ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 31

ACIM Text Reading for May 31

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VII. The Call for Faith
The substitutes for aspects of the situation are the witnesses to your lack of faith. They demonstrate that you did not believe the situation and the problem were in the same place. The problem was the lack of faith, and it is this you demonstrate when you remove it from its source and place it elsewhere. As a result, you do not see the problem. Had you not lacked faith that it could be solved, the problem would be gone. And the situation would have been meaningful to you, because the interference in the way of understanding would have been removed. To remove the problem elsewhere is to keep it, for you remove yourself from it and make it unsolvable.

There is no problem in any situation that faith will not solve. There is no shift in any aspect of the problem but will make solution impossible. For if you shift part of the problem elsewhere the meaning of the problem must be lost, and the solution to the problem is inherent in its meaning. Is it not possible that all your problems have been solved, but you have removed yourself from the solution? Yet faith must be where something has been done, and where you see it done.

A situation is a relationship, being the joining of thoughts. If problems are perceived, it is because the thoughts are judged to be in conflict. But if the goal is truth, this is impossible. Some idea of bodies must have entered, for minds cannot attack. The thought of bodies is the sign of faithlessness, for bodies cannot solve anything. It is their intrusion on the relationship, an error in your thoughts about the situation, which then becomes the justification for your lack of faith. You will make this error, but be not at all concerned with that. The error does not matter. Faithlessness brought to faith will never interfere with truth. But faithlessness used against truth will always destroy faith. If you lack faith, ask that it be restored where it was lost, and seek not to have it made up to you elsewhere, as if you had been unjustly deprived of it.

Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation. But remember this; the goal of holiness was set for your relationship, and not by you. You did not set it because holiness cannot be seen except through faith, and your relationship was not holy because your faith in your brother was so limited and little. Your faith must grow to meet the goal that has been set. The goal’s reality will call this forth, for you will see that peace and faith will not come separately. What situation can you be in without faith, and remain faithful to your brother?

Every situation in which you find yourself is but a means to meet the purpose set for your relationship. See it as something else and you are faithless. Use not your faithlessness. Let it enter and look upon it calmly, but do not use it. Faithlessness is the servant of illusion, and wholly faithful to its master. Use it, and it will carry you straight to illusions. Be tempted not by what it offers you. It interferes, not with the goal, but with the value of the goal to you. Accept not the illusion of peace it offers, but look upon its offering and recognize it is illusion.

The goal of illusion is as closely tied to faithlessness as faith to truth. If you lack faith in anyone to fulfill, and perfectly, his part in any situation dedicated in advance to truth, your dedication is divided. And so you have been faithless to your brother, and used your faithlessness against him. No relationship is holy unless its holiness goes with it everywhere. As holiness and faith go hand in hand, so must its faith go everywhere with it. The goal’s reality will call forth and accomplish every miracle needed for its fulfillment. Nothing too small or too enormous, too weak or too compelling, but will be gently turned to its use and purpose. The universe will serve it gladly, as it serves the universe. But do not interfere.

The power set in you in whom the Holy Spirit’s goal has been established is so far beyond your little conception of the infinite that you have no idea how great the strength that goes with you. And you can use this in perfect safety. Yet for all its might, so great it reaches past the stars and to the universe that lies beyond them, your little faithlessness can make it useless, if you would use the faithlessness instead.

Yet think on this, and learn the cause of faithlessness: You think you hold against your brother what he has done to you. But what you really blame him for is what you did to him. It is not his past but yours you hold against him. And you lack faith in him because of what you were. Yet you are as innocent of what you were as he is. What never was is causeless, and is not there to interfere with truth. There is no cause for faithlessness, but there is Cause for faith. That Cause has entered any situation that shares Its purpose. The light of truth shines from the center of the situation, and touches everyone to whom the situation’s purpose calls. It calls to everyone. There is no situation that does not involve your whole relationship, in every aspect and complete in every part. You can leave nothing of yourself outside it and keep the situation holy. For it shares the purpose of your whole relationship, and derives its meaning from it.

Enter each situation with the faith you give your brother, or you are faithless to your own relationship. Your faith will call the others to share your purpose, as the same purpose called forth the faith in you. And you will see the means you once employed to lead you to illusions transformed to means for truth. . When the Holy Spirit changed the purpose of your relationship by exchanging yours for His, the goal He placed there was extended to every situation in which you enter, or will ever enter. And every situation was thus made free of the past, which would have made it purposeless.

You call for faith because of Him Who walks with you in every situation. You are no longer wholly insane, nor no longer alone. For loneliness in God must be a dream. You whose relationship shares the Holy Spirit’s goal are set apart from loneliness because the truth has come. Its call for faith is strong. Use not your faithlessness against it, for it calls you to salvation and to peace.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 31

Lesson 150
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(139) I will accept Atonement for myself.
(140) Only salvation can be said to cure.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #834: The idea presented in A Course in Miracles that “Only what you have not been giving can be lacking in any situation” (T.17.VII.4:1) is something that I am very resistant to. I feel that I am not getting the proper respect I deserve from certain people. Is the Course saying that at some level I am not giving them proper respect? I feel that I am! I feel that I have been overly respectful in content and form and some people are still disrespectful back. Can you explain the meaning of this phrase?

A: The passage you quote is understood in the light of one of the Course’s fundamental principles of salvation: “…giving and receiving are the same”(T.26.I.3:6). This rests on the fact that all minds are joined (T15.XI.7:1), and therefore everyone is included in the individual mind’s choice to receive, and thereby give, the ego’s message or the Holy Spirit’s. These are the only two thoughts the mind can choose between. Only one of them can be held/received at one time, and only what the mind holds can be given. Allied with the ego and driven by the emptiness it fosters, we will not give or receive true respect in any relationship, because the love that the Holy Spirit brings will be lacking, no matter how seemingly respectful the behavior may appear to be.

Choosing to listen to the ego’s tale of separation means denying one’s true Identity, and is an attack on the Sonship. The result is a profound feeling of lack. Special relationships with people and things are then sought to fill the void left by separation. A multitude of specialness needs are brought to these relationships: e.g., the need for respect, acceptance, recognition. Relating to others in order to have individual needs met is truly a lack of respect, even when the behavior is courteous and seemingly “respectful,” because its origin is the attack thought in the mind. The respect that is not being given is thus lacking, as the line you quote indicates.

The mind receives the respect it deserves when it chooses the Holy Spirit. In the moment that His Love is received it is given to the entire Sonship, just as the separation attack included everyone. Only then will there be no need to seek respect or anything else from others, for nothing will be lacking. In fact, any show of disrespect will be perceived as a call for love (T.14.X.7). If someone’s behavior evokes any other response or reaction, it means the mind has decided to put out receivers for the ego’s message. The only thing that will correct the judgments and feelings that follow this decision is to decide differently. That is accomplished through forgiveness, which begins with acknowledging that the feeling of being treated unfairly/disrespectfully comes from a choice in the mind, not someone else’s behavior. The ego’s message was received and given because it was chosen. The Holy Spirit’s Love is therefore lacking. The true respect we owe ourselves and everyone is to recognize that the source of one’s feeling deprived of respect, and the other’s attack of disprespect, is the mind of each, and then to see in both a call for help. As Jesus tells us in the text: “I have emphasized that the miracle [forgiveness], or the expression of Atonement, is always a sign of respect from the worthy to the worthy” (T.2.VI.8:1). Choosing respect in this way guarantees that what is received is given, and nothing will be lacking in any part of the Sonship. Awareness of this fullness may be blocked, but it nevertheless remains true.

That is not to say that someone could not be kindly asked to discontinue some form of discourteous or disrespectful behavior. If guided by the Holy Spirit there would be no attack in the request, no judgment, and, most importantly, no expectation that the behavior change. The important thing to remember is that the respect we all seek is found in our minds, where we choose it by choosing the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. In the instant of choosing it, it is given to ourselves and everyone: Its [forgiveness’] offering is universal, and it teaches but one message: What is God’s belongs to everyone, and is his due” (T.25.IX.10:9,10).

certain as god

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 30

ACIM Text Reading for May 30

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

VI. Setting the Goal
The practical application of the Holy Spirit’s purpose is extremely simple, but it is unequivocal. In fact, in order to be simple it must be unequivocal. The simple is merely what is easily understood, and for this it is apparent that it must be clear. The setting of the Holy Spirit’s goal is general. Now He will work with you to make it specific. There are certain very specific guidelines he provides for any situation, but remember that you do not yet realize their universal application. Therefore, it is essential at this point to use them in each situation separately, until you can more safely look beyond each situation, in an understanding far broader than you now possess.

In any situation in which you are uncertain, the first thing to consider, very simply, is “What do I want to come of this? What is it for?” The clarification of the goal belongs at the beginning, for it is this which will determine the outcome. In the ego’s procedure this is reversed. The situation becomes the determiner of the outcome, which can be anything. The reason for this disorganized approach is evident. The ego does not know what it wants to come of the situation. It is aware of what it does not want, but only that. It has no positive goal at all.

Without a clear-cut, positive goal, set at the outset, the situation just seems to happen, and makes no sense until it has already happened. Then you look back at it, and try to piece together what it must have meant. And you will be wrong. Not only is your judgment in the past, but you have no idea what should happen. No goal was set with which to bring the means in line. And now the only judgment left to make is whether or not the ego likes it; is it acceptable, or does it call for vengeance? The absence of a criterion for outcome, set in advance, makes understanding doubtful and evaluation impossible.

The value of deciding in advance what you want to happen is simply that you will perceive the situation as a means to make it happen. You will therefore make every effort to overlook what interferes with the accomplishment of your objective, and concentrate on everything that helps you meet it. It is quite noticeable that this approach has brought you closer to the Holy Spirit’s sorting out of truth and falsity. The true becomes what can be used to meet the goal. The false becomes the useless from this point of view. The situation now has meaning, but only because the goal has made it meaningful.

The goal of truth has further practical advantages. If the situation is used for truth and sanity, its outcome must be peace. And this is quite apart from what the outcome is. If peace is the condition of truth and sanity, and cannot be without them, where peace is they must be. Truth comes of itself. If you experience peace, it is because the truth has come to you and you will see the outcome truly, for deception cannot prevail against you. You will recognize the outcome because you are at peace. Here again you see the opposite of the ego’s way of looking, for the ego believes the situation brings the experience. The Holy Spirit knows that the situation is as the goal determines it, and is experienced according to the goal.

The goal of truth requires faith. Faith is implicit in the acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and this faith is all-inclusive. Where the goal of truth is set, there faith must be. The Holy Spirit sees the situation as a whole. The goal establishes the fact that everyone involved in it will play his part in its accomplishment. This is inevitable. No one will fail in anything. This seems to ask for faith beyond you, and beyond what you can give. Yet this is so only from the viewpoint of the ego, for the ego believes in “solving” conflict through fragmentation, and does not perceive the situation as a whole. Therefore, it seeks to split off segments of the situation and deal with them separately, for it has faith in separation and not in wholeness.

