ACIM Text Reading for July 11
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
Take pity on yourself, so long enslaved. Rejoice whom God hath joined have come together and need no longer look on sin apart. No two can look on sin together, for they could never see it in the same place and time. Sin is a strictly individual perception, seen in the other yet believed by each to be within himself. And each one seems to make a different error, and one the other cannot understand. Brother, it is the same, made by the same, and forgiven for its maker in the same way. The holiness of your relationship forgives you and your brother, undoing the effects of what you both believed and saw. And with their going is the need for sin gone with them.
Who has need for sin? Only the lonely and alone, who see their brothers different from themselves. It is this difference, seen but not real, that makes the need for sin, not real but seen, seem justified. And all this would be real if sin were so. For an unholy relationship is based on differences, where each one thinks the other has what he has not. They come together, each to complete himself and rob the other. They stay until they think that there is nothing left to steal, and then move on. And so they wander through a world of strangers, unlike themselves, living with their bodies perhaps under a common roof that shelters neither; in the same room and yet a world apart.
A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself. He sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body. Therefore, he looks on nothing he would take. He denies not his own reality because it is the truth. Just under Heaven does he stand, but close enough not to return to earth. For this relationship has Heaven’s holiness. How far from home can a relationship so like to Heaven be?
Think what a holy relationship can teach! Here is belief in differences undone. Here is the faith in differences shifted to sameness. Reason now can lead you and your brother to the logical conclusion of your union. It must extend, as you extended when you joined. It must reach out beyond itself, as you reached out beyond the body, to let yourselves be joined. And now the sameness that you saw extends and finally removes all sense of differences, so that the sameness that lies beneath them all becomes apparent. Here is the golden circle where you recognize the Son of God. For what is born into a holy relationship can never end.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 11
I have a function God would have me fill.
It is your Father’s holy Will that you complete Himself, and that your Self shall be His sacred Son, forever pure as He, of love created and in love preserved, extending love, creating in its name, forever one with God and with your Self. Yet what can such a function mean within a world of envy, hatred and attack?
Therefore, you have a function in the world in its own terms. For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp? Forgiveness represents your function here. It is not God’s creation, for it is the means by which untruth can be undone. And who would pardon Heaven? Yet on earth, you need the means to let illusions go. Creation merely waits for your return to be acknowledged, not to be complete.
Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here. Forgiveness is the closest it can come to earth. For being Heaven-born, it has no form at all. Yet God created One Who has the power to translate in form the wholly formless. What He makes are dreams, but of a kind so close to waking that the light of day already shines in them, and eyes already opening behold the joyful sights their offerings contain.
Forgiveness gently looks upon all things unknown in Heaven, sees them disappear, and leaves the world a clean and unmarked slate on which the Word of God can now replace the senseless symbols written there before. Forgiveness is the means by which the fear of death is overcome, because it holds no fierce attraction now and guilt is gone. Forgiveness lets the body be perceived as what it is; a simple teaching aid, to be laid by when learning is complete, but hardly changing him who learns at all.
The mind without the body cannot make mistakes. It cannot think that it will die, nor be the prey of merciless attack. Anger becomes impossible, and where is terror then? What fears could still assail those who have lost the source of all attack, the core of anguish and the seat of fear? Only forgiveness can relieve the mind of thinking that the body is its home. Only forgiveness can restore the peace that God intended for His holy Son. Only forgiveness can persuade the Son to look again upon his holiness.
With anger gone, you will indeed perceive that, for Christ’s vision and the gift of sight, no sacrifice was asked, and only pain was lifted from a sick and tortured mind. Is this unwelcome? Is it to be feared? Or is it to be hoped for, met with thanks and joyously accepted? We are one, and therefore give up nothing. But we have indeed been given everything by God.
Yet do we need forgiveness to perceive that this is so. Without its kindly light we grope in darkness, using reason but to justify our rage and our attack. Our understanding is so limited that what we think we understand is but confusion born of error. We are lost in mists of shifting dreams and fearful thoughts, our eyes shut tight against the light; our minds engaged in worshipping what is not there.
