ACIM Text Reading for June 11
Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream
IX. The Two Worlds
You have been told to bring the darkness to the light, and guilt to holiness. And you have also been told that error must be corrected at its source. Therefore, it is the tiny part of yourself, the little thought that seems split off and separate, the Holy Spirit needs. The rest is fully in God’s keeping, and needs no guide. Yet this wild and delusional thought needs help because, in its delusions, it thinks it is the Son of God, whole and omnipotent, sole ruler of the kingdom it set apart to tyrannize by madness into obedience and slavery. This is the little part you think you stole from Heaven. Give it back to Heaven. Heaven has not lost it, but you have lost sight of Heaven. Let the Holy Spirit remove it from the withered kingdom in which you set it off, surrounded by darkness, guarded by attack and reinforced by hate. Within its barricades is still a tiny segment of the Son of God, complete and holy, serene and unaware of what you think surrounds it.
Be you not separate, for the One Who does surround it has brought union to you, returning your little offering of darkness to the eternal light. How is this done? It is extremely simple, being based on what this little kingdom really is. The barren sands, the darkness and the lifelessness, are seen only through the body’s eyes. Its bleak sight is distorted, and the messages it transmits to you who made it to limit your awareness are little and limited, and so fragmented they are meaningless.
From the world of bodies, made by insanity, insane messages seem to be returned to the mind that made it. And these messages bear witness to this world, pronouncing it as true. For you sent forth these messengers to bring this back to you. Everything these messages relay to you is quite external. There are no messages that speak of what lies underneath, for it is not the body that could speak of this. Its eyes perceive it not; its senses remain quite unaware of it; its tongue cannot relay its messages. Yet God can bring you there, if you are willing to follow the Holy Spirit through seeming terror, trusting Him not to abandon you and leave you there. For it is not His purpose to frighten you, but only yours. You are severely tempted to abandon Him at the outside ring of fear, but He would lead you safely through and far beyond.
The circle of fear lies just below the level the body sees, and seems to be the whole foundation on which the world is based. Here are all the illusions, all the twisted thoughts, all the insane attacks, the fury, the vengeance and betrayal that were made to keep the guilt in place, so that the world could rise from it and keep it hidden. Its shadow rises to the surface, enough to hold its most external manifestations in darkness, and to bring despair and loneliness to it and keep it joyless. Yet its intensity is veiled by its heavy coverings, and kept apart from what was made to keep it hidden. The body cannot see this, for the body arose from this for its protection, which depends on keeping it not seen. The body’s eyes will never look on it. Yet they will see what it dictates.
The body will remain guilt’s messenger, and will act as it directs as long as you believe that guilt is real. For the reality of guilt is the illusion that seems to make it heavy and opaque, impenetrable, and a real foundation for the ego’s thought system. Its thinness and transparency are not apparent until you see the light behind it. And then you see it as a fragile veil before the light.
This heavy-seeming barrier, this artificial floor that looks like rock, is like a bank of low dark clouds that seem to be a solid wall before the sun. Its impenetrable appearance is wholly an illusion. It gives way softly to the mountain tops that rise above it, and has no power at all to hold back anyone willing to climb above it and see the sun. It is not strong enough to stop a button’s fall, nor hold a feather. Try but to touch it and it disappears; attempt to grasp it and your hands hold nothing.
Yet in this cloud bank it is easy to see a whole world rising. A solid mountain range, a lake, a city, all rise in your imagination, and from the clouds the messengers of your perception return to you, assuring you that it is there. Figures stand out and move about, actions seem real, and forms appear and shift from loveliness to the grotesque. And back and forth they go, as long as you would play the game of children’s make-believe. Yet however long you play it, and regardless of how much imagination you bring to it, you do not confuse it with the world below, nor seek to make it real.
So should it be with the dark clouds of guilt, no more impenetrable and no more substantial. You will not bruise yourself against them in traveling through. Let your Guide teach you their unsubstantial nature as he leads you past them, for beneath them is a world of light whereon they cast no shadows. Their shadows lie upon the world beyond them, still further from the light. Yet from them to the light their shadows cannot fall.
This world of light, this circle of brightness is the real world, where guilt meets with forgiveness. Here the world outside is seen anew, without the shadow of guilt upon it. Here is the new perception, where everything is bright and shining with innocence, washed in the waters of forgiveness, and cleansed of every evil thought you laid upon it. Here there is no attack upon the Son of God, and you are welcome. Here is your innocence, waiting to clothe you and protect you, and make you ready for the final step in the journey inward. Here are the dark and heavy garments of guilt laid by, and gently replaced by purity and love.
Yet even forgiveness is not the end. Forgiveness does make lovely, but it does not create. It is the source of healing, but it is the messenger of love and not its Source. Here you are led, that God Himself can take the final step unhindered, for here does nothing interfere with love, letting it be itself. A step beyond this holy place, a step still further inward but the one you cannot take, transports you to something completely different. Here is the Source of light; nothing perceived, forgiven nor transformed. But merely known.
