ACIM Text Reading for June 12
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of the Peace
I. Healing and Faith
We said before that when a situation has been dedicated wholly to truth, peace is inevitable. Its attainment is the criterion by which the wholeness of the dedication can be safely assumed. Yet we also said that peace without faith will never be attained, for what is dedicated to truth as its only goal is brought to truth by faith. This faith encompasses everyone involved, for only thus the situation is perceived as meaningful and as a whole. And everyone must be involved in it, or else your faith is limited and your dedication incomplete.
Every situation, properly perceived, becomes an opportunity to heal the Son of God. And he is healed because you offered faith to him, giving him to the Holy Spirit and releasing him from every demand your ego would make of him. Thus do you see him free, and in this vision does the Holy Spirit share. And since He shares it He has given it, and so He heals through you. It is this joining Him in a united purpose that makes this purpose real, because you make it whole. And this is healing. The body is healed because you came without it, and joined the Mind in which all healing rests.
The body cannot heal, because it cannot make itself sick. It needs no healing. Its health or sickness depends entirely on how the mind perceives it, and the purpose that the mind would use it for. It is obvious that a segment of the mind can see itself as separated from the Universal Purpose. When this occurs the body becomes its weapon, used against this Purpose, to demonstrate the “fact” that separation has occurred. The body thus becomes the instrument of illusion, acting accordingly; seeing what is not there, hearing what truth has never said and behaving insanely, being imprisoned by insanity.
Do not overlook our earlier statement that faithlessness leads straight to illusions. For faithlessness is the perception of a brother as a body, and the body cannot be used for purposes of union. If, then, you see your brother as a body, you have established a condition in which uniting with him becomes impossible. Your faithlessness to him has separated you from him, and kept you both apart from being healed. Your faithlessness has thus opposed the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and brought illusions, centered on the body, to stand between you. And the body will seem to be sick, for you have made of it an “enemy” of healing and the opposite of truth.
It cannot be difficult to realize that faith must be the opposite of faithlessness. Yet the difference in how they operate is less apparent, though it follows directly from the fundamental difference in what they are. Faithlessness would always limit and attack; faith would remove all limitations and make whole. Faithlessness would interpose illusions between the Son of God and his Creator; faith would remove all obstacles that seem to rise between them. Faithlessness is wholly dedicated to illusions; faith wholly to truth. Partial dedication is impossible. Truth is the absence of illusion; illusion the absence of truth. Both cannot be together, nor perceived in the same place. To dedicate yourself to both is to set up a goal forever impossible to attain, for part of it is sought through the body, thought of as a means for seeking out reality through attack. The other part would heal, and therefore calls upon the mind and not the body.
The inevitable compromise is the belief that the body must be healed, and not the mind. For this divided goal has given both an equal reality, which could be possible only if the mind is limited to the body and divided into little parts of seeming wholeness, but without connection. This will not harm the body, but it will keep the delusional thought system in the mind. Here, then, is healing needed. And it is here that healing is. For God gave healing not apart from sickness, nor established remedy where sickness cannot be. They are together, and when they are seen together, all attempts to keep both truth and illusion in the mind, where both must be, are recognized as dedication to illusion; and given up when brought to truth, and seen as totally irreconcilable with truth, in any respect or in any way.
Truth and illusion have no connection. This will remain forever true, however much you seek to connect them. But illusions are always connected, as is truth. Each is united, a complete thought system, but totally disconnected to each other. And to perceive this is to recognize where separation is, and where it must be healed. The result of an idea is never separate from its source. The idea of separation produced the body and remains connected to it, making it sick because of the mind’s identification with it. You think you are protecting the body by hiding this connection, for this concealment seems to keep your identification safe from the “attack” of truth.
If you but understood how much this strange concealment has hurt your mind, and how confused your own identification has become because of it! You do not see how great the devastation wrought by your faithlessness, for faithlessness is an attack that seems to be justified by its results. For by withholding faith you see what is unworthy of it, and cannot look beyond the barrier to what is joined with you.
To have faith is to heal. It is the sign that you have accepted the Atonement for yourself, and would therefore share it. By faith, you offer the gift of freedom from the past, which you received. You do not use anything your brother has done before to condemn him now. You freely choose to overlook his errors, looking past all barriers between yourself and him, and seeing them as one. And in that one you see your faith is fully justified. There is no justification for faithlessness, but faith is always justified.