Who can be born again in Christ but him who has forgiven everyone he sees or thinks of or imagines? Who could be set free while he imprisons anyone? A jailer is not free, for he is bound together with his prisoner. He must be sure that he does not escape, and so he spends his time in keeping watch on him. The bars that limit him become the world in which his jailer lives, along with him. And it is on his freedom that the way to liberty depends for both of them.
Therefore, hold no one prisoner. Release instead of bind, for thus are you made free. The way is simple. Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free. Thus does each one who seems to tempt you to be angry represent your savior from the prison house of death. And so you owe him thanks instead of pain.
Be merciful today. The Son of God deserves your mercy. It is he who asks that you accept the way to freedom now. Deny him not. His Father’s Love for him belongs to you. Your function here on earth is only to forgive him, that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1223: I had an experience of God recently that I don’t know how to connect with my work with A Course in Miracles . Briefly, here is what happened. My cat, Ben, became seriously ill, and I was terribly upset. After leaving Ben in the care of the veterinarian, I returned home, still very anxious, and I found myself repeating, “Please forgive me, Ben, I am so very sorry.” I did this for hours, as if compelled to. Then I became aware that I was directing this to myself — that I was sorry to the core of my being for the harm I had done to myself over many years of abuse. Then came a powerful feeling that I was not alone. I experienced this as God, and for the first time in my life I felt alive and real. The power of His presence was beyond words. I was nothing; but I was everything. Fear did not exist, and there was a realization of beauty in death and in all things. This lasted for the weekend, but after that I felt very vulnerable, and my defenses built up again. I am still seeking to recover that feeling of being so real and alive.
A: Without knowing a great deal more about you, it is difficult to for us to say what all of this means for you specifically. We can simply point out a few concepts and teachings in the Course that we hope will be of help.
First, Jesus reminds us that we are “very new to the ways of salvation” (T.17.9:1) , which means if a profound experience does not last, such as the one you had, then it can serve the purpose of showing us what our permanent experience will be as we continue to get in touch with the interferences that must still be operating in our minds. He describes this in another place in the text in terms of light and darkness: “… the journey into darkness has been long and cruel, and you have gone deep into it. A little flicker of your eyelids, closed so long, has not yet been sufficient to give you confidence in yourself, so long despised” (T.18.III.3:3,4). The experience you had seems to be much more than “a little flicker of your eyelids,” but that assessment is from our point of view, not from where Jesus is outside the dream. It may be helpful to read this entire section, “Light in the Dream,” as you will see there that Jesus is very encouraging, and is basically saying that our unconscious fear of total release causes us to retreat back into darkness after we glimpse the light. He assures us that we will succeed, however: “But you will advance, because your goal is the advance from fear to truth” (T.18.III.2:2). Notice, though, that in this section Jesus does not advise us to concentrate on God, but rather on our relationships — looking for grievances we are holding onto, or something else that would keep us separate from others — perhaps feeling that some people do not deserve to experience God’s Love and peace. Our fear of release is expressed that way, and therefore if we focus on becoming aware of what is keeping us separate from others, and then look at all that with Jesus or the Holy Spirit (which means without judgment), we will be letting go of what is blocking our awareness of God’s love and peace that is reflected in our right minds. Patience and gentleness are essential as you proceed with this process.
Q #1224: I reencountered Lesson 328 “I choose the second place to gain the first.” I am somewhat baffled even after re-reading it carefully, and therefore would appreciate your help.
A: This thought comes from the famous statement in Matthew’s gospel that the last shall be first and the first last. This is the foundation of the ego’s thought system and its principle of one or the other — God is second because the ego is first, which means God is no longer God, and so has been destroyed. A Course in Miracles helps us recognize and correct our mistake of believing we have separated from God and thus are in “first place” because we triumphed over Him. Jesus tells us in this lesson, as well as elsewhere, that we believe our autonomy is our salvation, but it is not really what we thought it would be: “Yet all we find is sickness, suffering and loss and death” (W.pII.328.1:3) , which is not at all what God wills for us. We choose the second place by realizing our mistake, letting go of the ego, and choosing Jesus as our teacher. Then we realize that there is only the unity of the Father and Son — no one and two. There is only One. When we accept God as our Cause instead of the ego, the memory of our oneness with Him returns to our mind, and our will rejoins His.