ACIM Text Reading for May 13
Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant
VII. The Needless Sacrifice
Beyond the poor attraction of the special love relationship, and always obscured by it, is the powerful attraction of the Father for His Son. There is no other love that can satisfy you, because there is no other love. This is the only love that is fully given and fully returned. Being complete, it asks nothing. Being wholly pure, everyone joined in it has everything. This is not the basis for any relationship in which the ego enters. For every relationship on which the ego embarks is special.
The ego establishes relationships only to get something. And it would keep the giver bound to itself through guilt. It is impossible for the ego to enter into any relationship without anger, for the ego believes that anger makes friends. This is not its statement, but it is its purpose. For the ego really believes that it can get and keep by making guilty. This is its one attraction; an attraction so weak that it would have no hold at all, except that no one recognises it. For the ego always seems to attract through love, and has no attraction at all to anyone who perceives that it attracts through guilt.
The sick attraction of guilt must be recognised for what it is. For having been made real to you, it is essential to look at it clearly, and by withdrawing your investment in it, to learn to let it go. No one would choose to let go what he believes has value. Yet the attraction of guilt has value to you only because you have not looked at what it is, and have judged it completely in the dark. As we bring it to light, your only question will be why it was you ever wanted it. You have nothing to lose by looking open-eyed, for ugliness such as this belongs not in your holy mind. This host of God can have no real investment here.
We said before that the ego attempts to maintain and increase guilt, but in such a way that you do not recognise what it would do to you. For it is the ego’s fundamental doctrine that what you do to others you have escaped. The ego wishes no one well. Yet its survival depends on your belief that you are exempt from its evil intentions. It counsels, therefore, that if you are host to it, it will enable you to direct its anger outward, thus protecting you. And thus it embarks on an endless, unrewarding chain of special relationships, forged out of anger and dedicated to but one insane belief; that the more anger you invest outside yourself, the safer you become.
It is this chain that binds the Son of God to guilt, and it is this chain the Holy Spirit would remove from his holy mind. For the chain of savagery belongs not around the chosen host of God, who cannot make himself host to the ego. In the name of his release, and in the Name of Him Who would release him, let us look more closely at the relationships the ego contrives, and let the Holy Spirit judge them truly. For it is certain that if you will look at them, you will offer them gladly to Him. What He can make of them you do not know, but you will become willing to find out, if you are willing first to perceive what you have made of them.
In one way or another, every relationship the ego makes is based on the idea that by sacrificing itself, it becomes bigger. The ‘sacrifice’, which it regards as purification, is actually the root of its bitter resentment. For it would prefer to attack directly, and avoid delaying what it really wants. Yet the ego acknowledges ‘reality’ as it sees it, and recognises that no one could interpret direct attack as love. Yet to make guilty is direct attack, although it does not seem to be, For the guilty expect attack, and having asked for it they are attracted to it.
In such insane relationships, the attraction of what you do not want seems to be much stronger than the attraction of what you do want. For each one thinks that he has sacrificed something to the other, and hates him for it. Yet this is what he thinks he wants. He is not in love with the other at all. He merely believes he is in love with sacrifice. And for this sacrifice, which he demands of himself, he demands that the other accept the guilt and sacrifice himself as well. Forgiveness becomes impossible, for the ego believes that to forgive another is to lose him. It is only by attack without forgiveness that the ego can ensure the guilt that holds all its relationships together.
Yet they only seem to be together. For relationships, to the ego, mean only that bodies are together. It is always this that the ego demands, and it does not object where the mind goes or what it thinks, for this seems unimportant. As long as the body is there to receive its sacrifice, it is content. To the ego the mind is private, and only the body can be shared. Ideas are basically of no concern, except as they bring the body of another closer or farther. And it is in these terms that it evaluates ideas as good or bad. What makes another guilty and holds him through guilt is ‘good’. What releases him from guilt is ‘bad’, because he would no longer believe that bodies communicate, and so he would be ‘gone’.