This course will lead to knowledge, but knowledge itself is still beyond the scope of our curriculum. Nor is there any need for us to try to speak of what must forever lie beyond words. We need remember only that whoever attains the real world, beyond which learning cannot go, will go beyond it, but in a different way. Where learning ends there God begins, for learning ends before Him Who is complete where He begins, and where there is no end. It is not for us to dwell on what cannot be attained. There is too much to learn. The readiness for knowledge still must be attained.
Love is not learned. Its meaning lies within itself. And learning ends when you have recognized all it is not. That is the interference; that is what needs to be undone. Love is not learned, because there never was a time in which you knew it not. Learning is useless in the Presence of your Creator, Whose acknowledgment of you and yours of Him so far transcend all learning that everything you learned is meaningless, replaced forever by the knowledge of love and its one meaning.
Your relationship with your brother has been uprooted from the world of shadows, and its unholy purpose has been safely brought through the barriers of guilt, washed with forgiveness, and set shining and firmly rooted in the world of light. From there it calls to you to follow the course it took, lifted high above the darkness and gently placed before the gates of Heaven. The holy instant in which you were united is but the messenger of love, sent from beyond forgiveness to remind you of all that lies beyond it. Yet it is through forgiveness that it will be remembered.
And when the memory of God has come to you in the holy place of forgiveness you will remember nothing else, and memory will be as useless as learning, for your only purpose will be creating. Yet this you cannot know until every perception has been cleansed and purified, and finally removed forever. Forgiveness removes only the untrue, lifting the shadows from the world and carrying it, safe and sure within its gentleness, to the bright world of new and clean perception. There is your purpose now. And it is there that peace awaits you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 11
Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.
Today we practice differently, and take a stand against our anger, that our fears may disappear and offer room to love. Here is salvation in the simple words in which we practice with today’s idea. Here is the answer to temptation which can never fail to welcome in the Christ where fear and anger had prevailed before. Here is Atonement made complete, the world passed safely by and Heaven now restored. Here is the answer of the Voice for God.
Complete abstraction is the natural condition of the mind. But part of it is now unnatural. It does not look on everything as one. It sees instead but fragments of the whole, for only thus could it invent the partial world you see. The purpose of all seeing is to show you what you wish to see. All hearing but brings to your mind the sounds it wants to hear.
Thus were specifics made. And now it is specifics we must use in practicing. We give them to the Holy Spirit, that He may employ them for a purpose which is different from the one we gave to them. Yet He can use but what we made, to teach us from a different point of view, so we can see a different use in everything.
One brother is all brothers. Every mind contains all minds, for every mind is one. Such is the truth. Yet do these thoughts make clear the meaning of creation? Do these words bring perfect clarity with them to you? What can they seem to be but empty sounds; pretty, perhaps, correct in sentiment, yet fundamentally not understood nor understandable. The mind that taught itself to think specifically can no longer grasp abstraction in the sense that it is all-encompassing. We need to see a little, that we learn a lot.
It seems to be the body that we feel limits our freedom, makes us suffer, and at last puts out our life. Yet bodies are but symbols for a concrete form of fear. Fear without symbols calls for no response, for symbols can stand for the meaningless. Love needs no symbols, being true. But fear attaches to specifics, being false.
Bodies attack, but minds do not. This thought is surely reminiscent of our text, where it is often emphasized. This is the reason bodies easily become fear’s symbols. You have many times been urged to look beyond the body, for its sight presents the symbol of love’s “enemy” Christ’s vision does not see. The body is the target for attack, for no one thinks he hates a mind. Yet what but mind directs the body to attack? What else could be the seat of fear except what thinks of fear?
Hate is specific. There must be a thing to be attacked. An enemy must be perceived in such a form he can be touched and seen and heard, and ultimately killed. When hatred rests upon a thing, it calls for death as surely as God’s Voice proclaims there is no death. Fear is insatiable, consuming everything its eyes behold, seeing itself in everything, compelled to turn upon itself and to destroy.
Who sees a brother as a body sees him as fear’s symbol. And he will attack, because what he beholds is his own fear external to himself, poised to attack, and howling to unite with him again. Mistake not the intensity of rage projected fear must spawn. It shrieks in wrath, and claws the air in frantic hope it can reach to its maker and devour him.
This do the body’s eyes behold in one whom Heaven cherishes, the angels love and God created perfect. This is his reality. And in Christ’s vision is his loveliness reflected in a form so holy and so beautiful that you could scarce refrain from kneeling at his feet. Yet you will take his hand instead, for you are like him in the sight that sees him thus. Attack on him is enemy to you, for you will not perceive that in his hands is your salvation. Ask him but for this, and he will give it to you. Ask him not to symbolize your fear. Would you request that love destroy itself? Or would you have it be revealed to you and set you free?
