ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 31

ACIM Text Reading for August 31

Chapter 28 ~ The Undoing of Fear

II. Reversing Effect and Cause

Without a cause there can be no effects, and yet without effects there is no cause. The cause a cause is made by its effects; the Father is a Father by His Son. Effects do not create their cause, but they establish its causation. Thus, the Son gives Fatherhood to his Creator, and receives the gift that he has given Him. It is because he is God’s Son that he must also be a father, who creates as God created him. The circle of creation has no end. Its starting and its ending are the same. But in itself it holds the universe of all creation, without beginning and without an end.

Fatherhood is creation. Love must be extended. Purity is not confined. It is the nature of the innocent to be forever uncontained, without a barrier or limitation. Thus is purity not of the body. Nor can it be found where limitation is. The body can be healed by its effects, which are as limitless as is itself. Yet must all healing come about because the mind is recognized as not within the body, and its innocence is quite apart from it, and where all healing is. Where, then, is healing? Only where its cause is given its effects. For sickness is a meaningless attempt to give effects to causelessness, and make it be a cause.

Always in sickness does the Son of God attempt to make himself his cause, and not allow himself to be his Father’s Son. For this impossible desire, he does not believe that he is Love’s Effect, and must be cause because of what he is. The cause of healing is the only Cause of everything. It has but one effect. And in that recognition, causelessness is given no effects and none is seen. A mind within a body and a world of other bodies, each with separate minds, are your “creations,” you the “other” mind, creating with effects unlike yourself. And as their “father,” you must be like them.

Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself, and but a part of someone else’s dream. The miracle does not awaken you, but merely shows you who the dreamer is. It teaches you there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. Do you wish for dreams of healing, or for dreams of death? A dream is like a memory in that it pictures what you wanted shown to you.

An empty storehouse, with an open door, holds all your shreds of memories and dreams. Yet if you are the dreamer, you perceive this much at least: that you have caused the dream, and can accept another dream as well. But for this change in content of the dream, it must be realized that it is you who dreamed the dreaming that you do not like. It is but an effect that you have caused, and you would not be cause of this effect. In dreams of murder and attack are you the victim in a dying body slain. But in forgiving dreams is no one asked to be the victim and the sufferer. These are the happy dreams the miracle exchanges for your own. It does not ask you make another; only that you see you made the one you would exchange for this.

This world is causeless, as is every dream that anyone has dreamed within the world. No plans are possible, and no design exists that could be found and understood. What else could be expected from a thing that has no cause? Yet if it has no cause, it has no purpose. You may cause a dream, but never will you give it real effects. For that would change its cause, and it is this you cannot do. The dreamer of a dream is not awake, but does not know he sleeps. He sees illusions of himself as sick or well, depressed or happy, but without a stable cause with guaranteed effects.

The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true. This is a crucial step in dealing with illusions. No one is afraid of them when he perceives he made them up. The fear was held in place because he did not see that he was author of the dream, and not a figure in the dream. He gives himself the consequences that he dreams he gave his brother. And it is but this the dream has put together and has offered him, to show him that his wishes have been done. Thus does he fear his own attack, but sees it at another’s hands. As victim, he is suffering from its effects, but not their cause. He authored not his own attack, and he is innocent of what he caused. The miracle does nothing but to show him that he has done nothing. What he fears is cause without the consequences that would make it cause. And so it never was.

The separation started with the dream the Father was deprived of His Effects, and powerless to keep them since He was no longer their Creator. In the dream, the dreamer made himself. But what he made has turned against him, taking on the role of its creator, as the dreamer had. And as he hated his Creator, so the figures in the dream have hated him. His body is their slave, which they abuse because the motives he has given it have they adopted as their own. And hate it for the vengeance it would offer them. It is their vengeance on the body which appears to prove the dreamer could not be the maker of the dream. Effect and cause are first split off, and then reversed, so that effect becomes a cause; the cause, effect.

This is the separation’s final step, with which salvation, which proceeds to go the other way, begins. This final step is an effect of what has gone before, appearing as a cause. The miracle is the first step in giving back to cause the function of causation, not effect. For this confusion has produced the dream, and while it lasts will wakening be feared. Nor will the call to wakening be heard, because it seems to be the call to fear.

Like every lesson that the Holy Spirit requests you learn, the miracle is clear. It demonstrates what He would have you learn, and shows you its effects are what you want. In His forgiving dreams are the effects of yours undone, and hated enemies perceived as friends with merciful intent. Their enmity is seen as causeless now, because they did not make it. And you can accept the role of maker of their hate, because you see that it has no effects. Now are you freed from this much of the dream; the world is neutral, and the bodies that still seem to move about as separate things need not be feared. And so they are not sick.

The miracle returns the cause of fear to you who made it. But it also shows that, having no effects, it is not cause, because the function of causation is to have effects. And where effects are gone, there is no cause. Thus is the body healed by miracles because they show the mind made sickness, and employed the body to be victim, or effect, of what it made. Yet half the lesson will not teach the whole. The miracle is useless if you learn but that the body can be healed, for this is not the lesson it was sent to teach. The lesson is the mind was sick that thought the body could be sick; projecting out its guilt caused nothing, and had no effects.

This world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain and suffering, of sin and guilt. They are the dream’s alternative, the choice to be the dreamer, rather than deny the active role in making up the dream. They are the glad effects of taking back the consequence of sickness to its cause. The body is released because the mind acknowledges “this is not done to me, but I am doing this.” And thus the mind is free to make another choice instead. Beginning here, salvation will proceed to change the course of every step in the descent to separation, until all the steps have been retraced, the ladder gone, and all the dreaming of the world undone.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 31

Lesson 243
Today I will judge nothing that occurs.

