for God means being vigilant for all the ways in which you are choosing against His purpose — mainly in seeing separate, conflicting interests rather than shared interests in your relationships and interactions. Your job, activities, and relationships provide the curriculum Jesus can work with to help you identify your ego choices. Your daily experiences reflect back to you your mind’s decisions, which you would otherwise not know about. So to curtail or cease your normal family and business life would deny Jesus the only means he has of helping you get in touch with what is buried in your mind. Meditation is not the primary means the Course uses, although it is certainly not wrong to meditate.
One of the sections that addresses this issue is in the manual for teachers: “Are Changes Required in the Life Situation of God’s Teachers?” (M.9). Jesus’ answer to that question is that very rarely is anyone asked to make significant life changes, because this is a course about changing your mind about your life, specifically your purpose; it is not about behavior. He is trying to help us learn how to go to the quiet center in our minds beyond the demands of the body, where we can be “directed how to used the body sinlessly” (T.18.VII.8:4) — not to leave the world, but to be nourished in the kindness and gentleness of love, which would then flow through us in our everyday life activities. Jesus discusses this approach again in Lesson 184, where he tells us that the Holy Spirit can use all of the world’s symbols to get us to the reality beyond the world. And thus he asks us to do the same — to relate to our daily life and activities in terms of symbols through which we can learn that we all share the same interests, and that our reality is beyond the separate identities we seem to have. We are God’s one Son. (W.pI.184.9,10,11)
Q #815: Two different questions from the same questioner, with a combined answer: a) Every time I read info related to A Course in Miracles I seem to get agitated. I love the words but always come away with “so what in the hell am I supposed to do?” b) With the illusory nature of this world how is one to function? I post the quote “you are asked to act as if you had no ego.” But to live a life free of judgment seems to be a blissninny way to go.
A: The agitation you experience when you read the Course is probably not coming from not understanding what it is saying, but from understanding. You are not alone in feeling agitated by its message, and with good reason. The goal of the Course is the undoing of the ego’s thought system, which ultimately means undoing all belief in the world, the body, and separation. It is not an easy message for the ego to hear, considering its investment in keeping us rooted in the world, its treasured home. The first thing to do is not to try not to be agitated, but to understand where the agitation is coming from: a choice in the mind to believe the separation is real, and resistance to learning a thought system that teaches that it is not. In this regard, Jesus offers us clear advice: “ Do not fight yourself ” (T.30.I.1:7). What we are supposed to do is follow his instructions to look calmly at the ego in operation without fear, and without judgment: “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are protected. There is no need to shrink from illusions, for they cannot be dangerous. We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realize you do not want it, you must be ready. Let us be very calm in doing this, for we are merely looking honestly for truth” (T.11.V.1:1,2,3,4).
Since the introduction to the text tells us our goal in studying this course is to remove “…the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence” (T.in.1:7) , it is reasonable to conclude that the blocks must be seen before they can be removed. That is why we are asked to look for them: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false” (T.16.IV.6:1,2). That is what we are supposed to do . The instruction to look is repeated frequently in the Course, because it is the correction for the ego’s strategy of defending its thought system by keeping its origin (the mind), its goal (mindlessness), and its effects (pain) hidden. When we find the blocks (e.g., any judgment, all forms of specialness), we then are asked not to be deceived by their disguises, but to see in them the mind’s choice to collude with the ego’s scheme to keep the world real.
To no longer identify with the ego’s judgment is the ultimate goal of the Course. That is how we will eventually live “as if we had no ego.” Daily practice of the Course will lead us there, but it is not yet fully accomplished. We can easily avoid the blissninny approach through vigilant observation of the many judgments that flood into awareness during the course of the day. The ones we catch are enough to keep us humble, not to mention those we miss. Since blissninny’s mother is denial, not denying our judgments and feelings keeps us focused and headed in the right direction. The Holy Spirit is here to tell us there is another way of looking at everything in our lives. As we are told in the introduction to the workbook: “The purpose of the workbook is to train your mind in a systematic way to a different perception of everyone and everything in the world” (W.in.4:1) . This “different perception” is not the ego’s. So, as we develop this new way of thinking and learn to live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we “live as if we had no ego.” It does not mean the ego disappears, nor that it is denied. It means that when the ego makes an appearance, it does not have to be given the best seat in the house. When it is recognized, and its secret agenda is exposed, it no longer carries the weight it previously did. Even the simple fact of knowing there is another Guest to Whom we can turn diminishes the ego’s hold . Yes, in truth the world is an illusion, but as long as we believe it is real we continue to function normally. The only difference is we learn to interpret everything in the light of the Course’s teaching of forgiveness, and its goal of removing the blocks to love’s awareness. When resistance in the form of agitation presents itself, it may be helpful to remember only a “little willingness” is required, and it “…need not be perfect, because His [Holy Spirit] is. If you will merely offer Him a little place, He will lighten it so much that you will gladly let it be increased. And by this increase, you will begin to remember creation”(T.11.II.6:6,7,8).