ACIM Text Reading for July 10
Chapter 21 ~ Reason & Perception
IX. The Inner Shift
Are thoughts, then, dangerous? To bodies, yes! The thoughts that seem to kill are those that teach the thinker that he can be killed. And so he “dies” because of what he learned. He goes from life to death, the final proof he valued the inconstant more than constancy. Surely he thought he wanted happiness. Yet he did not desire it because it was the truth, and therefore must be constant.
The constancy of joy is a condition quite alien to your understanding. Yet if you could even imagine what it must be, you would desire it although you understand it not. The constancy of happiness has no exceptions; no change of any kind. It is unshakable as is the Love of God for His creation. Sure in its vision as its Creator is in what He knows, happiness looks on everything and sees it is the same. It sees not the ephemeral, for it desires everything be like itself, and sees it so. Nothing has power to confound its constancy, because its own desire cannot be shaken. It comes as surely unto those who see the final question is necessary to the rest, as peace must come to those who choose to heal and not to judge.
Reason will tell you that you cannot ask for happiness inconstantly. For if what you desire you receive, and happiness is constant, then you need ask for it but once to have it always. And if you do not have it always, being what it is, you did not ask for it. For no one fails to ask for his desire of something he believes holds out some promise of the power of giving it. He may be wrong in what he asks, where, and of what. Yet he will ask because desire is a request, an asking for, and made by one whom God Himself will never fail to answer. God has already given all that he really wants. Yet what he is uncertain of, God cannot give. For he does not desire it while he remains uncertain, and God’s giving must be incomplete unless it is received.
You who complete God’s Will and are his happiness, whose will is powerful as His, a power that is not lost in your illusions, think carefully why you have not yet decided how you would answer the final question. Your answer to the others has made it possible to help you be already partly sane. And yet it is the final one that really asks if you are willing to be wholly sane.
What is the holy instant but God’s appeal to you to recognize what He has given you? Here is the great appeal to reason; the awareness of what is always there to see, the happiness that could be always yours. Here is the constant peace you could experience forever. Here is what denial has denied revealed to you. For here the final question is already answered, and what you ask for given. Here is the future now, for time is powerless because of your desire for what will never change. For you have asked that nothing stand between the holiness of your relationship and your awareness of its holiness.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 10
I am the holy Son of God Himself.
Here is your declaration of release from bondage of the world. And here as well is all the world released. You do not see what you have done by giving to the world the role of jailer to the Son of God. What could it be but vicious and afraid, fearful of shadows, punitive and wild, lacking all reason, blind, insane with hate?
What have you done that this should be your world? What have you done that this is what you see? Deny your own Identity, and this is what remains. You look on chaos and proclaim it is yourself. There is no sight that fails to witness this to you. There is no sound that does not speak of frailty within you and without; no breath you draw that does not seem to bring you nearer death; no hope you hold but will dissolve in tears.
Deny your own Identity, and you will not escape the madness which induced this weird, unnatural and ghostly thought that mocks creation and that laughs at God. Deny your own Identity, and you assail the universe alone, without a friend, a tiny particle of dust against the legions of your enemies. Deny your own Identity, and look on evil, sin and death, and watch despair snatch from your fingers every scrap of hope, leaving you nothing but the wish to die.
Yet what is it except a game you play in which Identity can be denied? You are as God created you. All else but this one thing is folly to believe. In this one thought is everyone set free. In this one truth are all illusions gone. In this one fact is sinlessness proclaimed to be forever part of everything, the central core of its existence and its guarantee of immortality.
But let today’s idea find a place among your thoughts and you have risen far above the world, and all the worldly thoughts that hold it prisoner. And from this place of safety and escape you will return and set it free. For he who can accept his true Identity is truly saved. And his salvation is the gift he gives to everyone, in gratitude to Him Who pointed out the way to happiness that changed his whole perspective of the world.
One holy thought like this and you are free: You are the holy Son of God Himself. And with this holy thought you learn as well that you have freed the world. You have no need to use it cruelly, and then perceive this savage need in it. You set it free of your imprisonment. You will not see a devastating image of yourself walking the world in terror, with the world twisting in agony because your fears have laid the mark of death upon its heart.
Be glad today how very easily is hell undone. You need but tell yourself:
I am the holy Son of God Himself. I cannot suffer,
cannot be in pain; I cannot suffer loss, nor fail to do
all that salvation asks.
And in that thought is everything you look on wholly changed.
A miracle has lighted up all dark and ancient caverns, where the rites of death echoed since time began. For time has lost its hold upon the world. The Son of God has come in glory to redeem the lost, to save the helpless, and to give the world the gift of his forgiveness. Who could see the world as dark and sinful, when God’s Son has come again at last to set it free?
You who perceive yourself as weak and frail, with futile hopes and devastated dreams, born but to die, to weep and suffer pain, hear this: All power is given unto you in earth and Heaven. There is nothing that you cannot do. You play the game of death, of being helpless, pitifully tied to dissolution in a world which shows no mercy to you. Yet when you accord it mercy, will its mercy shine on you.
Then let the Son of God awaken from his sleep, and opening his holy eyes, return again to bless the world he made. In error it began, but it will end in the reflection of his holiness. And he will sleep no more and dream of death. Then join with me today. Your glory is the light that saves the world. Do not withhold salvation longer. Look about the world, and see the suffering there. Is not your heart willing to bring your weary brothers rest?