I will be honest with myself today. I will not think that I already know what must remain beyond my present grasp. I will not think I understand the whole from bits of my perception, which are all that I can see. Today I recognize that this is so. And so I am relieved of judgments that I cannot make. Thus do I free myself and what I look upon, to be in peace as God created us.

Father, today I leave creation free to be itself. I honor all its parts, in which I am included. We are one because each part contains Your memory, and truth must shine in all of us as one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #941: Please explain the Holy Spirit, specifics, and A Course in Miracles ‘ ultimate goal.

A: Jesus tells us in the Course that the Holy Spirit ” is the Christ Mind which is aware of the knowledge that lies beyond perception” (T.5.I.5: 1) and ” is in your right mind, as He was in mine” (T.5.I.3). In other words, the Holy Spirit is the memory of God’s Love that remained in our mind when we fell asleep and dreamt up this world of separation. We can think of Him as an internal Teacher to whom we can turn for guidance. He will correct our painful thoughts of separation with forgiving thoughts, which reflect the truth that we are still “home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality” (T.10.I.2: 1) .

Of specifics, the Course says, “The Holy Spirit will answer every specific problem as long as you believe that problems are specific” (T.11.VIII.5: 5). Then it goes on to tell us that “Problems are not specific but they take specific forms, and these specific shapes make up the world” (T. 27.V.8: 1). So, the Course lets us know that there is a loving presence to which we can turn for help with the specific challenges we seem to face in our lives. At the same time, it sets out a curriculum that will lead us to realize that the multitude of specific problems we think we have are just reflections of our one real problem — our belief that we exist at God’s expense and deserve to be punished for it.

Jesus wants us to use the specific problems in our lives as classrooms that will ultimately help us to awaken. The first step in this process is to bring our problems to the light of the Holy Spirit in our mind so He can reinterpret them for us in a loving way. This will not necessarily change a problem on the level of form, but it will take away all our pain and conflict about it. Over time, all our specifics will begin to seem more and more alike and we will automatically stop asking the Holy Spirit for help with our specific problems and instead ask Him to help us (to paraphrase the Course) change our mind about our problems.

This brings us to the Course’s ultimate goal. The rather ambitious goal of the Course is to teach us that this world is nothing more than an “outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1: 5) , that this condition is making us miserable, and that — with the Holy Spirit’s help — we have the ability to change it. The Course would have changing this inward condition become the central focus of our lives. We could think of studying this Course as taking the initial step on a lifelong journey of forgiveness and ever-increasing self-awareness.

As Course students, it is important to remember that “This course is a beginning, not an end” (W.ep.1: 1) . The end of the journey — the real world — will be when we, like Jesus, have nothing but the Holy Spirit in our mind. Happily, when that happens and what it looks like is not our concern.

Q # 942: I don’t understand how A Course in Miracles views the use of personal effort in advancing oneself or in helping others. Is making an effort to do anything worthwhile in terms of the Course? For instance, I do volunteer work with children. Is this worth doing? What about donating money to help others who have less than I do? Is doing so just a reflection of my guilt? How about getting an education? According to the Course, is this just my ego trying to better itself and bring accolades and a bigger salary? Finally, what about exercising and living a healthy lifestyle? By my understanding of the Course, attempts to improve physical health only reaffirm an attachment to the ego. So why bother trying?

A: Undoubtedly, many students of A Course in Miracles have asked themselves those questions. But it is important to remember that the Course is not a guide for behavior. It is only concerned with motivating us to exchange the ego for the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. This is why Jesus never says anything in the Course about what we should do . Rather he tells us to ask of everything, “What is the purpose” (T.4.V.6: 8,9). He also tells us that we give everything we see all the meaning that it has for us (W.pI.1) . In other words, nothing here has any inherent meaning — things mean whatever they symbolize in our mind.

Now, it is true that we initially fell asleep and dreamt up this world because we listened to the ego. So on one hand, everything here is a symbol of our apparent separation and triumph over God. On the other hand, now that we are having this dream, we can choose to reinterpret it with the Holy Spirit as our Guide. When we do that, everything becomes a symbol of forgiveness, helping us to get closer and closer to reawakening to God’s Love. That is what the Course urges us to do — use this world as a classroom in forgiveness until we do not need it anymore.

It is very helpful to realize that the Course is written on two levels. On level one — the level of absolute truth — this world is a dream. But on level two — within the dream, where we all believe ourselves to be — this world can either be a prison or a classroom. And so Jesus does not want us to pretend we think this world is an illusion. Rather he advises us to “Use all the little names and symbols which delineate the world of darkness. Yet accept them not as your reality” (W.pI.184.11:1,2) . That means we should keep doing everything so called normal people do, but do so with a different purpose. Were we to stop all activities that we judge as wrong minded, we would be denying the Holy Spirit the only arena He has for correcting our thinking. And so again, we do not change what we do, only how we think about what we do.

You asked whether giving money to others and getting an education are worth doing from a Course perspective. The answer is: From a Course perspective, extending love is worth doing, while projecting guilt is not. Whether or not you should engage in a specific activity depends upon what it symbolizes to you. This is why Jesus says “The curriculum is highly individualized ” (M.29.2:6) . If you suspect you are drawn to doing something for the wrong reasons, that is the perfect time to simply ask the Holy Spirit to look at it with you. He will bring love to the situation and then you will know what to do.

