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.
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.
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).