They must await your own release. They stay in chains till you are free. They cannot see the mercy of the world until you find it in yourself. They suffer pain until you have denied its hold on you. They die till you accept your own eternal life. You are the holy Son of God Himself. Remember this, and all the world is free. Remember this, and earth and Heaven are one.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #183: In A Course in Miracles we are asked to change our perceptions and see peace instead of chaos. But theoretically if I saw everything as loving then what is to stop me disregarding physical danger or emotional danger from others (because I am of spirit and nothing can harm me). How does one perceive correctly, taking into account our physical necessities while we are in the world.
A: I think you are confused about your responsibility, and that of the Holy Spirit’s. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false” (T.16.IV.6:1,2).
At some point in time, we do realize that mouthing words of defenselessness while feeling completely vulnerable is not helpful. So we must begin to develop honest communication with ourselves. Focus your attention on all the ways you do not see things as loving, i.e., judgments of yourself and others, feelings of anger and hurt, disquiet of any kind. Once you are honest with yourself about what your are doing or how you are feeling, you can then bring this to Jesus or the Holy Spirit so they can fulfill their part: “My control can take over everything that does not matter [your ego], while my guidance can direct everything that does, if you so choose” (T.2.VI.1:3). Bringing our ego to Jesus’ truth allows him to guide us in ways that are most helpful. Needless to say, as long as we believe we are bodies, he would never guide us to do anything that is harmful or hurtful to ourselves, or others.
And while the choice to bring your ego to Jesus or the Holy Spirit is an important one, an equally important choice occurs prior to this decision — that is the choice to look honestly at yourself. Because of your guilt and shame, you may think that you are keeping your “secret sins and hidden hates” (T.31.VIII.9:2) from Jesus, but you are really keeping them from yourself. This is why self honesty is such a crucial characteristic to develop. The simple act of acknowledging your fear, dread, hatred, etc. can work miracles.
Q #184: I had a moment of clarity recently. I suddenly became aware that all my forms of specialness are based round the body and so they are all doomed to fail along with the body. Strangely this was not depressing — what I felt was mostly relief. The moment didn’t last though, as peaceful as it was, and the fear returned. What I feel I want from you is reassurance that there is nothing to fear so that I can go back to the peace.
In the “Rules for Decision” section of A Course in Miracles, Jesus says that I can have the day I want. I consistently refuse to follow the steps he lays out though because I don’t believe he will give me what I need. Can one take him at his word here? If the day I want contains my being happy and unafraid will he give me that? If the day I want contains being surrounded by people I love will he give me that? What if I feel I need other things, like food, sex, warmth and water? Will he give me them? I am frightened that Jesus, not being a body, will not because he doesn’t think I need them. These are not things I think will make me happy, but they are things I do not think I could be happy without.
I understand from the story about Helen and her eyelash that it is not Jesus who gives parking spaces to me — it is my own mind. But may I still think of Jesus as giving these things to me, for a little while longer anyway? It is easier for me to accept when presented like that. Certainly I wouldn’t want to have to provide my own happiness since it is so plain to me that I don’t know how.
A: You certainly have put yourself in a bind! You know you don’t know how to provide for your happiness but you don’t trust Jesus to either. There is nothing wrong with continuing to want to see him as providing for your needs, but since you doubt that he is willing to, you really are setting up both yourself and him for failure. Because then when you feel deprived of anything, you can blame him.
Jesus points out that “only you can deprive yourself of anything” (T.11.IV.4:1). It is we who believe we need to sacrifice and punish ourselves for the sin of separation and attack we accuse ourselves of. So long as this belief underlies our thinking, we will project evidence of scarcity and lack onto the various forms of our lives. But the goal of the Course is not to teach us how to provide for ourselves physically and emotionally, but rather how to uncover the love buried deep within our minds so that we know that real abundance — love — is ours.
When Jesus tells us in “Rules for Decision” (T.30.I) how to have the kind of day we want, he is speaking only about content and not form. And so that is why he is encouraging us to make all of our decisions joined with him, or the Holy Spirit, rather than with the ego, which is the source of our belief in scarcity, lack and deprivation. For then our own judgments of what we need and what will make us happy will not get in the way. But while we still think we are a body, it will be difficult not to believe we know what at least some of our needs must be.
Whenever you join with Jesus in your mind, even when it is in the form of asking him for help with specific needs, you have in the moment of joining set aside your belief in lack and limitation. Now Jesus in reality has nothing to do with form — it is always our minds that decide about that. Nevertheless, early in your experience with the Course, you may find that your mind translates that experience of his love into the forms of what you believe you need. And so you have the experience of Jesus helping you in the world. There is nothing wrong with that and it can be very helpful in allowing you to develop trust in him. But over time, you will begin to realize that your real need and desire is for peace, as you experienced with your insight about specialness. And so what is happening in the world of form and your body will become less of a concern and what is happening within your mind will increasingly become your focus.
This certainly does not mean that your body’s needs will no longer be met, for if you are releasing the need to punish yourself, your body will over time become simply a neutral instrument that functions without concern or fear on your part (W.pII.294.1). But if there are still lessons of forgiveness to be learned, your mind will continue to project the guilt out into the world as a physical problem or a bodily need. But you will now see the world, not as a prison in which you are deprived, but as a classroom in which you are being presented with opportunities to uncover the guilt buried in your mind that is being projected as scarcity and lack. And your goal will be to heal the guilt in your mind and not concern yourself with the form it takes in the world. And that is where Jesus can really be of help. For he knows that the guilt is not real and deprivation is impossible. And in that shared realization, peace is yours.
For a related discussion, see Question #172.