Confronted with any aspect of the situation that seems to be difficult, the ego will attempt to take this aspect elsewhere, and resolve it there. And it will seem to be successful, except that this attempt conflicts with unity, and must obscure the goal of truth. And peace will not be experienced except in fantasy. Truth has not come because faith has been denied, being withheld from where it rightfully belonged. Thus do you lose the understanding of the situation the goal of truth would bring. For fantasy solutions bring but the illusion of experience, and the illusion of peace is not the condition in which truth can enter.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 30

Lesson 149
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(137) When I am healed I am not healed alone.
(138) Heaven is the decision I must make.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #821: I am at a place in life in which I am experiencing overwhelming fear. My husband and I have been married for a few years and together for nine. Over time, the outward dramas have lessened and now that there is a certain sense of outward stability in my marriage, I seem to be assailed on all sides by fears: is this situation one in which I can grow? Am I denying part of myself by staying in this relationship? Do I feel like I would be better off alone, with someone else, or with a woman? All these questions come to mind. More than anything, it seems that I have reached a place where I am now forced to take responsibility for my own thoughts — that I am encountering my shadow side. I want to run. Is there anything in A Course in Miracles that might speak to this level of fear and specific steps to take to deal with it?

A: While we remain closely identified with the ego, it can feel as if we are being forced to take responsibility for our thoughts, as you describe. True, the Course is encouraging us to accept this responsibility as central to progressing on our path of forgiveness. But if there is any sense of coercion, the ego has joined the process in an attempt to subvert and derail it. And that feeling of coercion itself only adds to the anxiety and the fear. So the first step in addressing the fear is to recognize and accept that any sense of pressure is coming only from yourself. And if the over­whelming fear persists, Jesus gently advises, “Do not fight yourself” (T.30.I.1:7) . It is okay to wait until you are ready.

The ego revels in the thought that there is something terrible within that we must force ourselves to examine. For that reinforces the belief that the ego — and the separation — are real. And so, for this reason, when we are ready to look within, Jesus invites us to look with him, for he does not share our horrible evaluation of ourselves and he certainly does not take the ego seriously. One of his clearest invitations to us, which also acknowledges our fear, is found at the beginning of “The ‘Dynamics’ of the Ego,” in which he reminds us that this is something we do together : “No one can escape from illusions unless he looks at them, for not looking is the way they are pro­tected. There is no need to shrink from illusions, for they cannot be dangerous. We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realize you do not want it, you must be ready. Let us be very calm in doing this, for we are merely looking honestly for truth. The ‘dynamics’ of the ego will be our lesson for a while, for we must look first at this to see beyond it, since you have made it real. We will undo this error quietly together, and then look beyond it to truth” (T.11.V.1).

You are wise to recognize that the real issue of your fear involves examining your own thoughts, but you also acknowledge having thoughts of running away from your relationship with your hus­band. Now these thoughts are not surprising if, as you say, you are experiencing less drama and conflict in your external life, which may very well reflect an inner shift away from the ego and towards the peace within that Jesus is offering. And you can be sure the ego is not going to take this change of allegiance lying down. External drama and conflict conveniently serve the ego’s purpose of keeping our focus outward and away from the mind, where the only real hope of find­ing lasting peace lies. If the ego begins to sense that our present relationship is no longer serving its purpose, it will counsel us to pull up stakes and go in search of someone or something else — anything other than remaining in peace and beginning to look within.

Two passages from the text describe the ambivalence we can experience around this dual process of moving towards the light while at the same time beginning to use that light to look more deeply and eventually beyond the darkness of the ego. The fear that is aroused by approaching the light, as well as the process of looking together with Jesus at the darkness, are aptly described in the fol­lowing:

“As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror. But you will advance, because your goal is the advance from fear to truth. The goal you accepted is the goal of knowledge, for which you signified your willingness. Fear seems to live in darkness, and when you are afraid you have stepped back. Let us then join quickly in an instant of light, and it will be enough to remind you that your goal is light. (T.18.III.2).

And the fear that is associated with uncovering the ego’s layers of sin and guilt in the mind, as well as the process of recognizing its unreality, is powerfully described in the following:

“The closer you come to the foundation of the ego’s thought system, the darker and more obscure becomes the way. Yet even the little spark in your mind is enough to lighten it. Bring this light fearlessly with you, and bravely hold it up to the foundation of the ego’s thought system. Be willing to judge it with perfect honesty. Open the dark cornerstone of terror on which it rests, and bring it out into the light. There you will see that it rested on meaninglessness, and that everything of which you have been afraid was based on nothing” (T.11.in.3:5,6,7,8,9,10).

Additional readings from the text that may help you get a clearer picture of what the fear is all about and what the process of releasing that fear involves, in the context of our relationship with our brother, joined with Jesus, include “Light in the Dream” (T.18.III) and “The Fear to Look Within” (T.21.IV) .

Q #822: I saw the new movie, “What the Bleep Do You Know?”. I found it very powerfully presented, and I was struck by how much it sounded like A Course in Miracles’ teachings. Please give your comments.

A: There is a strong similarity between the theories presented in the movie and what the Course teaches. Both say the world of matter is a product of thought. The difference, though — and it is a decisive difference — is that A Course in Miracles says the thought itself is illusory ! As far as we know, no physicist has ever taken this step, and probably could not from his stance as a scientist. The integration of this theory that matter is a product of thought with practical living in the world is one of the major contributions of the Course.

health is inner peace

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 29

ACIM Text Reading for May 29

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

V. The Healed Relationship
The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world. Like everything about salvation, the holy instant is a practical device, witnessed to by its results. The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is. And as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker, so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships.

The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old, unholy relationship, transformed and seen anew. The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in this; the only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit, to use for His purposes.

This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. This is accomplished very rapidly, but it makes the relationship seem disturbed, disjunctive and even quite distressing. The reason is quite clear. For the relationship as it is is out of line with its own goal, and clearly unsuited to the purpose that has been accepted for it. In its unholy condition, your goal was all that seemed to give it meaning. Now it seems to make no sense. Many relationships have been broken off at this point, and the pursuit of the old goal re-established in another relationship. For once the unholy relationship has accepted the goal of holiness, it can never again be what it was.

The temptation of the ego becomes extremely intense with this shift in goals. For the relationship has not as yet been changed sufficiently to make its former goal completely without attraction, and its structure is “threatened” by the recognition of its inappropriateness for meeting its new purpose. The conflict between the goal and the structure of the relationship is so apparent that they cannot coexist. Yet now the goal will not be changed. Set firmly in the unholy relationship, there is no course except to change the relationship to fit the goal. Until this happy solution is seen and accepted as the only way out of the conflict, the relationship may seem to be severely strained.

It would not be kinder to shift the goal more slowly, for the contrast would be obscured, and the ego given time to reinterpret each slow step according to its liking. Only a radical shift in purpose could induce a complete change of mind about what the whole relationship is for. As this change develops and is finally accomplished, it grows increasingly beneficent and joyous. But at the beginning, the situation is experienced as very precarious. A relationship, undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes, suddenly has holiness for its goal. As these two contemplate their relationship from the point of view of this new purpose, they are inevitably appalled. Their perception of the relationship may even become quite disorganized. And yet, the former organization of their perception no longer serves the purpose they have agreed to meet.

This is the time for faith. You let this goal be set for you. That was an act of faith. Do not abandon faith, now that the rewards of faith are being introduced. If you believed the Holy Spirit was there to accept the relationship, why would you now not still believe that He is there to purify what He has taken under His guidance? Have faith in your brother in what but seems to be a trying time. The goal is set. And your relationship has sanity as its purpose. For now you find yourself in an insane relationship, recognized as such in the light of its goal.

Now the ego counsels thus; substitute for this another relationship to which your former goal was quite appropriate. You can escape from your distress only by getting rid of your brother. You need not part entirely if you choose not to do so. But you must exclude major areas of fantasy from each other, to save your sanity. Hear not this now! Have faith in Him Who answered you. He heard. Has He not been very explicit in His answer? You are not now wholly insane. Can you deny that He has given you a most explicit statement? Now He asks for faith a little longer, even in bewilderment. For this will go, and you will see the justification for your faith emerge, to bring you shining conviction. Abandon Him not now, nor one another. This relationship has been reborn as holy.

Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame your brother for the “failure” of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you, and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not breathe life into your failing ego. For your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been saved.

You are very new in the ways of salvation, and think you have lost your way. Your way is lost, but think not this is loss. In your newness, remember that you have started again, together. And take each other’s hand, to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God, from which your true intent was never absent.

Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard, in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing, and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now is your blessing, that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.

You undertook, together, to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work. And He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all. Have you been similarly grateful to your brother? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts, and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes? Perhaps you are now entering upon a campaign to blame him for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourself. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude you make yourself unable to express the holy instant, and thus lose sight of it.

The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time, but not concealed within it. The instant remains. But where are you? To give thanks to one another is to appreciate the holy instant, and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack your brother is not to lose the instant, but to make it powerless in its effects.

You have received the holy instant, but you may have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realize that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack your brother, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself, and to recognize what has been given and received by you.

You and your brother stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes Heaven glad. If Heaven were outside you, you could not share in its gladness. Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You are joined in purpose, but remain still separate and divided on the means. Yet the goal is fixed, firm and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so.

As you begin to recognize and accept the gifts you have so freely given to your brother, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship, and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 29

Lesson 148
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(135) If I defend myself I am attacked.
(136) Sickness is a defense against the truth.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #380: I thought I have been quite a consistent student recently. Thinking, reading, applying, uncovering all my negative thoughts. And (exactly with a scenario Ken described on one of the tapes) finally I got so mad about my special relationship person. Just couldn’t stop blaming him! When I felt that a storm is coming, my first reaction was to read something from the text of A Course in Miracles or from a workshop (usually it helps to calm down). This last time it didn’t work for me, so I “indulged” myself with a fury! But strangely enough, I felt such a relief, no guilt at all! I know I did wrong, but there is no need to “correct” my mistake, to apologize, or something. I know this outrage can stop our relationship altogether, but there is another thought behind all of that — I had to do it to stop pretending I can “stuff” my feelings, get beyond mistakes I perceive in this person! I don’t know where this will lead me to. Is there any hope that I wasn’t with my ego one hundred percent?

