ACIM Text Reading for July 18
Chapter 23 ~ The War Against Yourself
Do you not see the opposite of frailty and weakness is sinlessness? Innocence is strength, and nothing else is strong. The sinless cannot fear, for sin of any kind is weakness. The show of strength attack would use to cover frailty conceals it not, for how can the unreal be hidden? No one is strong who has an enemy, and no one can attack unless he thinks he has. Belief in enemies is therefore the belief in weakness, and what is weak is not the Will of God. Being opposed to it, it is God’s “enemy.” And God is feared as an opposing will.
How strange indeed becomes this war against yourself! You will believe that everything you use for sin can hurt you and become your enemy. And you will fight against it, and try to weaken it because of this; and you will think that you succeeded, and attack again. It is as certain you will fear what you attack as it is sure that you will love what you perceive as sinless. He walks in peace who travels sinlessly along the way love shows him. For love walks with him there, protecting him from fear. And he will see only the sinless, who can not attack.
Walk you in glory, with your head held high, and fear no evil. The innocent are safe because they share their innocence. Nothing they see is harmful, for their awareness of the truth releases everything from the illusion of harmfulness. And what seemed harmful now stands shining in their innocence, released from sin and fear and happily returned to love. They share the strength of love because they looked on innocence. And every error disappeared because they saw it not. Who looks for glory finds it where it is. Where could it be but in the innocent?
Let not the little interferers pull you to littleness. There can be no attraction of guilt in innocence. Think what a happy world you walk, with truth beside you! Do not give up this world of freedom for a little sigh of seeming sin, nor for a tiny stirring of guilt’s attraction. Would you, for all these meaningless distractions, lay Heaven aside? Your destiny and purpose are far beyond them, in the clean place where littleness does not exist. Your purpose is at variance with littleness of any kind. And so it is at variance with sin.
Let us not let littleness lead God’s Son into temptation. His glory is beyond it, measureless and timeless as eternity. Do not let time intrude upon your sight of him. Leave him not frightened and alone in his temptation, but help him rise above it and perceive the light of which he is a part. Your innocence will light the way to his, and so is yours protected and kept in your awareness. For who can know his glory, and perceive the little and the weak about him? Who can walk trembling in a fearful world, and realize that Heaven’s glory shines on him?
Nothing around you but is part of you. Look on it lovingly, and see the light of Heaven in it. So will you come to understand all that is given you. In kind forgiveness will the world sparkle and shine, and everything you once thought sinful now will be reinterpreted as part of Heaven. How beautiful it is to walk, clean and redeemed and happy, through a world in bitter need of the redemption that your innocence bestows upon it! What can you value more than this? For here is your salvation and your freedom. And it must be complete if you would recognize it.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 18
I am not a body. I am free.
Freedom must be impossible as long as you perceive a body as yourself. The body is a limit. Who would seek for freedom in a body looks for it where it can not be found. The mind can be made free when it no longer sees itself as in a body, firmly tied to it and sheltered by its presence. If this were the truth, the mind were vulnerable indeed!
The mind that serves the Holy Spirit is unlimited forever, in all ways, beyond the laws of time and space, unbound by any preconceptions, and with strength and power to do whatever it is asked. Attack thoughts cannot enter such a mind, because it has been given to the Source of love, and fear can never enter in a mind that has attached itself to love. It rests in God. And who can be afraid who lives in Innocence, and only loves?
It is essential for your progress in this course that you accept today’s idea, and hold it very dear. Be not concerned that to the ego it is quite insane. The ego holds the body dear because it dwells in it, and lives united with the home that it has made. It is a part of the illusion that has sheltered it from being found illusory itself.
Here does it hide, and here it can be seen as what it is. Declare your innocence and you are free. The body disappears, because you have no need of it except the need the Holy Spirit sees. For this, the body will appear as useful form for what the mind must do. It thus becomes a vehicle which helps forgiveness be extended to the all-inclusive goal that it must reach, according to God’s plan.
Cherish today’s idea, and practice it today and every day. Make it a part of every practice period you take. There is no thought that will not gain thereby in power to help the world, and none which will not gain in added gifts to you as well. We sound the call of freedom round the world with this idea. And would you be exempt from the acceptance of the gifts you give?
The Holy Spirit is the home of minds that seek for freedom. In Him they have found what they have sought. The body’s purpose now is unambiguous. And it becomes perfect in the ability to serve an undivided goal. In conflict-free and unequivocal response to mind with but the thought of freedom as its goal, the body serves, and serves its purpose well. Without the power to enslave, it is a worthy servant of the freedom which the mind within the Holy Spirit seeks.
