ACIM Text Reading for March 16
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
IV. The Holy Spirit’s Plan of Forgiveness
Atonement is for all, because it is the way to undo the belief that anything is for you alone. To forgive is to overlook. Look, then, beyond error and do not let your perception rest upon it, for you will believe what your perception holds. Accept as true only what your brother is, if you would know yourself. Perceive what he is not and you cannot know what you are, because you see him falsely. Remember always that your Identity is shared, and that Its sharing is Its reality.
You have a part to play in the Atonement, but the plan of the Atonement is beyond you. You do not understand how to overlook errors, or you would not make them. It would merely be further error to believe either that you do not make them, or that you can correct them without a Guide to correction. And if you do not follow this Guide, your errors will not be corrected. The plan is not yours because of your limited ideas about what you are. This sense of limitation is where all errors arise. The way to undo them, therefore, is not of you but for you.
The Atonement is a lesson in sharing, which is given you because you have forgotten how to do it. The Holy Spirit merely reminds you of the natural use of your abilities. By reinterpreting the ability to attack into the ability to share, He translates what you have made into what God created. If you would accomplish this through Him you cannot look on your abilities through the eyes of the ego, or you will judge them as it does. All their harmfulness lies in the ego’s judgement. All their helpfulness lies in the judgement of the Holy Spirit.
The ego, too, has a plan of forgiveness because you are asking for one, though not of the right teacher. The ego’s plan, of course, makes no sense and will not work. By following its plan you will merely place yourself in an impossible situation, to which the ego always leads you. The ego’s plan is to have you see error clearly first, and then overlook it. Yet how can you overlook what you have made real? By seeing it clearly, you have made it real and cannot overlook it. This is where the ego is forced to appeal to ‘mysteries’, insisting that you must accept the meaningless to save yourself. Many have tried to do this in my name, forgetting that my words make perfect sense because they come from God. They are as sensible now as they ever were, because they speak of ideas that are eternal.
Forgiveness that is learned of me does not use fear to undo fear. Nor does it make real the unreal and then destroy it. Forgiveness through the Holy Spirit lies simply in looking beyond error from the beginning, and thus keeping it unreal for you. Do not let any belief in its realness enter your mind, or you will also believe that you must undo what you have made in order to be forgiven. What has no effect does not exist, and to the Holy Spirit the effects of error are non existent. By steadily and consistently cancelling out all its effects, everywhere and in all respects, He teaches that the ego does not exist and proves it.
Follow the Holy Spirit’s teaching in forgiveness, then, because forgiveness is His function and He knows how to fulfil it perfectly. That is what I meant when I said that miracles are natural, and when they do not occur something has gone wrong. Miracles are merely the sign of your willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s plan of salvation, recognising that you do not understand what it is. His work is not your function, and unless you accept this you cannot learn what your function is.
The confusion of functions is so typical of the ego that you should be quite familiar with it by now. The ego believes that all functions belong to it, even though it has no idea what they are. This is more than mere confusion. It is a particularly dangerous combination of grandiosity and confusion that makes the ego likely to attack anyone and anything for no reason at all. This is exactly what the ego does. It is unpredictable in its responses, because it has no idea of what it perceives.
If you have no idea what is happening, how appropriately can you expect to react? You might ask yourself, regardless of how you may account for the reaction, whether its unpredictability places the ego in a sound position as your guide. Let me repeat that the ego’s qualifications as a guide are singularly unfortunate, and that it is a remarkably poor choice as a teacher of salvation. Anyone who elects a totally insane guide must be totally insane himself. Nor is it true that you do not realise the guide is insane. You realise it because I realise it, and you have judged it by the same standard I have.
The ego literally lives on borrowed time, and its days are numbered. Do not fear the Last Judgement, but welcome it and do not wait, for the ego’s time is ‘borrowed’ from your eternity. This is the Second Coming that was made for you as the First was created. The Second Coming is merely the return of sense. Can this possibly be fearful?
What can be fearful but fantasy, and who turns to fantasy unless he despairs of finding satisfaction in reality? Yet it is certain that you will never find satisfaction in fantasy, so that your only hope is to change your mind about reality. Only if the decision that reality is fearful is wrong can God be right. And I assure you that God is right. Be glad, then, that you have been wrong, but this was only because you did not know who you were. Had you known, you could no more have been wrong than God can.