A: First, what you want to look at is your concern that you were one hundred percent in your ego. A key part of the forgiveness process is learning not to fear the ego or to feel ashamed because you indulged yourself in a full-blown attack. We are trying to learn that the ego is really nothing but a “tiny, mad idea” we forgot to laugh at. So when we judge ourselves for indulging our egos, we are implicitly affirming that it is real, not just a “tiny, mad idea.” It would be more healing to just be honest about the attack, saying “I attacked and it felt great!” Period. It was “wrong” only in the sense that attack will never restore peace to your mind and will never lead you home to God. But that does not make it sinful. It just points out to you the cost of indulging your ego. When you no longer feel the cost is worth it, you would ask for help to go about things differently. The measure of progress with the Course is not whether you still have ego attacks, but rather, over a period of time, how quickly you remember not to justify them. Whenever we identify with the ego, we will be hateful, judgmental, fearful, etc., because the ego never changes. The amount of time we spend with it is what changes.

Second, the process of the Course does not force you to choose between forgiveness and stuffing your feelings. Rather, it helps you learn why you attack — where your feelings are coming from. Thus, early in the workbook we are taught, “I am never upset for the reason I think” (W.pI.5). The practice of the lessons involves looking squarely at our negative thoughts and feelings, recognizing their source in our decision to reject love and then project responsibility for that, and, finally, asking for help to change that decision if we are so inclined. So stuffing our feelings and pretending that we are forgiving is not helpful. Our anger, hatred, jealousy, fear, anxiety, and whatever else we are feeling is our curriculum. These feelings are indicators of what teacher we have chosen and are usually our only means of surmising our mind’s decision. Therefore, we need to be in touch with what we are experiencing. Otherwise, as our teacher, Jesus would have nothing to work with. He never judges us when we have ego outbursts. He just asks that we learn to recognize the ego dynamics behind them so that he can help us make the correction.

When your ego is out of the way, you would relate to your special partner without defenses. You would experience both of you as sharing the same wrong mind, the same right mind, and the same ability to choose. Anger would be impossible in that state, because you would clearly see the origin of that person’s pain and the healing of it as well, and you would know that it reflects yours. That is the state of mind Jesus is helping us to attain. It is not stuffing our feelings; it is attaining an ego-free state in which such negative feelings would never develop. We would share the perception of the Holy Spirit, Who sees either a call for love or an expression of love (T.12.I).

Finally, anger is not bad. Jesus never tells us not to get angry. He teaches us not to justify it — an important distinction.

jesus there is no death

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 28

ACIM Text Reading for May 28

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

IV. The Two Pictures

God established His relationship with you to make you happy, and nothing you do that does not share His purpose can be real. The purpose God ascribed to anything is its only function. Because of His reason for creating His relationship with you, the function of relationships became forever “to make happy.” And nothing else. To fulfill this function you relate to your creations as God to His. For nothing God created is apart from happiness, and nothing God created but would extend happiness as its Creator did. Whatever does not fulfill this function cannot be real.

In this world it is impossible to create. Yet it is possible to make happy. I have said repeatedly that the Holy Spirit would not deprive you of your special relationships, but would transform them. And all that is meant by that is that He will restore to them the function given them by God. The function you have given them is clearly not to make happy. But the holy relationship shares God’s purpose, rather than aiming to make a substitute for it. Every special relationship you have made is a substitute for God’s Will, and glorifies yours instead of His because of the illusion that they are different.

You have made very real relationships even in this world. Yet you do not recognize them because you have raised their substitutes to such predominance that, when truth calls to you, as it does constantly, you answer with a substitute. Every special relationship you have made has, as its fundamental purpose, the aim of occupying your mind so completely that you will not hear the call of truth.

In a sense, the special relationship was the ego’s answer to the creation of the Holy Spirit, who was God’s answer to the separation. For although the ego did not understand what had been created, it was aware of threat. The whole defense system the ego evolved to protect the separation from the Holy Spirit was in response to the gift with which God blessed it, and by His blessing enabled it to be healed. This blessing holds within itself the truth about everything. And the truth is that the Holy Spirit is in close relationship with you, because in Him is your relationship with God restored to you. The relationship with Him has never been broken, because the Holy Spirit has not been separate from anyone since the separation. And through Him have all your holy relationships been carefully preserved, to serve God’s purpose for you.

The ego is alert to threat, and the part of your mind into which the ego was accepted is very anxious to preserve its reason, as it sees it. It does not realize that it is totally insane. And you must realize just what this means if you would be restored to sanity. The insane protect their thought systems, but they do so insanely. And all their defenses are as insane as what they are supposed to protect. The separation has nothing in it, no part, no “reason,” and no attribute that is not insane. And its “protection” is part of it, as insane as the whole. The special relationship, which is its chief defense, must therefore be insane.

You have but little difficulty now in realizing that the thought system the special relationship protects is but a system of delusions. You recognize, at least in general terms, that the ego is insane. Yet the special relationship still seems to you somehow to be “different.” Yet we have looked at it far closer than we have at many other aspects of the ego’s thought system that you have been willing to let go. While this one remains, you will not let the others go. For this one is not different. Retain this one, and you have retained the whole.

It is essential to realize that all defenses do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. What they defend is placed in them for safe-keeping, and as they operate they bring it to you. Every defense operates by giving gifts, and the gift is always a miniature of the thought system the defense protects, set in a golden frame. The frame is very elaborate, all set with jewels, and deeply carved and polished. Its purpose is to be of value in itself, and to divert your attention from what it encloses. But the frame without the picture you cannot have. Defenses operate to make you think you can.

The special relationship has the most imposing and deceptive frame of all the defenses the ego uses. Its thought system is offered here, surrounded by a frame so heavy and so elaborate that the picture is almost obliterated by its imposing structure. Into the frame are woven all sorts of fanciful and fragmented illusions of love, set with dreams of sacrifice and self-aggrandizement, and interlaced with gilded threads of self-destruction. The glitter of blood shines like rubies, and the tears are faceted like diamonds and gleam in the dim light in which the offering is made.

Look at the picture. Do not let the frame distract you. This gift is given you for your damnation, and if you take it you will believe that you are damned. You cannot have the frame without the picture. What you value is the frame, for there you see no conflict. Yet the frame is only the wrapping for the gift of conflict. The frame is not the gift. Be not deceived by the most superficial aspects of this thought system, for these aspects enclose the whole, complete in every aspect. Death lies in this glittering gift. Let not your gaze dwell on the hypnotic gleaming of the frame. Look at the picture, and realize that death is offered you.

That is why the holy instant is so important in the defense of truth. The truth itself needs no defense, but you do need defense against your acceptance of the gift of death. When you who are truth accept an idea so dangerous to truth, you threaten truth with destruction. And your defense must now be undertaken, to keep truth whole. The power of Heaven, the love of God, the tears of Christ, and the joy of His eternal Spirit are marshalled to defend you from your own attack. For you attack Them, being part of Them, and They must save you, for They love Themselves.

The holy instant is a miniature of Heaven, sent you from Heaven. It is a picture, too, set in a frame. Yet if you accept this gift you will not see the frame at all, because the gift can only be accepted through your willingness to focus all your attention on the picture. The holy instant is a miniature of eternity. It is a picture of timelessness, set in a frame of time. If you focus on the picture, you will realize that it was only the frame that made you think it was a picture. Without the frame, the picture is seen as what it represents. For as the whole thought system of the ego lies in its gifts, so the whole of Heaven lies in this instant, borrowed from eternity and set in time for you.

Two gifts are offered you. Each is complete, and cannot be partially accepted. Each is a picture of all that you can have, seen very differently. You cannot compare their value by comparing a picture to a frame. It must be the pictures only that you compare, or the comparison is wholly without meaning. Remember that it is the picture that is the gift. And only on this basis are you really free to choose. Look at the pictures. Both of them. One is a tiny picture, hard to see at all beneath the heavy shadows of its enormous and disproportionate enclosure. The other is lightly framed and hung in light, lovely to look upon for what it is.

You who have tried so hard, and are still trying, to fit the better picture into the wrong frame and so combine what cannot be combined, accept this and be glad: These pictures are each framed perfectly for what they represent. One is framed to be out of focus and not seen. The other is framed for perfect clarity. The picture of darkness and of death grows less convincing as you search it out amid its wrappings. As each senseless stone that seems to shine from the frame in darkness is exposed to light, it becomes dull and lifeless, and ceases to distract you from the picture. And finally you look upon the picture itself, seeing at last that, unprotected by the frame, it has no meaning.

The other picture is lightly framed, for time cannot contain eternity. There is no distraction here. The picture of Heaven and eternity grows more convincing as you look at it. And now, by real comparison, a transformation of both pictures can at last occur. And each is given its rightful place when both are seen in relation to each other. The dark picture, brought to light, is not perceived as fearful, but the fact that it is just a picture is brought home at last. And what you see there you will recognize as what it is; a picture of what you thought was real, and nothing more. For beyond this picture you will see nothing.

The picture of light, in clear-cut and unmistakable contrast, is transformed into what lies beyond the picture. As you look on this, you realize that it is not a picture, but a reality. This is no figured representation of a thought system, but the Thought itself. What it represents is there. The frame fades gently and God rises to your remembrance, offering you the whole of creation in exchange for your little picture, wholly without value and entirely deprived of meaning.

As God ascends into His rightful place and you to yours, you will experience again the meaning of relationship and know it to be true. Let us ascend in peace together to the Father, by giving Him ascendance in our minds. We will gain everything by giving Him the power and the glory, and keeping no illusions of where they are. They are in us, through His ascendance. What He has given is His. It shines in every part of Him, as in the whole. The whole reality of your relationship with Him lies in our relationship to one another. The holy instant shines alike on all relationships, for in it they are one. For here is only healing, already complete and perfect. For here is God, and where He is only the perfect and complete can be.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 28

Lesson 147
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(133) I will not value what is valueless.
(134) Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #562: In chapter 17 of A Course in Miracles, Section IV, The Two Pictures, the text explains how defenses works. It says: “It is essential to realize that all defenses do what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. What they defend is placed in them for safe-keeping, and as they operate they bring it to you. Every defense operates by giving gifts, and the gift is always a miniature of the thought system the defense protects, set in a golden frame. The frame is very elaborate, all set with jewels, and deeply carved and polished. Its purpose is to be of value in itself, and to divert your attention from what it encloses. But the frame without the picture you cannot have. Defenses operate to make you think you can.” Would you kindly elaborate on this. If my defense is, for example, eating out of fear, how does this relate?

A: We choose defenses in an attempt to handle our fear and make ourselves feel better and safer. And yet, the defense is only there because of the underlying fear that we are attempting to manage. So the defense, no matter what form it takes, becomes a constant reminder — conscious or unconscious — of the underlying fear. This is inherent in the dualistic thought system of the ego, which always operates on the assumption of polar opposites, such as safe and unsafe. We never question the underlying premise that we can be threatened, but instead accept danger as true and then seek to protect ourselves from it (W.pI.135.1,2,3).

