ACIM Text Reading for June 13
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
II. Sin versus Error
It is essential that error be not confused with sin, and it is this distinction that makes salvation possible. For error can be corrected, and the wrong made right. But sin, were it possible, would be irreversible. The belief in sin is necessarily based on the firm conviction that minds, not bodies, can attack. And thus the mind is guilty, and will forever so remain unless a mind not part of it can give it absolution. Sin calls for punishment as error for correction, and the belief that punishment is correction is clearly insane.
Sin is not an error, for sin entails an arrogance which the idea of error lacks. To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and guilt is justified. It assumes the Son of God is guilty, and has thus succeeded in losing his innocence and making himself what God created not. Thus is creation seen as not eternal, and the Will of God open to opposition and defeat. Sin is the grand illusion underlying all the ego’s grandiosity. For by it God Himself is changed, and rendered incomplete.
The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannot sin. There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way, nor make him really guilty. That is what sin would do, for such is its purpose. Yet for all the wild insanity inherent in the whole idea of sin, it is impossible. For the wages of sin is death, and how can the immortal die?
A major tenet in the ego’s insane religion is that sin is not error but truth, and it is innocence that would deceive. Purity is seen as arrogance, and the acceptance of the self as sinful is perceived as holiness. And it is this doctrine that replaces the reality of the Son of God as his Father created him, and willed that he be forever. Is this humility? Or is it, rather, an attempt to wrest creation away from truth, and keep it separate?
Any attempt to reinterpret sin as error is always indefensible to the ego. The idea of sin is wholly sacrosanct to its thought system, and quite unapproachable except with reverence and awe. It is the most “holy” concept in the ego’s system; lovely and powerful, wholly true, and necessarily protected with every defense at its disposal. For here lies its “best” defense, which all the others serve. Here is its armor, its protection, and the fundamental purpose of the special relationship in its interpretation.
It can indeed be said the ego made its world on sin. Only in such a world could everything be upside down. This is the strange illusion that makes the clouds of guilt seem heavy and impenetrable. The solidness that this world’s foundation seems to have is found in this. For sin has changed creation from an Idea of God to an ideal the ego wants; a world it rules, made up of bodies, mindless and capable of complete corruption and decay. If this is a mistake, it can be undone easily by truth. Any mistake can be corrected, if truth be left to judge it. But if the mistake is given the status of truth, to what can it be brought? The “holiness” of sin is kept in place by just this strange device. As truth it is inviolate, and everything is brought to it for judgment. As a mistake, it must be brought to truth. It is impossible to have faith in sin, for sin is faithlessness. Yet it is possible to have faith that a mistake can be corrected.
There is no stone in all the ego’s embattled citadel that is more heavily defended than the idea that sin is real; the natural expression of what the Son of God has made himself to be, and what he is. To the ego, this is no mistake. For this is its reality; this is the “truth” from which escape will always be impossible. This is his past, his present and his future. For he has somehow managed to corrupt his Father, and change His Mind completely. Mourn, then, the death of God, Whom sin has killed! And this would be the ego’s wish, which in its madness it believes it has accomplished.
Would you not rather that all this be nothing more than a mistake, entirely correctable, and so easily escaped from that its whole correction is like walking through a mist into the sun? For that is all it is. Perhaps you would be tempted to agree with the ego that it is far better to be sinful than mistaken. Yet think you carefully before you allow yourself to make this choice. Approach it not lightly, for it is the choice of hell or Heaven.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 13
There is no death. The Son of God is free.
Death is a thought that takes on many forms, often unrecognized. It may appear as sadness, fear, anxiety or doubt; as anger, faithlessness and lack of trust; concern for bodies, envy, and all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you. All such thoughts are but reflections of the worshipping of death as savior and as giver of release.
Embodiment of fear, the host of sin, god of the guilty and the lord of all illusions and deceptions, does the thought of death seem mighty. For it seems to hold all living things within its withered hand; all hopes and wishes in its blighting grasp; all goals perceived but in its sightless eyes. The frail, the helpless and the sick bow down before its image, thinking it alone is real, inevitable, worthy of their trust. For it alone will surely come.
All things but death are seen to be unsure, too quickly lost however hard to gain, uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail the hopes they once engendered, and to leave the taste of dust and ashes in their wake, in place of aspirations and of dreams. But death is counted on. For it will come with certain footsteps when the time has come for its arrival. It will never fail to take all life as hostage to itself.
Would you bow down to idols such as this? Here is the strength and might of God Himself perceived within an idol made of dust. Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God’s Will for life, the endlessness of love and Heaven’s perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God.
Unholy in defeat, he has become what death would have him be. His epitaph, which death itself has written, gives no name to him, for he has passed to dust. It says but this: “Here lies a witness God is dead.” And this it writes again and still again, while all the while its worshippers agree, and kneeling down with foreheads to the ground, they whisper fearfully that it is so.
It is impossible to worship death in any form, and still select a few you would not cherish and would yet avoid, while still believing in the rest. For death is total. Either all things die, or else they live and cannot die. No compromise is possible. For here again we see an obvious position, which we must accept if we be sane; what contradicts one thought entirely can not be true, unless its opposite is proven false.
The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty in believing it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive. Their stronger will could triumph over His, and so eternal life gave way to death. And with the Father died the Son as well.