Faith is the opposite of fear, as much a part of love as fear is of attack. Faith is the acknowledgment of union. It is the gracious acknowledgment of everyone as a Son of your most loving Father, loved by Him like you, and therefore loved by you as yourself. It is His Love that joins you, and for His Love you would keep no one separate from yours. Each one appears just as he is perceived in the holy instant, united in your purpose to be released from guilt. You see the Christ in him, and he is healed because you look on what makes faith forever justified in everyone.
Faith is the gift of God, through Him Whom God has given you. Faithlessness looks upon the Son of God, and judges him unworthy of forgiveness. But through the eyes of faith, the Son of God is seen already forgiven, free of all the guilt he laid upon himself. Faith sees him only now because it looks not to the past to judge him, but would see in him only what it would see in you. It sees not through the body’s eyes, nor looks to bodies for its justification. It is the messenger of the new perception, sent forth to gather witnesses unto its coming, and to return their messages to you.
Faith is as easily exchanged for knowledge as is the real world. For faith arises from the Holy Spirit’s perception, and is the sign you share it with Him. Faith is a gift you offer to the Son of God through Him, and wholly acceptable to his Father as to Him. And therefore offered you. Your holy relationship, with its new purpose, offers you faith to give unto your brother. Your faithlessness has driven you apart, and so you do not recognize salvation in each other. Yet faith unites you in the holiness you see, not through the body’s eyes, but in the sight of Him Who joined you, and in Whom you are united.
Grace is not given to a body, but to a mind. And the mind that receives it looks instantly beyond the body, and sees the holy place where it was healed. There is the altar where the grace was given, in which it stands. Do you, then, offer grace and blessing to your brother, for you stand at the same altar where grace was laid for both of you. And be you healed by grace together, that you may heal through faith.
In the holy instant, you stand before the altar God has raised unto Himself and both of you. Lay faithlessness aside, and come to it together. There will you see the miracle of your relationship as it was made again through faith. And there it is that you will realize that there is nothing faith cannot forgive. No error interferes with its calm sight, which brings the miracle with equal ease to all of them. For what the messengers of love are sent to do they do, returning the glad tidings that it was done to you who stand together before the altar from which they were sent forth.
As faithlessness will keep your little kingdoms barren and separate, so will faith help the Holy Spirit prepare the ground for the most holy garden that He would make of it. For faith brings peace, and so it calls on truth to enter and make lovely what has already been prepared for loveliness. Truth follows faith and peace, completing the process of making lovely that they begin. For faith is still a learning goal, no longer needed when the lesson has been learned. Yet truth will stay forever.
Let, then, your dedication be to the eternal, and learn how not to interfere with it and make it slave to time. For what you think you do to the eternal you do to you. Whom God created as His Son is slave to nothing, being lord of all, along with his Creator. You can enslave a body, but an idea is free, incapable of being kept in prison or limited in any way except by the mind that thought it. For it remains joined to its source, which is its jailer or its liberator, according to which it chooses as its purpose for itself.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 12
I am as God created me.
This single thought, held firmly in the mind, would save the world. From time to time we will repeat it, as we reach another stage in learning. It will mean far more to you as you advance. These words are sacred, for they are the words God gave in answer to the world you made. By them it disappears, and all things seen within its misty clouds and vaporous illusions vanish as these words are spoken. For they come from God.
Here is the Word by which the Son became his Father’s happiness, His Love and His completion. Here creation is proclaimed, and honored as it is. There is no dream these words will not dispel; no thought of sin and no illusion which the dream contains that will not fade away before their might. They are the trumpet of awakening that sounds around the world. The dead awake in answer to its call. And those who live and hear this sound will never look on death.
Holy indeed is he who makes these words his own; arising with them in his mind, recalling them throughout the day, at night bringing them with him as he goes to sleep. His dreams are happy and his rest secure, his safety certain and his body healed, because he sleeps and wakens with the truth before him always. He will save the world, because he gives the world what he receives each time he practices the words of truth.
Today we practice simply. For the words we use are mighty, and they need no thoughts beyond themselves to change the mind of him who uses them. So wholly is it changed that it is now the treasury in which God places all His gifts and all His Love, to be distributed to all the world, increased in giving; kept complete because its sharing is unlimited. And thus you learn to think with God. Christ’s vision has restored your sight by salvaging your mind.