In the specific case of eating out of fear, food becomes equated in our mind with comforting ourselves, or filling the gaping hole that makes us feel empty and vulnerable. But giving food this purpose only reinforces our belief in discomfort and emptiness and vulnerability. Food offers us something flavorful and satisfying (the frame), which seems to make us feel better, perhaps distracting us from the gnawing feeling inside, at least temporarily. But the purpose we have given it to rescue us establishes it as a symbol of the very thing we are trying to avoid or escape – – the underlying guilt and fear. And so, as a symbol of what is underneath, it becomes a reminder of what we have intended it to save us from, offering us the very same “gifts,” only obscured.

However, once we recognize the purpose we have given food to comfort us in our fear, as with all the special gifts of the ego, we can now invite the great Comforter to join us and give food a different purpose. The correction the Holy Spirit offers would not be to stop eating but rather to use food instead as a means to remind us of the fear underneath that we have attempted to keep hidden and at bay by eating. We can bring the fear into our awareness with the Holy Spirit and question the source of that fear. For the fear is nothing more than a projection of our own guilt, represented by a gaping hole within our very being, accompanied by a devastating feeling of emptiness, because we believe we have destroyed the only thing that can truly make us feel complete and full and safe — love. With the Symbol of Love beside us, we can begin to question the premise of our emptiness, rather than continuing to try to fill it — thereby making it real — with all of our “substitutes for love” (W.pI.117.1:3), such as food.

*

Q #1321: What does Jesus mean when he says in A Course in Miracles that we “have made very real relationships even in this world” (T.17.IV.3:1)? He goes on to say that we do not recognize them. What “real relationships” is he referring to?

A: The “very real relationships” are holy relationships: instances in which you forgave someone or did not judge; instances in which you did not see your interests as separate from another’s. It could have been an interaction with a waiter in a restaurant who was having a bad day, but you did not judge him; or perhaps a child ran into you in the supermarket, but you did not get angry; or you may have had only compassion for someone who was unkind. You may not even have realized at the time that you transcended your ego; and in that sense you did not recognize these “real relationships.” In the manual, Jesus discusses this idea in the context of levels of teaching or teaching-learning situations (M.3).

 

kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 27

ACIM Text Reading for May 27

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

III. Shadows of the Past
To forgive is merely to remember only the loving thoughts you gave in the past, and those that were given you. All the rest must be forgotten. Forgiveness is a selective remembering, based not on your selection. For the shadow figures you would make immortal are “enemies” of reality. Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do. The shadow figures are the witnesses you bring with you to demonstrate he did what he did not. Because you bring them, you will hear them. And you who keep them by your own selection do not understand how they came into your mind, and what their purpose is. They represent the evil that you think was done to you. You bring them with you only that you may return evil for evil, hoping that their witness will enable you to think guiltily of another and not harm yourself. They speak so clearly for the separation that no one not obsessed with keeping separation could hear them. They offer you the “reasons” why you should enter into unholy alliances to support the ego’s goals, and make your relationships the witness to its power.

It is these shadow figures that would make the ego holy in your sight, and teach you what you do to keep it safe is really love. The shadow figures always speak for vengeance, and all relationships into which they enter are totally insane. Without exception, these relationships have as their purpose the exclusion of the truth about the other, and of yourself. This is why you see in both what is not there, and make of both the slaves of vengeance. And why whatever reminds you of your past grievances attracts you, and seems to go by the name of love, no matter how distorted the associations by which you arrive at the connection may be. And finally, why all such relationships become attempts at union through the body, for only bodies can be seen as means for vengeance. That bodies are central to all unholy relationships is evident. Your own experience has taught you this. But what you may not realize are all the reasons that go to make the relationship unholy. For unholiness seeks to reinforce itself, as holiness does, by gathering to itself what it perceives as like itself.

In the unholy relationship, it is not the body of the other with which union is attempted, but the bodies of those who are not there. For even the body of the other, already a severely limited perception of him, is not the central focus as it is, or in entirety. What can be used for fantasies of vengeance, and what can be most readily associated with those on whom vengeance is really sought, is centered on and separated off as being the only parts of value. Every step taken in the making, the maintaining and the breaking off of the unholy relationship is a move toward further fragmentation and unreality. The shadow figures enter more and more, and the one in whom they seem to be decreases in importance.

Time is indeed unkind to the unholy relationship. For time is cruel in the ego’s hands, as it is kind when used for gentleness. The attraction of the unholy relationship begins to fade and to be questioned almost at once. Once it is formed, doubt must enter in, because its purpose is impossible. The “ideal” of the unholy relationship thus becomes one in which the reality of the other does not enter at all to “spoil” the dream. And the less the other really brings to the relationship, the “better” it becomes. Thus, the attempt at union becomes a way of excluding even the one with whom the union was sought. For it was formed to get him out of it, and join with fantasies in uninterrupted “bliss.”

How can the Holy Spirit bring His interpretation of the body as a means of communication into relationships whose only purpose is separation from reality? What forgiveness is enables Him to do so. If all but loving thoughts have been forgotten, what remains is eternal. And the transformed past is made like the present. No longer does the past conflict with now. This continuity extends the present by increasing its reality and its value in your perception of it. In these loving thoughts is the spark of beauty hidden in the ugliness of the unholy relationship where hatred is remembered; yet there to come alive as the relationship is given to Him Who gives it life and beauty. That is why Atonement centers on the past, which is the source of separation, and where it must be undone. For separation must be corrected where it was made.

The ego seeks to “resolve” its problems, not at their source, but where they were not made. And thus it seeks to guarantee there will be no solution. The Holy Spirit wants only to make His resolutions complete and perfect, and so He seeks and finds the source of problems where it is, and there undoes it. And with each step in His undoing is the separation more and more undone, and union brought closer. He is not at all confused by any “reasons” for separation. All He perceives in separation is that it must be undone. Let Him uncover the hidden spark of beauty in your relationships, and show it to you. Its loveliness will so attract you that you will be unwilling ever to lose the sight of it again. And you will let this spark transform the relationship so you can see it more and more. For you will want it more and more, and become increasingly unwilling to let it be hidden from you. And you will learn to seek for and establish the conditions in which this beauty can be seen.

All this you will do gladly, if you but let Him hold the spark before you, to light your way and make it clear to you. God’s Son is one. Whom God has joined as one, the ego cannot put asunder. The spark of holiness must be safe, however hidden it may be, in every relationship. For the Creator of the one relationship has left no part of it without Himself. This is the only part of the relationship the Holy Spirit sees, because He knows that only this is true. You have made the relationship unreal, and therefore unholy, by seeing it where it is not and as it is not. Give the past to Him Who can change your mind about it for you. But first, be sure you fully realize what you have made the past to represent, and why.

The past becomes the justification for entering into a continuing, unholy alliance with the ego against the present. For the present is forgiveness. Therefore, the relationships the unholy alliance dictates are not perceived nor felt as now. Yet the frame of reference to which the present is referred for meaning is an illusion of the past, in which those elements that fit the purpose of the unholy alliance are retained, and all the rest let go. And what is thus let go is all the truth the past could ever offer to the present as witnesses for its reality. What is kept but witnesses to the reality of dreams.

It is still up to you to choose to join with truth or with illusion. But remember that to choose one is to let the other go. Which one you choose you will endow with beauty and reality, because the choice depends on which you value more. The spark of beauty or the veil of ugliness, the real world or the world of guilt and fear, truth or illusion, freedom or slavery — it is all the same. For you can never choose except between God and the ego. Thought systems are but true or false, and all their attributes come simply from what they are. Only the Thoughts of God are true. And all that follows from them comes from what they are, and is as true as is the holy Source from Which they came.

My holy brother, I would enter into all your relationships, and step between you and your fantasies. Let my relationship to you be real to you, and let me bring reality to your perception of your brothers. They were not created to enable you to hurt yourself through them. They were created to create with you. This is the truth that I would interpose between you and your goal of madness. Be not separate from me, and let not the holy purpose of Atonement be lost to you in dreams of vengeance. Relationships in which such dreams are cherished have excluded me. Let me enter in the Name of God and bring you peace, that you may offer peace to me.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 27

REVIEW IV
Introduction

Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.

There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.

Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.

They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.

After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.

We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.

God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.

*

Lesson 146
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(131) No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.
(132) I loose the world from all I thought it was.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #10: We have received a number of questions on the theme of the ego’s origin, examples of which are below …

If Heaven and the Love of God were completely satisfying, why would the Son choose to dream he left?

If God is perfect and unified, and has a perfect and unified Son, how could an imperfect thought of separation and division have possibly arisen within such a mind?

Once the Atonement is accepted, how do we know the ego won’t be chosen again?

How can one achieve “an experience” which the Course says will resolve the ego paradox?

A: i, ii, and iii above, posed as questions, are actually statements made by an ego mind enunciating the following: I know the ego is real, and now I want you to explain how it happened and how you know it won’t happen again.

The question “how did the ego happen,” and all its variations, is undoubtedly the most frequently asked question of students of A Course in Miracles. This is only natural to an ego wanting to know where it came from, just as a child would question its parents about its origin. The problem is that the ego itself is not natural. The Course teaches us that in reality the ego never happened. Consequently, how could we ever find an intellectually satisfying answer to the ego’s origin between the Course’s covers? Those asking how the impossible could ever have happened must identify themselves as separate and individual beings, while anyone answering the question must also agree that the separation did indeed happen. Furthermore, if it happened once, it could happen ad infinitum, and in some respects it does. Day in and day out we are offered the choice of believing in the reality of ourselves as an ego or as a Son of God. Therefore, to wonder about the separation recurring is to make the same mistake of believing it happened in the first place. As the Course says:

“Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so.

There is no definition for a lie that serves to make it true” (C-2.2:5–3:1).

“The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, “How did the impossible occur?”, “To what did the impossible happen?”, and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you” (C-in.4).

God’s Love is the experience the Course speaks of in the quote above. This experience is attained through the process of forgiveness, which removes the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence (T.In.1:7). Indeed, the purpose of A Course in Miracles is to help us attain this experience.

 

 

 

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 26

ACIM Text Reading for May 26

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

II. The Forgiven World
Can you imagine how beautiful those you forgive will look to you? In no fantasy have you ever seen anything so lovely. Nothing you see here, sleeping or waking, comes near to such loveliness. And nothing will you value like unto this, nor hold so dear. Nothing that you remember that made your heart sing with joy has ever brought you even a little part of the happiness this sight will bring you. For you will see the Son of God. You will behold the beauty the Holy Spirit loves to look upon, and which He thanks the Father for. He was created to see this for you, until you learned to see it for yourself. And all His teaching leads to seeing it and giving thanks with Him.

