ACIM Text Reading for March 24
Chapter 10 ~ The Idols of Sickness
III. The God of Sickness
You have not attacked God and you do love Him. Can you change your reality? No one can will to destroy himself. When you think you are attacking yourself, it is a sure sign that you hate what you think you are. And this, and only this, can be attacked by you. What you think you are can be very hateful, and what this strange image makes you do can be very destructive. Yet the destruction is no more real than the image, although those who make idols do worship them. The idols are nothing, but their worshippers are the Sons of God in sickness. God would have them released from their sickness and returned to His Mind. He will not limit your power to help them, because He has given it to you. Do not be afraid of it, because it is your salvation.
What Comforter can there be for the sick children of God except His power through you? Remember that it does not matter where in the Sonship He is accepted. He is always accepted for all, and when your mind receives Him the remembrance of Him awakens throughout the Sonship. Heal your brothers simply by accepting God for them. Your minds are not separate, and God has only one channel for healing because He has but one Son. God’s remaining communication link with all His children joins them together, and them to Him. To be aware of this is to heal them because it is the awareness that no one is separate, and so no one is sick.
To believe that a Son of God can be sick is to believe that part of God can suffer. Love cannot suffer, because it cannot attack. The remembrance of love therefore brings invulnerability with it. Do not side with sickness in the presence of a Son of God even if he believes in it, for your acceptance of God in him acknowledges the Love of God he has forgotten. Your recognition of him as part of God reminds him of the truth about himself, which he is denying. Would you strengthen his denial of God and thus lose sight of yourself? Or would you remind him of his wholeness and remember your Creator with him?
To believe a Son of God is sick is to worship the same idol he does. God created love, not idolatry. All forms of idolatry are caricatures of creation, taught by sick minds too divided to know that creation shares power and never usurps it. Sickness is idolatry, because it is the belief that power can be taken from you. Yet this is impossible, because you are part of God, Who is all power. A sick god must be an idol, made in the image of what its maker thinks he is. And that is exactly what the ego does perceive in a Son of God; a sick god, self-created, self-sufficient, very vicious and very vulnerable. Is this the idol you would worship? Is this the image you would be vigilant to save? Are you really afraid of losing this?
Look calmly at the logical conclusion of the ego’s thought system and judge whether its offering is really what you want, for this is what it offers you. To obtain this you are willing to attack the Divinity of your brothers, and thus lose sight of yours. And you are willing to keep it hidden, to protect an idol you think will save you from the dangers for which it stands, but which do not exist.
There are no idolaters in the Kingdom, but there is great appreciation for everything that God created, because of the calm knowledge that each one is part of Him. God’s Son knows no idols, but he does know His Father. Health in this world is the counterpart of value in Heaven. It is not my merit that I contribute to you but my love, for you do not value yourself. When you do not value yourself you become sick, but my value of you can heal you, because the value of God’s Son is one. When I said, ‘My peace I give unto you’, I meant it. Peace comes from God through me to you. It is for you although you may not ask for it.
When a brother is sick it is because he is not asking for peace, and therefore does not know he has it. The acceptance of peace is the denial of illusion, and sickness is an illusion. Yet every Son of God has the power to deny illusions anywhere in the Kingdom, merely by denying them completely in himself. I can heal you because I know you. I know your value for you, and it is this value that makes you whole. A whole mind is not idolatrous, and does not know of conflicting laws. I will heal you merely because I have only one message, and it is true. Your faith in it will make you whole when you have faith in me.
I do not bring God’s message with deception, and you will learn this as you learn that you always receive as much as you accept. You could accept peace now for everyone, and offer them perfect freedom from all illusions because you heard His Voice. But have no other gods before Him or you will not hear. God is not jealous of the gods you make, but you are. You would save them and serve them, because you believe that they made you. You think they are your father, because you are projecting onto them the fearful fact that you made them to replace God. Yet when they seem to speak to you, remember that nothing can replace God, and whatever replacements you have attempted are nothing.
Very simply, then, you may believe you are afraid of nothingness, but you are really afraid of nothing. And in that awareness you are healed. You will hear the god you listen to. You made the god of sickness, and by making him you made yourself able to hear him. Yet you did not create him, because he is not the Will of the Father. He is therefore not eternal and will be unmade for you the instant you signify your willingness to accept only the eternal.
If God has but one Son, there is but one God. You share reality with Him, because reality is not divided. To accept other gods before Him is to place other images before yourself. You do not realise how much you listen to your gods, and how vigilant you are on their behalf. Yet they exist only because you honour them. Place honour where it is due, and peace will be yours. It is your inheritance from your real Father. You cannot make your Father, and the father you made did not make you. Honour is not due to illusions, for to honour them is to honour nothing. Yet fear is not due them either, for nothing cannot be fearful. You have chosen to fear love because of its perfect harmlessness, and because of this fear you have been willing to give up your own perfect helpfulness and your own perfect Help.
Only at the altar of God will you find peace. And this altar is in you because God put it there. His Voice still calls you to return, and He will be heard when you place no other gods before Him. You can give up the god of sickness for your brothers; in fact, you would have to do so if you give him up for yourself. For if you see the god of sickness anywhere, you have accepted him. And if you accept him you will bow down and worship him, because he was made as God’s replacement. He is the belief that you can choose which god is real. Although it is clear this has nothing to do with reality, it is equally clear that it has everything to do with reality as you perceive it.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 24
Today let us review these ideas:
(65) My only function is the one God gave me.