You also asked if attempts to improve the body reaffirm an attachment to the ego. The Course informs us that the “body is a wholly neutral thing” (Lesson 294) and that to deny its existence is to engage in “a particularly unworthy form of denial” (T.2.IV.3: 11) . Clearly, Jesus does not want us to stop caring for the body as a path to letting go of the ego. This is because denying the body is merely the flip side of indulging it. As long as we are identified with the body, we should simply give it the care and attention it requires while asking for help to recognize that it does not have the power to affect our mind.

The fact that you are wondering, “why bother trying,” makes it seem likely that you have fallen into one of the ego’s classic traps. We adopted the ego as our guide because it convinced us that to do otherwise would destroy us. Then along comes the Course telling us we would be much better off if we chose the Holy Spirit as our internal Teacher. The ego knows that if we believed that message, its gig would be up. So it sends out a warning signal telling us, “If you accept Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness, you will lose!” It does not tell us that we will lose only our pain and guilt, and that we will gain the lasting inner peace and true happiness we have always wanted.

When you feel a gnawing sense of loss or despair in relation to being a Course student, it is because the ego slithered its way into becoming your study partner. Rest assured, our journey back to Heaven and into God’s Loving Arms is not predicated on sacrifice. And neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit will ever make us give up anything we really want.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 30

ACIM Text Reading for August 30

Chapter 28 ~ The Undoing of Fear
I. The Present Memory
The miracle does nothing. All it does is to undo. And thus it cancels out the interference to what has been done. It does not add, but merely takes away. And what it takes away is long since gone, but being kept in memory appears to have immediate effects. This world was over long ago. The thoughts that made it are no longer in the mind that thought of them and loved them for a little while. The miracle but shows the past is gone, and what has truly gone has no effects. Remembering a cause can but produce illusions of its presence, not effects.

All the effects of guilt are here no more. For guilt is over. In its passing went its consequences, left without a cause. Why would you cling to it in memory if you did not desire its effects? Remembering is as selective as perception, being its past tense. It is perception of the past as if it were occurring now, and still were there to see. Memory, like perception, is a skill made up by you to take the place of what God gave in your creation. And like all the things you made, it can be used to serve another purpose, and to be the means for something else. It can be used to heal and not to hurt, if you so wish it be.

Nothing employed for healing represents an effort to do anything at all. It is a recognition that you have no needs which mean that something must be done. It is an unselective memory, that is not used to interfere with truth. All things the Holy Spirit can employ for healing have been given Him, without the content and the purposes for which they have been made. They are but skills without an application. They await their use. They have no dedication and no aim.

The Holy Spirit can indeed make use of memory, for God Himself is there. Yet this is not a memory of past events, but only of a present state. You are so long accustomed to believe that memory holds only what is past, that it is hard for you to realize it is a skill that can remember now. The limitations on remembering the world imposes on it are as vast as those you let the world impose on you. There is no link of memory to the past. If you would have it there, then there it is. But only your desire made the link, and only you have held it to a part of time where guilt appears to linger still.

The Holy Spirit’s use of memory is quite apart from time. He does not seek to use it as a means to keep the past, but rather as a way to let it go. Memory holds the message it receives, and does what it is given it to do. It does not write the message, nor appoint what it is for. Like to the body, it is purposeless within itself. And if it seems to serve to cherish ancient hate, and gives you pictures of injustices and hurts that you were saving, this is what you asked its message be and that it is. Committed to its vaults, the history of all the body’s past is hidden there. All of the strange associations made to keep the past alive, the present dead, are stored within it, waiting your command that they be brought to you, and lived again. And thus do their effects appear to be increased by time, which took away their cause.

Yet time is but another phase of what does nothing. It works hand in hand with all the other attributes with which you seek to keep concealed the truth about yourself. Time neither takes away nor can restore. And yet you make strange use of it, as if the past had caused the present, which is but a consequence in which no change can be made possible because its cause has gone. Yet change must have a cause that will endure, or else it will not last. No change can be made in the present if its cause is past. Only the past is held in memory as you make use of it, and so it is a way to hold the past against the now.

Remember nothing that you taught yourself, for you were badly taught. And who would keep a senseless lesson in his mind, when he can learn and can preserve a better one? When ancient memories of hate appear, remember that their cause is gone. And so you cannot understand what they are for. Let not the cause that you would give them now be what it was that made them what they were, or seemed to be. Be glad that it is gone, for this is what you would be pardoned from. And see, instead, the new effects of cause accepted now, with consequences here. They will surprise you with their loveliness. The ancient new ideas they bring will be the happy consequences of a Cause so ancient that It far exceeds the span of memory which your perception sees.

This is the Cause the Holy Spirit has remembered for you, when you would forget. It is not past because He let It not be unremembered. It has never changed, because there never was a time in which He did not keep It safely in your mind. Its consequences will indeed seem new, because you thought that you remembered not their Cause. Yet was It never absent from your mind, for it was not your Father’s Will that He be unremembered by His Son.

What you remember never was. It came from causelessness which you confused with cause. It can deserve but laughter, when you learn you have remembered consequences that were causeless and could never be effects. The miracle reminds you of a Cause forever present, perfectly untouched by time and interference. Never changed from what It is. And you are Its Effect, as changeless and as perfect as Itself. Its memory does not lie in the past, nor waits the future. It is not revealed in miracles. They but remind you that It has not gone. When you forgive It for your sins, It will no longer be denied.

