ACIM Text Reading for April 29
Chapter 14 ~ Teaching for Truth
IV. Your Function in the Atonement
When you accept a brother’s guiltlessness you will see the Atonement in him. For by proclaiming it in him you make it yours, and you will see what you sought. You will not see the symbol of your brother’s guiltlessness shining within him while you still believe it is not there. His guiltlessness is your Atonement. Grant it to him, and you will see the truth of what you have acknowledged. Yet truth is offered first to be received, even as God gave it first to His Son. The first in time means nothing, but the First in eternity is God the Father, Who is both First and One. Beyond the First there is no other, for there is no order, no second or third, and nothing but the First.
You who belong to the First Cause, created by Him like unto Himself and part of Him, are more than merely guiltless. The state of guiltlessness is only the condition in which what is not there has been removed from the disordered mind that thought it was. This state, and only this, must you attain, with God beside you. For until you do, you will still think that you are separate from Him. You can perhaps feel His Presence next to you, but cannot know that you are one with Him. This cannot be taught. Learning applies only to the condition in which it happens of itself.
When you have let all that obscured the truth in your most holy mind be undone for you, and therefore stand in grace before your Father, He will give Himself to you as He has always done. Giving Himself is all He knows, and so it is all knowledge. For what He knows not cannot be, and therefore cannot be given. Ask not to be forgiven, for this has already been accomplished. Ask, rather, to learn how to forgive, and to restore what always was to your unforgiving mind. Atonement becomes real and visible to those who use it. On earth this is your only function, and you must learn that it is all you want to learn. You will feel guilty till you learn this. For in the end, whatever form it takes, your guilt arises from your failure to fulfil your function in God’s Mind with all of yours. Can you escape this guilt by failing to fulfil your function here?
You need not understand creation to do what must be done before that knowledge would be meaningful to you. God breaks no barriers; neither did He make them. When you release them they are gone. God will not fail, nor ever has in anything. Decide that God is right and you are wrong about yourself. He created you out of Himself, but still within Him. He knows what you are. Remember that there is no second to Him. There cannot, therefore, be anyone without His Holiness, nor anyone unworthy of His perfect Love. Fail not in your function of loving in a loveless place made out of darkness and deceit, for thus are darkness and deceit undone. Fail not yourself, but instead offer to God and you His blameless Son. For this small gift of appreciation for His Love, God will Himself exchange your gift for His.
Before you make any decisions for yourself, remember that you have decided against your function in Heaven, and then consider carefully whether you want to make decisions here. Your function here is only to decide against deciding what you want, in recognition that you do not know. How, then, can you decide what you should do? Leave all decisions to the One Who speaks for God, and for your function as He knows it. So will He teach you to remove the awful burden you have laid upon yourself by loving not the Son of God, and trying to teach him guilt instead of love. Give up this frantic and insane attempt that cheats you of the joy of living with your God and Father, and of waking gladly to His Love and Holiness that join together as the truth in you, making you one with Him.
When you have learned how to decide with God, all decisions become as easy and as right as breathing. There is no effort, and you will be led as gently as if you were being carried down a quiet path in summer. Only your own volition seems to make deciding hard. The Holy Spirit will not delay in answering your every question what to do. He knows. And He will tell you, and then do it for you. You who are tired will find this is more restful than sleep. For you can bring your guilt into sleeping, but not into this.
Unless you are guiltless you cannot know God, Whose Will is that you know Him. Therefore, you must be guiltless. Yet if you do not accept the necessary conditions for knowing Him, you have denied Him and do not recognise Him, though He is all around you. He cannot be known without His Son, whose guiltlessness is the condition for knowing Him. Accepting His Son as guilty is denial of the Father so complete, that knowledge is swept away from recognition in the very mind where God Himself has placed it. If you would but listen, and learn how impossible this is! Do not endow Him with attributes you understand. You made Him not, and anything you understand is not of Him.
Your task is not to make reality. It is here without your making, but not without you. You who have tried to throw yourself away and valued God so little, hear me speak for Him and for yourself. You cannot understand how much your Father loves you, for there is no parallel in your experience of the world to help you understand it. There is nothing on earth with which it can compare, and nothing you have ever felt apart from Him resembles it ever so faintly. You cannot even give a blessing in perfect gentleness. Would you know of One Who gives forever, and Who knows of nothing except giving?
The children of Heaven live in the light of the blessing of their Father, because they know that they are sinless. The Atonement was established as the means of restoring guiltlessness to minds that have denied it, and thus denied Heaven to itself. Atonement teaches you the true condition of the Son of God. It does not teach you what you are, or what your Father is. The Holy Spirit, who remembers this for you, merely teaches you how to remove the blocks that stand between you and what you know. His memory is yours. If you remember what you have made, you are remembering nothing. Remembrance of reality is in Him, and therefore in you.
The guiltless and the guilty are totally incapable of understanding one another. Each perceives the other as like himself, making both unable to communicate, because each sees the other unlike the way he sees himself. God can communicate only to the Holy Spirit in your mind, because only He shares the knowledge of what you are with God. And only the Holy Spirit can answer God for you, for only He knows what God is. Everything else that you have placed within your mind cannot exist, for what is not in communication with the Mind of God has never been. Communication with God is life. Nothing without it is at all.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 29
For morning and evening review:
(105) God’s peace and joy are mine.
Today I will accept God’s peace and joy, in glad
exchange for all the substitutes that I have made
for happiness and peace.
(106) Let me be still and listen to the truth.
Let my own feeble voice be still, and let me hear the
mighty Voice for Truth Itself assure me that I am
God’s perfect Son.
