ACIM Text Reading for July 15
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
V. The Branching of the Road
When you come to the place where the branch in the road is quite apparent, you cannot go ahead. You must go either one way or the other. For now if you go straight ahead, the way you went before you reached the branch, you will go nowhere. The whole purpose of coming this far was to decide which branch you will take now. The way you came no longer matters. It can no longer serve. No one who reaches this far can make the wrong decision, although he can delay. And there is no part of the journey that seems more hopeless and futile than standing where the road branches, and not deciding on which way to go.
It is but the first few steps along the right way that seem hard, for you have chosen, although you still may think you can go back and make the other choice. This is not so. A choice made with the power of Heaven to uphold it cannot be undone. Your way is decided. There will be nothing you will not be told, if you acknowledge this.
And so you and your brother stand, here in this holy place, before the veil of sin that hangs between you and the face of Christ. Let it be lifted! Raise it together, for it is but a veil that stands between you. Either you alone will see it as a solid block, nor realize how thin the drapery that separates you now. Yet it is almost over in your awareness, and peace has reached you even here, before the veil. Think what will happen after. The Love of Christ will light your faces, and shine from them into a darkened world that needs the light. And from this holy place he will return with you, not leaving it nor you. You will become his messengers, returning him unto himself.
Think of the loveliness that you will see, who walk with him! And think how beautiful will each of you look to the other! How happy you will be to be together, after such a long and lonely journey where you walked alone. The gates of Heaven, open now for you, will you now open to the sorrowful. And none who looks upon the Christ in you but will rejoice. How beautiful the sight you saw beyond the veil, which you will bring to light the tired eyes of those as weary now as once you were. How thankful will they be to see you come among them, offering Christ’s forgiveness to dispel their faith in sin.
Every mistake you make, your brother will gently have corrected for you. For in his sight your loveliness is his salvation, which he would protect from harm. And each will be the others strong protector from everything that seems to rise between you both. So shall you walk the world with me, whose message has not yet been given everyone. For you are here to let it be received. God’s offer still is open, yet it waits acceptance. From you who have accepted it is it received. Into your joined hands is it safely given, for you who share it have become its willing guardians and protectors.
To all who share the Love of God the grace is given to the givers of what they have received. And so they learn that it is theirs forever. All barriers disappear before their coming, as every obstacle was finally surmounted that seemed to rise and block their way before. This veil you lift together opens the way to truth to more than you. Those who would let illusions be lifted from their minds are this world’s saviors, walking the world with their Redeemer, and carrying His message of hope and freedom and release from suffering to everyone who needs a miracle to save him.
How easy is it to offer this miracle to everyone! No one who has received it for himself could find it difficult. For by receiving it, he learned it was not given him alone. Such is the function of a holy relationship; to receive together and give as you received. Standing before the veil, it still seems difficult. But hold out your joined hands and touch this heavy-seeming block, and you will learn how easily your fingers slip through its nothingness. It is no solid wall. And only an illusion stands between you and the holy Self you share.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 15
It can be but myself I crucify.
When this is firmly understood and kept in full awareness, you will not attempt to harm yourself, nor make your body slave to vengeance. You will not attack yourself, and you will realize that to attack another is but to attack yourself. You will be free of the insane belief that to attack a brother saves yourself. And you will understand his safety is your own, and in his healing you are healed.
Perhaps at first you will not understand how mercy, limitless and with all things held in its sure protection, can be found in the idea we practice for today. It may, in fact, appear to be a sign that punishment can never be escaped because the ego, under what it sees as threat, is quick to cite the truth to save its lies. Yet must it fail to understand the truth it uses thus. But you can learn to see these foolish applications, and deny the meaning they appear to have.
Thus do you also teach your mind that you are not an ego. For the ways in which the ego would distort the truth will not deceive you longer. You will not believe you are a body to be crucified. And you will see within today’s idea the light of resurrection, looking past all thoughts of crucifixion and of death, to thoughts of liberation and of life.
Today’s idea is one step we take in leading us from bondage to the state of perfect freedom. Let us take this step today, that we may quickly go the way salvation shows us, taking every step in its appointed sequence, as the mind relinquishes its burdens one by one. It is not time we need for this. It is but willingness. For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God.
The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross. Perhaps it seemed to be salvation. Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real. And what is that but hell? Who could believe his Father is his deadly enemy, separate from him, and waiting to destroy his life and blot him from the universe, without the fear of hell upon his heart?
Such is the form of madness you believe, if you accept the fearful thought you can attack another and be free yourself. Until this form is changed, there is no hope. Until you see that this, at least, must be entirely impossible, how could there be escape? The fear of God is real to anyone who thinks this thought is true. And he will not perceive its foolishness, or even see that it is there, so that it would be possible to question it.