You who have sought to lay a judgment on your own Creator cannot understand it is not He Who laid a judgment on His Son. You would deny Him His Effects, yet have They never been denied. There was no time in which His Son could be condemned for what was causeless and against His Will. What your remembering would witness to is but the fear of God. He has not done the thing you fear. No more have you. And so your innocence has not been lost. You need no healing to be healed. In quietness, see in the miracle a lesson in allowing Cause to have Its Own Effects, and doing nothing that would interfere.

The miracle comes quietly into the mind that stops an instant and is still. It reaches gently from that quiet time, and from the mind it healed in quiet then, to other minds to share its quietness. And they will join in doing nothing to prevent its radiant extension back into the Mind Which caused all minds to be. Born out of sharing, there can be no pause in time to cause the miracle delay in hastening to all unquiet minds, and bringing them an instant’s stillness, when the memory of God returns to them. Their own remembering is quiet now, and what has come to take its place will not be wholly unremembered afterwards.

He to Whom time is given offers thanks for every quiet instant given Him. For in that instant is God’s memory allowed to offer all its treasures to the Son of God, for whom they have been kept. How gladly does He offer them unto the one for whom He has been given them! And His Creator shares His thanks, because He would not be deprived of His Effects. The instant’s silence that His Son accepts gives welcome to eternity and Him, and lets Them enter where They would abide. For in that instant does the Son of God do nothing that would make himself afraid.

How instantly the memory of God arises in the mind that has no fear to keep the memory away! Its own remembering has gone. There is no past to keep its fearful image in the way of glad awakening to present peace. The trumpets of eternity resound throughout the stillness, yet disturb it not. And what is now remembered is not fear, but rather is the Cause that fear was made to render unremembered and undone. The stillness speaks in gentle sounds of love the Son of God remembers from before his own remembering came in between the present and the past, to shut them out.

Now is the Son of God at last aware of present Cause and Its benign Effects. Now does he understand what he has made is causeless, having no effects at all. He has done nothing. And in seeing this, he understands he never had a need for doing anything, and never did. His Cause is Its Effects. There never was a cause beside It that could generate a different past or future. Its Effects are changelessly eternal, beyond fear, and past the world of sin entirely.

What has been lost, to see the causeless not? And where is sacrifice, when memory of God has come to take the place of loss? What better way to close the little gap between illusions and reality than to allow the memory of God to flow across it, making it a bridge an instant will suffice to reach beyond? For God has closed it with Himself. His memory has not gone by, and left a stranded Son forever on a shore where he can glimpse another shore that he can never reach. His Father wills that he be lifted up and gently carried over. He has built the bridge, and it is He Who will transport His Son across it. Have no fear that He will fail in what He wills. Nor that you be excluded from the Will that is for you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 30

Lesson 242
This day is God’s. It is my gift to Him.

I will not lead my life alone today. I do not understand the world, and so to try to lead my life alone must be but foolishness. But there is One Who knows all that is best for me. And He is glad to make no choices for me but the ones that lead to God. I give this day to Him, for I would not delay my coming home, and it is He Who knows the way to God.

And so we give today to You. We come with wholly open minds. We do not ask for anything that we may think we want. Give us what You would have received by us. You know all our desires and our wants. And You will give us everything we need in helping us to find the way to You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

 

Q #107: I have a question regarding the idea: “It is impossible that anything be lost, if what you have is what you are? “(T.26.VII.11:4) This statement is in the context of describing our true Identity. Is this also true of our experiences as an ego? My work environment brings out a lot of my guilt, either projecting onto others or internalizing it. I can think of many times when an idea I have is challenged and I become very offended, hurt, angry, etc. It seems I have become that idea, that it represents me. So, is this the same idea, meaning, what I have is my decision to choose the ego so that is what I am? I become or reflect what I choose? Therefore, if I could step back and look with Jesus at these work situations and choose vision then I would become that vision? Is that right?

A. Yes, you are on the right track with this. Each step in our descent from the state of oneness entailed a choice, then becoming what we chose, but denying that we chose it. The goal right from the beginning was to acquire and maintain our individuality but not to take responsibility for it. Therefore the prevailing experience of human existence is victimization, which reinforces the internal belief, “I am not responsible.” Considering only our ego-identification, not our right minds, our lives here cannot be anything other than one experience after another of feeling offended, angry, resentful, fearful, shameful, etc., because the world is nothing but our thoughts of sin, guilt, and fear projected outward, “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5). We need to take things personally, otherwise we cannot hold others responsible for our condition. We have become the thought system of the ego, in other words; and so learning forgiveness would be initially perceived as tremendously threatening. That is why what the Course calls forgiveness-to-destroy is the commonly accepted version of forgiveness in the world. Sin has been made real and there is still a separation between the forgiver and the forgiven, directly antithetical to what the Course teaches.

The lessons in the workbook emphasize over and over the importance of stepping back and looking with Jesus at what we are doing and thinking. We need the help of a teacher who is outside the thought system with which we have identified so thoroughly, otherwise we would have no way of getting beyond it. So you are quite correct in concluding that looking with Jesus, and choosing against the ego would automatically give you the same vision as Jesus. The key is remembering that we always have a choice; the ego’s efforts are directed towards keeping us mindless. Who we truly are, God’s one Son, has never changed, and has never been affected by the dream of separation. We need only deny our denial of that truth (T.12.II.1:5), and then what we have made invisible will once again, through our joining with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, be all that we see (T.12.VIII.3). In the words of a lovely prayer, “I have nothing, I want nothing, I am nothing but the love of Jesus.”