On the hour:
God’s peace and joy are mine.
On the half hour:
Let me be still and listen to the truth.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #15: I want to change my mind about death. I just had several loved ones “gently lay their bodies aside” yet it is grief that I am drawn to. Grief is not love, therefore it does not exist. Right? I must have made it? Can you articulate for me, based on various Course passages, a general response that would incorporate the Course’s theories so that I may apply them to this experience of grief in the world of illusion. What about repression and denial of this experience?
A: The Course never asks us to repress or deny what we are experiencing, whether it be grief or anger or pain or fear or any other ego-based reaction. But before we can change our mind about our feelings, we need first to understand what purpose they serve and why we have chosen to experience them. The feeling of grief reinforces the ego’s assertion that loss and death are real and that we can be and are deprived of love. Our experience cries out that Jesus is wrong, that we have been hurt and abandoned and left on our own. We are not being asked to deny that this is our experience. But that does not make it true.
In a graphic description of the world, Jesus says, “The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt…all the laws that seem to govern it are the laws of death. Children are born into it through pain and in pain. Their growth is attended by suffering, and they learn of sorrow and separation and death. Their minds seem to be trapped in their brain, and its powers to decline if their bodies are hurt. They seem to love, yet they desert and are deserted. They appear to lose what they love, perhaps the most insane belief of all. And their bodies wither and gasp and are laid in the ground, and are no more. Not one of them but has thought that God is cruel” (T.13.in.2:2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11). And this is what we all believe. Would it not be better if we are wrong?
Jesus reminds us that his life, ending in apparent death, had the purpose of “teaching that communication remains unbroken even if the body is destroyed, provided that you see not the body as the necessary means of communication” (T.15.XI.7:2). But we still see the body as necessary for communication and believe that real communication ends with the death of the body, because we still want to see ourselves as a body. The body affirms our independent existence and its seeming experiences of loss and pain do not seem to reflect simply a choice in our minds. The ego does not want us to remember that the source of all our grief is the belief that we ourselves abandoned love and exiled ourselves from Heaven. Thanks to the ego defense of projection, it feels instead as if these are things that happen to us against our own will, that we are not responsible for how we feel. So we must begin by acknowledging that these are our feelings, but then we must also have a willingness to question whether our interpretation of the world and the events of our lives is correct.
The shift away from our pain and grief is a gradual process because we are afraid of the limitlessness of love, in which our individual lives, our personal selves with our unique personalities, have no meaning. And so Jesus gently reminds us both of the eventual outcome and the process: “Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth, at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth” (W.pII,284.1:1,2,3,4,5,6, italics added).
These words are not simply to be used as a “holy mantra” proclaiming what is true in order to drown out our ego’s interpretation and the accompanying feelings of loss and grief. Implicit in the process of changing our mind is the necessary but at times very unsettling task of looking at what we still want to believe and recognizing both its purpose — to keep separation and guilt alive — and its cost to us — suffering and pain. It is from a growing recognition of what we inflict on ourselves when we accept the ego as our teacher that the motivation develops to ask for help from a different Teacher. With that help, we can begin to see the losses of our lives in a different light, realizing that we do have a choice about what we experience and that we are not the victims of circumstances beyond our control.
Q #16: When I tell myself in meditation that I’m not a body and I’m free I feel peace of mind. But once I open my eyes, there it is — my body. This doesn’t upset me as much as it confuses me. When I look at myself I feel I’m beautiful, but I worry that I might be just feeding the ego again rather than appreciating what I have. It’s a puzzle. Any thoughts on this?
A: Although the Course tells us in many places that we are not a body (e.g., Lesson 199 and the following review lessons), it also recognizes that we have a strong investment in seeing ourselves as a body. Jesus observes, “Look at yourself and you will see a body….without a light it seems that it is gone. Yet you are reassured that it is there because you still can feel it with your hands and hear it move. Here is an image that you want to be yourself. It is the means to make your wish come true.” (T.24.VII.9:1,3,4,5,6 italics added).
We may have brief experiences where we seem to transcend our bodily identification, as you describe, but we are not likely to maintain this for any length of time because we really don’t want to. Our “wish come true” is seeing ourselves as a separate, special, individual self and our body affirms that identity. The Course tells us that although we are the ones who have chosen and made this limited self as our identity (in fantasy but not in reality), we have not wanted to accept responsibility for that decision. And that is because buried deep in our unconscious is the (made- up) belief that we gained this separate self by attacking the Oneness of God and our true Identity as spirit, a horrendous sin of destruction and murder according to our ego. So once we seem to be bodies born to other bodies, our separate existence does not seem at all to be of our own making. Our parents made us. And we may even believe, much to our ego’s delight, that somehow God has been involved in this special “creation” of our individual self, as many religions teach.
So the Course’s goal, knowing how strongly identified we are with our body and how fearful we are of letting go of the protection we believe it affords us, is not to have us relinquish our bodily identification (that happens only at the very end). The Course is instructing us in how to give our body a purpose different from the ego’s original purpose of sin, guilt and fear. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the body becomes a vehicle for learning our lessons of forgiveness, in the context of our relationships with our brothers and sisters, also seen as bodies. And we will continue to see ourselves and everyone else as a body until the forgiveness process is complete and we no longer have any guilt in our mind that we need our body as a defense against.
And as to seeing yourself as beautiful, there is nothing wrong with that, so long as you realize that when the Course speaks of how beautiful we are (e.g., W.pII.313.2:2), it is not speaking of our physical body or our personality. It is referring to the reflected beauty of the Christ in all of us, a beauty which we all share equally as spirit.