ACIM Text Reading for May 14
Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant
VIII. The Only Real Relationship
The holy instant does not replace the need for learning, for the Holy Spirit must not leave you as your Teacher until the holy instant has extended far beyond time. For a teaching assignment such as His, He must use everything in this world for your release. He must side with every sign or token of your willingness to learn of Him what the truth must be. He is swift to utilise whatever you offer Him on behalf of this. His concern and care for you are limitless. In the face of your fear of forgiveness, which He perceives as clearly as He knows forgiveness is release, He will teach you to remember that forgiveness is not loss, but your salvation. And that in complete forgiveness, in which you recognise that there is nothing to forgive, you are absolved completely.
Hear him gladly, and learn of Him that you have need of no special relationships at all. You but seek in them what you have thrown away. And through them you will never learn the value of what you have cast aside, but still desire with all your heart. Let us join together in making the holy instant all that there is, by desiring that it be all that there is. God’s Son has such great need of your willingness to strive for this that you cannot conceive of need so great. Behold the only need that God and His Son share, and will to meet together. You are not alone in this. The will of your creations calls to you, to share your will with them. Turn, then, in peace from guilt to God and them.
Relate only with what will never leave you, and what you can never leave. The loneliness of God’s Son is the loneliness of his Father. Refuse not the awareness of your completion, and seek not to restore it to yourself. Fear not to give redemption over to your Redeemer’s Love. He will not fail you, for He comes from One Who cannot fail. Accept your sense of failure as nothing more than a mistake in who you are. For the holy host of God is beyond failure, and nothing that he wills can be denied. You are forever in a relationship so holy that it calls to everyone to escape from loneliness, and join you in your love. And where you are must everyone seek, and find you there.
Think but an instant on this: God gave the Sonship to you, to ensure your perfect creation. This was His gift, for as He withheld Himself not from you, He withheld not His creation. Nothing that ever was created but is yours. Your relationships are with the universe. And this universe, being of God, is far beyond the petty sum of all the separate bodies you perceive. For all its parts are joined in God through Christ, where they become like to their Father. Christ knows of no separation from His Father, Who is His one relationship, in which He gives as His Father gives to Him.
The Holy Spirit is God’s attempt to free you of what He does not understand. And because of the Source of the attempt, it will succeed. The Holy Spirit asks you to respond as God does, for He would teach you what you do not understand. God would respond to every need, whatever form it takes. And so He keeps this channel open to receive His communication to you, and yours to Him. God does not understand your problem in communication, for He does not share it with you. It is only you who believe that it is understandable. The Holy Spirit knows that it is not understandable, and yet He understands it because you made it.
In the Holy Spirit alone lies the awareness of what God cannot know, and what you do not understand. It is His holy function to accept them both, and by removing every element of disagreement, to join them into one. He will do this because it is His function. Leave, then, what seems to you to be impossible, to Him Who knows it must be possible because it is the Will of God. And let Him Whose teaching is only of God teach you the only meaning of relationships. For God created the only relationship that has meaning, and that is His relationship with you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 14
I will not value what is valueless.
Sometimes in teaching there is benefit, particularly after you have gone through what seems theoretical and far from what the student has already learned, to bring him back to practical concerns. This we will do today. We will not speak of lofty, world-encompassing ideas, but dwell instead on benefits to you.
You do not ask too much of life, but far too little. When you let your mind be drawn to bodily concerns, to things you buy, to eminence as valued by the world, you ask for sorrow, not for happiness. This course does not attempt to take from you the little that you have. It does not try to substitute utopian ideas for satisfactions which the world contains. There are no satisfactions in the world.
Today we list the real criteria by which to test all things you think you want. Unless they meet these sound requirements, they are not worth desiring at all, for they can but replace what offers more. The laws that govern choice you cannot make, no more than you can make alternatives from which to choose. The choosing you can do; indeed, you must. But it is wise to learn the laws you set in motion when you choose, and what alternatives you choose between.