The impossible can happen only in fantasy. When you search for reality in fantasies you will not find it. The symbols of fantasy are of the ego, and of these you will find many. But do not look for meaning in them. They have no more meaning than the fantasies into which they are woven. Fairy tales can be pleasant or fearful, but no one calls them true. Children may believe them, and so, for a while, the tales are true for them. Yet when reality dawns, the fantasies are gone. Reality has not gone in the meanwhile. The Second Coming is the awareness of reality, not its return.
Behold, my child, reality is here. It belongs to you and me and God, and is perfectly satisfying to all of us. Only this awareness heals, because it is the awareness of truth.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 16
The light has come.
The light has come. You are healed and you can heal. The light has come. You are saved and you can save. You are at peace, and you bring peace with you wherever you go. Darkness and turmoil and death have disappeared. The light has come.
Today we celebrate the happy ending to your long dream of disaster. There are no dark dreams now. The light has come. Today the time of light begins for you and everyone. It is a new era, in which a new world is born. The old one has left no trace upon it in its passing. Today we see a different world, because the light has come.
Our exercises for today will be happy ones, in which we offer thanks for the passing of the old and the beginning of the new. No shadows from the past remain to darken our sight and hide the world forgiveness offers us. Today we will accept the new world as what we want to see. We will be given what we desire. We will to see the light; the light has come.
Our longer practice periods will be devoted to looking at the world that our forgiveness shows us. This is what we want to see, and only this. Our single purpose makes our goal inevitable. Today the real world rises before us in gladness, to be seen at last. Sight is given us, now that the light has come.
We do not want to see the ego’s shadow on the world today. We see the light, and in it we see Heaven’s reflection lie across the world. Begin the longer practice periods by telling yourself the glad tidings of your release:
The light has come. I have forgiven the world.
Dwell not upon the past today. Keep a completely open mind, washed of all past ideas and clean of every concept you have made. You have forgiven the world today. You can look upon it now as if you never saw it before. You do not know yet what it looks like. You merely wait to have it shown to you. While you wait, repeat several times, slowly and in complete patience:
The light has come. I have forgiven the world.
Realize that your forgiveness entitles you to vision. Understand that the Holy Spirit never fails to give the gift of sight to the forgiving. Believe He will not fail you now. You have forgiven the world. He will be with you as you watch and wait. He will show you what true vision sees. It is His Will, and you have joined with Him. Wait patiently for Him. He will be there. The light has come. You have forgiven the world.
Tell Him you know you cannot fail because you trust in Him. And tell yourself you wait in certainty to look upon the world He promised you. From this time forth you will see differently. Today the light has come. And you will see the world that has been promised you since time began, and in which is the end of time ensured.
The shorter practice periods, too, will be joyful reminders of your release. Remind yourself every quarter of an hour or so that today is a time for special celebration. Give thanks for mercy and the Love of God. Rejoice in the power of forgiveness to heal your sight completely. Be confident that on this day there is a new beginning. Without the darkness of the past upon your eyes, you cannot fail to see today. And what you see will be so welcome that you will gladly extend today forever.
The light has come. I have forgiven the world.
Should you be tempted, say to anyone who seems to pull you back into darkness:
The light has come. I have forgiven you.
We dedicate this day to the serenity in which God would have you be. Keep it in your awareness of yourself and see it everywhere today, as we celebrate the beginning of your vision and the sight of the real world, which has come to replace the unforgiven world you thought was real.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #135: The following four questions all address the issue of suicide and so will be answered together:
i. Could you please comment on the Course’s view on suicide?
ii: What is the “right” way to cope with suicide, seen through the eyes of A Course in Miracles?
iii: My grandfather committed suicide. Death, our separation from God — it’s all an illusion. So is suicide wrong? Or is it the state of mind — feeling separated from God — while committing suicide that is wrong? What happens if one does commit suicide? Do people automatically become one with God when they are not in the illusion of the world?
iv: My wife recently committed suicide. She and I were students of A Course in Miracles. Sometimes I wonder, if all this is an illusion, what is the purpose of our staying alive? Why should we struggle with this life that is not part of the real world anyway? What is the purpose of any of this?
