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 And so your whole investment in seeing it would be withdrawn from it.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
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.