I have no function but the one God gave me. This recognition releases me from all conflict, because it means I cannot have conflicting goals. With one purpose only, I am always certain what to do, what to say and what to think. All doubt must disappear as I acknowledge that my only function is the one God gave me.
More specific applications of this idea might take these forms:
My perception of this does not change my function.
This does not give me a function other than the one God gave me.
Let me not use this to justify a function God did not give me.
(66) My happiness and my function are one.
All things that come from God are one. They come from Oneness, and must be received as one. Fulfilling my function is my happiness because both come from the same Source. And I must learn to recognize what makes me happy, if I would find happiness.
Some useful forms for specific applications of this idea are:
This cannot separate my happiness from my function.
The oneness of my happiness and my function remains wholly unaffected by this.
Nothing, including this, can justify the illusion of happiness apart from my function.
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1358: From what I gather, “ego ideals” are part of the level-confusion issue: I think that if I’m a “good” person and do “good” things, the Holy Spirit will look on me more favorably, or I’ll be more “advanced”; on the flip side, if I “waste” my time watching basketball on TV or I treat someone poorly, the opposite terms apply. In this case, there’s usually fuel for thinking myself guilty, and this is where the harder part comes in. It’s obvious that on the level of behavior we have so many decisions to make, and some aren’t morally good: If I decide to skip a meeting I know I should be at but feel is utterly unimportant, I feel the lack of integrity in myself, create the guilt that I project onto the Holy Spirit thinking I’m guilty and undeserving of peace, as though my skipping the meeting is part of the spiritual landscape. From what I’m understanding, skipping the meeting is not the issue, but instead it’s that I have done all this unconsciously to create guilt by using the “ego ideal” as a defense against love? Another example: my parents are taking my family on vacation to a place I don’t really care for; plus it’ll be crowded and crazy. I’m planning on not going but spending some time alone, etc. My wife has no problem with this, and though I know my parents might frown some, I have made it into a big deal, as though there’s a right moral choice: I should go to fulfill my duty and be a good son. Same thing as the meeting, right? Or am I in denial?
A: You’re on the right track, but you haven’t gotten to the core of the problem yet. The “ego ideal” is not in itself the defense against love. It is the convenient external criterion the ego invokes and employs as a smokescreen to deceive us about why we feel guilty. But the only reason we ever feel guilty has nothing to do with anything external. It is that we have already made an internal decision to be selfish, to put our own self interests above everyone else’s, to see ourselves as separate and in need of taking care of ourselves first and everyone else be damned — that’s the core of the separation thought. And it comes from our fear of love, which denies the truth of who we are. Any decision about external events or situations that proceeds then from this internal decision for selfishness will simply reinforce and seem also to account for those feelings. But we will be deluding ourselves about the real cause.
The Course’s only reference to ego ideals describes their role in obscuring the source of the guilt in our mind: “Yet consider how strange a solution the ego’s arrangement is. You project guilt to get rid of it, but you are actually merely concealing it. You do experience the guilt, but you have no idea why. On the contrary, you associate it with a weird assortment of “ego ideals,” which the ego claims you have failed. Yet you have no idea that you are failing the Son of God by seeing him as guilty. Believing you are no longer you, you do not realize that you are failing yourself” (T.13.II.2, italics added ).
The goal then is not to be able to make decisions that protect our self-interest without feeling guilty, but rather to turn to our Inner Guide whenever we feel that we have an important decision to make, so that we can be reminded of what is the truly important decision — who we make it with. Now the ego would tell us, “Sure, turn to the Holy Spirit and you know He’ll tell you that you need to do what you don’t want to do” — the ego always confuses sacrifice with love. And the ego’s focus is always on behavior, or form, rather than on the mind, or content. And so morality – – doing the right thing — is an ego concern. For the ego is preoccupied with rules for behavior. But the Holy Spirit is concerned only with rules for decision. In that sense we can say that the Course is an a moral thought system — it is not concerned with what we do, but only with how we think.
So the guilt is not coming from the “ego ideals,” which would dictate the “moral” or “right” choice, but rather from that fact that you are making decisions on your own. And so, in the examples you describe, you have already made up your mind what the problem is and what you want to do before you ask for help, hoping that you can decide on your own and get what you want without guilt. The guilt however is not coming from what you are deciding to do or not to do, but from the fact that you are deciding on your own, which means with the ego (T.30.I.14). In the section of the text titled “Rules for Decision,” Jesus says: “This is your major problem now. You still make up your mind, and then decide to ask what you should do. And what you hear may not resolve the problem as you saw it first. This leads to fear, because it contradicts what you perceive and so you feel attacked. And therefore angry. There are rules by which this will not happen. But it does occur at first, while you are learning how to hear” (T.30.I.3).
Jesus offers the solution in the preceding paragraph: “The outlook starts with this:
Today I will make no decisions by myself. This means that you are choosing not to be the judge of what to do. But it must also mean you will not judge the situations where you will be called upon to make response. For if you judge them, you have set the rules for how you should react to them. And then another answer cannot but produce confusion and uncertainty and fear” (T.30.I.2).
In other words, the important decision is not whether to participate in a certain meeting or go with family on a special vacation, but whether you wish to have the ego or the Holy Spirit as your interpreter and guide in whatever you end up doing. And since we never know what is in our own best interests, we will never know what the “right” thing to do is ahead of time, regardless of the ego’s “moral” judgments. But whatever we end up being guided to do, we will be at peace about it, because we have not decided on our own, from a belief in our own guilt and limitation and lack. And our experience then will be one of peace and joy, free of conflict and pain and guilt, regardless of what seems to be happening around us.