Death’s worshippers may be afraid. And yet, can thoughts like these be fearful? If they saw that it is only this which they believe, they would be instantly released. And you will show them this today. There is no death, and we renounce it now in every form, for their salvation and our own as well. God made not death. Whatever form it takes must therefore be illusion. This the stand we take today. And it is given us to look past death, and see the life beyond.
Our Father, bless our eyes today. We are Your messengers, and we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything. We live and move in You alone. We are not separate from Your eternal life. There is no death, for death is not Your Will. And we abide where You have placed us, in the life we share with You and with all living things, to be like You and part of You forever. We accept Your Thoughts as ours, and our will is one with Yours eternally. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #813: The idea of love’s symbols being attacked in our world really intrigues me and is something that I am trying to understand better and put into everyday practical language. Can you tell me if this assessment is correct? People are very competitive and enjoy finding people to compete against and feel better than. When loving people like Jesus or any of us coming from a loving space come along who teach unity and are not competitive with these people, these people feel threatened because they are seeing something that goes against everything they believe in. Are you saying that people’s egos are threatened by people who are not threatened by them or are they threatened by self-love? What does the ego see exactly about loving symbols that it wants to attack them? It seems perplexing to me that someone would feel threatened by someone who is being kind more than someone being competitive. Can you help me understand this?
A: Jesus answers your question in the following way: “An insane learner learns strange lessons. What you must recognize is that when you do not share a thought system, you are weakening it. Those who believe in it therefore perceive this as an attack on them. This is because everyone identifies himself with his thought system, and every thought system centers on what you believe you are . If the center of the thought system is true, only truth extends from it. But if a lie is at its center, only deception proceeds from it” (T.6.V.B.1:6,7,8,9,10,11; italics added ).
In other words, my false identity as a separate, individual self is threatened by you when you represent the thought that separation and differences are unreal, which is what is always behind any genuine, right-minded symbol of unity, love and forgiveness. Now, if I am willing to consider the possibility that our interests are shared rather than separate — the latter being at the root of all the ego’s competitiveness — then I may be able to accept at least a tentative inner shift of teachers from the ego to the Holy Spirit (not that I would necessarily represent such a shift to myself with such symbols). And in that moment I would be able to experience the love that is being offered through you without feeling threatened. However, when I do feel threatened, it is not you who are threatening, nor is it my self-love, unless by self-love you mean the boundless, unlimited, universal love that we all share. For that is the love that says that neither of us exists as a separate individual, and that again is what is so threatening.
However, even if I remain entrenched in my wrong mind and tightly defended against the love being reflected in your mind, going so far as to reject it and attack you in some way to “protect” myself, so long as you remain identified with the Holy Spirit in your right mind, you will not experience this reaction as an attack, but only as a call for love. If you experience it as attack, which would not be an unexpected reaction for most of us who are still learning our lessons of forgiveness because guilt is still real in our minds, you too would have become wrong-minded and your reaction would be your call for help as well. And so you would simply want to turn once again to your inner Teacher for help in seeing yourself differently before you could again become a reminder to me that the same choice is available to both of us.
It may be helpful to recognize that this ego dynamic of attacking love operates within our own mind, and we may direct it against ourselves after we have chosen to listen to the Holy Spirit and see ourselves as He does, rather than accept the ego’s puny judgment of ourselves. If we attack ourselves for identifying with the Holy Spirit, it can not be so surprising that others’ egos react in the same way. This self-attack is clearly described a little later in the text of A Course in Miracles , when Jesus observes: “You, then, have two conflicting evaluations of yourself in your mind, and they cannot both be true. You do not yet realize how completely different these evaluations are, because you do not understand how lofty the Holy Spirit’s perception of you really is. He is not deceived by anything you do, because He never forgets what you are. The ego is deceived by everything you do, especially when you respond to the Holy Spirit, because at such times its confusion increases. The ego is, therefore, particularly likely to attack you when you react lovingly, because it has evaluated you as unloving and you are going against its judgment. The ego will attack your motives as soon as they become clearly out of accord with its perception of you. This is when it will shift abruptly from suspiciousness to viciousness, since its uncertainty is increased. Yet it is surely pointless to attack in return. What can this mean except that you are agreeing with the ego’s evaluation of what you are ?” (T.9.VII.4; italics added ).
Whether the seeming attack then comes from within or without, if we react defensively we are making the same mistake. And we are as identified with the ego as our competitive brother is. And so, in Jesus’ words from the text, “You who are not at war must look for brothers and recognize all whom you see as brothers, because only equals are at peace. Because God’s equal Sons have everything, they cannot compete. Yet if they perceive any of their brothers as anything other than their perfect equals, the idea of competition has entered their minds. Do not underestimate your need to be vigilant against this idea, because all your conflicts come from it. It is the belief that conflicting interests are possible, and therefore you have accepted the impossible as true. Is that different from saying you perceive yourself as unreal?” (T.7.III.3:2,3,4,5,6,7).
And so before we can accept that we are all the one, guiltless Son of our Father, equally sharing in the unity of His Love, and therefore could not possibly be in competition with each other, we must first acknowledge that, as egos, we are really all the same. For that alone is what opens the door to forgiveness and true healing of the guilt within our minds.