Suffering and sacrifice are the gifts with which the ego would ‘bless’ all unions. And those who are united at its altar accept suffering and sacrifice as the price of union. In their angry alliances, born of the fear of loneliness and yet dedicated to the continuance of loneliness, each seeks relief from guilt by increasing it in the other. For each believes that this decreases guilt in him. The other seems always to be attacking and wounding him, perhaps in little ways, perhaps ‘unconsciously’, yet never without demand of sacrifice. The fury of those joined at the ego’s altar far exceeds your awareness of it. For what the ego really wants you do not realise.
Whenever you are angry, you can be sure that you have formed a special relationship which the ego has ‘blessed’, for anger is its blessing. Anger takes many forms, but it cannot long deceive those who will learn that love brings no guilt at all, and what brings guilt cannot be love and must be anger. All anger is nothing more than an attempt to make someone feel guilty, and this attempt is the only basis the ego accepts for special relationships. Guilt is the only need the ego has, and as long as you identify with it, guilt will remain attractive to you. Yet remember this; to be with a body is not communication. And if you think it is, you will feel guilty about communication and will be afraid to hear the Holy Spirit, recognising in His Voice your own need to communicate.
The Holy Spirit cannot teach through fear. And how can He communicate with you, while you believe that to communicate is to make yourself alone? It is clearly insane to believe that by communicating you will be abandoned. And yet many do believe it. For they think their minds must be kept private or they will lose them, but if their bodies are together their minds remain their own. The union of bodies thus becomes the way in which they would keep minds apart. For bodies cannot forgive. They can only do as the mind directs.
The illusion of the autonomy of the body and its ability to overcome loneliness is but the working of the ego’s plan to establish its own autonomy. As long as you believe that to be with a body is companionship, you will be compelled to attempt to keep your brother in his body, held there by guilt. And you will see safety in guilt and danger in communication. For the ego will always teach that loneliness is solved by guilt, and that communication is the cause of loneliness. And despite the evident insanity of this lesson, many have learned it.
Forgiveness lies in communication as surely as damnation lies in guilt. It is the Holy Spirit’s teaching function to instruct those who believe communication to be damnation that communication is salvation. And He will do so, for the power of God in Him and you is joined in a real relationship so holy and so strong, that it can overcome even this without fear.
It is through the holy instant that what seems impossible is accomplished, making it evident that it is not impossible. In the holy instant guilt holds no attraction, since communication has been restored. And guilt, whose only purpose is to disrupt communication, has no function here. Here there is no concealment, and no private thoughts. The willingness to communicate attracts communication to it, and overcomes loneliness completely. There is complete forgiveness here, for there is no desire to exclude anyone from your completion, in sudden recognition of the value of his part in it. In the protection of you wholeness, all are invited and made welcome. And you understand that your completion is God’s, Whose only need is to have you be complete. For your completion makes you His in your awareness. And here it is that you experience yourself as you were created, and as you are.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 13
I loose the world from all I thought it was.
What keeps the world in chains but your beliefs? And what can save the world except your Self? Belief is powerful indeed. The thoughts you hold are mighty, and illusions are as strong in their effects as is the truth. A madman thinks the world he sees is real, and does not doubt it. Nor can he be swayed by questioning his thoughts’ effects. It is but when their source is raised to question that the hope of freedom comes to him at last.
Yet is salvation easily achieved, for anyone is free to change his mind, and all his thoughts change with it. Now the source of thought has shifted, for to change your mind means you have changed the source of all ideas you think or ever thought or yet will think. You free the past from what you thought before. You free the future from all ancient thoughts of seeking what you do not want to find.
The present now remains the only time. Here in the present is the world set free. For as you let the past be lifted and release the future from your ancient fears, you find escape and give it to the world. You have enslaved the world with all your fears, your doubts and miseries, your pain and tears; and all your sorrows press on it, and keep the world a prisoner to your beliefs. Death strikes it everywhere because you hold the bitter thoughts of death within your mind.
The world is nothing in itself. Your mind must give it meaning. And what you behold upon it are your wishes, acted out so you can look on them and think them real. Perhaps you think you did not make the world, but came unwillingly to what was made already, hardly waiting for your thoughts to give it meaning. Yet in truth you found exactly what you looked for when you came.
There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly. Ideas leave not their source. This central theme is often stated in the text, and must be borne in mind if you would understand the lesson for today. It is not pride which tells you that you made the world you see, and that it changes as you change your mind.
