ACIM Text Reading for May 15
Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant
IX. The Holy Instant and the Attraction of God
As the ego would limit your perception of your brothers to the body, so would the Holy Spirit release your vision and let you see the Great Rays shining from them, so unlimited that they reach to God. It is this shift to vision that is accomplished in the holy instant. Yet it is needful for you to learn just what this shift entails, so you will become willing to make it permanent. Given this willingness it will not leave you, for it is permanent. Once you have accepted it as the only perception you want, it is translated into knowledge by the part that God Himself plays in the Atonement, for it is the only step in it He understands. Therefore, in this there will be no delay when you are ready for it. God is ready now, but you are not.
Our task is but to continue, as fast as possible, the necessary process of looking straight at all the interference and seeing it exactly as it is. For it is impossible to recognise as wholly without gratification what you think you want. The body is the symbol of the ego, as the ego is the symbol of the separation. And both are nothing more than attempts to limit communication, and thereby to make it impossible. For communication must be unlimited in order to have meaning, and deprived of meaning, it will not satisfy you completely. Yet it remains the only means by which you can establish real relationships, which have no limits, having been established by God.
In the holy instant, where the Great Rays replace the body in awareness, the recognition of relationships without limits is given you. But in order to see this, it is necessary to give up every use the ego has for the body, and to accept the fact that the ego has no purpose you would share with it. For the ego would limit everyone to a body for its own purposes, and while you think it has a purpose, you will choose to utilise the means by which it tries to turn its purpose into accomplishment. This will never be accomplished. Yet you have surely recognised that the ego, whose goals are altogether unattainable, will strive for them with all its might, and will do so with the strength that you have given it.
It is impossible to divide your strength between Heaven and hell, God and the ego, and release your power to creation, which is the only purpose for which it was given you. Love would always give increase. Limits are demanded by the ego, and represent its demands to make little and ineffectual. Limit your sight of a brother to his body, which you will do as long as you would not release him from it, and you have denied his gift to you. His body cannot give it. And seek it not through yours. Yet your minds are already continuous, and their union need only be accepted and the loneliness in Heaven is gone.
If you would but let the Holy Spirit tell you of the Love of God for you, and the need your creations have to be with you forever, you would experience the attraction of the eternal. No one can hear Him speak of this and long remain willing to linger here. For it is your will to be in Heaven, where you are complete and quiet, in such sure and loving relationships that any limit is impossible. Would you not exchange your little relationships for this? For the body is little and limited, and only those whom you would see without the limits the ego would impose on them can offer you the gift of freedom.
You have no conception of the limits you have placed on your perception, and no idea of all the loveliness that you could see. But this you must remember; the attraction of guilt opposes the attraction of God. His attraction for you remains unlimited, but because your power, being His, is as great as His, you can turn away from love. What you invest in guilt you withdraw from God. And your sight grows weak and dim and limited, for you have attempted to separate the Father from the Son, and limit their communication. Seek not Atonement in further separation. And limit not your vision of God’s Son to what interferes with his release, and what the Holy Spirit must undo to set him free. For his belief in limits has imprisoned him.
When the body ceases to attract you, and when you place no value on it as a means of getting anything, then there will be no interference in communication and your thoughts will be as free as God’s. As you let the Holy Spirit teach you how to use the body only for purposes of communication, and renounce its use for separation and attack which the ego sees in it, you will learn you have no need of a body at all. In the holy instant there are no bodies, and you experience only the attraction of God. Accepting it as undivided you join Him wholly, in an instant, for you would place no limits on your union with Him. The reality of this relationship becomes the only truth that you could ever want. All truth is here.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 15
Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
Let us review the meaning of “forgive,” for it is apt to be distorted and to be perceived as something that entails an unfair sacrifice of righteous wrath, a gift unjustified and undeserved, and a complete denial of the truth. In such a view, forgiveness must be seen as mere eccentric folly, and this course appear to rest salvation on a whim.
This twisted view of what forgiveness means is easily corrected, when you can accept the fact that pardon is not asked for what is true. It must be limited to what is false. It is irrelevant to everything except illusions. Truth is God’s creation, and to pardon that is meaningless. All truth belongs to Him, reflects His laws and radiates His Love. Does this need pardon? How can you forgive the sinless and eternally benign?
The major difficulty that you find in genuine forgiveness on your part is that you still believe you must forgive the truth, and not illusions. You conceive of pardon as a vain attempt to look past what is there; to overlook the truth, in an unfounded effort to deceive yourself by making an illusion true. This twisted viewpoint but reflects the hold that the idea of sin retains as yet upon your mind, as you regard yourself.
Because you think your sins are real, you look on pardon as deception. For it is impossible to think of sin as true and not believe forgiveness is a lie. Thus is forgiveness really but a sin, like all the rest. It says the truth is false, and smiles on the corrupt as if they were as blameless as the grass; as white as snow. It is delusional in what it thinks it can accomplish. It would see as right the plainly wrong; the loathsome as the good.