This loveliness is not a fantasy. It is the real world, bright and clean and new, with everything sparkling under the open sun. Nothing is hidden here, for everything has been forgiven and there are no fantasies to hide the truth. The bridge between that world and this is so little and so easy to cross, that you could not believe it is the meeting place of worlds so different. Yet this little bridge is the strongest thing that touches on this world at all. This little step, so small it has escaped your notice, is a stride through time into eternity, beyond all ugliness into beauty that will enchant you, and will never cease to cause you wonderment at its perfection.

This step, the smallest ever taken, is still the greatest accomplishment of all in God’s plan of Atonement. All else is learned, but this is given, complete and wholly perfect. No one but Him Who planned salvation could complete it thus. The real world, in its loveliness, you learn to reach. Fantasies are all undone, and no one and nothing remain still bound by them, and by your own forgiveness you are free to see. Yet what you see is only what you made, with the blessing of your forgiveness on it. And with this final blessing of God’s Son upon himself, the real perception, born of the new perspective he has learned, has served its purpose.

The stars will disappear in light, and the sun that opened up the world to beauty will vanish. Perception will be meaningless when it has been perfected, for everything that has been used for learning will have no function. Nothing will ever change; no shifts nor shadings, no differences, no variations that made perception possible will still occur. The perception of the real world will be so short that you will barely have time to thank God for it. For God will take the last step swiftly, when you have reached the real world and have been made ready for Him.

The real world is attained simply by the complete forgiveness of the old, the world you see without forgiveness. The great Transformer of perception will undertake with you the careful searching of the mind that made this world, and uncover to you the seeming reasons for your making it. In the light of the real reason that He brings, as you follow Him, He will show you that there is no reason here at all. Each spot His reason touches grows alive with beauty, and what seemed ugly in the darkness of your lack of reason is suddenly released to loveliness. Not even what the Son of God made in insanity could be without a hidden spark of beauty that gentleness could release.

All this beauty will rise to bless your sight as you look upon the world with forgiving eyes. For forgiveness literally transforms vision, and lets you see the real world reaching quietly and gently across chaos, removing all illusions that had twisted your perception and fixed it on the past. The smallest leaf becomes a thing of wonder, and a blade of grass a sign of God’s perfection. From the forgiven world the Son of God is lifted easily into his home. And there he knows that he has always rested there in peace. Even salvation will become a dream, and vanish from his mind. For salvation is the end of dreams, and with the closing of the dream will have no meaning. Who, awake in Heaven, could dream that there could ever be need of salvation?

How much do you want salvation? It will give you the real world, trembling with readiness to be given you. The eagerness of the Holy Spirit to give you this is so intense He would not wait, although He waits in patience. Meet His patience with your impatience at delay in meeting Him. Go out in gladness to meet with your Redeemer, and walk with Him in trust out of this world, and into the real world of beauty and forgiveness.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 26

REVIEW IV
Introduction

Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.

There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.

Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.

They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.

After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.

We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.

God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.

*

Lesson 145
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(129) Beyond this world there is a world I want.
(130) It is impossible to see two worlds.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #286: “There are no accidents in salvation.” I am puzzled by two apparently contradictory perspectives on this:

(1) Anything in the world of form can be used by the Holy Spirit as a means for salvation, i.e., I can use any circumstance or event to practice forgiveness. So, in the flow of events — which could be random and meaningless in themselves — I can use anything for the purpose of self-transformation.

(2) The Holy Spirit provides me with particular events so that I can learn specific lessons. This would suggest that the Holy Spirit makes at least certain aspects of the world: a view which appears to contradict the notion that the ego alone makes forms.

It is my impression that commentators on A Course in Miracles do not favor option number two. Yet this seems to be implied in the quote. Please comment.

A: In answering your question, it is helpful to realize that even in the illusory split mind, of which the world is only a shadowy projection, neither the ego nor the Holy Spirit does anything. And so neither is responsible for the forms that our lives may take and the events that seem to happen to us. Although the Course’s separation myth personifies them as if they were separate entities acting independently, the ego and the Holy Spirit only represent alternative interpretations or symbolic thoughts within our mind about the tiny mad idea of separation from God. It is the sleeping mind of the Son that gives form to the thoughts in his mind, using either the ego or the Holy Spirit as his guide for choosing and then interpreting those seemingly externalized forms.

A few passages from the Course itself may help make the passive nature of both the Holy Spirit and the ego clearer. Early in the text, Jesus says, “The Holy Spirit is one way of choosing….The Voice of the Holy Spirit does not command, because It is incapable of arrogance. It does not demand, because It does not seek control. It does not overcome, because It does not attack. It merely reminds. It is compelling only because of what It reminds you of. It brings to your mind the other way, remaining quiet even in the midst of the turmoil you may make” (T.5.II.6:7;7:1,2,3,4,5; italics added). In the next section, Jesus observes that “the ego is the symbol of separation, just as the Holy Spirit is the symbol of peace” (T.5.III.9:4). The symbolic nature of the ego is described again later in the text when Jesus notes that “all that the ego is, is an idea that it is possible that things could happen to the Son of God without his will” (T.21.II.6:4; italics added).

That the ego has no power in and of itself to do anything is apparent from this early passage in the text: “Only your allegiance to it gives the ego any power over you. I have spoken of the ego as if it were a separate thing, acting on its own. This was necessary to persuade you that you cannot dismiss it lightly, and must realize how much of your thinking is ego-directed.…The ego is nothing more than a part of your belief about yourself” (T.4.VI.1:2,3,4,6).

So when the Course asserts that “there are no accidents in salvation” (M.3.1:6), it means that everything reflects a choice — our own! Our sleeping mind makes all the decisions about what to experience and how to interpret those experiences. The “flow of events” is never “random and meaningless” because all things are chosen by us to serve either the ego’s purpose of separation and guilt or the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness and peace. Among the many passages in the Course that speak of the power of our minds, consider just the following two:

“Your holy mind establishes everything that happens to you. Every response you make to everything you perceive is up to you, because your mind determines your perception of it” (T.10.in.2:6,7).

“It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing. (T.21.II.3:1,2,3,4).

And so, while we may initially choose — almost always unconsciously, out of our awareness — an experience to reinforce our perception of ourselves as victims of a world over which we have no control, once the choice has been made we can make another choice and ask for the Help within to see our circumstances differently. And so we begin to learn that we are never the victim of the world we see (W.pI.31) and that no one or nothing else — neither the ego nor the Holy Spirit nor Jesus nor God Himself — intervenes within the dream we call our lives. For we alone are the rulers of our universe (W.pII.253).

For further discussion on the power of decision, you may also wish to review Question #281. As to whether God or the Holy Spirit intervene in the world and our lives, you may want to look at Question #235. And on the Course’s metaphoric or mythical use of language, see Question #72.

health is inner peace

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 25

ACIM Text Reading for May 25

Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

I. Bringing Fantasy to Truth

The betrayal of the Son of God lies only in illusions, and all his “sins” are but his own imagining. His reality is forever sinless. He need not be forgiven but awakened. In his dreams he has betrayed himself, his brothers and his God. Yet what is done in dreams has not been really done. It is impossible to convince the dreamer that this is so, for dreams are what they are because of their illusion of reality. Only in waking is the full release from them, for only then does it become perfectly apparent that they had no effect upon reality at all, and did not change it. Fantasies change reality. That is their purpose. They cannot do so in reality, but they can do so in the mind that would have reality be different.

It is, then, only your wish to change reality that is fearful, because by your wish you think you have accomplished what you wish. This strange position, in a sense, acknowledges your power. Yet by distorting it and devoting it to “evil,” it also makes it unreal. You cannot be faithful to two masters who ask conflicting things of you. What you use in fantasy you deny to truth. Yet what you give to truth to use for you is safe from fantasy.

When you maintain that there must be an order of difficulty in miracles, all you mean is that there are some things you would withhold from truth. You believe truth cannot deal with them only because you would keep them from truth. Very simply, your lack of faith in the power that heals all pain arises from your wish to retain some aspects of reality for fantasy. If you but realized what this must do to your appreciation of the whole! What you reserve for yourself, you take away from Him Who would release you. Unless you give it back, it is inevitable that your perspective on reality be warped and uncorrected.

As long as you would have it so, so long will the illusion of an order of difficulty in miracles remain with you. For you have established this order in reality by giving some of it to one teacher, and some to another. And so you learn to deal with part of the truth in one way, and in another way the other part. To fragment truth is to destroy it by rendering it meaningless. Orders of reality is a perspective without understanding; a frame of reference for reality to which it cannot really be compared at all.

Think you that you can bring truth to fantasy, and learn what truth means from the perspective of illusions? Truth has no meaning in illusion. The frame of reference for its meaning must be itself. When you try to bring truth to illusions, you are trying to make illusions real, and keep them by justifying your belief in them. But to give illusions to truth is to enable truth to teach that the illusions are unreal, and thus enable you to escape from them. Reserve not one idea aside from truth, or you establish orders of reality that must imprison you. There is no order in reality, because everything there is true.

Be willing, then, to give all you have held outside the truth to Him Who knows the truth, and in Whom all is brought to truth. Be not concerned with anything except your willingness to have this be accomplished. He will accomplish it; not you. But forget not this: When you become disturbed and lose your peace of mind because another is attempting to solve his problems through fantasy, you are refusing to forgive yourself for just this same attempt. And you are holding both of you away from truth and from salvation. As you forgive him, you restore to truth what was denied by both of you. And you will see forgiveness where you have given it.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 25

REVIEW IV
Introduction

Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.

There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.

Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.

They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.

After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.

We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.

God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.

*

Lesson 144
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(127) There is no love but God’s.
(128) The world I see holds nothing that I want.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #925: I have to watch every little thing I eat or else I gain weight. Meanwhile, I have friends who can eat whatever they want and not gain an ounce. I believe that they were blessed with a faster metabolism than I have. But according to the Course, could I have chosen my slow metabolism as a projection of my unconscious guilt?

A: According to A Course in Miracles, our entire physical existence is a dream we are having in order to escape the guilt producing (though erroneous) thought that we killed God, destroyed His Love, and deserve to be punished. Therefore, everything about our selves and the world in which we seem to live is a cover for the guilt in our mind. Just as our nighttime dreams are filled with symbols of our unconscious thoughts, our lives are nothing more than a collection of symbols reflecting that one guilty thought that compelled us to fall asleep and make up this world.

The Course informs us that in reality, we are still at home in Heaven and that our natural state is as a “Oneness joined as One” (T.25.1.7;1) . Elsewhere, the Course tells us that in truth, “nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.132.12;4) .

But we cannot even begin to fathom the idea of oneness because every aspect of this world seems to attest to the reality of separation. And there is no greater symbol of separation (and thus our guilt) than the body. In the Course, Jesus refers to bodies as “instruments of separation” (T.18.VI.5;1) and tells us that “Minds are joined; bodies are not” (T.18.VI.3;1). In other words, our continued existence as individuals separate from God (the ego’s one and only goal) hinges upon our being bodies not minds.

