ACIM Text Reading for June 21
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
X. The Incorruptible Body
From the ego came sin and guilt and death, in opposition to life and innocence, and to the Will of God Himself. Where can such opposition lie but in the sick minds of the insane, dedicated to madness and set against the peace of Heaven? One thing is sure; God, Who created neither sin nor death, wills not that you be bound by them. He knows of neither sin nor its results. The shrouded figures in the funeral procession march not in honor of their Creator, Whose Will it is they live. They are not following His Will; they are opposing it.
And what is the black-draped body they would bury? A body which they dedicated to death, a symbol of corruption, a sacrifice to sin, offered to sin to feed upon and keep itself alive; a thing condemned, damned by its maker and lamented by every mourner who looks upon it as himself. You who believe you have condemned the Son of God to this are arrogant. But you who would release him are but honoring the Will of his Creator. The arrogance of sin, the pride of guilt, the sepulchre of separation, all are part of your unrecognized dedication to death. The glitter of guilt you laid upon the body would kill it. For what the ego loves, it kills for its obedience. But what obeys it not, it cannot kill.
You have another dedication that would keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose. The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. It is the result of a tiny, mad idea of corruption that can be corrected. For God has answered this insane idea with His Own; an Answer Which left Him not, and therefore brings the Creator to the awareness of every mind which heard His Answer and accepted It.
You who are dedicated to the incorruptible have been given through your acceptance, the power to release from corruption. What better way to teach the first and fundamental principle in a course on miracles than by showing you the one that seems to be the hardest can be accomplished first? The body can but serve your purpose. As you look on it, so will it seem to be. Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego’s goal.
Those who fear death see not how often and how loudly they call to it, and bid it come to save them from communication. For death is seen as safety, the great dark savior from the light of truth, the answer to the Answer, the silencer of the Voice That speaks for God. Yet the retreat to death is not the end of conflict. Only God’s Answer is its end. The obstacle of your seeming love for death that peace must flow across seems to be very great. For in it lie hidden all the ego’s secrets, all its strange devices for deception, all its sick ideas and weird imaginings. Here is the final end of union, the triumph of the ego’s making over creation, the victory of lifelessness on Life Itself.
Under the dusty edge of its distorted world the ego would lay the Son of God, slain by its orders, proof in his decay that God Himself is powerless before the ego’s might, unable to protect the life that He created against the ego’s savage wish to kill. My brother, child of our Father, this is a dream of death. There is no funeral, no dark altars, no grim commandments nor twisted rituals of condemnation to which the body leads you. Ask not release of it. But free it from the merciless and unrelenting orders you laid upon it, and forgive it what you ordered it to do. In its exaltation you commanded it to die, for only death could conquer life. And what but insanity could look upon the defeat of God, and think it real?
The fear of death will go as its appeal is yielded to love’s real attraction. The end of sin, which nestles quietly in the safety of your relationship, protected by your union with your brother, and ready to grow into a mighty force for God is very near. The infancy of salvation is carefully guarded by love, preserved from every thought that would attack it, and quietly made ready to fulfill the mighty task for which it was given you. Your newborn purpose is nursed by angels, cherished by the Holy Spirit and protected by God Himself. It needs not your protection; it is yours. For it is deathless, and within it lies the end of death.
What danger can assail the wholly innocent? What can attack the guiltless? What fear can enter and disturb the peace of sinlessness? What has been given you, even in its infancy, is in full communication with God and you. In its tiny hands it holds, in perfect safety, every miracle you will perform, held out to you. The miracle of life is ageless, born in time but nourished in eternity. Behold this infant, to whom you gave a resting place by your forgiveness of your brother, and see in it the Will of God. Here is the babe of Bethlehem reborn. And everyone who gives him shelter will follow him, not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life.
When anything seems to you to be a source of fear, when any situation strikes you with terror and makes your body tremble and the cold sweat of fear comes over it, remember it is always for one reason; the ego has perceived it as a symbol of fear, a sign of sin and death. Remember, then, that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves. Their meaning cannot lie in them, but must be sought in what they represent. And they may thus mean everything or nothing, according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect. Confronted with such seeming uncertainty of meaning, judge it not. Remember the holy Presence of the One given to you to be the Source of judgment. Give it to Him to judge for you, and say:
“Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.
Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.
Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace,
But let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming.”
