ACIM Text Reading for June 18
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
VII. The Second Obstacle: The Belief the Body is Valuable for What It Offers
We said that peace must first surmount the obstacle of your desire to get rid of it. Where the attraction of guilt holds sway, peace is not wanted. The second obstacle that peace must flow across, and closely related to the first, is the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers. For here is the attraction of guilt made manifest in the body, and seen in it.
This is the value that you think peace would rob you of. This is what you believe that it would dispossess, and leave you homeless. And it is this for which you would deny a home to peace. This “sacrifice” you feel to be too great to make, too much to ask of you. Is it a sacrifice, or a release? What has the body really given you that justifies your strange belief that in it lies salvation? Do you not see that this is the belief in death? Here is the focus of the perception of Atonement as murder. Here is the source of the idea that love is fear.
The Holy Spirit’s messengers are sent far beyond the body, calling the mind to join in holy communion and be at peace. Such is the message that I gave them for you. It is only the messengers of fear that see the body, for they look for what can suffer. Is it a sacrifice to be removed from what can suffer? The Holy Spirit does not demand you sacrifice the hope of the body’s pleasure; it has no hope of pleasure. But neither can it bring you fear of pain. Pain is the only “sacrifice” the Holy Spirit asks, and this He would remove.
Peace is extended from you only to the eternal, and it reaches out from the eternal in you. It flows across all else. The second obstacle is no more solid than the first. For you want neither to get rid of peace nor limit it. What are these obstacles that you would interpose between peace and its going forth but barriers you place between your will and its accomplishment? You want communion, not the feast of fear. You want salvation, not the pain of guilt. And you want your Father, not a little mound of clay, to be your home. In your holy relationship is your Father’s Son. He has not lost communion with Him, nor with himself. When you agreed to join your brother, you acknowledged this is so. This has no cost, but it has release from cost.
You have paid very dearly for your illusions, and nothing you have paid for brought you peace. Are you not glad that Heaven cannot be sacrificed, and sacrifice cannot be asked of you? There is no obstacle that you can place before our union, for in your holy relationship I am there already. We will surmount all obstacles together, for we stand within the gates and not outside. How easily the gates are opened from within, to let peace through to bless the tired world! Can it be difficult for us to walk past barriers together, when you have joined the limitless? The end of guilt is in your hands to give. Would you stop now to look for guilt in your brother?
Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look upon me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was. I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you you see within yourself?
From your holy relationship truth proclaims the truth, and love looks on itself. Salvation flows from deep within the home you offered to my Father and to me. And we are there together, in the quiet communion in which the Father and the Son are joined. O come ye faithful to the holy union of the Father and the Son in you! And keep you not apart from what is offered you in gratitude for giving peace its home in Heaven. Send forth to all the world the joyous message of the end of guilt, and all the world will answer. Think of your happiness as everyone offers you witness of the end of sin, and shows you that its power is gone forever. Where can guilt be, when the belief in sin is gone? And where is death, when its great advocate is heard no more?
Forgive me your illusions, and release me from punishment for what I have not done. So will you learn the freedom that I taught by teaching freedom to your brother, and so releasing me. I am within your holy relationship, yet you would imprison me behind the obstacles you raise to freedom, and bar my way to you. Yet it is not possible to keep away One Who is there already. And in Him it is possible that our communion, where we are joined already, will be the focus of the new perception that will bring light to all the world, contained in you
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 18
Your grace is given me. I claim it now.
God speaks to us. Shall we not speak to Him? He is not distant. He makes no attempt to hide from us. We try to hide from Him, and suffer from deception. He remains entirely accessible. He loves His Son. There is no certainty but this, yet this suffices. He will love His Son forever. When his mind remains asleep, He loves him still. And when his mind awakes, He loves him with a never-changing Love.
If you but knew the meaning of His Love, hope and despair would be impossible. For hope would be forever satisfied; despair of any kind unthinkable. His grace His answer is to all despair, for in it lies remembrance of His Love. Would He not gladly give the means by which His Will is recognized? His grace is yours by your acknowledgment. And memory of Him awakens in the mind that asks the means of Him whereby its sleep is done.
