ACIM Text Reading for April 28
Chapter 14 ~ Teaching for Truth
III. The Decision for Guiltlessness
The happy learner cannot feel guilty about learning. This is so essential to learning that it should never be forgotten. The guiltless learner learns easily because his thoughts are free. Yet this entails the recognition that guilt is interference, not salvation, and serves no useful function at all.
Perhaps you are accustomed to using guiltlessness merely to offset the pain of guilt, and do not look upon it as having value in itself. You believe that guilt and guiltlessness are both of value, each representing an escape from what the other does not offer you. You do not want either alone, for without both you do not see yourself as whole and therefore happy. Yet you are whole only in your guiltlessness, and only in your guiltlessness can you be happy. There is no conflict here. To wish for guilt in any way, in any form, will lose appreciation of the value of your guiltlessness, and push it from your sight.
There is no compromise that you can make with guilt, and escape the pain that only guiltlessness allays. Learning is living here, as creating is being in Heaven. Whenever the pain of guilt seems to attract you, remember that if you yield to it, you are deciding against your happiness, and will not learn how to be happy. Say therefore, to yourself, gently, but with the conviction born of the Love of God and of His Son,
What I experience I will make manifest.
If I am guiltless, I have nothing to fear.
I choose to testify to my acceptance of the Atonement, not to its rejection.
I would accept my guiltlessness by making it manifest and sharing it.
Let me bring peace to God’s Son from his Father.
Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours. What you can decide between is fixed, because there are no alternatives except truth and illusion. And there is no overlap between them, because they are opposites which cannot be reconciled and cannot both be true. You are guilty or guiltless, bound or free, unhappy or happy.
The miracle teaches you that you have chosen guiltlessness, freedom and joy. It is not a cause, but an effect. It is the natural result of choosing right, attesting to your happiness that comes from choosing to be free of guilt. Everyone you offer healing to returns it. Everyone you attack keeps it and cherishes it by holding it against you. Whether he does this or does it not will make no difference; you will think he does. It is impossible to offer what you do not want without this penalty. The cost of giving is receiving. Either it is a penalty from which you suffer, or the happy purchase of a treasure to hold dear.
No penalty is ever asked of God’s Son except by himself and of himself. Every chance given him to heal is another opportunity to replace darkness with light and fear with love. If he refuses it he binds himself to darkness, because he did not choose to free his brother and enter light with him. By giving power to nothing, he throws away the joyous opportunity to learn that nothing has no power. And by not dispelling darkness, he became afraid of darkness and of light. The joy of learning that darkness has no power over the Son of God is the happy lesson the Holy Spirit teaches, and would have you teach with Him. It is His joy to teach it, as it will be yours.
The way to teach this simple lesson is merely this: Guiltlessness is invulnerability. Therefore, make your invulnerability manifest to everyone. Teach him that, whatever he may try to do to you, your perfect freedom from the belief that you can be harmed shows him that he is guiltless. He can do nothing that can hurt you, and by refusing to allow him to think he can, you teach him that the Atonement, which you have accepted for yourself, is also his. There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God. His guilt is wholly without cause, and being without cause, cannot exist.
God is the only Cause, and guilt is not of Him. Teach no one he has hurt you, for if you do, you teach yourself that what is not of God has power over you. The causeless cannot be. Do not attest to it, and do not foster belief in it in any mind. Remember always that mind is one, and cause is one. You will learn communication with this oneness only when you learn to deny the causeless, and accept the Cause of God as yours. The power that God has given to His Son is his, and nothing else can His Son see or choose to look upon without imposing on himself the penalty of guilt, in place of all the happy teaching the Holy Spirit would gladly offer him.
Whenever you choose to make decisions for yourself you are thinking destructively, and the decision will be wrong. It will hurt you because of the concept of decision that led to it. It is not true that you can make decisions by yourself or for yourself alone. No thought of God’s Son can be separate or isolated in its effects. Every decision is made for the whole Sonship, directed in and out, and influencing a constellation larger than anything you ever dreamed of.
Those who accept the Atonement are invulnerable. But those who believe they are guilty will respond to guilt, because they think it is salvation, and will not refuse to see it and side with it. They believe that increasing guilt is self-protection. And they will fail to understand the simple fact that what they do not want must hurt them. All this arises because they do not believe that what they want is good. Yet will was given them because it is holy, and will bring to them all that they need, coming as naturally as peace that knows no limits. There is nothing their will fails to provide that offers them anything of value. Yet because they do not understand their will, the Holy Spirit quietly understands it for them, and gives them what they want without effort, strain, or the impossible burden of deciding what they want and need alone.