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 21
We now review again. This time we are ready to give more effort and more time to what we undertake. We recognize we are preparing for another phase of understanding. We would take this step completely, that we may go on again more certain, more sincere, with faith upheld more surely. Our footsteps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly and slowly on the road this course sets forth. But now we hasten on, for we approach a greater certainty, a firmer purpose and a surer goal.
Steady our feet, our Father. Let our doubts be quiet and our holy minds be still, and speak to us. We have no words to give to You. We would but listen to Your Word, and make it ours. Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him.
So do we bring our practicing to You. And if we stumble, You will raise us up. If we forget the way, we count upon Your sure remembering. We wander off, but You will not forget to call us back. Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk more certainly and quickly unto You. And we accept the Word You offer us to unify our practicing, as we review the thoughts that You have given us.
This is the thought which should precede the thoughts that we review. Each one but clarifies some aspect of this thought, or helps it be more meaningful, more personal and true, and more descriptive of the holy Self we share and now prepare to know again:
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
This Self alone knows Love. This Self alone is perfectly consistent in Its Thoughts; knows Its Creator, understands Itself, is perfect in Its knowledge and Its Love, and never changes from Its constant state of union with Its Father and Itself.
And it is this that waits to meet us at the journey’s ending. Every step we take brings us a little nearer. This review will shorten time immeasurably, if we keep in mind that this remains our goal, and as we practice it is this to which we are approaching. Let us raise our hearts from dust to life, as we remember this is promised us, and that this course was sent to open up the path of light to us, and teach us, step by step, how to return to the eternal Self we thought we lost.
I take the journey with you. For I share your doubts and fears a little while, that you may come to me who recognize the road by which all fears and doubts are overcome. We walk together. I must understand uncertainty and pain, although I know they have no meaning. Yet a savior must remain with those he teaches, seeing what they see, but still retaining in his mind the way that led him out, and now will lead you out with him. God’s Son is crucified until you walk along the road with me.
My resurrection comes again each time I lead a brother safely to the place at which the journey ends and is forgot. I am renewed each time a brother learns there is a way from misery and pain. I am reborn each time a brother’s mind turns to the light in him and looks for me. I have forgotten no one. Help me now to lead you back to where the journey was begun, to make another choice with me.
Release me as you practice once again the thoughts I brought to you from Him Who sees your bitter need, and knows the answer God has given Him. Together we review these thoughts. Together we devote our time and effort to them. And together we will teach them to our brothers. God would not have Heaven incomplete. It waits for you, as I do. I am incomplete without your part in me. And as I am made whole we go together to our ancient home, prepared for us before time was and kept unchanged by time, immaculate and safe, as it will be at last when time is done.
Let this review be then your gift to me. For this alone I need; that you will hear the words I speak, and give them to the world. You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands through which I save the world. The Self from which I call to you is but your own. To Him we go together. Take your brother’s hand, for this is not a way we walk alone. In him I walk with you, and you with me. Our Father wills His Son be one with Him. What lives but must not then be one with you?
Let this review become a time in which we share a new experience for you, yet one as old as time and older still. Hallowed your Name. Your glory undefiled forever. And your wholeness now complete, as God established it. You are His Son, completing His extension in your own. We practice but an ancient truth we knew before illusion seemed to claim the world. And we remind the world that it is free of all illusions every time we say:
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
With this we start each day of our review. With this we start and end each period of practice time. And with this thought we sleep, to waken once again with these same words upon our lips, to greet another day. No thought that we review but we surround with it, and use the thoughts to hold it up before our minds, and keep it clear in our rememberance throughout the day. And thus, when we have finished this review, we will have recognized the words we speak are true.
Yet are the words but aids, and to be used, except at the beginning and the end of practice periods, but to recall the mind, as needed, to its purpose. We place faith in the experience that comes from practice, not the means we use. We wait for the experience, and recognize that it is only here conviction lies. We use the words, and try and try again to go beyond them to their meaning, which is far beyond their sound. The sound grows dim and disappears, as we approach the Source of meaning. It is Here that we find rest.
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
(151) All things are echoes of the Voice for God.
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
(152) The power of decision is my own.
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #345: Sometimes in A Course in Miracles, Jesus seems to be encouraging us to let go of the simple physical pleasures of this world (for example, a really good cup of coffee), not because they are sinful of course, but because they reinforce our belief in sin and death. Do you see in the Course’s teachings evidence of the possibility of truly reaching the peace and joy of God while still enjoying that good cup of coffee. Put another way, is it possible to really experience “I am not a body. I am free” without giving up the body’s simple pleasures?