But it is pride that argues you have come into a world quite separate from yourself, impervious to what you think, and quite apart from what you chance to think it is. There is no world! This is the central thought the course attempts to teach. Not everyone is ready to accept it, and each one must go as far as he can let himself be led along the road to truth. He will return and go still farther, or perhaps step back a while and then return again.
But healing is the gift of those who are prepared to learn there is no world, and can accept the lesson now. Their readiness will bring the lesson to them in some form which they can understand and recognize. Some see it suddenly on point of death, and rise to teach it. Others find it in experience that is not of this world, which shows them that the world does not exist because what they behold must be the truth, and yet it clearly contradicts the world.
And some will find it in this course, and in the exercises that we do today. Today’s idea is true because the world does not exist. And if it is indeed your own imagining, then you can loose it from all things you ever thought it was by merely changing all the thoughts that gave it these appearances. The sick are healed as you let go all thoughts of sickness, and the dead arise when you let thoughts of life replace all thoughts you ever held of death.
A lesson earlier repeated once must now be stressed again, for it contains the firm foundation for today’s idea. You are as God created you. There is no place where you can suffer, and no time that can bring change to your eternal state. How can a world of time and place exist, if you remain as God created you?
What is the lesson for today except another way of saying that to know your Self is the salvation of the world? To free the world from every kind of pain is but to change your mind about yourself. There is no world apart from your ideas because ideas leave not their source, and you maintain the world within your mind in thought.
Yet if you are as God created you, you cannot think apart from Him, nor make what does not share His timelessness and Love. Are these inherent in the world you see? Does it create like Him? Unless it does, it is not real, and cannot be at all. If you are real the world you see is false, for God’s creation is unlike the world in every way. And as it was His Thought by which you were created, so it is your thoughts which made it and must set it free, that you may know the Thoughts you share with God.
Release the world! Your real creations wait for this release to give you fatherhood, not of illusions, but as God in truth. God shares His Fatherhood with you who are His Son, for He makes no distinctions in what is Himself and what is still Himself. What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him.
There is no world because it is a thought apart from God, and made to separate the Father and the Son, and break away a part of God Himself and thus destroy His Wholeness. Can a world which comes from this idea be real? Can it be anywhere? Deny illusions, but accept the truth. Deny you are a shadow briefly laid upon a dying world. Release your mind, and you will look upon a world released.
Today our purpose is to free the world from all the idle thoughts we ever held about it, and about all living things we see upon it. They can not be there. No more can we. For we are in the home our Father set for us, along with them. And we who are as He created us would loose the world this day from every one of our illusions, that we may be free.
Begin the fifteen-minute periods in which we practice twice today with this:
I who remain as God created me would loose the world from
all I thought it was. For I am real because the world is not,
and I would know my own reality.
Then merely rest, alert but with no strain, and let your mind in quietness be changed so that the world is freed, along with you.
You need not realize that healing comes to many brothers far across the world, as well as to the ones you see nearby, as you send out these thoughts to bless the world. But you will sense your own release, although you may not fully understand as yet that you could never be released alone.
Throughout the day, increase the freedom sent through your ideas to all the world, and say whenever you are tempted to deny the power of your simple change of mind:
I loose the world from all I thought it was,
and choose my own reality instead.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #60: I seem to remember a passage that states the use of “white lies” may at times be appropriate in dealing with some relationships. What is Jesus saying here? I can only seem to relate it to the 12-step saying where we should always try to make amends except when to do so would cause more harm.
A: We have all experienced occasions when it is obvious that telling someone the truth on the level of form is simply not the loving thing to do. While there are no passages in the Course that specifically mention “white lies,” there are two passages that address this issue, and that relate to the 12-step saying you mention: “The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver.This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear” (T.2.IV.5).
In another passage Jesus says, “Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something ‘outrageous,’ do it because it does not matter” (T.12.III.4:1). Importantly, he qualifies this later by saying, “I have said that if a brother asks a foolish thing of you to do it. But be certain that this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you, for what would hurt one will hurt the other” (T.16.I.6:4,5).