To question it at all, its form must first be changed at least as much as will permit fear of retaliation to abate, and the responsibility returned to some extent to you. From there you can at least consider if you want to go along this painful path. Until this shift has been accomplished, you can not perceive that it is but your thoughts that bring you fear, and your deliverance depends on you.
Our next steps will be easy, if you take this one today. From there we go ahead quite rapidly. For once you understand it is impossible that you be hurt except by your own thoughts, the fear of God must disappear. You cannot then believe that fear is caused without. And God, Whom you had thought to banish, can be welcomed back within the holy mind He never left.
Salvation’s song can certainly be heard in the idea we practice for today. If it can but be you you crucify, you did not hurt the world, and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind. The thing you dread the most is your salvation. You are strong, and it is strength you want. And you are free, and glad of freedom. You have sought to be both weak and bound, because you feared your strength and freedom. Yet salvation lies in them.
There is an instant in which terror seems to grip your mind so wholly that escape appears quite hopeless. When you realize, once and for all, that it is you you fear, the mind perceives itself as split. And this had been concealed while you believed attack could be directed outward, and returned from outside to within. It seemed to be an enemy outside you had to fear. And thus a god outside yourself became your mortal enemy; the source of fear.
Now, for an instant, is a murderer perceived within you, eager for your death, intent on plotting punishment for you until the time when it can kill at last. Yet in this instant is the time as well in which salvation comes. For fear of God has disappeared. And you can call on Him to save you from illusions by His Love, calling Him Father and yourself His Son. Pray that the instant may be soon,–today. Step back from fear, and make advance to love.
There is no Thought of God that does not go with you to help you reach that instant, and to go beyond it quickly, surely and forever. When the fear of God is gone, there are no obstacles that still remain between you and the holy peace of God. How kind and merciful is the idea we practice! Give it welcome, as you should, for it is your release. It is indeed but you your mind can try to crucify. Yet your redemption, too, will come from you.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #883: i. A Course in Miracles talks about the illusory world disappearing once we realize that we have never left God. How is this possible? If I have a thought then that thought stays with me forever. It may fade into the background, but it never disappears and can be recalled at any time when triggered by a specific stimulus. The same should apply to all my thoughts that I have had in this illusion.
ii. We project our fear onto someone else and then become afraid of what that person will do to us. There are a couple of billion people in this world and who knows whatever else exists in other illusions that are different from our universe. Nothing exists in the illusion. Does this mean that I have projected my fears onto the billions that are on this planet?
A: i. The self that has the thought will disappear as well, for that is just as illusory as the world. That is difficult for us to grasp, to say nothing of the terror we feel when confronted with that fact. But as Jesus says, when the veil is lifted and the world is gone, “Nothing that you remember now will you remember” (T.19.IV.D.6:6) . Similarly, “You will not remember change and shift in Heaven. You have need of contrast only here” (T.13.IX.6:1,2) . In God, there is no consciousness, no individual self with memories or individual thoughts: “Nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4) .
As we practice our forgiveness lessons and find perceptions of separation and differences less and less useful and appealing, we will gravitate more toward what binds us all as one. Over time, we will lose interest in anything that reminds us of separation and conflicting interests. This is what Jesus refers to as the “attraction of love for love” (T.12.VIII) , when the vision of Christ that sees us all as one becomes irresistible. This will grow in our awareness, and then one day we will awaken and thankfully realize that nothing else has ever been. The thoughts we held as individuals will have disappeared into the nothingness from which they came. This is a process that naturally and gradually occurs when our only focus throughout the day is forgiveness.
ii. This is a process that takes place entirely in the mind, which is outside time and space. That makes the mind’s process rather difficult for us to comprehend, because we always think about things in terms of linear time and space. Yet, Jesus emphasizes that the world is nothing other than “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5) ; “It still is true that nothing is without. Yet upon nothing are all projections made. For it is the projection that gives the ‘nothing’ all the meaning that it holds” (T.20.VIII.9:7,8,9).
The point of this is that the mind is in such fear over its guilt — thanks to its decision to listen to the ego instead of the Holy Spirit — that it makes up a world filled with multitudes of objects onto which it can project its guilt. This is all going on only in the mind, though. There is not first a world and then a mind that projects its guilt and fear onto it. The strategy of projection, importantly, includes severing that connection, so that we wind up being aware only of a world of discrete things, having blocked out the fact that they are being generated by a mind seeking to unload its burden of guilt. Given this dynamic, you can project your fear onto anything at all. Usually, however, only certain people will trigger a reaction in you, not everyone. Remember, A Course in Miracles defines perception as interpretation — it is not what you physically see that constitutes perception; it is how you react to what you see. So when you react strongly to someone — and the person need not be physically present — you want to see that as an opportunity to go back to the decision-making point in your mind and ask for help to look at your guilt and fear with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. As you do that more and more, you will project less and less. Then, finally, you will let go of the guilt and fear all together.