Be free today. And carry freedom as your gift to those who still believe they are enslaved within a body. Be you free, so that the Holy Spirit can make use of your escape from bondage, to set free the many who perceive themselves as bound and helpless and afraid. Let love replace their fears through you. Accept salvation now, and give your mind to Him Who calls to you to make this gift to Him. For He would give you perfect freedom, perfect joy, and hope that finds its full accomplishment in God.
You are God’s Son. In immortality you live forever. Would you not return your mind to this? Then practice well the thought the Holy Spirit gives you for today. Your brothers stand released with you in it; the world is blessed along with you, God’s Son will weep no more, and Heaven offers thanks for the increase of joy your practice brings even to it. And God Himself extends His Love and happiness each time you say:
I am not a body. I am free.
I hear the Voice that God has given me,
and it is only this my mind obeys.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #671: Ghosts? Prevalent belief in the world, indeed. Consider the parallels — the lost soul, living in a dream world, no physical presence, refusing to realize the death of the body, and not wanting to leave the world they know. It seems like there’s something to that idea of ghosts — a widely held belief made up by the ego to explain away our remembering reality and the separation?
A: One of the more common deceitful tricks of the ego is to take an aspect of its thought system and give it a more circumscribed definition within our experience so that we don’t see it as a pervasive part of our “reality” under its malevolent reign. And so it requires someone outside of this thought system, or at least not completely identified with it, to see beyond the veils of deception and confusion that have been interposed between this false “reality” and our true Identity.
So, for example, we seem to experience differentiated states of sleeping and waking, with dreaming apparently an accompaniment of the sleeping state. And so we believe we know the difference between sleeping and waking, and dreams and reality. We never question whether the various states of mind we experience in the world might not be meaningless shifts within a single continuous dream, while we sleep on and on. Because we think there is a difference between our waking state and our dreaming state, we never question our assumption that we know what it is to be awake. But Jesus does (e.g., T.10.I.2,3; T.18.II.5).
We also have definitions of insanity and mental illness that apply only to some people, but not to others, believing that we know and experience sanity within this world. And so, because we think we know what insanity is, we never even consider the possibility that all of our thinking here is insane. But Jesus knows otherwise (e.g., T.9.VII.6; T.10.V.10; T.23.II.14).
And then we believe we know the difference between life and death, which to us are obviously mutually exclusive states of the body. We know we are alive and we can identify by very objective criteria who is dead. And so we never question whether our entire existence may not be a form of death predicated on the belief that we can separate ourselves from Life. But Jesus can lead us to a different conclusion (e.g., T.23.II.19; W.167).
And of course, we think we can tell the difference between love and hate, because we believe we can recognize the forms of each so easily. And so we never question whether what we call love may not simply be a disguised form of hatred. But Jesus is not fooled (e.g., T.16.VII.5; T.23.II.17; T.23.III.1,2; T.29.I.6,7).
And so, yes, ghosts become another distraction of the ego — are they real, is there individual life after death? — hiding a deeper truth. After all, ghosts, were they to exist, we know would be something other than what we are — alive and solid and real. And so we never consider whether in fact the self we think we are is nothing but a shadowy ghost of our real Self. And again, Jesus knows otherwise, and he tries to help us see the ghastly nature of this ghostly existence we call life.
And so he notes the consequences of our choice for the ego, against our true Self:
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 (W.191.3, italics added).
Yet Jesus does not leave us caught in that ego trap, but recognizing how like small children we are, he reassures us:
Children perceive frightening ghosts and monsters and dragons, and they are terrified. Yet if they ask someone they trust for the meaning of what they perceive, and are willing to let their own interpretations go in favor of reality, their fear goes with them. When a child is helped to translate his “ghost” into a curtain, his “monster” into a shadow, and his “dragon” into a dream he is no longer afraid, and laughs happily at his own fear.
You, my child, are afraid of your brothers and of your Father and of yourself. But you are merely deceived in them. Ask what they are of the Teacher of reality, and hearing His answer, you too will laugh at your fears and replace them with peace. For fear lies not in reality, but in the minds of children who do not understand reality. It is only their lack of understanding that frightens them, and when they learn to perceive truly they are not afraid. And because of this they will ask for truth again when they are frightened. It is not the reality of your brothers or your Father or yourself that frightens you. You do not know what they are, and so you perceive them as ghosts and monsters and dragons. Ask what their reality is from the One Who knows it, and He will tell you what they are. For you do not understand them, and because you are deceived by what you see you need reality to dispel your fears.
Would you not exchange your fears for truth, if the exchange is yours for the asking? For if God is not deceived in you, you can be deceived only in yourself. Yet you can learn the truth about yourself from the Holy Spirit, Who will teach you that, as part of God, deceit in you is impossible (T.11.VIII.13,14,15).