The ego’s greatest fear is that we will remember we have a mind that is capable of changing internal teachers — a realization that could turn us away from the ego and toward the Holy Spirit. To ensure that never happens, the ego needs us to not only believe we are bodies but to keep us constantly focused on them. And what could be better at keeping us focused on the body than a body that has endless needs and problems?

So, to answer your question, yes, we possess our physical and psychological traits because we listened to the ego and chose them. And we only did such a silly thing because we were compelled to do so by guilt. With very few exceptions, no one would choose to have physical or psychological traits at all (rather than stay at home in Heaven) if he were not “made mad by guilt” (T.13.in.2;2) .

That means all our problems really only serve one purpose; to keep us distracted so we can never return to the Love of God that is still in our mind. And, fortunately, that means that what we think of as our problems really are not our problems at all. In fact, our only problem is that we are too busy making a big deal about nothing to look at the guilt in our mind and discover it is all made up.

But because what is really nothing — our lives, our bodies, and our problems — seems to us like everything, we cannot just move beyond these symbols. So, we have to give them a different purpose. And that means asking the Holy Spirit to reinterpret them for us. He will turn them into classrooms for rediscovering the power of our mind to choose differently. While we cannot know why our bodies are the way they are, with His help we will see that we can be at peace regardless of our bodily state (Lesson 34) .

Guided by the love and compassion of the Holy Spirit, we will at long last know that we are responsible for the lives we have scripted and also be able to forgive ourselves for them. And with the peace of Heaven as our goal and a Teacher to help us get there, we may even stop pining for a faster metabolism.

For an in depth discussion about weight and food issues from the Course’s perspective, please see the book or listen to the audio tape Overeating: A Dialogue by Kenneth Wapnick .

*

Q #926: As a Catholic and a student of A Course in Miracles , how do I pray now?

A: Whether as a student of the Course or a Catholic, true prayer is always what the Course refers to as the prayer of the heart. This means it is the content that matters, not the form. Any form can serve as an expression of the mind’s willingness to hear the Holy Spirit’s “still small voice” that is “… not drowned out by all the ego’s raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear It (T.21.V.1:6). It may be very helpful for you to use Catholic forms of prayer that are familiar to you, to remember that the Holy Spirit holds the memory of God in your mind and that the ego’s voice is not the only option. The content is the willingness to keep this in mind and choose the Holy Spirit, regardless of what form the prayer takes.

In the Course, prayer is understood as an expression of the mind’s choice between the ego or the Holy Spirit. In the manual, Jesus refers to this choice as the “prayer of the heart” (M.21) . The prayer/choice is always answered because the mind has the power to make its choice “real” in its experience. Thus, the mind gets what it wants. It has chosen and received separation, and until another choice is made it is compelled to seek outside itself for relief from the pain of having decided to be separate from its Source. It then “prays” to a magical god to be saved from the hell of its own making. Yet, there is no real relief in the ego’s plan, because nothing outside the mind has any effect on it. It is impossible for the mind to receive what it has chosen against. As Jesus tells us in the text: “ It is impossible that the prayer of the heart remain unanswered in the perception of the one who asks. If he asks for the impossible [separation] , if he wants what does not exist [the world] or seeks for illusions in his heart, all this becomes his own. The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven (M.21.3:3,4,5,6). Thus, the answer to the mind’s prayer/decision in favor of the ego is hell (the misery of this world), while the prayer/decision for the Holy Spirit leads to Heaven (peace in the dream).

Praying as a student of the Course means paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and judgments in relationships that reflect the choice the mind has made. The choice otherwise remains hidden behind layers of denial and projection. Willingness to recognize the mind’s projection instead of blaming others for how you are feeling is the first step in forgiveness, which is the prayer we are taught in the Course : “…the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless” (T.3.V.6:3,4). Thus, the form of prayer, as it is understood in the Course, is distinct from the form of Catholic prayer in that it is addressed to oneself, for oneself, in forgiveness of oneself for having taken the “tiny mad idea” (T.27.VIII.6) of separation seriously. It is remembering in every situation and relationship that everything is a reflection of the mind’s choice, and nothing else . To pray always means to be mindful always, thus fulfilling the Christian injunction. The goal of this mindfulness/prayer is to learn to not choose separation: “The sleeping Son of God has but this power [of decision] left to him. It is enough. His words do not matter” (M.21.3:7,8,9). No rituals, words, sacraments, or celebrations are required for the simple practice of forgiveness. However, if they serve as reminders to apply it to your relationships and daily experiences, they can indeed be helpful. The goal of returning home to the Father we never left can be reached by many paths.

(See also: Questions # 23, #104, #437, #505, #563, #597, and #645.)

sunburst eternity

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 24

ACIM Text Reading for May 24

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

VII. The End of Illusions
It is impossible to let the past go without relinquishing the special relationship. For the special relationship is an attempt to re-enact the past and change it. Imagined slights, remembered pain, past disappointments, perceived injustices and deprivations all enter into the special relationship, which becomes a way in which you seek to restore your wounded self-esteem. What basis would you have for choosing a special partner without the past? Every such choice is made because of something “evil” in the past to which you cling, and for which must someone else atone.

The special relationship takes vengeance on the past. By seeking to remove suffering in the past, it overlooks the present in its preoccupation with the past and its total commitment to it. No special relationship is experienced in the present. Shades of the past envelop it, and make it what it is. It has no meaning in the present, and if it means nothing now, it cannot have any real meaning at all. How can you change the past except in fantasy? And who can give you what you think the past deprived you of? The past is nothing. Do not seek to lay the blame for deprivation on it, for the past is gone. You cannot really not let go what has already gone. It must be, therefore, that you are maintaining the illusion that it has not gone because you think it serves some purpose that you want fulfilled. And it must also be that this purpose could not be fulfilled in the present, but only in the past.

Do not underestimate the intensity of the ego’s drive for vengeance on the past. It is completely savage and completely insane. For the ego remembers everything you have done that has offended it, and seeks retribution of you. The fantasies it brings to its chosen relationships in which to act out its hate are fantasies of your destruction. For the ego holds the past against you, and in your escape from the past it sees itself deprived of the vengeance it believes you so justly merit. Yet without your alliance in your own destruction, the ego could not hold you to the past. In the special relationship you are allowing your destruction to be. That this is insane is obvious. But what is less obvious is that the present is useless to you while you pursue the ego’s goal as its ally.

The past is gone; seek not to preserve it in the special relationship that binds you to it, and would teach you salvation is past and so you must return to the past to find salvation. There is no fantasy that does not contain the dream of retribution for the past. Would you act out the dream, or let it go?

In the special relationship it does not seem to be an acting out of vengeance that you seek. And even when the hatred and the savagery break briefly through, the illusion of love is not profoundly shaken. Yet the one thing the ego never allows to reach awareness is that the special relationship is the acting out of vengeance on yourself. Yet what else could it be? In seeking the special relationship, you look not for glory in yourself. You have denied that it is there, and the relationship becomes your substitute for it. And vengeance becomes your substitute for Atonement, and the escape from vengeance becomes your loss.

Against the ego’s insane notion of salvation the Holy Spirit gently lays the holy instant. We said before that the Holy Spirit must teach through comparisons, and uses opposites to point to truth. The holy instant is the opposite of the ego’s fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past. In the holy instant it is understood that the past is gone, and with its passing the drive for vengeance has been uprooted and has disappeared. The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness. Everything is gone except the truth.

For a time you may attempt to bring illusions into the holy instant, to hinder your full awareness of the complete difference, in all respects, between your experience of truth and illusion. Yet you will not attempt this long. In the holy instant the power of the Holy Spirit will prevail, because you joined Him. The illusions you bring with you will weaken the experience of Him for a while, and will prevent you from keeping the experience in your mind. Yet the holy instant is eternal, and your illusions of time will not prevent the timeless from being what it is, nor you from experiencing it as it is.

What God has given you is truly given, and will be truly received. For God’s gifts have no reality apart from your receiving them. Your receiving completes His giving. You will receive because it is His Will to give. He gave the holy instant to be given you, and it is impossible that you receive it not because He gave it. When He willed that His Son be free, His Son was free. In the holy instant is His reminder that His Son will always be exactly as he was created. And everything the Holy Spirit teaches is to remind you that you have received what God has given you.

There is nothing you can hold against reality. All that must be forgiven are the illusions you have held against your brothers. Their reality has no past, and only illusions can be forgiven. God holds nothing against anyone, for He is incapable of illusions of any kind. Release your brothers from the slavery of their illusions by forgiving them for the illusions you perceive in them. Thus will you learn that you have been forgiven, for it is you who offered them illusions. In the holy instant this is done for you in time, to bring you the true condition of Heaven.

Remember that you always choose between truth and illusion; between the real Atonement that would heal and the ego’s “atonement” that would destroy. The power of God and all His Love, without limit, will support you as you seek only your place in the plan of Atonement arising from His Love. Be an ally of God and not the ego in seeking how Atonement can come to you. His help suffices, for His Messenger understands how to restore the Kingdom to you, and to place all your investment in salvation in your relationship with Him.

Seek and find His message in the holy instant, where all illusions are forgiven. From there the miracle extends to bless everyone and to resolve all problems, be they perceived as great or small, possible or impossible. There is nothing that will not give place to Him and to His Majesty. To join in close relationship with Him is to accept relationships as real, and through their reality to give over all illusions for the reality of your relationship with God. Praise be to your relationship with Him and to no other. The truth lies there and nowhere else. You choose this or nothing.

Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter. Our holiness is Yours. What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect? The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love. Let us not wander into temptation, for the temptation of the Son of God is not Your Will. And let us receive only what You have given, and accept but this into the minds which You created and which You love. Amen.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 24

REVIEW IV
Introduction

Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.

There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.

Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.

They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.

After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.

We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.

God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.

*

Lesson 143
My mind holds only what I think with God.

(125) In quiet I receive God’s Word today.
(126) All that I give is given to myself.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #917: The Course’s separation myth emphasizes the making of the world as a defense mechanism against the guilt and fear that God would take away the separate existence the Son desired (and the result is billions of fragments). I don’t see how this relates to what I think is the most basic fear: the fear of death. And I wonder why this separateness didn’t produce individuals that could last forever.

A: From our perspective as separate bodies in the world, it does seem that the fear of death is one of our most basic fears. And yet, from Jesus’ perspective, our problem is not our fear of death but our attraction to it, as discussed in great detail in the third obstacle to peace (T.19.IV.C) . For the belief in death is the cornerstone of the ego’s thought system — our seeming separate life came at God’s expense, requiring His death, the destruction of Oneness, according to the ego myth. And the belief that God eventually is going to steal back the life we stole from Him, culminating in our death and the end of our individual existence, is simply further proof that the separation is real, a sin punishable by God.

