ACIM Text Reading for June 19
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
VIII. The Attraction of Pain
Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gives instead, without the limits that would hold its extension back, and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power, and use it for the Son of God’s release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your wish? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?
Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means, and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind, to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion that calls them forth, and therefore is compatible with them.
But think you which it is that is compatible with you. Here is your choice, and it is free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment, and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.
It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.
Is not this inevitable? Under fear’s orders the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego’s heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship that it keeps hidden, and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body’s pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, “It is death.”
Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this, and both also recognize that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himself? Who would accuse, make guilty and condemn himself?
The ego’s messages are always sent away from you, in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognizes that this is not so, but as the “enemy” of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom from attack.
Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin, and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body’s praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego’s rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.
It is not given to the ego’s disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received, to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way, and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 19
By grace I live. By grace I am released.
Grace is an aspect of the Love of God which is most like the state prevailing in the unity of truth. It is the world’s most lofty aspiration, for it leads beyond the world entirely. It is past learning, yet the goal of learning, for grace cannot come until the mind prepares itself for true acceptance. Grace becomes inevitable instantly in those who have prepared a table where it can be gently laid and willingly received; an altar clean and holy for the gift.
Grace is acceptance of the Love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear. By grace alone the hate and fear are gone, for grace presents a state so opposite to everything the world contains, that those whose minds are lighted by the gift of grace can not believe the world of fear is real.
Grace is not learned. The final step must go beyond all learning. Grace is not the goal this course aspires to attain. Yet we prepare for grace in that an open mind can hear the Call to waken. It is not shut tight against God’s Voice. It has become aware that there are things it does not know, and thus is ready to accept a state completely different from experience with which it is familiarly at home.
We have perhaps appeared to contradict our statement that the revelation of the Father and the Son as One has been already set. But we have also said the mind determines when that time will be, and has determined it. And yet we urge you to bear witness to the Word of God to hasten the experience of truth, and speed its advent into every mind that recognizes truth’s effects on you.
Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is.
We cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all. It comes to every mind when total recognition that its will is God’s has been completely given and received completely. It returns the mind into the endless present, where the past and future cannot be conceived. It lies beyond salvation; past all thought of time, forgiveness and the holy face of Christ. The Son of God has merely disappeared into his Father, as his Father has in him. The world has never been at all. Eternity remains a constant state.
This is beyond experience we try to hasten. Yet forgiveness, taught and learned, brings with it the experiences which bear witness that the time the mind itself determined to abandon all but this is now at hand. We do not hasten it, in that what you will offer was concealed from Him Who teaches what forgiveness means.
All learning was already in His Mind, accomplished and complete. He recognized all that time holds, and gave it to all minds that each one might determine, from a point where time was ended, when it is released to revelation and eternity. We have repeated several times before that you but make a journey that is done.
For oneness must be here. Whatever time the mind has set for revelation is entirely irrelevant to what must be a constant state, forever as it always was; forever to remain as it is now. We merely take the part assigned long since, and fully recognized as perfectly fulfilled by Him Who wrote salvation’s script in His Creator’s Name, and in the Name of His Creator’s Son.
There is no need to further clarify what no one in the world can understand. When revelation of your oneness comes, it will be known and fully understood. Now we have work to do, for those in time can speak of things beyond, and listen to words which explain what is to come is past already. Yet what meaning can the words convey to those who count the hours still, and rise and work and go to sleep by them?
Suffice it, then, that you have work to do to play your part. The ending must remain obscure to you until your part is done. It does not matter. For your part is still what all the rest depends on. As you take the role assigned to you, salvation comes a little nearer each uncertain heart that does not beat as yet in tune with God.
Forgiveness is the central theme that runs throughout salvation, holding all its parts in meaningful relationships, the course it runs directed and its outcome sure. And now we ask for grace, the final gift salvation can bestow. Experience that grace provides will end in time, for grace foreshadows Heaven, yet does not replace the thought of time but for a little while.
The interval suffices. It is here that miracles are laid; to be returned by you from holy instants you receive, through grace in your experience, to all who see the light that lingers in your face. What is the face of Christ but his who went a moment into timelessness, and brought a clear reflection of the unity he felt an instant back to bless the world? How could you finally attain to it forever, while a part of you remains outside, unknowing, unawakened, and in need of you as witness to the truth?
Be grateful to return, as you were glad to go an instant, and accept the gifts that grace provided you. You carry them back to yourself. And revelation stands not far behind. Its coming is ensured. We ask for grace, and for experience that comes from grace. We welcome the release it offers everyone. We do not ask for the unaskable. We do not look beyond what grace can give. For this we can give in the grace that has been given us.
Our learning goal today does not exceed this prayer. Yet in the world, what could be more than what we ask this day of Him Who gives the grace we ask, as it was given Him?
By grace I live. By grace I am released.
By grace I give. By grace I will release.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #837: My daughter’s father abandoned us when I was three and a half months pregnant. He has offered no financial or emotional support since this time. He has had no contact with his daughter either. He has chosen to turn his back on the both of us. His family however continued to be interested in our lives. I found this situation extremely frustrating as his family would continually bring up my daughter’s father (as if reminding me he had chosen to abandon us).