The key element in the Course’s approach is honesty, which is the second of the ten characteristics of a teacher of God, discussed in the manual for teachers (M.4). Jesus states there that honesty means consistency: “There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought…” (M.4.II.1). In other words, there is a consistency between your words (form) and your thoughts (content). If we set aside any ego investment in the situation, then only love will flow though us, and it will be expressed in a form that would be appropriate in that specific situation. The emphasis is on the content in our minds. If we are kind within, we will be kind on the outside. Our attention, thus, should be on searching for any unkindness lurking in our thoughts, and asking for help to let that go. Once we have gotten past the unkindness, whatever we say or do will be kind, in a form that is appropriate to the circumstances.
Q #61: I’m studying special relationships at the moment and I am wondering — if person ‘A’ feels anger, resentment, hate, etc., towards person ‘B’, is person ‘B’ likely to learn these feelings as part of himself, and feeling them, does he project them back onto person ‘A’ in either a passive or aggressive way? So now person ‘B’ would then see these same traits or similar ones in person ‘A’. If this is so, is this now a circle of destruction? And if person ‘B’ doesn’t project them back onto person ‘A’, is person ‘B’ (if he believes them to be true) likely to project them onto his own body? If he does, can this manifest through illness? Can illness then be a form of attack on both ourselves and on those with whom we are involved in special relationships?
A: Despite what our experience in the world seems to tell us, none of us has the power to cause anyone else to feel guilty or hated or attacked. These perceptions of ourselves are inherent in our own experience whenever we choose to identify with the ego, which seems to be our “natural” state until we remember otherwise. So no one else teaches those perceptions to us, no matter how they may act toward us — we have learned them on our own (the basic condition of the ego). That is because the ego thought system is predicated on the belief in our own sin and guilt, which we then try to protect ourselves from by projecting outside of ourselves onto others. The only effect we can have on others is to remind them of what is already present within their own mind. So I can be a reminder to you of your own sin, guilt and fear when I choose the ego as my teacher, or I can be a reminder of the love and forgiveness that are present in both of us when I choose the Holy Spirit as my teacher. But you first make your own choice as to which thought system you will identify with and then my choice can only reinforce the choice you have already made. But if you have made the choice for the ego and I have remembered the Holy Spirit, then I can serve as a reminder to you that there is another choice present in your mind as well.
Early in the text, Jesus explains that “when you project… [on]to others you imprison them, but only to the extent to which you reinforce errors they have already made. This [their errors] makes them vulnerable to the distortion of others, since their own perception of themselves is distorted” (T.1.III.5:9,10). So in that sense, we do set up a vicious cycle of attack and counterattack with each other — the “circle of destruction” as you call it — that reinforces the perception of guilt in ourselves and each other.
But again, the origin of the guilt and its ramifications in my own mind never comes from anyone or anything in the world outside of myself, but only from my own decision. In fact, the only purpose of the world and all the figures in it is to serve as a smokescreen to hide that fact from us. And so then it appears that indeed others are the cause of my concept of myself (T.31.V.5).
As for the second part of your question, the guilt over separation in my own mind — which I have chosen — is intolerable and must be projected so that I see it as yours rather than my own. And I can project it either by a direct attack on you with whom I have a special relationship or by an attack on my own body, expressed as some form of illness. And yes, the latter represents an attack not only on myself, but on you as well, as Jesus graphically describes in “The Picture of Crucifixion” (T.27.I) — “A sick and suffering you but represents your brother’s guilt; the witness that you send lest he forget the injuries he gave, from which you swear he never will escape. This sick and sorry picture you accept, if only it can serve to punish him” (T.27.I.4:3,4).
How do we break out of the seemingly endless circle of attack and counterattack? The solution has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with a change in our perception of ourselves, within our own mind, with the help of the Holy Spirit. We have to recognize that the sin and guilt we have made real in our own mind as an attack upon ourselves by our belief that we could separate from God has never really happened. As the Course says, “You will never realize the utter uselessness of attack except by recognizing that your attack on yourself has no effects. For others do react to attack if they perceive it, and if you are trying to attack them you will be unable to avoid interpreting this as reinforcement. The only place you can cancel out all reinforcement is in yourself. For you are always the first point of your attack, and if this has never been, it has no consequences” (T.12.V.3; italics added).