Into Christ's Presence

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 29

ACIM Text Reading for August 29

Chapter 28 ~ The Undoing of Fear

I. The Present Memory
The miracle does nothing. All it does is to undo. And thus it cancels out the interference to what has been done. It does not add, but merely takes away. And what it takes away is long since gone, but being kept in memory appears to have immediate effects. This world was over long ago. The thoughts that made it are no longer in the mind that thought of them and loved them for a little while. The miracle but shows the past is gone, and what has truly gone has no effects. Remembering a cause can but produce illusions of its presence, not effects.

All the effects of guilt are here no more. For guilt is over. In its passing went its consequences, left without a cause. Why would you cling to it in memory if you did not desire its effects? Remembering is as selective as perception, being its past tense. It is perception of the past as if it were occurring now, and still were there to see. Memory, like perception, is a skill made up by you to take the place of what God gave in your creation. And like all the things you made, it can be used to serve another purpose, and to be the means for something else. It can be used to heal and not to hurt, if you so wish it be.

Nothing employed for healing represents an effort to do anything at all. It is a recognition that you have no needs which mean that something must be done. It is an unselective memory, that is not used to interfere with truth. All things the Holy Spirit can employ for healing have been given Him, without the content and the purposes for which they have been made. They are but skills without an application. They await their use. They have no dedication and no aim.

The Holy Spirit can indeed make use of memory, for God Himself is there. Yet this is not a memory of past events, but only of a present state. You are so long accustomed to believe that memory holds only what is past, that it is hard for you to realize it is a skill that can remember now. The limitations on remembering the world imposes on it are as vast as those you let the world impose on you. There is no link of memory to the past. If you would have it there, then there it is. But only your desire made the link, and only you have held it to a part of time where guilt appears to linger still.

The Holy Spirit’s use of memory is quite apart from time. He does not seek to use it as a means to keep the past, but rather as a way to let it go. Memory holds the message it receives, and does what it is given it to do. It does not write the message, nor appoint what it is for. Like to the body, it is purposeless within itself. And if it seems to serve to cherish ancient hate, and gives you pictures of injustices and hurts that you were saving, this is what you asked its message be and that it is. Committed to its vaults, the history of all the body’s past is hidden there. All of the strange associations made to keep the past alive, the present dead, are stored within it, waiting your command that they be brought to you, and lived again. And thus do their effects appear to be increased by time, which took away their cause.

Yet time is but another phase of what does nothing. It works hand in hand with all the other attributes with which you seek to keep concealed the truth about yourself. Time neither takes away nor can restore. And yet you make strange use of it, as if the past had caused the present, which is but a consequence in which no change can be made possible because its cause has gone. Yet change must have a cause that will endure, or else it will not last. No change can be made in the present if its cause is past. Only the past is held in memory as you make use of it, and so it is a way to hold the past against the now.

Remember nothing that you taught yourself, for you were badly taught. And who would keep a senseless lesson in his mind, when he can learn and can preserve a better one? When ancient memories of hate appear, remember that their cause is gone. And so you cannot understand what they are for. Let not the cause that you would give them now be what it was that made them what they were, or seemed to be. Be glad that it is gone, for this is what you would be pardoned from. And see, instead, the new effects of cause accepted now, with consequences here. They will surprise you with their loveliness. The ancient new ideas they bring will be the happy consequences of a Cause so ancient that It far exceeds the span of memory which your perception sees.

This is the Cause the Holy Spirit has remembered for you, when you would forget. It is not past because He let It not be unremembered. It has never changed, because there never was a time in which He did not keep It safely in your mind. Its consequences will indeed seem new, because you thought that you remembered not their Cause. Yet was It never absent from your mind, for it was not your Father’s Will that He be unremembered by His Son.

What you remember never was. It came from causelessness which you confused with cause. It can deserve but laughter, when you learn you have remembered consequences that were causeless and could never be effects. The miracle reminds you of a Cause forever present, perfectly untouched by time and interference. Never changed from what It is. And you are Its Effect, as changeless and as perfect as Itself. Its memory does not lie in the past, nor waits the future. It is not revealed in miracles. They but remind you that It has not gone. When you forgive It for your sins, It will no longer be denied.

You who have sought to lay a judgment on your own Creator cannot understand it is not He Who laid a judgment on His Son. You would deny Him His Effects, yet have They never been denied. There was no time in which His Son could be condemned for what was causeless and against His Will. What your remembering would witness to is but the fear of God. He has not done the thing you fear. No more have you. And so your innocence has not been lost. You need no healing to be healed. In quietness, see in the miracle a lesson in allowing Cause to have Its Own Effects, and doing nothing that would interfere.

The miracle comes quietly into the mind that stops an instant and is still. It reaches gently from that quiet time, and from the mind it healed in quiet then, to other minds to share its quietness. And they will join in doing nothing to prevent its radiant extension back into the Mind Which caused all minds to be. Born out of sharing, there can be no pause in time to cause the miracle delay in hastening to all unquiet minds, and bringing them an instant’s stillness, when the memory of God returns to them. Their own remembering is quiet now, and what has come to take its place will not be wholly unremembered afterwards.

He to Whom time is given offers thanks for every quiet instant given Him. For in that instant is God’s memory allowed to offer all its treasures to the Son of God, for whom they have been kept. How gladly does He offer them unto the one for whom He has been given them! And His Creator shares His thanks, because He would not be deprived of His Effects. The instant’s silence that His Son accepts gives welcome to eternity and Him, and lets Them enter where They would abide. For in that instant does the Son of God do nothing that would make himself afraid.