Pardon is no escape in such a view. It merely is a further sign that sin is unforgivable, at best to be concealed, denied or called another name, for pardon is a treachery to truth. Guilt cannot be forgiven. If you sin, your guilt is everlasting. Those who are forgiven from the view their sins are real are pitifully mocked and twice condemned; first, by themselves for what they think they did, and once again by those who pardon them.
It is sin’s unreality that makes forgiveness natural and wholly sane, a deep relief to those who offer it; a quiet blessing where it is received. It does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. And there they disappear entirely.
Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. It sees their nothingness, and looks straight through the thousand forms in which they may appear. It looks on lies, but it is not deceived. It does not heed the self-accusing shrieks of sinners mad with guilt. It looks on them with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, “My brother, what you think is not the truth.”
The strength of pardon is its honesty, which is so uncorrupted that it sees illusions as illusions, not as truth. It is because of this that it becomes the undeceiver in the face of lies; the great restorer of the simple truth. By its ability to overlook what is not there, it opens up the way to truth, which has been blocked by dreams of guilt. Now are you free to follow in the way your true forgiveness opens up to you. For if one brother has received this gift of you, the door is open to yourself.
There is a very simple way to find the door to true forgiveness, and perceive it open wide in welcome. When you feel that you are tempted to accuse someone of sin in any form, do not allow your mind to dwell on what you think he did, for that is self-deception. Ask instead, “Would I accuse myself of doing this?”
Thus will you see alternatives for choice in terms that render choosing meaningful, and keep your mind as free of guilt and pain as God Himself intended it to be, and as it is in truth. It is but lies that would condemn. In truth is innocence the only thing there is. Forgiveness stands between illusions and the truth; between the world you see and that which lies beyond; between the hell of guilt and Heaven’s gate.
Across this bridge, as powerful as love which laid its blessing on it, are all dreams of evil and of hatred and attack brought silently to truth. They are not kept to swell and bluster, and to terrify the foolish dreamer who believes in them. He has been gently wakened from his dream by understanding what he thought he saw was never there. And now he cannot feel that all escape has been denied to him.
He does not have to fight to save himself. He does not have to kill the dragons which he thought pursued him. Nor need he erect the heavy walls of stone and iron doors he thought would make him safe. He can remove the ponderous and useless armor made to chain his mind to fear and misery. His step is light, and as he lifts his foot to stride ahead a star is left behind, to point the way to those who follow him.
Forgiveness must be practiced, for the world cannot perceive its meaning, nor provide a guide to teach you its beneficence. There is no thought in all the world that leads to any understanding of the laws it follows, nor the Thought that it reflects. It is as alien to the world as is your own reality. And yet it joins your mind with the reality in you.
Today we practice true forgiveness, that the time of joining be no more delayed. For we would meet with our reality in freedom and in peace. Our practicing becomes the footsteps lighting up the way for all our brothers, who will follow us to the reality we share with them. That this may be accomplished, let us give a quarter of an hour twice today, and spend it with the Guide Who understands the meaning of forgiveness, and was sent to us to teach it. Let us ask of Him:
Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
Then choose one brother as He will direct, and catalogue his “sins,” as one by one they cross your mind. Be certain not to dwell on any one of them, but realize that you are using his “offenses” but to save the world from all ideas of sin. Briefly consider all the evil things you thought of him, and each time ask yourself, “Would I condemn myself for doing this?”
Let him be freed from all the thoughts you had of sin in him. And now you are prepared for freedom. If you have been practicing thus far in willingness and honesty, you will begin to sense a lifting up, a lightening of weight across your chest, a deep and certain feeling of relief. The time remaining should be given to experiencing the escape from all the heavy chains you sought to lay upon your brother, but were laid upon yourself.
Forgiveness should be practiced through the day, for there will still be many times when you forget its meaning and attack yourself. When this occurs, allow your mind to see through this illusion as you tell yourself:
Let me perceive forgiveness as it is.
Would I accuse myself of doing this?
I will not lay this chain upon myself.
In everything you do remember this:
No one is crucified alone, and yet no one
can enter Heaven by himself.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #190: A two-part question regarding the ‘script’ of our lives:
i: If I choose my parents, nationality, sex, time I live in before I’m born, what contingencies are there in my life? Many or none? Is it all spelled out beforehand so all I’m choosing at each moment is crucifixion or resurrection? What, in other words, is not written beforehand?
ii: What role does the right mind have in choosing all of the above beforehand?