I since cut communication with the family, as I was overwhelmed with the situation. Over six months has passed and I am asking to see everyone involved in this situation differently (i.e., without judgment). I would like to heal the relationship with the family and my daughter’s father. However, when I go to call or write a note or make some contact with them, I am reminded of all the pain I went through while I was in contact with them. I don’t know how to heal this situation. It doesn’t seem to go away.
However I just can’t bring myself to swallow my pride and try again at having a relationship with my daughter’s side of the family. Can I find peace with this situation without physically making contact with these people again? How do I know that I did the right thing in severing the relationship with the family? I still feel somewhat haunted by my decision, but really don’t know how to move on and find lasting peace in my mind with all of the above mentioned people. How can I look at a man that abandoned his/our child in a “different light.”
A: Perhaps one of the hardest lessons to accept and learn as a student of A Course in Miracles is that our upset and pain, regardless of what our experience seems to be, is never the result of what someone else has or has not done to us (W.pI.5). Everything in our experience seems to shout otherwise, and it is usually not difficult to find allies who will support us in our perception of ourselves as victims. But if we genuinely want to heal our relationships and release ourselves from the conflict and hurt and anger, the Course asks us to shift our focus from the external situation to our own inner decision to invest in the belief in sin and guilt and attack and abandonment. For that is the only source of our pain (W.pI.23).
This is not to justify what anyone else does or fails to do, but rather to clarify that we have always first made a decision within our own mind to perceive ourselves as a victim in order to defend against the pain of our own choice for guilt, or we could not be affected by what the other person does. This of course contradicts all the counsel the world offers, but that is simply because the Course is offering us a radically different way of perceiving ourselves, our lives, our relationships, and our world — one that affirms that we alone are the rulers of our universe and our destiny (W.pII.253). How loudly and vehemently does the world — and our ego mind — protest this acceptance of total responsibility for our experiences (T.21.II.1,2,3,4,5).
The Course will not advise you on the particulars of your situation, such as whether you should or should not have cut off contact with his family, or whether you should re-establish it. Helpful answers to those questions are only possible after you have addressed your own need to see yourself unfairly treated (T.26.X.3,4,5), a need by the way which you share, regardless of the form it expresses itself in your life, with everyone else who seems to walk this earth. So you don’t want to judge yourself for choosing the victim role — all of us who find ourselves here, in our own specific ways, have made the same choice.
And so until you are able to release the judgments of unworthiness that you hold against yourself for abandoning your true Self, everyone else will only continue to be a symbol of that inner choice, and contact with them will necessarily continue to be painful. As inadequate as it may seem to us to be, the truth is we are all only ever doing the best we can, given our belief in our limitations and the guilt that naturally accompanies those perceptions. And that blanket generalization applies to the father of your daughter as well.
Are you aware that you do not refer anywhere in your question to the nature of your relationship with this man, other than to identify him as the father of your daughter? It appears that you so want to avoid acknowledging his relationship to you that you even refer to his family as your daughter’s side of the family. Perhaps he has been your husband or lover, but the real nature of the relationship that you want to deny is that he is your brother, a brother who is just as self-accusing and guilt-ridden as you may feel, regardless of what face he presents to the world. But you will only come to such a forgiven perception of him by first recognizing the mirror to your own self that he is holding up to you (T.7.VII.3:9; T.24.VI.8). And so to release him from judgment is only to release yourself. And in that release you will necessarily perceive the both of you in a “different light.”
Q #838: I would like to know if you think A Course in Miracles and Transcendental Meditation are compatible spiritual disciplines? I am studying the Course but enjoy the centeredness from my meditation time. I am asking about TM in particular and not meditation in general.
A: If you find Transcendental Meditation useful as a technique for helping you relax and become more peaceful and centered, by all means, continue to use it in your life. But if you want to use it as a spiritual discipline, integrating it with the practice of the Course, you may be introducing some confusion and potential conflict into your life. Now there is some disagreement as to whether Transcendental Meditation is simply a meditation technique or an actual spiritual discipline. Its proponents generally present TM in a non-spiritual framework in an effort to make it accessible to people of all ages, cultures, and religious backgrounds. But it has been developed by the movement’s founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, from principles of the ancient Hindu Vedic tradition of India.
The expressed purpose of the practice of TM is to achieve a state of consciousness called transcendental consciousness, which through repeated practice leads one towards what Maharishi calls enlightenment. However, enlightenment as defined within TM circles would not be considered a spiritual state from the perspective of the Course. For example, in a 1998 interview, Maharishi is quoted as saying: “‘Enlightenment’ means lack of darkness, absence of darkness. And ‘absence of darkness’ means no mistake, no weakness, no shortcoming—success everywhere, fulfillment of desire everywhere—that is enlightenment. One is living in full accord with Natural Law” (italics added).
While the Course does provide a kind of mind training that leads to higher levels of consciousness (e.g., C.1.7:4,5,6), its purpose is to lead us ultimately beyond any perceptual-based consciousness and beyond any concern with the quality of our lives here within the world. In other words, from the Course’s perspective, enlightenment involves a process of gradually awakening from the dream and not simply making the dream better. So the two paths, to the degree that there is an intended spiritual direction implicit in TM, have very different purposes. From the Course’s perspective, TM would be like any technique or practice that provides some relief from the tensions and anxieties of seeming life in the body. The Course teaches that only the practice of forgiveness leads to the undoing of the guilt over separation buried deep in the mind that is the real cause of all tension and anxiety (e.g., W.pI.41.1:2,3; W.pI.194.2:1).