ACIM Text Reading for July 24
Chapter 24 ~ The Goal of Specialness
II. Specialness as a Substitute for Love
Love is extension. To withhold the smallest gift is not to know love’s purpose. Love offers everything forever. Hold back but one belief, one offering, and love is gone, because you asked a substitute to take its place. And now must war, the substitute for peace, come with the one alternative that you can choose for love. Your choosing it has given it all the reality it seems to have.
Beliefs will never openly attack each other because conflicting outcomes are impossible. But an unrecognized belief is a decision to war in secret, where the results of conflict are kept unknown and never brought to reason, to be considered sensible or not. And many senseless outcomes have been reached, and meaningless decisions have been made and kept hidden, to become beliefs now given power to direct all subsequent decisions. Mistake you not the power of these hidden warriors to disrupt your peace. For it is at their mercy while you decide to leave it there. The secret enemies of peace, your least decision to choose attack instead of love, unrecognized and swift to challenge you to combat and to violence far more inclusive than you think, are there by your election. Do not deny their presence nor their terrible results. All that can be denied is their reality, but not their outcome.
All that is ever cherished as a hidden belief, to be defended though unrecognized, is faith in specialness. This takes many forms, but always clashes with the reality of God’s creation and with the grandeur that He gave His Son. What else could justify attack? For who could hate someone whose Self is his, and Whom he knows? Only the special could have enemies, for they are different and not the same. And difference of any kind imposes orders of reality, and a need to judge that cannot be escaped.
What God created cannot be attacked, for there is nothing in the universe unlike itself. But what is different calls for judgment, and this must come from someone “better,” someone incapable of being like what he condemns, “above” it, sinless by comparison with it. And thus does specialness become a means and end at once. For specialness not only sets apart, but serves as grounds from which attack on those who seem “beneath” the special one is “natural” and “just.” The special ones feel weak and frail because of differences, for what would make them special is their enemy. Yet they protect its enmity and call it “friend.” On its behalf they fight against the universe, for nothing in the world they value more.
Specialness is the great dictator of the wrong decisions. Here is the grand illusion of what you are and what your brother is. And here is what must make the body dear and worth preserving. Specialness must be defended. Illusions can attack it, and they do. For what your brother must become to keep your specialness is an illusion. He who is “worse” than you must be attacked, so that your specialness can live on his defeat. For specialness is triumph, and its victory is his defeat and shame. How can he live, with all your sins upon him? And who must be his conqueror but you?
Would it be possible for you to hate your brother if you were like him? Could you attack him if you realized you journey with him, to a goal that is the same? Would you not help him reach it in every way you could, if his attainment of it were perceived as yours? You are his enemy in specialness; his friend in a shared purpose. Specialness can never share, for it depends on goals that you alone can reach. And he must never reach them, or your goal is jeopardized. Can love have meaning where the goal is triumph? And what decision can be made for this that will not hurt you?
Your brother is your friend because his Father created him like you. There is no difference. You have been given to your brother that love might be extended, not cut off from him. What you keep is lost to you. God gave you and your brother Himself, and to remember this is now the only purpose that you share. And so it is the only one you have. Could you attack your brother if you chose to see no specialness of any kind between you and him? Look fairly at whatever makes you give your brother only partial welcome, or would let you think that you are better off apart. Is it not always your belief your specialness is limited by your relationship? And is not this the “enemy” that makes you and your brother illusions to each other?
The fear of God and of your brother comes from each unrecognized belief in specialness. For you demand your brother bow to it against his will. And God Himself must honor it or suffer vengeance. Every twinge of malice, or stab of hate or wish to separate arises here. For here the purpose that you and your brother share becomes obscured from both of you. You would oppose this course because it teaches you you and your brother are alike. You have no purpose that is not the same, and none your Father does not share with you. For your relationship has been made clean of special goals. And would you now defeat the goal of holiness that Heaven gave it? What perspective can the special have that does not change with every seeming blow, each slight, or fancied judgment on itself? Those who are special must defend illusions against the truth. For what is specialness but an attack upon the Will of God? You love your brother not while it is this you would defend against him. This is what he attacks, and you protect. Here is the ground of battle which you wage against him. Here must he be your enemy and not your friend. Never can there be peace among the different. He is your friend because you are the same.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 24
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
(185) I want the peace of God.
The peace of God is everything I want. The peace of God is
my one goal; the aim of all my living here, the end I seek,
my purpose and my function and my life, while I abide
where I am not at home.
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1173: Recently I visited several Internet forums on different subjects. People seemed to “hit out” at each other and argue so much, it reminded me very much of the Course’s statement that this world is already an attack on the Son of God, made by himself. Since we regard the world we are living in as our “lives,” does it mean, in the Course’s perception of the world, that the very fact that we are “living” in this world is already an attack on ourselves? In other words, by “incarnating” into flesh and body are we being “auto aggressive”?
