ACIM Text Reading for May 25
Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship
I. Bringing Fantasy to Truth
The betrayal of the Son of God lies only in illusions, and all his “sins” are but his own imagining. His reality is forever sinless. He need not be forgiven but awakened. In his dreams he has betrayed himself, his brothers and his God. Yet what is done in dreams has not been really done. It is impossible to convince the dreamer that this is so, for dreams are what they are because of their illusion of reality. Only in waking is the full release from them, for only then does it become perfectly apparent that they had no effect upon reality at all, and did not change it. Fantasies change reality. That is their purpose. They cannot do so in reality, but they can do so in the mind that would have reality be different.
It is, then, only your wish to change reality that is fearful, because by your wish you think you have accomplished what you wish. This strange position, in a sense, acknowledges your power. Yet by distorting it and devoting it to “evil,” it also makes it unreal. You cannot be faithful to two masters who ask conflicting things of you. What you use in fantasy you deny to truth. Yet what you give to truth to use for you is safe from fantasy.
When you maintain that there must be an order of difficulty in miracles, all you mean is that there are some things you would withhold from truth. You believe truth cannot deal with them only because you would keep them from truth. Very simply, your lack of faith in the power that heals all pain arises from your wish to retain some aspects of reality for fantasy. If you but realized what this must do to your appreciation of the whole! What you reserve for yourself, you take away from Him Who would release you. Unless you give it back, it is inevitable that your perspective on reality be warped and uncorrected.
As long as you would have it so, so long will the illusion of an order of difficulty in miracles remain with you. For you have established this order in reality by giving some of it to one teacher, and some to another. And so you learn to deal with part of the truth in one way, and in another way the other part. To fragment truth is to destroy it by rendering it meaningless. Orders of reality is a perspective without understanding; a frame of reference for reality to which it cannot really be compared at all.
Think you that you can bring truth to fantasy, and learn what truth means from the perspective of illusions? Truth has no meaning in illusion. The frame of reference for its meaning must be itself. When you try to bring truth to illusions, you are trying to make illusions real, and keep them by justifying your belief in them. But to give illusions to truth is to enable truth to teach that the illusions are unreal, and thus enable you to escape from them. Reserve not one idea aside from truth, or you establish orders of reality that must imprison you. There is no order in reality, because everything there is true.
Be willing, then, to give all you have held outside the truth to Him Who knows the truth, and in Whom all is brought to truth. Be not concerned with anything except your willingness to have this be accomplished. He will accomplish it; not you. But forget not this: When you become disturbed and lose your peace of mind because another is attempting to solve his problems through fantasy, you are refusing to forgive yourself for just this same attempt. And you are holding both of you away from truth and from salvation. As you forgive him, you restore to truth what was denied by both of you. And you will see forgiveness where you have given it.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 25
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.
(127) There is no love but God’s.
(128) The world I see holds nothing that I want.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #925: I have to watch every little thing I eat or else I gain weight. Meanwhile, I have friends who can eat whatever they want and not gain an ounce. I believe that they were blessed with a faster metabolism than I have. But according to the Course, could I have chosen my slow metabolism as a projection of my unconscious guilt?
A: According to A Course in Miracles, our entire physical existence is a dream we are having in order to escape the guilt producing (though erroneous) thought that we killed God, destroyed His Love, and deserve to be punished. Therefore, everything about our selves and the world in which we seem to live is a cover for the guilt in our mind. Just as our nighttime dreams are filled with symbols of our unconscious thoughts, our lives are nothing more than a collection of symbols reflecting that one guilty thought that compelled us to fall asleep and make up this world.
The Course informs us that in reality, we are still at home in Heaven and that our natural state is as a “Oneness joined as One” (T.25.1.7;1) . Elsewhere, the Course tells us that in truth, “nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.132.12;4) .
But we cannot even begin to fathom the idea of oneness because every aspect of this world seems to attest to the reality of separation. And there is no greater symbol of separation (and thus our guilt) than the body. In the Course, Jesus refers to bodies as “instruments of separation” (T.18.VI.5;1) and tells us that “Minds are joined; bodies are not” (T.18.VI.3;1). In other words, our continued existence as individuals separate from God (the ego’s one and only goal) hinges upon our being bodies not minds.
The ego’s greatest fear is that we will remember we have a mind that is capable of changing internal teachers — a realization that could turn us away from the ego and toward the Holy Spirit. To ensure that never happens, the ego needs us to not only believe we are bodies but to keep us constantly focused on them. And what could be better at keeping us focused on the body than a body that has endless needs and problems?