How instantly the memory of God arises in the mind that has no fear to keep the memory away! Its own remembering has gone. There is no past to keep its fearful image in the way of glad awakening to present peace. The trumpets of eternity resound throughout the stillness, yet disturb it not. And what is now remembered is not fear, but rather is the Cause that fear was made to render unremembered and undone. The stillness speaks in gentle sounds of love the Son of God remembers from before his own remembering came in between the present and the past, to shut them out.

Now is the Son of God at last aware of present Cause and Its benign Effects. Now does he understand what he has made is causeless, having no effects at all. He has done nothing. And in seeing this, he understands he never had a need for doing anything, and never did. His Cause is Its Effects. There never was a cause beside It that could generate a different past or future. Its Effects are changelessly eternal, beyond fear, and past the world of sin entirely.

What has been lost, to see the causeless not? And where is sacrifice, when memory of God has come to take the place of loss? What better way to close the little gap between illusions and reality than to allow the memory of God to flow across it, making it a bridge an instant will suffice to reach beyond? For God has closed it with Himself. His memory has not gone by, and left a stranded Son forever on a shore where he can glimpse another shore that he can never reach. His Father wills that he be lifted up and gently carried over. He has built the bridge, and it is He Who will transport His Son across it. Have no fear that He will fail in what He wills. Nor that you be excluded from the Will that is for you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 29

Lesson 241
Section 3. What is the World?

The world is false perception. It is born of error, and it has not left its source. It will remain no longer than the thought that gave it birth is cherished. When the thought of separation has been changed to one of true forgiveness, will the world be seen in quite another light; and one which leads to truth, where all the world must disappear and all its errors vanish. Now its source has gone, and its effects are gone as well.

The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts. But eyes deceive, and ears hear falsely. Now mistakes become quite possible, for certainty has gone.

The mechanisms of illusion have been born instead. And now they go to find what has been given them to seek. Their aim is to fulfill the purpose which the world was made to witness and make real. They see in its illusions but a solid base where truth exists, upheld apart from lies. Yet everything that they report is but illusion which is kept apart from truth.

As sight was made to lead away from truth, it can be redirected. Sounds become the call for God, and all perception can be given a new purpose by the One Whom God appointed Savior to the world. Follow His light, and see the world as He beholds it. Hear His Voice alone in all that speaks to you. And let Him give you peace and certainty, which you have thrown away, but Heaven has preserved for you in Him.

Let us not rest content until the world has joined our changed perception. Let us not be satisfied until forgiveness has been made complete. And let us not attempt to change our function. We must save the world. For we who made it must behold it through the eyes of Christ, that what was made to die can be restored to everlasting life.

Lesson 241

This holy instant is salvation come.

What joy there is today! It is a time of special celebration. For today holds out the instant to the darkened world where its release is set. The day has come when sorrows pass away and pain is gone. The glory of salvation dawns today upon a world set free. This is the time of hope for countless millions. They will be united now, as you forgive them all. For I will be forgiven by you today.

We have forgiven one another now, and so we come at last to You again. Father, Your Son, who never left, returns to Heaven and his home. How glad are we to have our sanity restored to us, and to remember that we all are one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #60: I seem to remember a passage that states the use of “white lies” may at times be appropriate in dealing with some relationships. What is Jesus saying here? I can only seem to relate it to the 12-step saying where we should always try to make amends except when to do so would cause more harm.

A: We have all experienced occasions when it is obvious that telling someone the truth on the level of form is simply not the loving thing to do. While there are no passages in the Course that specifically mention “white lies,” there are two passages that address this issue, and that relate to the 12-step saying you mention: “The value of the Atonement does not lie in the manner in which it is expressed. In fact, if it is used truly, it will inevitably be expressed in whatever way is most helpful to the receiver.This means that a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear. This does not necessarily mean that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable. It does mean, however, that it is the highest level of communication of which he is capable now. The whole aim of the miracle is to raise the level of communication, not to lower it by increasing fear” (T.2.IV.5).

In another passage Jesus says, “Recognize what does not matter, and if your brothers ask you for something ‘outrageous,’ do it because it does not matter” (T.12.III.4:1). Importantly, he qualifies this later by saying, “I have said that if a brother asks a foolish thing of you to do it. But be certain that this does not mean to do a foolish thing that would hurt either him or you, for what would hurt one will hurt the other” (T.16.I.6:4,5).

The key element in the Course’s approach is honesty, which is the second of the ten characteristics of a teacher of God, discussed in the manual for teachers (M.4). Jesus states there that honesty means consistency: “There is nothing you say that contradicts what you think or do; no thought opposes any other thought…” (M.4.II.1). In other words, there is a consistency between your words (form) and your thoughts (content). If we set aside any ego investment in the situation, then only love will flow though us, and it will be expressed in a form that would be appropriate in that specific situation. The emphasis is on the content in our minds. If we are kind within, we will be kind on the outside. Our attention, thus, should be on searching for any unkindness lurking in our thoughts, and asking for help to let that go. Once we have gotten past the unkindness, whatever we say or do will be kind, in a form that is appropriate to the circumstances.

Peace of God

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 28

ACIM Text Reading for August 28

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

VIII. The “Hero” of the Dream

The body is the central figure in the dreaming of the world. There is no dream without it, nor does it exist without the dream in which it acts as if it were a person to be seen and be believed. It takes the central place in every dream, which tells the story of how it was made by other bodies, born into the world outside the body, lives a little while and dies, to be united in the dust with other bodies dying like itself. In the brief time allotted it to live, it seeks for other bodies as its friends and enemies. Its safety is its main concern. Its comfort is its guiding rule. It tries to look for pleasure, and avoid the things that would be hurtful. Above all, it tries to teach itself its pains and joys are different and can be told apart.

