ACIM Text Reading for July 3
Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception
II. The Forgotten Song
Never forget the world the sightless “see” must be imagined, for what it really looks like is unknown to them. They must infer what could be seen from evidence forever indirect; and reconstruct their inferences as they stumble and fall because of what they did not recognize, or walk unharmed through open doorways that they thought were closed. And so it is with you. You do not see. Your cues for inference are wrong, and so you stumble and fall down upon the stones you did not recognize, but fail to be aware you can go through the doors you thought were closed, but which stand open before unseeing eyes, waiting to welcome you.
How foolish is it to attempt to judge what could be seen instead. It is not necessary to imagine what the world must look like. It must be seen before you recognize it for what it is. You can be shown which doors are open, and you can see where safety lies; and which way leads to darkness, which to light. Judgment will always give you false directions, but vision shows you where to go. Why should you guess?
There is no need to learn through pain. And gentle lessons are acquired joyously, and are remembered gladly. What gives you happiness you want to learn and not forget. It is not this you would deny. Your question is whether the means by which this course is learned will bring to you the joy it promises. If you believed it would, the learning of it would be no problem. You are not a happy learner yet because you still remain uncertain that vision gives you more than judgment does, and you have learned that both you cannot have.
The blind become accustomed to their world by their adjustments to it. They think they know their way about in it. They learned it, not through joyous lessons, but through the stern necessity of limits they believed they could not overcome. And still believing this, they hold those lessons dear, and cling to them because they cannot see. They do not understand the lessons keep them blind. This they do not believe. And so they keep the world they learned to “see” in their imagination, believing that their choice is that or nothing. They hate the world they learned through pain. And everything they think is in it serves to remind them that they are incomplete and bitterly deprived.
Thus they define their life and where they live, adjusting to it as they think they must, afraid to lose the little that they have. And so it is with all who see the body as all they have and all their brothers have. They try to reach each other, and they fail, and fail again. And they adjust to loneliness, believing that to keep the body is to save the little that they have. Listen, and try to think if you remember what we will speak of now.
Listen,–perhaps you catch a hint of an ancient state not quite forgotten; dim, perhaps, and yet not altogether unfamiliar, like a song whose name is long forgotten, and the circumstances in which you heard completely unremembered. Not the whole song has stayed with you, but just a little wisp of melody, attached not to a person or a place or anything particular. But you remember, from just this little part, how lovely was the song, how wonderful the setting where you heard it, and how you loved those who were there and listened with you.
The notes are nothing. Yet you have kept them with you, not for themselves, but as a soft reminder of what would make you weep if you remembered how dear it was to you. You could remember, yet you are afraid, believing you would lose the world you learned since then. And yet you know that nothing in the world you learned is half so dear as this. Listen, and see if you remember an ancient song you knew so long ago and held more dear than any melody you taught yourself to cherish since.
Beyond the body, beyond the sun and stars, past everything you see and yet somehow familiar, is an arc of golden light that stretches as you look into a great and shining circle. And all the circle fills with light before your eyes. The edges of the circle disappear, and what is in it is no longer contained at all. The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity forever shining and with no break or limit anywhere. Within it everything is joined in perfect continuity. Nor is it possible to imagine that anything could be outside, for there is nowhere that this light is not.
This is the vision of the Son of God, whom you know well. Here is the sight of him who knows his Father. Here is the memory of what you are; a part of this, with all of it within, and joined to all as surely as all is joined in you. Accept the vision that can show you this, and not the body. You know the ancient song, and know it well. Nothing will ever be as dear to you as is this ancient hymn of love the Son of God sings to his Father still.
And now the blind can see, for that same song they sing in honor of their Creator gives praise to them as well. The blindness that they made will not withstand the memory of this song. And they will look upon the vision of the Son of God, remembering who he is they sing of. What is a miracle but this remembering? And who is there in whom this memory lies not? The light in one awakens it in all. And when you see it in your brother, you are remembering for everyone.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 3
The Name of God is my inheritance.