So, to answer your question, yes, we possess our physical and psychological traits because we listened to the ego and chose them. And we only did such a silly thing because we were compelled to do so by guilt. With very few exceptions, no one would choose to have physical or psychological traits at all (rather than stay at home in Heaven) if he were not “made mad by guilt” (T.13.in.2;2) .
That means all our problems really only serve one purpose; to keep us distracted so we can never return to the Love of God that is still in our mind. And, fortunately, that means that what we think of as our problems really are not our problems at all. In fact, our only problem is that we are too busy making a big deal about nothing to look at the guilt in our mind and discover it is all made up.
But because what is really nothing — our lives, our bodies, and our problems — seems to us like everything, we cannot just move beyond these symbols. So, we have to give them a different purpose. And that means asking the Holy Spirit to reinterpret them for us. He will turn them into classrooms for rediscovering the power of our mind to choose differently. While we cannot know why our bodies are the way they are, with His help we will see that we can be at peace regardless of our bodily state (Lesson 34) .
Guided by the love and compassion of the Holy Spirit, we will at long last know that we are responsible for the lives we have scripted and also be able to forgive ourselves for them. And with the peace of Heaven as our goal and a Teacher to help us get there, we may even stop pining for a faster metabolism.
For an in depth discussion about weight and food issues from the Course’s perspective, please see the book or listen to the audio tape Overeating: A Dialogue by Kenneth Wapnick .
Q #926: As a Catholic and a student of A Course in Miracles , how do I pray now?
A: Whether as a student of the Course or a Catholic, true prayer is always what the Course refers to as the prayer of the heart. This means it is the content that matters, not the form. Any form can serve as an expression of the mind’s willingness to hear the Holy Spirit’s “still small voice” that is “… not drowned out by all the ego’s raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear It (T.21.V.1:6). It may be very helpful for you to use Catholic forms of prayer that are familiar to you, to remember that the Holy Spirit holds the memory of God in your mind and that the ego’s voice is not the only option. The content is the willingness to keep this in mind and choose the Holy Spirit, regardless of what form the prayer takes.
In the Course, prayer is understood as an expression of the mind’s choice between the ego or the Holy Spirit. In the manual, Jesus refers to this choice as the “prayer of the heart” (M.21) . The prayer/choice is always answered because the mind has the power to make its choice “real” in its experience. Thus, the mind gets what it wants. It has chosen and received separation, and until another choice is made it is compelled to seek outside itself for relief from the pain of having decided to be separate from its Source. It then “prays” to a magical god to be saved from the hell of its own making. Yet, there is no real relief in the ego’s plan, because nothing outside the mind has any effect on it. It is impossible for the mind to receive what it has chosen against. As Jesus tells us in the text: “ It is impossible that the prayer of the heart remain unanswered in the perception of the one who asks. If he asks for the impossible [separation] , if he wants what does not exist [the world] or seeks for illusions in his heart, all this becomes his own. The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven (M.21.3:3,4,5,6). Thus, the answer to the mind’s prayer/decision in favor of the ego is hell (the misery of this world), while the prayer/decision for the Holy Spirit leads to Heaven (peace in the dream).
Praying as a student of the Course means paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and judgments in relationships that reflect the choice the mind has made. The choice otherwise remains hidden behind layers of denial and projection. Willingness to recognize the mind’s projection instead of blaming others for how you are feeling is the first step in forgiveness, which is the prayer we are taught in the Course : “…the only meaningful prayer is for forgiveness, because those who have been forgiven have everything. Once forgiveness has been accepted, prayer in the usual sense becomes utterly meaningless” (T.3.V.6:3,4). Thus, the form of prayer, as it is understood in the Course, is distinct from the form of Catholic prayer in that it is addressed to oneself, for oneself, in forgiveness of oneself for having taken the “tiny mad idea” (T.27.VIII.6) of separation seriously. It is remembering in every situation and relationship that everything is a reflection of the mind’s choice, and nothing else . To pray always means to be mindful always, thus fulfilling the Christian injunction. The goal of this mindfulness/prayer is to learn to not choose separation: “The sleeping Son of God has but this power [of decision] left to him. It is enough. His words do not matter” (M.21.3:7,8,9). No rituals, words, sacraments, or celebrations are required for the simple practice of forgiveness. However, if they serve as reminders to apply it to your relationships and daily experiences, they can indeed be helpful. The goal of returning home to the Father we never left can be reached by many paths.
(See also: Questions # 23, #104, #437, #505, #563, #597, and #645.)