The dreaming of the world takes many forms, because the body seeks in many ways to prove it is autonomous and real. It puts things on itself that it has bought with little metal discs or paper strips the world proclaims as valuable and real. It works to get them, doing senseless things, and tosses them away for senseless things it does not need and does not even want. It hires other bodies, that they may protect it and collect more senseless things that it can call its own. It looks about for special bodies that can share its dream. Sometimes it dreams it is a conqueror of bodies weaker than itself. But in some phases of the dream, it is the slave of bodies that would hurt and torture it.

The body’s serial adventures, from the time of birth to dying are the theme of every dream the world has ever had. The “hero” of this dream will never change, nor will its purpose. Though the dream itself takes many forms, and seems to show a great variety of places and events wherein its “hero” finds itself, the dream has but one purpose, taught in many ways. This single lesson does it try to teach again, and still again, and yet once more; that it is cause and not effect. And you are its effect, and cannot be its cause.

Thus are you not the dreamer, but the dream. And so you wander idly in and out of places and events that it contrives. That this is all the body does is true, for it is but a figure in a dream. But who reacts to figures in a dream unless he sees them as if they were real? The instant that he sees them as they are they have no more effects on him, because he understands he gave them their effects by causing them and making them seem real.

How willing are you to escape effects of all the dreams the world has ever had? Is it your wish to let no dream appear to be the cause of what it is you do? Then let us merely look upon the dream’s beginning, for the part you see is but the second part, whose cause lies in the first. No one asleep and dreaming in the world remembers his attack upon himself. No one believes there really was a time when he knew nothing of a body, and could never have conceived this world as real. He would have seen at once that these ideas are one illusion, too ridiculous for anything but to be laughed away. How serious they now appear to be! And no one can remember when they would have met with laughter and with disbelief. We can remember this, if we but look directly at their cause. And we will see the grounds for laughter, not a cause for fear.

Let us return the dream he gave away unto the dreamer, who perceives the dream as separate from himself and done to him. Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time.

A timelessness in which is time made real; a part of God that can attack itself; a separate brother as an enemy; a mind within a body all are forms of circularity whose ending starts at its beginning, ending at its cause. The world you see depicts exactly what you thought you did. Except that now you think that what you did is being done to you. The guilt for what you thought is being placed outside yourself, and on a guilty world that dreams your dreams and thinks your thoughts instead of you. It brings its vengeance, not your own. It keeps you narrowly confined within a body, which it punishes because of all the sinful things the body does within its dream. You have no power to make the body stop its evil deeds because you did not make it, and cannot control its actions nor its purpose nor its fate.

The world but demonstrates an ancient truth; you will believe that others do to you exactly what you think you did to them. But once deluded into blaming them you will not see the cause of what they do, because you want the guilt to rest on them. How childish is the petulant device to keep your innocence by pushing guilt outside yourself, but never letting go! It is not easy to perceive the jest when all around you do your eyes behold its heavy consequences, but without their trifling cause. Without the cause do its effects seem serious and sad indeed. Yet they but follow. And it is their cause that follows nothing and is but a jest.

In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause, and looks not to effects. How else could He correct your error, who have overlooked the cause entirely? He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed. Perhaps you come in tears. But hear Him say, “My brother, holy Son of God, behold your idle dream, in which this could occur.” And you will leave the holy instant with your laughter and your brother’s joined with His.

The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.

This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes. The Holy Spirit will repeat this one inclusive lesson of deliverance until it has been learned, regardless of the form of suffering that brings you pain. Whatever hurt you bring to Him He will make answer with this very simple truth. For this one answer takes away the cause of every form of sorrow and of pain. The form affects His answer not at all, for He would teach you but the single cause of all of them, no matter what their form. And you will understand that miracles reflect the simple statement, “I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo.”

Bring, then, all forms of suffering to Him Who knows that every one is like the rest. He sees no differences where none exists, and He will teach you how each one is caused. None has a different cause from all the rest, and all of them are easily undone by but a single lesson truly learned. Salvation is a secret you have kept but from yourself. The universe proclaims it so. Yet to its witnesses you pay no heed at all. For they attest the thing you do not want to know. They seem to keep it secret from you. Yet you need but learn you chose but not to listen, not to see.

How differently will you perceive the world when this is recognized! When you forgive the world your guilt, you will be free of it. Its innocence does not demand your guilt, nor does your guiltlessness rest on its sins. This is the obvious; a secret kept from no one but yourself. And it is this that has maintained you separate from the world, and kept your brother separate from you. Now need you but to learn that both of you are innocent or guilty. The one thing that is impossible is that you be unlike each other; that they both be true. This is the only secret yet to learn. And it will be no secret you are healed.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 28

Lesson 240
Fear is not justified in any form.

Fear is deception. It attests that you have seen yourself as you could never be, and therefore look upon a world which is impossible. Not one thing in this world is true. It does not matter what the form in which it may appear. It witnesses but to your own illusions of yourself. Let us not be deceived today. We are the Sons of God. There is no fear in us, for we are each a part of Love Itself.

How foolish are our fears! Would You allow Your Son to suffer? Give us faith today to recognize Your Son, and set him free. Let us forgive him in Your Name, that we may understand his holiness, and feel the love for him which is Your Own as well.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #677: Would you kindly assist me in understanding section VIII of Chapter 27, titled “The ‘Hero’ of the Dream,” in particular, the meaning of the following quote:

“Though the dream itself takes many forms, and seems to show a great variety of places and events wherein its ‘hero’ finds itself, the dream has but one purpose, taught in many ways. This single lesson does it try to teach again, and still again, and yet once more; that it is cause and not effect. And you are its effect, and cannot be its cause.”