You live by symbols. You have made up names for everything you see. Each one becomes a separate entity, identified by its own name. By this you carve it out of unity. By this you designate its special attributes, and set it off from other things by emphasizing space surrounding it. This space you lay between all things to which you give a different name; all happenings in terms of place and time; all bodies which are greeted by a name.
This space you see as setting off all things from one another is the means by which the world’s perception is achieved. You see something where nothing is, and see as well nothing where there is unity; a space between all things, between all things and you. Thus do you think that you have given life in separation. By this split you think you are established as a unity which functions with an independent will.
What are these names by which the world becomes a series of discrete events, of things ununified, of bodies kept apart and holding bits of mind as separate awarenesses? You gave these names to them, establishing perception as you wished to have perception be. The nameless things were given names, and thus reality was given them as well. For what is named is given meaning and will then be seen as meaningful; a cause of true effect, with consequence inherent in itself.
This is the way reality is made by partial vision, purposefully set against the given truth. Its enemy is wholeness. It conceives of little things and looks upon them. And a lack of space, a sense of unity or vision that sees differently, become the threats which it must overcome, conflict with and deny.
Yet does this other vision still remain a natural direction for the mind to channel its perception. It is hard to teach the mind a thousand alien names, and thousands more. Yet you believe this is what learning means; its one essential goal by which communication is achieved, and concepts can be meaningfully shared.
This is the sum of the inheritance the world bestows. And everyone who learns to think that it is so accepts the signs and symbols that assert the world is real. It is for this they stand. They leave no doubt that what is named is there. It can be seen, as is anticipated. What denies that it is true is but illusion, for it is the ultimate reality. To question it is madness; to accept its presence is the proof of sanity.
Such is the teaching of the world. It is a phase of learning everyone who comes must go through. But the sooner he perceives on what it rests, how questionable are its premises, how doubtful its results, the sooner does he question its effects. Learning that stops with what the world would teach stops short of meaning. In its proper place, it serves but as a starting point from which another kind of learning can begin, a new perception can be gained, and all the arbitrary names the world bestows can be withdrawn as they are raised to doubt.
Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes! But what is true in earth and Heaven is beyond your naming. When you call upon a brother, it is to his body that you make appeal. His true Identity is hidden from you by what you believe he really is. His body makes response to what you call him, for his mind consents to take the name you give him as his own. And thus his unity is twice denied, for you perceive him separate from you, and he accepts this separate name as his.
It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found.
Thus what you need are intervals each day in which the learning of the world becomes a transitory phase; a prison house from which you go into the sunlight and forget the darkness. Here you understand the Word, the Name which God has given you; the one Identity which all things share; the one acknowledgment of what is true. And then step back to darkness, not because you think it real, but only to proclaim its unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world that darkness rules.
Use all the little names and symbols which delineate the world of darkness. Yet accept them not as your reality. The Holy Spirit uses all of them, but He does not forget creation has one Name, one meaning, and a single Source which unifies all things within Itself. Use all the names the world bestows on them but for convenience, yet do not forget they share the Name of God along with you.
God has no name. And yet His Name becomes the final lesson that all things are one, and at this lesson does all learning end. All names are unified; all space is filled with truth’s reflection. Every gap is closed, and separation healed. The Name of God is the inheritance He gave to those who chose the teaching of the world to take the place of Heaven. In our practicing, our purpose is to let our minds accept what God has given as the answer to the pitiful inheritance you made as fitting tribute to the Son He loves.
No one can fail who seeks the meaning of the Name of God. Experience must come to supplement the Word. But first you must accept the Name for all reality, and realize the many names you gave its aspects have distorted what you see, but have not interfered with truth at all. One Name we bring into our practicing. One Name we use to unify our sight.