Today we ask of God the gift He has most carefully preserved within our hearts, waiting to be acknowledged. This the gift by which God leans to us and lifts us up, taking salvation’s final step Himself. All steps but this we learn, instructed by His Voice. But finally He comes Himself, and takes us in His Arms and sweeps away the cobwebs of our sleep. His gift of grace is more than just an answer. It restores all memories the sleeping mind forgot; all certainty of what Love’s meaning is.
God loves His Son. Request Him now to give the means by which this world will disappear, and vision first will come, with knowledge but an instant later. For in grace you see a light that covers all the world in love, and watch fear disappear from every face as hearts rise up and claim the light as theirs. What now remains that Heaven be delayed an instant longer? What is still undone when your forgiveness rests on everything?
It is a new and holy day today, for we receive what has been given us. Our faith lies in the Giver, not our own acceptance. We acknowledge our mistakes, but He to Whom all error is unknown is yet the One Who answers our mistakes by giving us the means to lay them down, and rise to Him in gratitude and love.
And He descends to meet us, as we come to Him. For what He has prepared for us He gives and we receive. Such is His Will, because He loves His Son. To Him we pray today, returning but the word He gave to us through His Own Voice, His Word, His Love:
Your grace is given me. I claim it now. Father, I come
to You. And You will come to me who ask.
I am the Son You love.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1005: I studied A Course in Miracles in the ’80s, but only within the past year did I start applying the workbook lessons. For the past several years, however, I have had awarenesses of God’s presence. I know that love is the only truth in this illusion. Recently, I realized that I’ve forgiven all the people that I thought had wronged me, simply because I know that these wrongs never happened in the first place. When I read the daily lesson, I feel a sense of peace that stays with me throughout the day. This evening as I was bathing there were a few seconds in which I lost all association with my body. I felt as if I were mentally gazing down upon an alien and was left with a completely neutral sense of the body — neither disgust nor enchantment. Is the illusory world beginning to disappear for me? Am I beginning to wake up from the dream?
A: It could be that you are beginning to wake up, but since we do not know you, we really cannot give you a definitive answer. People experience the process of disidentifying with the body and the world in different ways. Jesus talks about this experience in a series of beautiful paragraphs in “Beyond the Body” in the text (T.18.VI) . He speaks of it in the context of the Identity we share that transcends all specialness and the limitations of the body. Thus he says of the experience: “What really happens is that you have given up the illusion of a limited awareness, and lost your fear of union. . . . There is no violence at all in this escape. The body is not attacked, but simply properly perceived. It does not limit you, merely because you would not have it so. You are not really ‘lifted out’ of it; it cannot contain you. You go where you would be, gaining, not losing, a sense of Self” (T.18.VI.11:7; T.13:1,2,3,4,5).
In the workbook, Jesus tells us that “to be without a body is to be in our natural state” (W.pI.72:9:9) . So it is not something special; it is merely natural. As the process of awakening proceeds through our practice of forgiveness, we thus will take the body and everything of the body less and less seriously, until we reach the point where we know we are not our bodies, even though we still appear as a body. This has nothing to do with death, as some students mistakenly think. It is a shift from false perception to true perception in our minds, and there may or may not be a physical correlation — most of the time, there is not. What is of prime importance is the shift we make in our minds about the purpose for which we will now use our bodies: to learn that we all share the same ego thought system, the Holy Spirit’s correction of that, and the power to choose between them. We all share the pain of separation, and we are all calling out for the love we believe we have denied.
Q #1006: I have read your answer to Question #15, yet somehow I need a little more help. I have a healthy son I am thrilled with, whom I had through in vitro fertilization. I desired more children, but since have lost two to miscarriages. I believe I have a great deal of guilt in that my age — past 40 — would be a gamble and here seemed the proof: death of both embryos due to chromosome damage. I really feel like I murdered them both by seeking magic — the in vitro fertilization. So here is my issue: Almost daily, when I am with my son, someone asks if he is my “only child.” My mind instantly swings into guilt mode. I know the question is just a conversation opener, but it feels like an attack. I have issues around the miscarriages, older stepchildren, and adopting, and all my feelings bubble up. The last time I could only nod my head in shame and guilt. With my five year old son there and unaware of all the details, I could not attack back as my ego wants, “No, he is not my only, the other two are dead!” And I realize an attack would alienate everyone. But my internal buttons and feelings of sin, guilt, and fear are being pushed. I am still stumped as to how to cope with all this.