A: Yes. The attack on the Son of God is the mind’s decision to be separate, and to identify with a body living in the world. The mind defends its choice by projecting out its guilt in countless scenarios for wars of opposition, not least among them, the many battles among students of the Course. Nothing misses the point more blatantly than the compulsion to defend a distinctive position regarding the teachings of A Course in Miracles . It proves that there is nothing the ego cannot use to defend separation. But then, there is nothing the Holy Spirit cannot use to heal the mind of belief in separation. And so, the world that the ego made as an attack (W.p.II.3.2:1) can become a classroom for the Holy Spirit’s lessons of forgiveness. The goal of the classroom is to learn that neither the attack, nor the ensuing battles between opposing forces of any kind have any real effect on the mind’s ability to choose peace. What takes the punch out of the attack is not judging it as sinful, because it has no effect; an illusory attack has brought forth an illusory world.
The lessons of forgiveness begin with willingness to look at the many forms of attack and judgment that present themselves in the course of living in this world, and seeing in them the reflection of the mind’s choice to defend separation. In the case of “warring students,” one might find judgments founded on the perception of these students as sinful wrong-doers. Missing the point is not cause for condemnation and exclusion, however eager the ego may be to make its case. It is a call for love expressed in discord among students and is no different from the call for love of one who judges them. The important thing is to hear the call in oneself along with that of someone else, judging neither. This brings the mind in alignment with the Holy Spirit, transforms the battlefield into a classroom, and the attack into an opportunity. Practicing in this way with every situation that presents itself is how the mind is healed of the mistaken belief in the seemingly devastating effects of the Son of God’s attack upon himself .
Q #1174: In Ken and Gloria’s book “The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course In Miracles, ” they discuss the possibility that someone can be threatened by our “peace.” They were clarifying the line in the Course that says we know we are truly at peace when all or meet or even think of us “share in our perfect peace” with the anger directed toward Jesus. Ken and Gloria said that in order to become threatened by our peace someone else would have to have first “experienced it as real and then become threatened by it.” Does this mean that the person who becomes threatened senses that we do not want to compete with them but only want to be friends with them? Do they detect a sense of peace with ourselves? I just do not get why someone would be threatened by someone wanting to be peaceful with them.
A: To understand the dynamics of the ego thought system at work it is essential to look beneath the surface. For this purpose, a phrase used in the training of investigative teams applies aptly to the mind training taught in the Course: “nothing is as it seems.” It is insane to think that peace would be a threat in any way, yet that is the ego’s interpretation of anything related to the right mind of the Sonship. The ego is insane. The part of the mind that chooses to identify with the ego thought system is threatened by the part of the mind that knows peace. Its foundation is threatened by the possibility that the decision-making part of the mind may make a definitive choice against it in favor of peace, in which case it will cease to exist.
When peacefulness is perceived in someone else it is a reminder that the same peace is possible for oneself. All is well if the mind decides to choose peace and identify with the peace it perceives in another. However, if it chooses to identify with the insanity of the ego, it will perceive anything sane as a threat; fear then replaces peace. Guilt for choosing fear instead of peace is projected out in the form of a judgment against someone who seems peaceful. The judgment may come in the guise of envy, admiration, or a desire to bask in the comfort of the peacefulness the other possesses. Strange as it may seem, the ego always interprets this to mean: “if you have it and I don’t, you stole it form me.” This is the projected version of the mind’s judgment against itself for thinking it stole God’s power by deciding to reject the Identity given it by God and make up its own delusional separate identity. This hidden insane thought system is not visible on the surface. It is a disguised attack on oneself and the other person, masquerading as admiration or any number of “acceptable” sentiments. The Course teaches that any perception of difference is an attack, and attack engenders fear of counter-attack. Thus begins the ego’s endless cycle of perceived threats to be defended against, including someone else’s peace. That explains the gnawing, pervasive sense of vulnerability that gives reason to elaborate plans for security. The ego is under constant threat, and therefore in permanent defense mode because it is aware that at any moment the mind that chose for it can abolish it by choosing against it. That is why peace is perceived as a threat. It has nothing to do with the way another person behaves or what they say. It is the mind that chooses the ego that is threatened by the true peace abiding in the right mind, where the memory of God’s Love is held. And again, the only reason one would fear God’s Love is because the separate self cannot exist in the Oneness of His Love.
To follow the path of the Course’s teachings, it is enough to be willing to notice how important it is to perceive difference. One of the goals of the Course is to teach us to see all these differences for what they are: weapons of the ego’s defense strategy, and not to be deceived by the “beauty” of the world’s kaleidoscope. Hidden behind the glitz is the fear of peace, and behind that fear is the fear of the Oneness of God’s Love that we share. The hope of finding the true peace we seek (not to be confused with the bodily feeling of calm relaxation) begins with realizing we are afraid of it, and have buried the fear beneath layers of denial. This realization opens the door to releasing the fear that blocks the peace. The beginning of healing is to cease denying the sickness. That is why much of the Course is devoted to exposing the ego’s use of fear as defense against the peace of God. When we are no longer afraid of it, it will no longer be perceived as a threat: “When we have overcome fear–not by hiding it, not by minimizing it, and not by denying its full import in any way–this [peace] is what you will really see” (T.12.II.9:5).