Today we practice in a form we have attempted earlier. Your readiness is closer now, and you will come today nearer Christ’s vision. If you are intent on reaching it, you will succeed today. And once you have succeeded, you will not be willing to accept the witnesses your body’s eyes call forth. What you will see will sing to you of ancient melodies you will remember. You are not forgot in Heaven. Would you not remember it?
Select one brother, symbol of the rest, and ask salvation of him. See him first as clearly as you can, in that same form to which you are accustomed. See his face, his hands and feet, his clothing. Watch him smile, and see familiar gestures which he makes so frequently. Then think of this: What you are seeing now conceals from you the sight of one who can forgive you all your sins; whose sacred hands can take away the nails which pierce your own, and lift the crown of thorns which you have placed upon your bleeding head. Ask this of him, that he may set you free:
Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.
I would behold you with the eyes of Christ,
and see my perfect sinlessness in you.
And He will answer Whom you called upon. For He will hear the Voice for God in you, and answer in your own. Behold him now, whom you have seen as merely flesh and bone, and recognize that Christ has come to you. Today’s idea is your safe escape from anger and from fear. Be sure you use it instantly, should you be tempted to attack a brother and perceive in him the symbol of your fear. And you will see him suddenly transformed from enemy to savior; from the devil into Christ.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #711: Recently I had lunch with a friend and found that after we had talked about issues that were bothering us (which led to talking about other people we knew) I began to feel very sick. I knew we had begun gossiping and I just felt ill. If I have harmed someone by gossiping how do I make up for it? When I was growing up I had a cousin I adored, but she apparently didn’t adore me or so the gossip in the family went. In recent years I have tried very hard to heal with her, and a couple of months ago I went to visit her for 10 days but before I went to her home I said some things to another relative. I now have the feeling that she has been told what I said (or a modified version of it) and I can tell you she might be very hurt by it. Could you address the issue of gossiping and would stopping gossiping be my way of forgiving myself, or what do I have to do to make up for this. I am very serious about seeing this differently.
A: A Course in Miracles teaches that the only thing that can have any seeming effect on anyone is a choice made in the mind to identify with the ego/body. That is the only “harmful” thing that anyone can do to themselves. In the light of this teaching, it is impossible for anyone to do harm to someone else. Although it may seem that someone’s hurtful behavior is the cause of another person’s upset, the Course tells us the true source of any feeling is a choice in the mind. Finding yourself feeling sick after gossiping about others is the result of a choice in the mind to identify with the ego, which is a choice for separation. It is this that elicits profound feelings of guilt, which are then experienced in the world in a situation such as the one you describe. There seems to be an association related to the behavior of gossiping, but in fact the sickness is an expression in form of the guilt in the mind. It is the content of the mind that is the focus of the Course. What we are asked to see differently is this distinction between the seeming cause of feelings in a situation in form, and the real cause which is the content of the mind. This is a very important distinction to keep in mind as we train our minds to become aware of the judgments and attack thoughts that we experience in our relationships. This applies equally to your experience as a child, as to the recent incident of gossiping with your friend.
The Course does not teach anything about changing behavior or the need to make amends. We are asked only to look at our judgments, recognizing in them the choice to be separate from others, which reflects the choice to be separate from God. When you find yourself gossiping, you may stop to remember it is coming from a mistaken choice in your mind to identify with the ego by choosing separation. This places the origin of the situation in the right place (your mind), rather than on your behavior (the effect) or the behavior of those you are judging, and this is the beginning of the forgiveness process. We “forgive the Son of God [anyone] for what he did not do” (T.17.III.1:5) by recognizing that the true cause of sickness/gossiping is the mind’s choice for separation, without blaming past events or others. This would be the Course’s version of “making up.” It is also the only way to heal the real sickness that resides in the split mind that has chosen separation. All that is required is willingness to release our judgments. Even being willing to see how we want to hold on to them is a step in the right direction, because at least we won’t be blaming others for our sickness, distress, or misery. The important thing is to be vigilant in looking for the thoughts and judgments that reveal the mind’s choice for separation. When the cause is returned to the mind, judgment can be given to the Holy Spirit to be transformed. Under His guidance, any behavior will then change accordingly, without any effort or control on our part. In this regard Jesus tells us in the text: “When you are willing to accept sole responsibility for the ego’s existence you will have laid aside all anger and all attack, because they come from an attempt to project responsibility for your own errors. But having accepted the errors as yours, do not keep them. Give them over quickly to the Holy Spirit to be undone completely, so that all their effects will vanish from your mind and from the Sonship as a whole” (T.7.VIII.5:4,5,6). Thus, projection is replaced with the recognition that the mind is the true cause of all feelings, behavior, and judgment and ultimately the need to gossip “will vanish from your mind.”