We have already stressed there are but two, however many there appear to be. The range is set, and this we cannot change. It would be most ungenerous to you to let alternatives be limitless, and thus delay your final choice until you had considered all of them in time; and not been brought so clearly to the place where there is but one choice that must be made.
Another kindly and related law is that there is no compromise in what your choice must bring. It cannot give you just a little, for there is no in between. Each choice you make brings everything to you or nothing. Therefore, if you learn the tests by which you can distinguish everything from nothing, you will make the better choice.
First, if you choose a thing that will not last forever, what you chose is valueless. A temporary value is without all value. Time can never take away a value that is real. What fades and dies was never there, and makes no offering to him who chooses it. He is deceived by nothing in a form he thinks he likes.
Next, if you choose to take a thing away from someone else, you will have nothing left. This is because, when you deny his right to everything, you have denied your own. You therefore will not recognize the things you really have, denying they are there. Who seeks to take away has been deceived by the illusion loss can offer gain. Yet loss must offer loss, and nothing more.
Your next consideration is the one on which the others rest. Why is the choice you make of value to you? What attracts your mind to it? What purpose does it serve? Here it is easiest of all to be deceived. For what the ego wants it fails to recognize. It does not even tell the truth as it perceives it, for it needs to keep the halo which it uses to protect its goals from tarnish and from rust, that you may see how “innocent” it is.
Yet is its camouflage a thin veneer, which could deceive but those who are content to be deceived. Its goals are obvious to anyone who cares to look for them. Here is deception doubled, for the one who is deceived will not perceive that he has merely failed to gain. He will believe that he has served the ego’s hidden goals.
Yet though he tries to keep its halo clear within his vision, still must he perceive its tarnished edges and its rusted core. His ineffectual mistakes appear as sins to him, because he looks upon the tarnish as his own; the rust a sign of deep unworthiness within himself. He who would still preserve the ego’s goals and serve them as his own makes no mistakes, according to the dictates of his guide. This guidance teaches it is error to believe that sins are but mistakes, for who would suffer for his sins if this were so?
And so we come to the criterion for choice that is the hardest to believe, because its obviousness is overlaid with many levels of obscurity. If you feel any guilt about your choice, you have allowed the ego’s goals to come between the real alternatives. And thus you do not realize there are but two, and the alternative you think you chose seems fearful, and too dangerous to be the nothingness it actually is.
All things are valuable or valueless, worthy or not of being sought at all, entirely desirable or not worth the slightest effort to obtain. Choosing is easy just because of this. Complexity is nothing but a screen of smoke, which hides the very simple fact that no decision can be difficult. What is the gain to you in learning this? It is far more than merely letting you make choices easily and without pain.
Heaven itself is reached with empty hands and open minds, which come with nothing to find everything and claim it as their own. We will attempt to reach this state today, with self-deception laid aside, and with an honest willingness to value but the truly valuable and the real. Our two extended practice periods of fifteen minutes each begin with this:
I will not value what is valueless,
and only what has value do I seek,
for only that do I desire to find.
And then receive what waits for everyone who reaches, unencumbered, to the gate of Heaven, which swings open as he comes. Should you begin to let yourself collect some needless burdens, or believe you see some difficult decisions facing you, be quick to answer with this simple thought:
I will not value what is valueless,
for what is valuable belongs to me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #698: Please share your understanding of the following sentence from Lesson 133 in the workbook of A Course in Miracles: “If you feel any guilt about your choice, you have allowed the ego’s goals to come between the real alternatives” (W.pI.133.11:2).
A: As decision-making minds we are always choosing only between what is real (therefore valuable) and nothingness (therefore valueless). If we choose to pursue the ego’s goals (specialness, separation, individuality, sin, etc.), that choice will be expressed through our choices in our everyday lives. The choice for the ego gets denied and buried in our minds, and we then think we are making meaningful choices in the world. When we feel guilty about a choice, that is telling us we must have chosen the ego first, which means from that point on all we have been choosing between are different forms of nothingness — what is valueless.