I do acknowledge what is happening in the moment and how enraged I become. I do see how their bringing up this deep pain (which is just scratching the surface of the original pain of killing off God) makes me want to “kill,” through words or fantasy, the person I perceive as my attacker, even though they only have unintentionally handed me the mirror so I can look at my guilt. I also know intellectually that I did not murder my unborn children, but part of me must not believe it. I ask for help from Jesus and show him my negative thoughts, but I would like more healing than this. I find it difficult to accept the statement, “Loss is not loss when properly perceived.” I understand intellectually that this is all an illusion, that I am not a body. But when this stuff comes up they are just concepts to my ego.
A: Where you are with all your feelings is okay. You don’t want to try to use the intellectual concepts of A Course in Miracles to change what seems to be happening for you. You will know at a deeper level that they are true at some point on your spiritual path, but for now you simply want to be as honest as you can about your thoughts and feelings about your life circumstances — they after all comprise your classroom. Mostly you speak of your guilt, but what also comes through very clearly is your anger. And although you acknowledge your rage at the strangers’ inquiries, there almost certainly are layers to that anger that you may be missing by jumping to the ontological explanation that you killed God. And all these unrecognized and unacknowledged layers of defenses continue to operate below your awareness, keeping your focus outside yourself, which of course is their purpose, despite your best intentions to look at the guilt within.
What might these other layers involve? Your anger at the strangers seems somehow out of proportion to the nature of their “attack,” as you acknowledge. It may feel safer to keep the focus of your anger on them than on other perhaps less conscious targets. For it seems likely from what you say that you are angry that you have not been able to have the children you want — perhaps angry at a spouse or ex-spouse, a lover, a parent, or God — someone else who is somehow responsible for depriving you of what you so desperately want, requiring you to rely on your own creative attempts to have the children on your own that will make your life feel more complete. And there must also be great sadness and grief at the recurring losses. It’s important that you uncover the anger and grief you are carrying, and all the hidden justifications for those feelings, not because they are true, but because you still believe at some level that they are true. And you cannot jump to the ontological explanation without looking at the ego’s layers of defenses as clearly as you can, or you will simply keep the defenses unexamined and intact (T.11.V.1;2:1,2) .
Once you can get in touch with the anger and the specific thoughts behind that anger, you can begin to take responsibility for the projection involved in those judgments against others. Now it is true that all the levels of anger are simply defenses against the underlying ontological guilt, but the thought that we believe we have killed God is mostly an intellectual concept for most of us, which is, as Jesus tells us, “an instant so ancient that it is beyond all memory, and past even the possibility of remembering” (M.2.4:1). But we relive its content every instant that we choose the ego, putting our own needs and desires above everyone else’s. So we can at least begin to be honest about how much we want to have things our own way and how angry we can become at anyone else who seems to stand in the way of our getting what we want. There’s the projection that most of us can begin to identify with. Others may be putting their own needs first, but that could not anger us unless we were doing the same thing but did not want to acknowledge it in ourselves.
Ultimately, Jesus assures us, we will learn that “it is not necessary to follow fear [and guilt] through all the circuitous routes by which it burrows underground and hides in darkness, to emerge in forms quite different from what it is. Yet it is necessary to examine each one as long as you would retain the principle that governs all of them” (T.15.X.5:1,2,3). And that principle that we all still retain, even cling to, is that the separation and the accompanying guilt — and the resulting individual self that each of us identifies with — are real and require a defense. But until we can genuinely experience the guilt at that level, we will need to begin with all the specific expressions of our guilt, usually accessed by first acknowledging our anger at others and the judgments we are holding against them. Over time, we will begin to recognize the common thread running through all of our projections, and the ontological guilt will become more of an experience than an empty intellectual concept. But in each case, by looking with Jesus at our projections and accepting the underlying guilt as ours, we will begin to release the need for that defense. And the need for anything or anyone — adult or child — to fill the emptiness we feel inside will lose its power over us. And peace and joy will then fill the space left empty by the disappearing guilt and anger.