ACIM Text Reading for April 19
Chapter 13 ~ The Guiltless World
VI. Finding the Present
To perceive truly is to be aware of all reality through the awareness of your own. But for this no illusions can rise to meet your sight, for reality leaves no room for any error. This means that you perceive a brother only as you see him now. His past has no reality in the present, so you cannot see it. Your past reactions to him are also not there, and if it is to them that you react, you see but an image of him that you made and cherish instead of him. In your questioning of illusions, ask yourself if it is really sane to perceive what was as now. If you remember the past as you look upon your brother, you will be unable to perceive the reality that is now.
You consider it ‘natural’ to use your past experience as the reference point from which to judge the present. Yet this is unnatural because it is delusional. When you have learned to look on everyone with no reference at all to the past, either his or yours as you perceive it, you will be able to learn from what you see now. For the past can cast no shadow to darken the present, unless you are afraid of light. And only if you are would you choose to bring darkness with you, and by holding it in your mind, see it as a dark cloud that shrouds your brothers and conceals their reality from your sight.
This darkness is in you. The Christ as revealed to you now has no past, for He is changeless, and in His changelessness lies your release. For if He is as He was created, there is no guilt in Him. No cloud of guilt has risen to obscure Him, and He stands revealed in everyone you meet because you see Him through Himself. To be born again is to let the past go, and look without condemnation upon the present. The cloud that obscures God’s Son to you is the past, and if you would have it past and gone, you must not see it now. If you see it now in your illusions, it has not gone from you, although it is not there.
Time can release as well as imprison, depending on whose interpretation of it you use. Past, present and future are not continuous, unless you force continuity on them. You can perceive them as continuous, and make them so for you. But do not be deceived, and then believe that this is how it is. For to believe reality is what you would have it be according to your use for it is delusional. You would destroy time’s continuity by breaking it into past, present and future for your own purposes. You would anticipate the future on the basis of your past experience, and plan for it accordingly. Yet by doing so you are aligning past and future, and not allowing the miracle, which could intervene between them, to free you to be born again.
The miracle enables you to see your brother without his past, and so perceive him as born again. His errors are all past, and by perceiving him without them you are releasing him. And since his past is yours, you share in this release. Let no dark cloud out of your past obscure him from you, for truth lies only in the present, and you will find it if you seek it there. You have looked for it where it is not, and therefore have not found it. Learn, then, to seek it where it is, and it will dawn on eyes that see. Your past was made in anger, and if you use it to attack the present, you will not see the freedom that the present holds.
Judgement and condemnation are behind you, and unless you bring them with you, you will see that you are free of them. Look lovingly upon the present, for it holds the only things that are forever true. All healing lies within it because its continuity is real. It extends to all aspects of the Sonship at the same time, and thus enables them to reach each other. The present is before time was, and will be when time is no more. In it are all things that are eternal, and they are one. Their continuity is timeless and their communication is unbroken, for they are not separated by the past. Only the past can separate, and it is nowhere.
The present offers you your brothers in the light that would unite you with them, and free you from the past. Would you, then, hold the past against them? For if you do, you are choosing to remain in the darkness that is not there, and refusing to accept the light that is offered you. For the light of perfect vision is freely given as it is freely received, and can be accepted only without limit. In this one, still dimension of time that does not change, and where there is no sight of what you were, you look at Christ and call His witnesses to shine on you because you called them forth. And they will not deny the truth in you, because you looked for it in them and found it there.
Now is the time of salvation, for now is the release from time. Reach out to all your brothers, and touch them with the touch of Christ. In timeless union with them is your continuity, unbroken because it is wholly shared. God’s guiltless Son is only light. There is no darkness in him anywhere, for he is whole. Call all your brothers to witness to his wholeness, as I am calling you to join with me. Each voice has a part in the song of redemption, the hymn of gladness and thanksgiving for the light to the Creator of light. The holy light that shines forth from God’s Son is the witness that his light is of his Father.
Shine on your brothers in remembrance of your Creator, for you will remember Him as you call forth the witnesses to His creation. Those whom you heal bear witness to your healing, for in their wholeness you will see your own. And as your hymns of praise and gladness rise to your Creator, He will return your thanks in His clear Answer to your call. For it can never be that His Son called upon Him and remained unanswered. His call to you is but your call to Him. And in Him you are answered by His peace.
Child of light, you know not that the light is in you. Yet you will find it through its witnesses, for having given light to them they will return it. Each one you see in light brings your light closer to your awareness. Love always leads to love, The sick, who ask for love, are grateful for it, and in their joy they shine with holy thanks. And this they offer you who gave them joy. They are your guides to joy, for having received it of you they would keep it. You have established them as guides to peace, for you have made it manifest in them. And seeing it, its beauty calls you home.
There is a light that this world cannot give. Yet you can give it, as it was given you. And as you give it, it shines forth to call you from the world and follow it. For this light will attract you as nothing in this world can do. And you will lay aside the world and find another. This other world is bright with love which you have given it. And here will everything remind you of your Father and His holy Son. Light is unlimited, and spreads across this world in quiet joy. All those you brought with you will shine on you, and you will shine on them in gratitude because they brought you here. Your light will join with theirs in power so compelling, that it will draw the others out of darkness as you look on them.