Q #697: I read your answers about the sex drive and special relationships. Although I understand the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles, I sometimes find the sex impulse is overwhelming and therefore I might in those vulnerable moments go to the extent of soliciting call girls despite my being married with kids. I try not to make things a big deal and that’s how I have repeatedly committed the same mistake over again. I know what is right from wrong and in those dark moments I ask the Holy Spirit for help but I guess that I choose not to listen and do what I will. How do I wean myself out of this when I enjoy what I do — the rush of adrenaline and the secret guilt The girls I treat with respect and dignity — an oxymoron — while they are being used as objects of pleasure in the last analysis. How do I apply the Course to this practical problem?
A: The world makes distinctions between socially acceptable and socially unacceptable forms of using others, classifying the latter as wrong, sinful or even criminal. And it allows us to think that guilt is only associated with some forms of using others, but not other forms. The Course’s purpose is to help us see that all ego-based decisions to meet our needs at the expense of others cause us pain and reinforce our guilt. If we could really get the connection between the thought of separation implicit in self-interest and the pain that follows, we would soon learn to choose against the ego. But we still believe that some of our ego choices bring us more pleasure than pain.
The ego wants us to think of our actions and behavior in such moralistic terms as right or wrong, good or bad, with guilt always accompanying our wrong, bad actions. Jesus is encouraging us instead to think of our thoughts and decisions as either helpful or hurtful, wise or foolish, with unnecessary pain rather than guilt as the consequence of foolish, hurtful choices (see Question #637 for an in-depth discussion of the Course’s focus on thought rather than behavior).
So rather than thinking that you know what is right and what is wrong in the situation you describe, and that you keep doing the wrong thing, it would be more helpful to consider that you are simply making the more foolish, hurtful decision. But not just when you choose to solicit call girls, but whenever you decide to put your own needs above others, whether it be your family or anyone else. Now of course some actions run the risk of having greater negative consequences in the world’s terms than others, which nicely plays into the ego’s insistence that there is a hierarchy among illusions (T.23.II.2:3; T.26.VII.6:5). But all guilt is the same and it does not come from what we do with our bodies but only from what we think with our minds.
So seeking sexual satisfaction outside your marriage is not the cause of the guilt in your mind but an effect. And its purpose, which you keep hidden from yourself, is to distract you from recognizing where the real problem lies — the choice to see yourself as separate from love. Yet this is the decision that leads all of us to believe that we need to seek for satisfaction outside ourselves, in stolen moments of pleasure which the ego seduces us into seeing as more pleasurable simply because they are stolen. And that foolish reasoning lies at the foundation of the ego’s thought system, predicated as it is on the belief that the scraps of “love” we could steal from God are better that the complete and total Love He offers us freely (T.1.V.3:3).
You mention trying not to make your infidelities into a big deal, but the problem is, in your own mind, they already are. And the goal is not to be able to continue to engage in hurtful activities without making a big deal of them, but rather to come to a recognition that they are not really the problem and that to continue to feel guilty about the external actions guarantees that you’ll never address the underlying, inner problem and see it differently. It is true that, as egos, we are all selfish and concerned about meeting our own needs at everyone else’s expense. This is simply the nature of the ego thought system. But despite the selfishness that is at its roots, what Jesus is asking us to recognize is that it’s not a sin, it’s not evil. It may be foolish and hurtful and unkind, both to ourselves and to others in our life. But it is not a sin. It is our belief that it is sin rather than merely a mistake that keeps us caught in the repetition of any self-destructive pattern. Without the guilt we impose on our decisions, but rather with a thoughtful, nonjudgmental examination of what we’ve been choosing, seeing it only as error and not as sin, we will find it easier to make the choice for a different Teacher within our mind (T.19.III.1,2,3). And the most helpful and kind behavior will naturally follow.
You may find the discussion of compulsive sexual behavior in Question #598 and sexual fidelity in Question #417 of help as well.