ACIM Text Reading for May 24
Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions
VII. The End of Illusions
It is impossible to let the past go without relinquishing the special relationship. For the special relationship is an attempt to re-enact the past and change it. Imagined slights, remembered pain, past disappointments, perceived injustices and deprivations all enter into the special relationship, which becomes a way in which you seek to restore your wounded self-esteem. What basis would you have for choosing a special partner without the past? Every such choice is made because of something “evil” in the past to which you cling, and for which must someone else atone.
The special relationship takes vengeance on the past. By seeking to remove suffering in the past, it overlooks the present in its preoccupation with the past and its total commitment to it. No special relationship is experienced in the present. Shades of the past envelop it, and make it what it is. It has no meaning in the present, and if it means nothing now, it cannot have any real meaning at all. How can you change the past except in fantasy? And who can give you what you think the past deprived you of? The past is nothing. Do not seek to lay the blame for deprivation on it, for the past is gone. You cannot really not let go what has already gone. It must be, therefore, that you are maintaining the illusion that it has not gone because you think it serves some purpose that you want fulfilled. And it must also be that this purpose could not be fulfilled in the present, but only in the past.
Do not underestimate the intensity of the ego’s drive for vengeance on the past. It is completely savage and completely insane. For the ego remembers everything you have done that has offended it, and seeks retribution of you. The fantasies it brings to its chosen relationships in which to act out its hate are fantasies of your destruction. For the ego holds the past against you, and in your escape from the past it sees itself deprived of the vengeance it believes you so justly merit. Yet without your alliance in your own destruction, the ego could not hold you to the past. In the special relationship you are allowing your destruction to be. That this is insane is obvious. But what is less obvious is that the present is useless to you while you pursue the ego’s goal as its ally.
The past is gone; seek not to preserve it in the special relationship that binds you to it, and would teach you salvation is past and so you must return to the past to find salvation. There is no fantasy that does not contain the dream of retribution for the past. Would you act out the dream, or let it go?
In the special relationship it does not seem to be an acting out of vengeance that you seek. And even when the hatred and the savagery break briefly through, the illusion of love is not profoundly shaken. Yet the one thing the ego never allows to reach awareness is that the special relationship is the acting out of vengeance on yourself. Yet what else could it be? In seeking the special relationship, you look not for glory in yourself. You have denied that it is there, and the relationship becomes your substitute for it. And vengeance becomes your substitute for Atonement, and the escape from vengeance becomes your loss.
Against the ego’s insane notion of salvation the Holy Spirit gently lays the holy instant. We said before that the Holy Spirit must teach through comparisons, and uses opposites to point to truth. The holy instant is the opposite of the ego’s fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past. In the holy instant it is understood that the past is gone, and with its passing the drive for vengeance has been uprooted and has disappeared. The stillness and the peace of now enfold you in perfect gentleness. Everything is gone except the truth.
For a time you may attempt to bring illusions into the holy instant, to hinder your full awareness of the complete difference, in all respects, between your experience of truth and illusion. Yet you will not attempt this long. In the holy instant the power of the Holy Spirit will prevail, because you joined Him. The illusions you bring with you will weaken the experience of Him for a while, and will prevent you from keeping the experience in your mind. Yet the holy instant is eternal, and your illusions of time will not prevent the timeless from being what it is, nor you from experiencing it as it is.
What God has given you is truly given, and will be truly received. For God’s gifts have no reality apart from your receiving them. Your receiving completes His giving. You will receive because it is His Will to give. He gave the holy instant to be given you, and it is impossible that you receive it not because He gave it. When He willed that His Son be free, His Son was free. In the holy instant is His reminder that His Son will always be exactly as he was created. And everything the Holy Spirit teaches is to remind you that you have received what God has given you.
There is nothing you can hold against reality. All that must be forgiven are the illusions you have held against your brothers. Their reality has no past, and only illusions can be forgiven. God holds nothing against anyone, for He is incapable of illusions of any kind. Release your brothers from the slavery of their illusions by forgiving them for the illusions you perceive in them. Thus will you learn that you have been forgiven, for it is you who offered them illusions. In the holy instant this is done for you in time, to bring you the true condition of Heaven.