And though we use a different name for each awareness of an aspect of God’s Son, we understand that they have but one Name, which He has given them. It is this Name we use in practicing. And through Its use, all foolish separations disappear which kept us blind. And we are given strength to see beyond them. Now our sight is blessed with blessings we can give as we receive.
Father, our Name is Yours. In It we are united with all living things, and You Who are their one Creator. What we made and call by many different names is but a shadow we have tried to cast across Your Own reality. And we are glad and thankful we were wrong. All our mistakes we give to You, that we may be absolved from all effects our errors seemed to have. And we accept the truth You give, in place of every one of them. Your Name is our salvation and escape from what we made. Your Name unites us in the oneness which is our inheritance and peace. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #316: Lesson 184 paragraph 8 begins with: “Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes!” I have been studying A Course in Miracles for sometime and was under the understanding that God did not create the world, but we did as the ego. We, the ego, made (miscreated) the world in which to express our separateness. Paragraph 8 seems to say that we did not make the world, but we make the illusions we see that are not like God (the pain, suffering, lack, even love, etc.). What is the Course referring to as the world and what did God create and what did the ego create?
A: God creates only like Himself. Therefore His creations are the extension of His infinite Love and eternal Life. They are in Heaven, which is the state of perfect Oneness, and they have nothing to do with this finite world, nor can they be understood in terms of anything in this world, because this world was generated by the thought that God has been destroyed (an impossibility, of course).
The world we did not make is the real world. The Holy Spirit is the maker of the real world, which is the summation of His teaching us that the world is a classroom in which we learn that all this is an illusion. In the section called “Perception and Choice” in the text, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as the “Maker of the world,” with a capital M (T.25.III.4,5,8). In those passages, it is unmistakably clear that the “Maker of the world” is the Maker of the real world. And the Holy Spirit is called Maker, not creator, because He makes an illusion. The real world is an illusion, but it is a helpful illusion. Thus when Jesus says, “Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes!” he is not talking about the illusion that forgiveness is. The point he is making is that we would recognize that the shift in perception that allows us to see the world as a classroom does not come from us. The source of that shift is the Holy Spirit.
Q #317: As I read about the SARS virus the other day and how it attacks cells, my thoughts went to the attack in Iraq and then to my personal victim story of attack by neighbors (and my subsequent attack/defense). Will you please comment on forgiveness as it relates to any one of these situations and the relationship between them?
A: You are correct in associating the three different forms of attack you mention. Forgiveness applies to each situation equally, because they are all the same in content. In each case, there are seemingly innocent victims being attacked by outside forces (victimizers), which cause suffering. All the victims may make the ego’s righteous cry their own: “Behold me brother, at your hand I die” (T.27.I.4:6).
Forgiveness, as taught in A Course in Miracles, asks us to become aware of the feelings and judgments that arise when we consider each of these attack scenarios. Our reactions show us the beliefs we hold about ourselves as innocent victims, and our judgments against the victimizers. We are asked first to recognize these beliefs, and then learn to look beyond the external appearances to the real source of suffering, which is a decision in the mind to make the separation real. Forgiveness begins by taking responsibility for this choice and its effects (feeling attacked and victimized), without blaming anyone or anything external to the mind. This is what the Course means by: “…forgive the Son of God for what he did not do” (T.17.III.1:5). Any perceived attack, whatever form it may take, is always a reflection of the prior attack on our identity as God’s Son by choosing separation in the mind. This is true for ourselves, and for anyone else we perceive as suffering at the hands of others. The “others” include military forces, viruses, neighbors, natural disasters, etc. Our responsibility as students of the Course is to acknowledge in ourselves and in others the power of the mind to choose. Once we have done this, we then acknowledge that we all can use this same power of the mind to make another choice. Meanwhile, we do not deny the thoughts, feelings, and judgments about the situation as we perceive it, and bringing them to the Holy Spirit, our minds are free to be guided to act in the most loving way.