Awaking unto Christ is following the laws of love of your free will, and out of quiet recognition of the truth in them. The attraction of light must draw you willingly, and willingness is signified by giving. Those who accept love of you become your willing witnesses to the love you gave them, and it is they who hold it out to you. In sleep you are alone, and your awareness is narrowed to yourself. And that is why the nightmares come. You dream of isolation because your eyes are closed. You do not see your brothers, and in the darkness you cannot look upon the light you gave to them.
And yet the laws of love are not suspended because you sleep. And you have followed them through all your nightmares, and have been faithful in your giving, for you were not alone. Even in sleep has Christ protected you, ensuring the real world for you when you awake. In your name He has given for you, and given you the gifts He gave. God’s Son is still as loving as his Father. Continuous with his Father, he has no past apart from Him. So he has never ceased to be his Father’s witness and his own. Although he slept, Christ’s vision did not leave him. And so it is that he can call unto himself the witnesses that teach him that he never slept.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 19
To give and to receive are one in truth.
Vision depends upon today’s idea. The light is in it, for it reconciles all seeming opposites. And what is light except the resolution, born of peace, of all your conflicts and mistaken thoughts into one concept which is wholly true? Even that one will disappear, because the Thought behind it will appear instead to take its place. And now you are at peace forever, for the dream is over then.
True light that makes true vision possible is not the light the body’s eyes behold. It is a state of mind that has become so unified that darkness cannot be perceived at all. And thus what is the same is seen as one, while what is not the same remains unnoticed, for it is not there.
This is the light that shows no opposites, and vision, being healed, has power to heal. This is the light that brings your peace of mind to other minds, to share it and be glad that they are one with you and with themselves. This is the light that heals because it brings single perception, based upon one frame of reference, from which one meaning comes.
Here are both giving and receiving seen as different aspects of one Thought whose truth does not depend on which is seen as first, nor which appears to be in second place. Here it is understood that both occur together, that the Thought remain complete. And in this understanding is the base on which all opposites are reconciled, because they are perceived from the same frame of reference which unifies this Thought.
One thought, completely unified, will serve to unify all thought. This is the same as saying one correction will suffice for all correction, or that to forgive one brother wholly is enough to bring salvation to all minds. For these are but some special cases of one law which holds for every kind of learning, if it be directed by the One Who knows the truth.
To learn that giving and receiving are the same has special usefulness, because it can be tried so easily and seen as true. And when this special case has proved it always works, in every circumstance where it is tried, the thought behind it can be generalized to other areas of doubt and double vision. And from there it will extend, and finally arrive at the one Thought which underlies them all.
Today we practice with the special case of giving and receiving. We will use this simple lesson in the obvious because it has results we cannot miss. To give is to receive. Today we will attempt to offer peace to everyone, and see how quickly peace returns to us. Light is tranquility, and in that peace is vision given us, and we can see.
So we begin the practice periods with the instruction for today, and say:
To give and to receive are one in truth.
I will receive what I am giving now.
Then close your eyes, and for five minutes think of what you would hold out to everyone, to have it yours. You might, for instance, say:
To everyone I offer quietness.
To everyone I offer peace of mind.
To everyone I offer gentleness.
Say each one slowly and then pause a while, expecting to receive the gift you gave. And it will come to you in the amount in which you gave it. You will find you have exact return, for that is what you asked. It might be helpful, too, to think of one to whom to give your gifts. He represents the others, and through him you give to all.
Our very simple lesson for today will teach you much. Effect and cause will be far better understood from this time on, and we will make much faster progress now. Think of the exercises for today as quick advances in your learning, made still faster and more sure each time you say, “To give and to receive are one in truth.”
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ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #108: As I continue to study A Course in Miracles, I am beginning to understand that the emotion that is commonly called “love” in this world is not at all the same as the “love” referred to in the Course. In fact, I have discovered that in many cases, my ego uses the idea of “love” to cover up a lot of very dysfunctional thinking and behavior. What is the relationship between love as we understand it in the world, and love as expressed in the Course, and how can we use that to guide our lives?
A: The distinction you make between the “love” the Course is referring to and what is called “love” in this world is correct. They are not the same thing. The love of this world is always what the Course calls “special love,” and it is the foundation of the “special relationship.” It not only has properties that are in direct opposition to the love the Course refers to, it is actually a mask for hatred: “It is in the special relationship, born of the hidden wish for special love from God, that the ego’s hatred triumphs. For the special relationship is the renunciation of the Love of God, and the attempt to secure for the self the specialness that He denied” (T.16.V.4:1,2). We are secretly saying to anyone or anything we have a special love relationship with: “God did not love me with the specialness I want, so I will use you to get the special love I think I cannot live without.” What we call “love,” therefore, is our substitute for God’s love. Furthermore, the Course tells us it is hate: “…any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate” (T.21.III1:3). This “hate” is based on the misperception that we are different, incomplete, and needy. In the special love relationship an agreement is made for mutual needs to be met, and thus we seek to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God. And, true to the ego’s mandate “seek but do not find” (T.16.V.6:5), this substitute for God’s love will never satisfy our need, no matter how we try to make it work. Even the most fulfilling “love” relationship will eventually end in death.