A: From the perspective of the Course, every death is really suicide. For, as Jesus explains, “No one can die unless he chooses death” (T.19.IV.C.1:4), and again later, “No one dies without his own consent. Nothing occurs but represents your wish, and nothing is omitted that you choose” (W.pI.152.1:4,5).
But the Course also makes it clear that death is a thought in the mind that has nothing to do with the body (e.g., W.pI.163.1:1; W.pI.167.2:1,2,3). For the ego itself has its origins in an insane but illusory thought of death — the belief that we can attack God in order to wrest a separate individual self from Him. Such a thought represents not only murder — the death of God — but also suicide — the death of our true Self as Christ. And so whatever follows in the world of bodies and behavior from this initial insane thought can be no more real or sane.
Because the Course always asks us to focus on content and purpose rather than form and appearance, all death in the world that comes from an ego thought will be viewed in exactly the same light. The ego’s purpose in all death is to prove that the separation is real and that, in the end, God triumphs over us by taking back from us the life that we have stolen from Him. We can either resist until we finally succumb to more powerful external forces, or we can resign ourselves to our fate and yield to death by our own hands. What form death may come in then does not matter, for the content is always the same — our puny, painful life is ours only for a limited time before we inevitably must lose it.
On the other hand, looking with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we would see all death, including suicide, as no different in content, but only in form, from every other choice we ever make here in the world that is based on our perception of ourselves as separate and alone, in pain, vulnerable and victimized. And yet we would know that that perception is false, based as it is on a faulty premise about ourselves, that we are this body, trapped in a harsh, cruel world, not of our making, desperately battling against insurmountable odds to find a little peace and happiness in a hopeless situation over which we have no control.
From most of the world’s perspective, suicide has a stigma and a negative moral judgment associated with it, but that is simply part of the ego’s defense which insists that both life as a separate self and death of that self are real. From the Course’s perspective, the thought behind suicide, if it is ego-based [Jesus also makes clear that death can be chosen with the guidance of the Holy Spirit (M.12.5; S.3.II)], is a mistake, an error, but that is all. It is not a sin, nor does it entail any negative consequences any different from any other decision we make with the ego as our teacher — they all reinforce the guilt we unconsciously are wanting to keep alive in our mind to prove that the separation is real. And so suicide is no more of a mistake than the mistake we made in choosing to be born into the world. In both cases, we are trying to deal with the problem of the guilt in our mind by focusing on the seemingly external world and our body, guaranteeing that we will not find a solution. We are attempting to solve the problem of separation in the world, as if the world were the problem, rather than in the mind, where the real problem — the insane thought of separation — is buried.
And so, whether we commit suicide or we die in any other way, believing that death is real, we will remain trapped in the self-imposed ego belief in separation. Death does not deliver us from the ego thought system, nor from the world that is its defense. Only looking at the ego thought system with the nonjudgmental presence of Jesus or the Holy Spirit beside us and deciding once and for all that the idea of separation holds no value for us can return us to the experience of our oneness with God. For the world is not depriving us of anything — only our choice to be separate is.
Even though this world is an illusion, as are our individual lives here — a life we feel is bracketed between birth and death — we don’t believe it. If we did, and truly knew the world’s purpose was to attack God and therefore our Self, then of course we would never think of ourselves as being in bodies. But the fact that we all live that way — breathing, eating, drinking, recreating, etc. — proves that while we might intellectually believe what A Course in Miracles tells us, it is certainly not our experience.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s purpose for our being here, once we have been born, is to have us learn His lessons of forgiveness, including the ultimate lesson that death is unreal. The world then becomes a classroom in which we happily learn what He is teaching us. Wanting to leave the world simply reinforces its reality for us. After all, who would want to leave a place unless he first believed it were real and unpleasant. That is why Jesus tells us in the text: “There is a risk in thinking death is peace” (T.27.VII.10:2). True peace comes not from leaving the physical world, but only through the practice of forgiveness that undoes the mind’s guilt that is the only cause of pain and suffering, as well as the belief in the reality of death. And so, as we are willing, at the pace we choose, we take the small steps of forgiveness that will return us to the glorious eternal Self that we could never destroy, the Self that has remained our Identity despite our foolish digressions into the illusions of death.