The irony of all of the ego’s defenses, including the fragmenting of the mind and the seeming projection of those fragments out into a world of form, is that none of them works, in terms of the purpose the ego has promised us they will serve. While we remain identified with the ego, nothing can make us safe, nothing can protect us from God’s wrath, except temporarily, for in the end death is inevitable, and it is this we believe we fear.

But what the ego defenses in fact do accomplish, which we do not allow ourselves to see or accept, is to keep our focus outside ourselves, on the world and the body and death, so that we do not see that we have made up the entire situation, from the beginning to the end in death, and none of it is true. Bodies may seem to die, but we are mind, created eternal by God, and the death of the body has nothing to do with us, unless we want to believe that it does. And we only want to believe that it does if we want the thought of separation and death to be real and we want to remain identified with the ego — which we do! And so that is why Jesus speaks of our attraction to death, conveniently hidden by our apparent fear of death.

Nearly all of our conscious thinking is upside down and backwards, and our conclusions seem quite justifiable because they seem to be all that we know. And so Jesus, through A Course in Miracles , is attempting very gently to peel back the layers of defense that we have embraced to keep our real attraction to death out of our awareness, so that we can see what we really believe and are choosing. As it becomes clearer to us that we are really choosing to believe in death, Jesus knows that we will be willing to make a different choice — for life, which has no opposite in death (W.pI.167.1) and has nothing to do with bodies.

Regarding your final question, while there are many different forms and stories that the ego could have produced, individuals who live forever is not among them. For the separation was made to be the opposite of God and Heaven, which alone are eternal, and so the ego can only attempt to mimic infinity and eternity ( e.g., T.4.I.11; T.4.V.6:1,2) . Even today’s scientists see its apparently most impressive accomplishment, the expanding universe of time and space, as eventually collapsing back upon itself.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 23

ACIM Text Reading for May 23

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

VI. The Bridge to the Real World

The search for the special relationship is the sign that you equate yourself with the ego and not with God. For the special relationship has value only to the ego. To the ego, unless a relationship has special value it has no meaning, for it perceives all love as special. Yet this cannot be natural, for it is unlike the relationship of God and His Son, and all relationships that are unlike this one must be unnatural. For God created love as He would have it be, and gave it as it is. Love has no meaning except as its Creator defined it by His Will. It is impossible to define it otherwise and understand it.

Love is freedom. To look for it by placing yourself in bondage is to separate yourself from it. For the Love of God, no longer seek for union in separation, nor for freedom in bondage! As you release, so will you be released. Forget this not, or Love will be unable to find you and comfort you.

There is a way in which the Holy Spirit asks your help, if you would have His. The holy instant is His most helpful aid in protecting you from the attraction of guilt, the real lure in the special relationship. You do not recognize that this is its real appeal, for the ego has taught you that freedom lies in it. Yet the closer you look at the special relationship, the more apparent it becomes that it must foster guilt and therefore must imprison.

The special relationship is totally meaningless without a body. If you value it, you must also value the body. And what you value you will keep. The special relationship is a device for limiting your self to a body, and for limiting your perception of others to theirs. The Great Rays would establish the total lack of value of the special relationship, if they were seen. For in seeing them the body would disappear, because its value would be lost. And so your whole investment in seeing it would be withdrawn from it.

You see the world you value. On this side of the bridge you see the world of separate bodies, seeking to join each other in separate unions and to become one by losing. When two individuals seek to become one, they are trying to decrease their magnitude. Each would deny his power, for the separate union excludes the universe. Far more is left outside than would be taken in, for God is left without and nothing taken in. If one such union were made in perfect faith, the universe would enter into it. Yet the special relationship the ego seeks does not include even one whole individual. The ego wants but part of him, and sees only this part and nothing else.

Across the bridge it is so different! For a time the body is still seen, but not exclusively, as it is seen here. The little spark that holds the Great Rays within it is also visible, and this spark cannot be limited long to littleness. Once you have crossed the bridge, the value of the body is so diminished in your sight that you will see no need at all to magnify it. For you will realize that the only value the body has is to enable you to bring your brothers to the bridge with you, and to be released together there.

The bridge itself is nothing more than a transition in the perspective of reality. On this side, everything you see is grossly distorted and completely out of perspective. What is little and insignificant is magnified, and what is strong and powerful cut down to littleness. In the transition there is a period of confusion, in which a sense of actual disorientation may occur. But fear it not, for it means only that you have been willing to let go your hold on the distorted frame of reference that seemed to hold your world together. This frame of reference is built around the special relationship. Without this illusion there could be no meaning you would still seek here.

Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference. The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions. Delay will hurt you now more than before, only because you realize it is delay, and that escape from pain is really possible. Find hope and comfort, rather than despair, in this: You could not long find even the illusion of love in any special relationship here. For you are no longer wholly insane, and you would soon recognize the guilt of self-betrayal for what it is.

Nothing you seek to strengthen in the special relationship is really part of you. And you cannot keep part of the thought system that taught you it was real, and understand the Thought that knows what you are. You have allowed the Thought of your reality to enter your mind, and because you invited it, it will abide with you. Your love for it will not allow you to betray yourself, and you could not enter into a relationship where it could not go with you, for you would not want to be apart from it.

Be glad you have escaped the mockery of salvation the ego offered you, and look not back with longing on the travesty it made of your relationships. Now no one need suffer, for you have come too far to yield to the illusion of the beauty and holiness of guilt. Only the wholly insane could look on death and suffering, sickness and despair, and see it thus. What guilt has wrought is ugly, fearful and very dangerous. See no illusion of truth and beauty there. And be you thankful that there is a place where truth and beauty wait for you. Go on to meet them gladly, and learn how much awaits you for the simple willingness to give up nothing because it is nothing.

The new perspective you will gain from crossing over will be the understanding of where Heaven is. From this side, it seems to be outside and across the bridge. Yet as you cross to join it, it will join with you and become one with you. And you will think, in glad astonishment, that for all this you gave up nothing! The joy of Heaven, which has no limit, is increased with each light that returns to take its rightful place within it. Wait no longer, for the Love of God and you. And may the holy instant speed you on the way, as it will surely do if you but let it come to you.

The Holy Spirit asks only this little help of you: Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship which still attracts you, enter with Him into a holy instant, and there let Him release you. He needs only your willingness to share His perspective to give it to you completely. And your willingness need not be complete because His is perfect. It is His task to atone for your unwillingness by His perfect faith, and it is His faith you share with Him there. Out of your recognition of your unwillingness for your release, His perfect willingness is given you. Call upon Him, for Heaven is at His Call. And let Him call on Heaven for you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 23

Lesson 141
REVIEW IV
Introduction

Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.

There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.

Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.

They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.

After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.

We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.

God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #392: Reading the following passage in the text of A Course in Miracles brought up a question I’ve had for some time now: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference. The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions” (T.16.VI.8:1,2,3,4,5).

Some three years ago, I was doing selected workbook lessons and had reached a state of mind quite different from my “normal” functioning in the world. I was experiencing myself as at one with everyone and everything and aware that the mind is only one. This lasted for quite a while. But it was followed by a period of most intense and vicious ego attacks and I felt completely out of control – seemingly unable to prevent my ego from hurting me in all kinds of ways – sickness, finances, inner state of turmoil, attacking others, attraction to death, etc. I’m now doing the workbook again. How do I know whether I’m being gentle? And how do I sincerely attempt to do what Jesus asks in the workbook without holding back? My prior experience was that doing any one lesson could take me home if I did it wholeheartedly. How does one know that one’s head is far enough above the water to withstand the inevitable return of fear as long as one’s mind is split?

A: The “retaliation of the ego” is really the eruption of the part of your own mind that does not want to relinquish its independence, which would have happened had you continued to identify with oneness. If all at once in a flash you could accept oneness without reservation, chances are you would not be here in the world in the first place. So your response should be respect for the depth of your fear of oneness, but also gratitude for your willingness to return to the pure oneness of Love. Now it’s a matter of patience with yourself and trusting in the process that has begun. It is a gradual process of growing into what seems to be a new identity, but is really just accepting back your natural state of being, which you swore you would never do (T.19.IV.D.6). The strength of our resistance and our fear usually takes us by surprise. One of the most commonly asked questions is how to tell if one’s head is far enough above water to withstand the inevitable return of fear. There really is no way of knowing; but being too concerned about that can detract from our work of forgiving right now.

There is a way of acknowledging and respecting your fear without giving it power over you or denying it either. As you go along, a sense of balance should develop between these two extremes. You never want to force yourself to work with the lessons or to study the text. Any need you might feel to do the lessons perfectly and as quickly as possible always comes from your ego, as time is nothing to Jesus. He’s big on patience and gentleness, not perfection. Readiness does not mean mastery, he tells us (T.2.VII.7:8,9); and being too serious about the lessons just makes the error real. After all, we are undoing something that never happened, and “the outcome is as certain as God” (T.2.III.3:10).

The practice of forgiveness itself will gradually reduce your fear and sense of disorientation. Specifically, the more you practice seeing your interests as not different from anyone else’s — and feeling comfortable with that perception — the more you are undoing the underlying belief in separation, which is the source of all fear. Jesus clearly knows what is involved in this process, and he instructs and reassures us many times, such as in the passage you quoted.

*

Q #377: “Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship which still attracts you, enter with Him into a holy instant, and there let Him release you.” (T.16.VI.12:1) But how? How do I “enter with Him into a holy instant” — and then “let Him release me”? “He needs only your willingness…” (next sentence). I sincerely want to be released from this relationship because I find it ridiculous anyway — but to date I have been failing miserably and do not know how to get out of it.

A: You have found the key to answer your question in the next sentence: “He needs only your willingness…” However, the willingness required here is not the same as wanting to get out of a relationship because it is ridiculous or in some other way undesirable. It is the willingness to recognize and take responsibility for the ego’s use of the relationship, which is always to make the separation real and hold on to guilt.

Any relationship that attracts you, whether you characterize it as special love or special hate, holds a multitude of thoughts, beliefs, and judgments about yourself and the other person, all based on the belief in separation, thus giving rise to guilt. You enter the holy instant with the Holy Spirit through the process of forgiveness. The first step in this process is to be willing to recognize all the beliefs and judgments you bring to the relationship, and then to question them in the light of the teachings of A Course in Miracles to whatever extent you understand them. This changes the purpose of the relationship from the ego’s goal to the Holy Spirit’s. If you are willing to have these beliefs and judgments transformed by the Holy Spirit, you will be released of them, and His perception will replace yours; thus you enter the Holy Instant. “Never approach the holy instant after you have tried to remove all fear and hatred from your mind. That is its function. Never attempt to overlook your guilt before you ask the Holy Spirit’s help. That is His function. Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven” (T.18.V.2:1,2,3,4,5). Your release is the release of guilt. The relationship will fall away when you no longer have any attraction to the beliefs, judgments and their ensuing guilt in the specific form that this relationship represents.