What the Course is inviting us to do is to look at our special love relationships from this new perspective, as shocking as it may seem to be, so that we will become willing to open ourselves to a new purpose, and a new interpretation: “A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself. He sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body. Therefore, he looks on nothing he would take. He denies not his own reality because it is the truth”(T.22.in.3:1,2,3,4,5,6).
The important thing to remember is that it is normal, not sinful, to have special relationships, and they will not be taken away. In fact, they can be useful in our lives if we give them to the Holy Spirit to be transformed into holy relationships: “I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them” (T.17.IV.2:3). In this way, the love we experience with another person becomes a reflection of the love of God in the dream, not a substitute for it.
Q #1134: I have a question regarding how to “approach” special love and hate relationships, which are the same if I understand A Course in Miracles correctly. They keep us from “real” love.
The Course “recommends” handing them over to the Holy Spirit. I have been trying to come to terms with one special relationship which involved both love and hate. At first I rejected it, then returned to it with the argument of the Course saying “you should love your special relationships in order to have a happy dream and then “awaken” (sort of!).” However, how can we love something that is ultimately “made” to attack God and ourselves as well? Isn’t that a contradiction, and perhaps even counter-productive to our “healing”? Would it not then be better to “reject” someone and walk away?
I find it very difficult, in that relationship, to “give only love.” There are issues that I feel need to be addressed, and when I do, ultimately the true nature of this relationship — hate — comes forth. How can we ever give true love in this world? What is more, how do we recognize it?
A: You do understand correctly; every special love relationship is a mask for special hate. If it is special, it is hateful, not necessarily in form, but certainly in content. In the Course, the term “special” is synonymous with “separate” because every special relationship has belief in separation at its core. Keeping this in mind is helpful since it explains why specialness is “hateful” even when it looks loving. Separation is a murderous thought by which the Son of God believes he can usurp God’s power, steal life from Him, and live in a body independent of His Love. That is the content of every special relationship, no matter how loving the form may seem. This distinction between form and content is the key to unraveling the confusion regarding special relationships. In content they are all the same. The problem in any relationship is not the seeming love or hate that characterizes its form, but the mind’s decision to use it to sustain belief in separation, thereby defending itself against God’s Love. Willingness to recognize this ego dynamic at work in the relationship you refer to is how to give it to the Holy Spirit. We need not lose the special relationships; Jesus says we will not be deprived of them: “I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them” (T.17.IV.2:3). The “hate” you experience in the relationship is the projection of the mind’s guilt for having attacked God by choosing the ego. It has nothing to do with the other person. However, it is possible to work out any issues you may have on the level of form, while remaining aware of the mind’s projection. The Holy Spirit is present in your willingness to recognize that the “issues” are not the cause of conflict in the relationship; guilt is.
Although there is no true love in this world, its reflection begins with the simple acknowledgment that the origin of hate masquerading as special love is the mind’s decision to choose the ego as teacher instead of the Holy Spirit. The ego focuses on form, blaming external agents for its discomfort, while the Holy Spirit asks us to see everything as a reflection of the mind’s choice. You know you have chosen the Holy Spirit when you find yourself becoming increasingly mindful of your projections, regardless of the judgments or hateful feelings that arise in a relationship. This is the first step in the practice of forgiveness as the Course teaches it. It is the way that everything the ego made as an attack on God can be transformed and used by the Holy Spirit to undo the belief in separation and lead us back to Him. You have taken a step in the right direction by not denying the hatred you find in the relationship. It is important not to try to change the feelings or fight against them, but to recognize that their true source is the mind’s belief in separation, as we said earlier.
In the introduction to the text, Jesus makes it clear that the goal of the Course is not love: The course does not aim at teaching the meaning of love, for that is beyond what can be taught. It does aim, however, at removing the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence, which is your natural inheritance (T.in.1:6,7). The blocks are all the thoughts and judgments that flow from the mind’s decision to identify with the ego. They cannot be removed until they are recognized, which is why there is much emphasis, in the practice of the Course, on looking at the ego. Exposing it to the light of the Holy Spirit’s teaching is how it is undone; not by any effort on our part, but by a little willingness to see that one’s own thoughts are blocking the memory of God’s Love. The love that flows naturally when the mind chooses the Holy Spirit is not special because it excludes no one. It is not the “love” of one person for some people to the exclusion of others. The way is opened to this love when projections are acknowledged without judgment, and no attempt is made to interfere. Since everything the ego made is an attack on God, it isn’t necessary to seek out situations or persons that upset you. There is nothing wrong with keeping a distance from a disturbing relationship. As with idols, if one relationship seems too much to handle, “Another can be found” (W.p.I.170.8:7) . Everything and everyone is equally important in the classroom of forgiveness. They are the form love takes until every judgment is laid aside and the Holy Spirit’s Love flows uninterruptedly.