It will never happen that you must make decisions for yourself. You are not bereft of help, and Help that knows the answer. Would you be content with little, which is all that you alone can offer yourself, when He Who gives you everything will simply offer it to you? He will never ask what you have done to make you worthy of the gift of God. Ask it not therefore of yourself. Instead, accept His answer, for He knows that you are worthy of everything God wills for you. Do not try to escape the gift of God He so freely and so gladly offers you. He offers you but what God gave Him for you. You need not decide whether or not you are deserving of it. God knows you are.
Would you deny the truth of God’s decision, and place your pitiful appraisal of yourself in place of His calm and unswerving value of His Son? Nothing can shake God’s conviction of the perfect purity of everything that He created, for it is wholly pure. Do not decide against it, for being of Him it must be true. Peace abides in every mind that quietly accepts the plan God set for its Atonement, relinquishing its own. You know not of salvation, for you do not understand it. Make no decisions about what it is or where it lies, but ask the Holy Spirit everything, and leave all decisions to His gentle counsel.
The One Who knows the plan of God that God would have you follow can teach you what it is. Only His wisdom is capable of guiding you to follow it. Every decision you undertake alone but signifies that you would define what salvation is, and what you would be saved from. The Holy Spirit knows that all salvation is escape from guilt. You have no other ‘enemy’, and against this strange distortion of the purity of the Son of God the Holy Spirit is your only Friend. He is the strong protector of the innocence that sets you free. And it is His decision to undo everything that would obscure your innocence from your unclouded mind.
Let Him, therefore, be the only Guide that you would follow to salvation. He knows the way, and leads you gladly on it. With Him you will not fail to learn that what God wills for you is your will. Without His guidance you will think you know alone, and will decide against your peace as surely as you decided that salvation lay in you alone. Salvation is of Him to Whom God gave it for you. He has not forgotten it. Forget Him not and He will make every decision for you, for your salvation and the peace of God in you.
Seek not to appraise the worth of God’s Son whom He created holy, for to do so is to evaluate his Father and judge against Him. And you will feel guilty for this imagined crime, which no one in this world or Heaven could possibly commit. The Holy Spirit teaches only that the ‘sin’ of self-replacement on the throne of God is not a source of guilt. What cannot happen can have no effects to fear. Be quiet in your faith in Him Who loves you, and would lead you out of insanity. Madness may be your choice, but not your reality. Never forget the Love of God, Who has remembered you. For it is quite impossible that He could ever let His Son drop from the loving Mind wherein he was created, and where his abode was fixed in perfect peace forever.
Say to the Holy Spirit only, ‘Decide for me’, and it is done. For His decisions are reflections of what God knows about you, and in this light, error of any kind becomes impossible. Why would you struggle so frantically to anticipate all you cannot know, when all knowledge lies behind every decision the Holy Spirit makes for you? Learn of His wisdom and His Love, and teach His answer to everyone who struggles in the dark. For you decide for them and for yourself.
How gracious it is to decide all things through Him Whose equal Love is given equally to all alike! He leaves you no one outside you. And so He gives you what is yours, because your Father would have you share it with Him. In everything be led by Him, and do not reconsider. Trust Him to answer quickly, surely, and with Love for everyone who will be touched in any way by the decision. And everyone will be. Would you take unto yourself the sole responsibility for deciding what can bring only good to everyone? Would you know this?
You taught yourself the most unnatural habit of not communicating with your Creator. Yet you remain in close communication with Him, and with everything that is within Him, as it is within yourself. Unlearn isolation through His loving guidance, and learn of all the happy communication that you have thrown away but could not lose.
Whenever you are in doubt what you should do, think of His Presence in you, and tell yourself this, and only this:
He leadeth me and knows the way, which I know not.
Yet He will never keep from me what He would have me learn.
And so I trust Him to communicate to me all that He knows for me.
Then let Him teach you quietly how to perceive your guiltlessness, which is already there.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 28
For morning and evening review:
(103) God, being Love, is also happiness.
Let me remember love is happiness, and nothing else
brings joy. And so I choose to entertain no substitutes
(104) I seek but what belongs to me in truth.
Love is my heritage, and with it joy. These are the
gifts my Father gave to me. I would accept all that is
mine in truth.
On the hour:
God, being Love, is also happiness.