A: We set certain seemingly unchangeable parameters for each lifetime, including those you list above. But even some of these can shift as the mind chooses: one learns as an adult that he or she was adopted; someone opts for a sex change operation, etc. Part of the ego’s seductive allurement is that we do have choice at the level of form and this is the great distraction. For we believe the problem of our guilt over separation, which remains buried in our mind, can be resolved “by making some sort of insane ‘arrangement’ with the world” (T.12.III.6:5) — what A Course in Miracles calls magic (M.16.8,9,11). So the ego maintains the illusion of choice at the level of form, keeping hidden from us the fact that we are always choosing the same content: separation and guilt. And we never address the real underlying problem of the guilt in our mind.
Now it is true that the Course teaches that everything has already happened and that linear time is not real — everything is already written beforehand (W.pI.158.3,4). But that does not mean that everything in an individual lifetime is predetermined. The pool of possible events is predetermined, but we have a moment-by-moment choice about which relationships and events we will access and review (for a more extended discussion of this, see Question #37).
Despite all these options, the most helpful frame of reference we can adopt is to remember that, regardless of the possibilities on the level of form, the only real choice we are confronted with in each moment is the one between crucifixion and resurrection.
Since we always have a right mind while we still believe in the reality of separation, we have the option of turning to our right mind about any decision we are making, including how to approach a new relationship, a new career, or a new lifetime. The distinction between before and during a lifetime is really an arbitrary one that our ego mind wishes to reinforce, making the state of our mind seem somehow qualitatively different during this lifetime from the state of the mind when this lifetime is still only an option being considered. And so, as with every choice, we can make it with either the ego or the Holy Spirit as our teacher. And as most of us do, we may vacillate between the wrong mind and the right mind, sometimes making choices based on our desire for specialness and sometimes choosing in order to learn our lessons of forgiveness. This is true, from the perspective of illusory linear time, both before and during each lifetime Again, whether we are choosing the parameters for an upcoming lifetime or the parameters within a current lifetime, the options and the process in the mind remain the same.
Q #191: I would like to know your opinion on “special relationships.” Is every relationship in which there is love a special one? The relationship with your children for instance? Is it enough that only one in the relationship have knowledge about A Course in Miracles?
A: The Course tells us that every relationship, whether we define it as a love or hate relationship, is special. The ego uses every relationship to project guilt onto another for our decision to separate from God. Using the relationship for purposes of projection is an attack, which the Course calls hate. Every special relationship is therefore actually a hate relationship, camouflaged in some cases as “love.” The ego identifies every person as a body, and relates to each one as a body, which according to the Course is another form of attack on the Son of God, who is not a body. The projection of guilt and perception of body identity are fundamental characteristics of the special relationship. Although we may be unaware of them, these are the dynamics at work in every relationship. It is difficult to apply this concept to our relationships with our children because the world has glorified parenthood, and we use children and family relationships to express “love” as defined by the ego. The care, concern, and attention that is given to children is not love as the Course defines it; they are part of the dynamic the ego has set up as “pseudo love,” which is actually a substitute for God’s love. This substitution is another important characteristic of the special relationship. Anyone or anything that is used in an attempt to fill the void left by our seeming separation from God is what the Course calls special. Children fit the ego’s plan perfectly because they come into the world totally dependent on the care of others, having been given “life” by parents who will hopefully meet all their needs for growth and sustenance. Part of the parenthood dysfunction is the belief, on the part of parents, that children will meet their needs as well. This mutual dependency, in which each agrees to sacrifice in order to have their own needs met, is the “bargain” that the ego claims will keep everyone safe and “happy.” It sometimes seems to work, frequently it is beset with great pain and conflict, driven by intense feelings of guilt. The Course gives us a vivid description: “All special relationships have sin as their goal. For they are bargains with reality, toward which the seeming union is adjusted. Forget not this; to bargain is to set a limit, and any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate. You may attempt to keep the bargain in the name of “fairness,” sometimes demanding payment of yourself, perhaps more often of the other. Thus in the “fairness” you attempt to ease the guilt that comes from the accepted purpose of the relationship. And that is why the Holy Spirit must change its purpose to make it useful to Him and harmless to you” (T.21.III.1).
In this, as with everything the Course teaches, it is enough that only one person in the relationship be a student of the Course. The practice of the Course’s teaching requires only that the individual look carefully at all the thoughts of judgment in any relationship, and recognize the ego’s purpose at work in all of them. The purpose is always to make the separation real, and strengthen our belief that we can make a world of our own that will meet our needs better than God ever could. We do not do this for anyone but ourselves. When we recognize the ego’s ploys, and begin to realize that our pain is actually coming from our alliance with the ego’s thought system of separation, guilt, and attack, we have the opportunity to turn to the Holy Spirit, whose thought system reinterprets everything the ego has made, and ask for help. The help is not to change anyone else in the dream, but for ourselves to accept His purpose. Although this may not bring about any change in form in our relationships, the purpose will be transformed: “…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” (T.17.IV.2:3,4,5,6,7). Eventually, as this is practiced more and more the pain of special relationships will be replaced by the peace of the holy relationship.