A: Yes, it is entirely possible to enjoy a good cup of coffee and still know that you are not your body. But your experience of inner peace would not change if that cup of coffee were not there as expected, or if the cup broke when you picked it up and the coffee spilled all over the floor. When you truly accept and experience that you are not a body, you are no longer dependent on anything of the body or the world as a source of fulfillment or well being. You could enjoy the “simple pleasures of the world,” but you would have no investment in either having or not having them. Enjoying a good cup of coffee can neither bring you salvation nor deter it. When your mind is healed, your real pleasure comes from the experience of shared identity with everyone else as Christ.
Jesus teaches us that we will be happiest when we fulfill our function of forgiveness (W.pI.121; T.1.VII.1:4), and he helps us distinguish between the truly valuable and the valueless (W.pI.133; M.4.I.A.). But he never asks us to give up — in terms of sacrificing — what we still want and feel is important in our lives. Honesty about what we desire is always a helpful approach to take in this, as is being free of judgment about it. This is not a course in asceticism; the body and the things of the world are not the problem, as many other spiritualities teach. The purpose for which we use them is the only meaningful aspect.
On one level, taking pleasure in anything of the world represents an attack on God and our true inheritance as His Son. However, since we are too frightened to simply let go of our mistaken belief that the world and the body are real, Jesus gently teaches us how to use the world and the body in a way that would facilitate the healing of our minds. He counsels us to see our lives as classrooms with either him or the ego as our teacher — the choice is ours to make. So if we join with Jesus and view our lives as classrooms in which we are learning how to awaken from the nightmare of separation from God, then our focus will be on identifying how we reinforce the separation in our interactions and relationships. In this context, enjoying a good cup of coffee is irrelevant, unless we make it into a big deal, which we easily could by allowing it to make or ruin our day, and then hold someone else responsible.
Q #545: A Course in Miracles speaks about the “incorruptible body” (T.19.IV.C.i), saying that it is possible to “keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose.” Is the Course actually telling us that we can achieve a state (within the world of illusion) in which our body will remain in perfect physical condition as long as we remain here? Is this part of the condition we are able to achieve as we move closer to the real world, perhaps one of the characteristics of what the Course calls the “Happy Learner” in chapter 14, ii? If we had a completely disease free and healthy body, then we could be drawn toward reality motivated by a genuine desire to regain our awareness of our Father rather than being “driven” by physical pain and fear. Would you please comment on all this?
A: Sorry, but that’s not what Jesus means here. It could appear to happen that way in form in some individual cases, but you can never judge anything real by form. If you read the next few sentences after the line you cite, it is clear that Jesus is not describing what happens to the body itself: “The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing” (T.19.IV.C.5:2,3,4,5). He is simply saying that we will no longer see our bodies serving the purpose of corruption. The body will no longer be corrupted by the guilt of the ego thought system, for we will know that the ego’s guilt is not true. And even though the body may change in form, appearing to age and even become disabled or diseased, if there is no thought of sickness or death — guilt — in the mind, these changes in form will have no connotations of death and sickness to us — “The body can but serve your purpose. As you look on it, so will it seem to be” (T.19.IV.C.6:3,4).
What happened to Jesus’ body at the end of his earthly “life” illustrates this principle. His body did not represent any thought of death or disease or pain in his mind, since his mind was free of guilt. He did not use his body to reinforce a belief in sin and victimization in his mind (T.6.I.5) — and so it remained incorruptible in his perception, despite how its form may have seemed to change. He did not allow it to be corrupted in his thinking by making it a symbol of accusation against others.
We can also see the Course’s discussion here of the incorruptible body as a correction for the glorified, resurrected body that Christian doctrine teaches Jesus’ physical resurrection has assured all of his faithful followers. As he says of his own body earlier in this section: “Yet would I offer you my body, you whom I love, knowing its littleness? Or would I teach that bodies cannot keep us apart? Mine was of no greater value than yours…. To think you could be satisfied and happy with so little is to hurt yourself” (T.19.IV.A.17:5,6,7,12).
One final point of clarification: it is not physical pain or fear that drive us either toward or away from an awareness of our Father. The body, as nothing, feels nothing, as we noted above. All pain and fear are in the mind and it is here that they must be addressed and released. The body only returns to the mind the messages that the mind first wants and then sends out (T.19.IV.A.10,11,12,13,14,15).