We honor you today. Yours is the right to perfect holiness you now accept. With this acceptance is salvation brought to everyone, for who could cherish sin when holiness like this has blessed the world? Who could despair when perfect joy is yours, available to all as remedy for grief and misery, all sense of loss, and for complete escape from sin and guilt?
And who would not be brother to you now; you, his redeemer and his savior. Who could fail to welcome you into his heart with loving invitation, eager to unite with one like him in holiness? You are as God created you. These words dispel the night, and darkness is no more. The light is come today to bless the world. For you have recognized the Son of God, and in that recognition is the world’s.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #794: You often say the ego thought system is based on perceived separate interests, while the Holy Spirit’s thought system, in contrast, is characterized by our all sharing the same interest in undoing the dream of separation. Now it is surely the case that the social system that currently dominates the world expresses, and in turn reinforces, the dog-eat-dog mindset of the ego, thereby undermining any sense of shared interests, except when these are mobilized against some “external” threat.
Given the illusory nature of the world, it must of course follow that any and all social systems that man has devised are illusory as well. Even so, it does seem to me that some forms of social organization might be more conducive to the perception of shared interests – and that, conversely, the present world system is particularly well suited to the promotion of the fear, vulnerability and aggression on which the ego thrives. Or does any of this really matter in the end?
A: In the end, it does not really matter. But it is not simply because the world, and all the social systems within it, are illusory. For the value of everything in the world, while we still believe the world is real, depends only on what purpose it is given. Anything used for judgment and attack is valueless, for it being used to reinforce a meaningless thought system. Anything used for forgiveness and joining has the only real value anything in the world can hold.
Each of us always has the choice to see either separate or shared interests, regardless of what appears to be happening in the world around us. And as much as the ego may wish us to believe that form affects the content of the mind, which is what is behind your question, the world of form only ever reflects the collective content of the Son’s split mind. Any shift must first occur in the mind, whether we are conscious of that choice or not, and only then can it be reflected in the world of form. The purpose of A Course in Miracles is to help make that choice conscious. That is why Jesus tells us in the Course, “seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7).
It is in fact worth quoting the entire paragraph in which this admonition occurs: “The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. But though it is no more than that, it is not less. Therefore, to you it is important. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. Perception is a result and not a cause. And that is why order of difficulty in miracles is meaningless. Everything looked upon with vision is healed and holy. Nothing perceived without it means anything. And where there is no meaning, there is chaos” (T.21.in.1; italics added).
In other words, the only meaningful question is which teacher have we chosen to guide our perception. If we choose the wrong teacher, we can only see some form of specialness — either special love or special hate — around us. But if we choose the right Teacher, we will be guided to see in everything around us either an extension of love or a call for the love that we each believe we have thrown away (T.12.I.3:1,2,3,4). There are no other alternatives, which is what makes the Course so simple. Once we become concerned with form in the world, we are caught in the ego’s web of complexity, and the possibility of healing and release will seem daunting, if not hopeless.
It is even possible that when the forms of the world, such as specific social systems, appear to be encouraging what we may believe to be shared interests, they may in fact simply be reinforcing the very deceptive special love relationship that the ego holds out as its “most boasted gift” (T.16.V.3:1). For they may be simply covering over the ugliness of the ego’s thought system, keeping a lid on the guilt, but doing nothing about undoing it in the mind. The point is, we can never judge what is most helpful with any confidence based on form.
For example, was the politeness and civility of the first half or so of the 20th century, at least within the United States, which some folks speak so nostalgically about, really bringing the Sonship closer to awakening from the dream than the uncivility and overt attack that seems so pervasive in today’s world? We may have our opinions about what is more helpful, based on our perspective of ourselves as bodies in the world who want to feel safe and secure, but we are simply not in a position to judge. Perhaps yes, but just as likely, perhaps not.
Unfortunately, it does appear that fear and pain are the greatest motivators for asking for another way. And the ego is eager to foster the complacency that comes from having one’s life function smoothly and comfortably, with everyone “helping” everyone else. The point is not that we should value pain and attack, but that we want to be vigilant in every situation and circumstance for the choice we always have between the ego and the Holy Spirit. And that choice becomes clearer only as we become increasingly aware of our ego in all its subtle and not so subtle expressions.