Into Christ's Presence

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 22

ACIM Text Reading for May 22

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

V. The Choice for Completion

In looking at the special relationship, it is necessary first to realise that it involves a great amount of pain. Anxiety, despair, guilt and attack all enter into it, broken into by periods in which they seem to be gone. All these must be understood for what they are. Whatever form they take, they are always an attack on the self to make the other guilty. I have spoken of this before, but there are some aspects of what is really being attempted that have not been touched upon.

Very simply, the attempt to make guilty is always directed against God. For the ego would have you see Him, and Him alone, as guilty, leaving the Sonship open to attack and unprotected from it. The special love relationship is the ego’s chief weapon for keeping you from Heaven. It does not appear to be a weapon, but if you consider how you value it and why, you will realise what it must be.

The special love relationship is the ego’s most boasted gift, and one which has the most appeal to those unwilling to relinquish guilt. The ‘dynamics’ of the ego are clearest here, for counting on the attraction of this offering, the fantasies that centre around it are often quite overt. Here they are usually judged to be acceptable and even natural. No one considers it bizarre to love and hate together, and even those who believe that hate is sin merely feel guilty, but do not correct it. This is the ‘natural’ condition of the separation, and those who learn that it is not natural at all seem to be the unnatural ones. For this world is the opposite of Heaven, being made to be its opposite, and everything here takes a direction exactly opposite of what is true. In Heaven, where the meaning of love is known, love is the same as union. Here, where the illusion of love is accepted in love’s place, love is perceived as separation and exclusion.

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 special-ness that He denied. It is essential to the preservation of the ego that you believe this special-ness is not hell, but Heaven. For the ego would never have you see that separation could only be loss, being the one condition in which Heaven could not be.

To everyone Heaven is completion. There can be no disagreement on this, because both the ego and the Holy Spirit accept it. They are, however, in complete disagreement on what completion is, and how it is accomplished. The Holy Spirit knows that completion lies first in union, and then in the extension of union. To the ego completion lies in triumph, and in the extension of the ‘victory’ even to the final triumph over God. In this it sees the ultimate freedom of the self, for nothing would remain to interfere with the ego. This is its idea of Heaven. And therefore union, which is a condition in which the ego cannot interfere, must be hell.

The special relationship is a strange and unnatural ego device for joining hell and Heaven, and making them indistinguishable. And the attempt to find the imagined ‘best’ of both worlds has merely led to fantasies of both, and to the inability to perceive either as it is. The special relationship is the triumph of this confusion. It is a kind of union from which union is excluded, and the basis for the attempt at union rests on exclusion. What better example could there be of the ego’s maxim, ‘Seek but do not find’?

Most curious of all is the concept of the self which the ego fosters in the special relationship. This ‘self’ seeks the relationship to make itself complete. Yet when it finds the special relationship in which it thinks it can accomplish this it gives itself away, and tries to ‘trade’ itself for the self of another. This is not union, for there is no increase and no extension. Each partner tries to sacrifice the self he does not want for one he thinks he would prefer. And he feels guilty for the ‘sin’ of taking, and of giving nothing of value in return. How much value can he place upon a self that he would give away to get a ‘better’ one?

The ‘better’ self the ego seeks is always one that is more special. And whoever seems to possess a special self is ‘loved’ for what can be taken from him. Where both partners see this special self in each other, the ego sees ‘a union made in Heaven’. For neither one will recognise that he has asked for hell, and so he will not interfere with the ego’s illusion of Heaven, which it offered him to interfere with Heaven. Yet if all illusions are of fear, and they can be of nothing else, the illusion of Heaven is nothing more than an ‘attractive’ form of fear, in which the guilt is buried deep and rises in the form of ‘love’.

The appeal of hell lies only in the terrible attraction of guilt, which the ego holds out to those who place their faith in littleness. The conviction of littleness lies in every special relationship, for only the deprived could value special-ness. The demand for special-ness, and the perception of the giving of special-ness as an act of love, would make love hateful. The real purpose of the special relationship, in strict accordance with the ego’s goals, is to destroy reality and substitute illusion. For the ego is itself an illusion, and only illusions can be the witnesses to its ‘reality’.

If you perceived the special relationship as a triumph over God, would you want it? Let us not think of its fearful nature, nor of the guilt it must entail, nor of the sadness and the loneliness. For these are only attributes of the whole religion of separation, and of the total context in which it is thought to occur. The central theme in its litany to sacrifice is that God must die so you can live. And it is this theme that is acted out in the special relationship. Through the death of your self you think you can attack another self, and snatch it from the other to replace the self that you despise. And you despise it because you do not think it offers the special-ness that you demand. And hating it you have made it little and unworthy, because you are afraid of it.

How can you grant unlimited power to what you think you have attacked? So fearful has the truth become to you that unless it is weak and little, and unworthy of value, you would not dare to look upon it. You think it safer to endow the little self you made with power you wrested from truth, triumphing over it and leaving it helpless. See how exactly is this ritual enacted in the special relationship. An altar is erected in between two separate people, on which each seeks to kill his self, and on his body raise another self to take its power from his death. Over and over and over this ritual is enacted. And it is never completed, nor ever will be completed. The ritual of completion cannot complete, for life arises not from death, nor Heaven from hell.

Whenever any form of special relationship tempts you to seek for love in ritual, remember love is content, and not form of any kind. The special relationship is a ritual of form, aimed at raising the form to take the place of God at the expense of content. There is no meaning in the form, and there will never be. The special relationship must be recognised for what it is; a senseless ritual in which strength is extracted from the death of God, and invested in His killer as the sign that form has triumphed over content, and love has lost its meaning. Would you want this to be possible, even apart from its evident impossibility? If it were possible, you would have made yourself helpless. God is not angry. He merely could not let this happen. You cannot change His Mind. No rituals that you have set up in which the dance of death delights you can bring death to the eternal. Nor can your chosen substitute for the Wholeness of God have any influence at all upon it.

See in the special relationship nothing more than a meaningless attempt to raise other gods before Him, and by worshipping them to obscure their tininess and His greatness. In the name of your completion you do not want this. For every idol that you raise to place before Him stands before you, in place of what you are.

Salvation lies in the simple fact that illusions are not fearful because they are not true. They but seem to be fearful to the extent to which you fail to recognise them for what they are; and you will fail to do this to the extent to which you want them to be true. And to the same extent you are denying truth, and so are failing to make the simple choice between truth and illusion; God and fantasy. Remember this, and you will have no difficulty in perceiving the decision as just what it is, and nothing more.

The core of the separation illusion lies, simply in the fantasy of destruction of love’s meaning. And unless love’s meaning is restored to you, you cannot know yourself who share its meaning. Separation is only the decision not to know yourself. This whole thought system is a carefully contrived learning experience, designed to lead away from truth and into fantasy. Yet for every learning that would hurt you, God offers you correction and complete escape from all its consequences.

The decision whether or not to listen to this course and follow it is but the choice between truth and illusion. For here is truth, separated from illusion and not confused with it at all. How simple does this choice become when it is perceived as only what it is. For only fantasies make confusion in choosing possible, and they are totally unreal.

This year is thus the time to make the easiest decision that ever confronted you, and also the only one. You will cross the bridge into reality simply because you will recognise that God is on the other side, and nothing at all is here. It is impossible not to make the natural decision as this is realised.

***

Lesson 141
REVIEW IV
Introduction

Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.

There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.

Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.

They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.

After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.

We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.

God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.

Lesson 141

My mind holds only what I think with God.

(121) Forgiveness is the key to happiness.

(122) Forgiveness offers everything I want.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #137: I would like to understand the following quote from the Text, T.16.IV.9:6 “In any relationship in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and only this, there is God completed and His Son with Him.” How do I accept completion? I know that the ego level seeks special relationships. I also know that the preface says we are already “complete, safe, loved and loving.” So how do I distinguish the ego’s search for completion from the completion referred to in the above quote?

A: The key to answering your question is to include the preceding sentence: “In the Name of God, be wholly willing to abandon all illusions. In any relationship in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and only this, there is God completed, and His Son with Him” (T.16.IV.9:5,6). The first sentence speaks of “illusions,” which contrasts with the “completion” of the second sentence. Briefly stated, the way to completion is by undoing all illusions. It may be helpful to review the basic ego set up: We believe we have separated from God. Consumed with guilt for this “sin,” we feel terribly lonely and empty. The ego tells us we can fill the void left by the separation by having all kinds of relationships — with our “selves,” other people, events, things, even our thoughts. In other words, we use all illusions in the dream, seeking to find in them a substitute for our truth. This vast array of substitutes is the ego’s definition of completion. The problem is the substitutes do not work. That does not stop the ego, however. It insists that if only we find the right combination of perfect substitutes we will find happiness and completion in the dream, thereby succeeding in making a perfect replacement for God and Heaven. When the plan still does not work, the ego tells us keep looking, try again, never mentioning that the real deal is “seek but do not find” (T.16.V.6:5).

The pursuit then is endless, which fulfills the ego’s purpose of keeping us hopelessly locked in the illusions of the world. This is the driving force behind every special relationship. We use others to meet our needs, and fill the void left by the seeming separation. In other words, seeking completion in illusory substitutions — what the Course calls idols: “All idols of this world were made to keep the truth within from being known to you, and to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find what is outside yourself to be complete and happy” (T.29.VII.6:1).

The ego seeks for completion in the external, while the completion the Holy Spirit is leading us to is internal. When we have become sufficiently disillusioned with the world’s offerings and the ego’s claims, we suspect that there must be another way. We can then look in the right direction (the mind) for our real completion, and begin to let go of our investment in the illusions. If we are dedicated to the process of letting go of all the useless substitutes, we begin to identify less and less with lies of the ego. This is accomplished through the training program the Course offers, which is to remember that we are either experiencing peace or conflict, and that the cause of our experience is nothing external. Rather, it is a choice made in the mind. As peace becomes more appealing than conflict, we will more frequently choose it, until eventually we will choose nothing else, and identify fully with the part of our minds that remembers our truth. When this happens, we “accept completion.” In that moment, all of our relationships will be “blessed” by this awareness, and we will have joined fully with our truth, which is everyone’s truth. God is not literally “completed” in this, since obviously He cannot be incomplete. This is the Course’s way of saying He will be remembered, and in this sense, brought into our completeness. The important thing is that this requires truly wanting nothing else, and abandoning all illusions. As long as there is one illusion we would interpose between ourselves and our truth we will not know our completion, because by clinging to the illusion we are actively denying the truth about ourselves. Since we do in fact spend great energy in pursuit of our idols, we do well not to judge ourselves for this mistake, but also to keep in mind: “It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him”(T.29.VII.6:2,3).

jesus there is no death