On the half hour:
I seek but what belongs to me in truth.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #230: During the several times that I have worked with the workbook of A Course in Miracles, I find I have left things undone that belong to earlier lessons, e.g., meaning and meaninglessness. The instructions clearly say that only one lesson per day is to be worked. My intuition tells me to go back to the beginning, in order not to confuse the sequence of the workbook. I wonder if others have asked this question before, but have not been answered yet?
A: It is not necessary to begin the workbook again. You can always go back and do a lesson again or concentrate on a specific concept that you skipped over; but that does not mean that you should start all over again. Jesus does not expect us to do a lesson perfectly before we move on to the next one. He is far more aware of our resistance and fear than we are, so he knows we will misinterpret what he says, not do everything he asks, and when we do it, we will do it imperfectly. He is interested only in our willingness and humility as we practice the lessons. The middle of Lesson 95, in particular, discusses the attitude we should have when we run into problems in our work with the lessons. You might also wish to look at Questions #64 and #92, which pertain to the workbook.
Q #231: My question pertains to the world we see as an illusion. Is it safe to say that if we find “enjoyment” here we must keep in mind it is still only an illusion, otherwise we become attached to it in a negative way? Does this sort of parallel what the scriptures say that we are not of this world but only in this world? This makes for a tug of war within us because when we seem to desire something, we ask: which part is doing the desiring? At that point, can we justify the desire by keeping in mind that it really does not matter because it is only illusion and then go on and enjoy? Is justify the wrong word? Are we on the right track with this reasoning?
A: Your reasoning is partially correct. Anything we desire in the world of form is only an illusion, but we should not dismiss our seeking or desiring it too quickly. Although A Course in Miracles does not ask that we relinquish enjoyment in the dream, it does ask that we recognize the real motives for our pursuit of pleasurable experiences. It tells us that we are seeking to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God with substitutes for His Love that never fully satisfy us. This is at the root of all our seeking in the dream. The Course uncovers our motives in the hopes that we will learn not to seek outside ourselves for what will never truly bring us happiness. As long as we make the mistake of believing that the cause of our “enjoyment” is something or someone external to ourselves, we will seek in vain, in keeping with the ego’s maxim: “Seek but do not find” (M.13.5:8). The Course tells us that the only enjoyment possible in the dream is a peaceful state of mind, and that is achieved only by the choice to join with the Holy Spirit in the mind, and accept His interpretation of every experience or relationship we have. That is not to say that we cannot enjoy a pleasurable experience in the world. The point is that if our mind is at peace, it does not matter whether we are enjoying a beautiful concert or are stuck in hot traffic — our peacefulness remains undisturbed. This is not the same as indulging our desires for pleasure by saying it is all an illusion and it doesn’t matter. If we were at the point in our spiritual journey where we truly believed that this is all an illusion, we would not need A Course in Miracles to help us see how real we think the world is, and, we would not be in pursuit of enjoyment in the world. Meanwhile, all the things in the world we do seek are important reminders of how attached we are to our identity as bodies and the ego thought system, which makes separation and the world very real. Both negative emotions (pain) as well as positive emotions (enjoyment) which are evoked by our experiences are our “proof” that the world is real. We are learning to be aware of how desperately we seek this.
The only part of our mind that desires anything, no matter how lofty it may seem to be, is the ego: “Appetites are ‘getting’ mechanisms, representing the ego’s need to confirm itself. This is as true of body appetites as it is of the so-called ‘higher ego needs.’ Body appetites are not physical in origin. The ego regards the body as its home, and tries to satisfy itself through the body. But the idea that this is possible is a decision of the mind, which has become completely confused about what is really possible” (T.II.7:5, 6,7,8,9). The Course is a mind training process because we are so confused, have taught ourselves upside down thinking, and do not know what makes us happy: “You no more recognize what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain” (T.7.X.3:4,5,6). This does not mean we should feel guilty for seeking enjoyment. It is no different than any of the other things we do to take care of ourselves in the illusion. While we still believe in our identity as bodies, we will find “enjoyment” in the world. Though the ego uses this to support the belief that the separation is real, the Holy Spirit can use it as part of His classroom to teach us that there is no satisfaction in this world, and that our only true happiness is found in God. We may also have experiences that are truly joyful because they reflect a choice in the mind to identify with the Holy Spirit. As we continue to practice what the Course teaches, we will eventually have truly joyful experiences that reflect the choice made in the mind to identify with the Holy Spirit. This joy comes from the content in the mind rather than anything in form.