Remember that you always choose between truth and illusion; between the real Atonement that would heal and the ego’s “atonement” that would destroy. The power of God and all His Love, without limit, will support you as you seek only your place in the plan of Atonement arising from His Love. Be an ally of God and not the ego in seeking how Atonement can come to you. His help suffices, for His Messenger understands how to restore the Kingdom to you, and to place all your investment in salvation in your relationship with Him.
Seek and find His message in the holy instant, where all illusions are forgiven. From there the miracle extends to bless everyone and to resolve all problems, be they perceived as great or small, possible or impossible. There is nothing that will not give place to Him and to His Majesty. To join in close relationship with Him is to accept relationships as real, and through their reality to give over all illusions for the reality of your relationship with God. Praise be to your relationship with Him and to no other. The truth lies there and nowhere else. You choose this or nothing.
Forgive us our illusions, Father, and help us to accept our true relationship with You, in which there are no illusions, and where none can ever enter. Our holiness is Yours. What can there be in us that needs forgiveness when Yours is perfect? The sleep of forgetfulness is only the unwillingness to remember Your forgiveness and Your Love. Let us not wander into temptation, for the temptation of the Son of God is not Your Will. And let us receive only what You have given, and accept but this into the minds which You created and which You love. Amen.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 24
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.
(125) In quiet I receive God’s Word today.
(126) All that I give is given to myself.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #917: The Course’s separation myth emphasizes the making of the world as a defense mechanism against the guilt and fear that God would take away the separate existence the Son desired (and the result is billions of fragments). I don’t see how this relates to what I think is the most basic fear: the fear of death. And I wonder why this separateness didn’t produce individuals that could last forever.
A: From our perspective as separate bodies in the world, it does seem that the fear of death is one of our most basic fears. And yet, from Jesus’ perspective, our problem is not our fear of death but our attraction to it, as discussed in great detail in the third obstacle to peace (T.19.IV.C) . For the belief in death is the cornerstone of the ego’s thought system — our seeming separate life came at God’s expense, requiring His death, the destruction of Oneness, according to the ego myth. And the belief that God eventually is going to steal back the life we stole from Him, culminating in our death and the end of our individual existence, is simply further proof that the separation is real, a sin punishable by God.
The irony of all of the ego’s defenses, including the fragmenting of the mind and the seeming projection of those fragments out into a world of form, is that none of them works, in terms of the purpose the ego has promised us they will serve. While we remain identified with the ego, nothing can make us safe, nothing can protect us from God’s wrath, except temporarily, for in the end death is inevitable, and it is this we believe we fear.
But what the ego defenses in fact do accomplish, which we do not allow ourselves to see or accept, is to keep our focus outside ourselves, on the world and the body and death, so that we do not see that we have made up the entire situation, from the beginning to the end in death, and none of it is true. Bodies may seem to die, but we are mind, created eternal by God, and the death of the body has nothing to do with us, unless we want to believe that it does. And we only want to believe that it does if we want the thought of separation and death to be real and we want to remain identified with the ego — which we do! And so that is why Jesus speaks of our attraction to death, conveniently hidden by our apparent fear of death.
Nearly all of our conscious thinking is upside down and backwards, and our conclusions seem quite justifiable because they seem to be all that we know. And so Jesus, through A Course in Miracles , is attempting very gently to peel back the layers of defense that we have embraced to keep our real attraction to death out of our awareness, so that we can see what we really believe and are choosing. As it becomes clearer to us that we are really choosing to believe in death, Jesus knows that we will be willing to make a different choice — for life, which has no opposite in death (W.pI.167.1) and has nothing to do with bodies.
Regarding your final question, while there are many different forms and stories that the ego could have produced, individuals who live forever is not among them. For the separation was made to be the opposite of God and Heaven, which alone are eternal, and so the ego can only attempt to mimic infinity and eternity ( e.g., T.4.I.11; T.4.V.6:1,2) . Even today’s scientists see its apparently most impressive accomplishment, the expanding universe of time and space, as eventually collapsing back upon itself.