A: This passage is saying that the ego’s purpose for the dream is to deceive us into believing that we are each a single, lonely figure in the dream of the world, each with our own separate interests and needs, rather than the dreamer of the dream of the world and all the figures in it. If we are a figure — a body — in the dream, then we are the dream’s effect and the dream is our cause. But if we are the dreamer, we are the cause and the dream/world is the effect.

To help understand this passage further, consider what is really happening in the split mind and what the ego wants us to believe, described in the sentences you quote. The “you” Jesus is addressing and is always referring to in A Course in Miracles is our mind, outside of time and space and outside the dream. It is the split mind of the Son of God, after we have seemingly fallen asleep and begun to dream of separation. Much like what we experience in our nighttime dreams, we do not remember that we are the dreamer but think instead that we are one of the figures in the dream, a body, the “hero” of the dream. So we have accepted the body as our identity and believe that all of the rest of the dream — the world — is outside of ourselves, beyond our control, exerting its influence on us against our will. And yet all along, we, as the dreaming mind, are making the whole thing up.

But this confusion about our identity is exactly what the ego wants us to believe in order to achieve its purpose — to keep us asleep and dreaming the dream of separation, without ever realizing that it is our dream. So the world we seem to be experiencing outside of our physical selves, which includes our parents and their parents, etc., seems to be the cause of the self we think we are — the body. In other words, the ego has convinced us that we, as a body which contains a brain which reacts and thinks and feels, are the effect of the world, and how we feel is a result of our interactions with that outside world and all the people in it. So we never consider the possibility that we, as a mind, are not the effect but rather the cause of the world, of the dream. And this subterfuge serves a very deliberate purpose, for now the cause of all of our unhappiness and pain and loss seems to be the world/the dream, rather than the decision we are making within our mind to see ourselves as separate from love. If we really knew our own choice is the cause, we would not remain asleep and dreaming much longer, and the ego — the thought of separation — would then simply disappear.

Think again of your dreams at night. We may have all kinds of experiences in the dream that we attribute to the other figures and the “outer world” of our dream while we are still asleep and dreaming. But upon awakening, we recognize that all those feelings were not caused by anything in the dream itself but rather by our mind that was dreaming the entire contents of the dream, including both the dream figure we thought we were and everything seemingly separate from it. The dream is one, single, unitary illusion that continues to fool us about reality while we remain asleep. So one of Jesus’ primary objectives with the Course is to help us understand the real nature of cause and effect, so we can undo our confusion and eventually remember Who we truly are, beyond even the illusory split mind.

In a lovely passage early in the text, Jesus calls to us: “Hear, then, the one answer of the Holy Spirit to all the questions the ego raises: You are a child of God, a priceless part of His Kingdom, which He created as part of Him. Nothing else exists and only this is real. You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real and God calls you to awake. There will be nothing left of your dream when you hear Him, because you will awaken. Your dreams contain many of the ego’s symbols and they have confused you. Yet that was only because you were asleep and did not know. When you wake you will see the truth around you and in you, and you will no longer believe in dreams because they will have no reality for you. Yet the Kingdom and all that you have created there will have great reality for you, because they are beautiful and true” (T.6.IV.6).

*

Q #100: I wonder about the passage T.27.VIII.6:2. I know my ego is quite resourceful and finds ways to delay progress, which is why I have grown to walk over this passage. Now, with all my basic human understanding, the only way to remember not to laugh is that at one time, for some reason, prior to this event, we had also not laughed; for it is not possible for a mind to “remember” or to “re-call” what has never entered the mind. And at this section, Jesus is not talking about us reliving that instant, hence, creating our world and its constancy. If we understand oneness, perfection, Love, how can something that is not oneness, perfection, Love be remembered? How could it had been part of our existence?

A. The language of A Course in Miracles can be a stumbling block for many people, which appears to be the case here. In one sense, your analysis of the function of memory is logical; but logical analysis can often get in the way of truly understanding Jesus’ message. The Course is not written as would an academic or scholarly treatise, in which precision and consistency in language is essential. While intellectually on a high, sophisticated level—with a clearly recognizable, internally consistent metaphysics—the Course is nonetheless expressed in more of a poetic fashion, where the meanings of words and concepts are permitted to be stretched, and as a result are not always consistent. There are several other instances of seeming inconsistency, in addition to the one you point out.

Anticipating this type of question no doubt, Jesus explains in the introduction to the clarification of terms: “This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception…All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well. They must, however, be willing to overlook controversy, recognizing that it is a defense against the truth in the form of a delaying maneuver.…A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. Here alone consistency becomes possible because here alone uncertainty ends” (C.in.1:1,2; 2:1,2,3,4,5,6,7).

As these passages indicate, the Course does not lend itself to the kind of logical analysis you engaged in, as that is not its purpose. It was not meant to be approached that way, and if it is, one will not get very far with it before being tempted to dismiss it because of the looseness of its language and apparent changes in meaning. What is also helpful is to recognize that the meaning of words is often relative to the point that Jesus is making, or to the essence of what he is teaching in that particular passage, which could differ when he is making some other point. This can be frustrating to readers, without a doubt. On the other hand, though, it is purposeful, in that it forces readers to pay very careful attention to what they are reading in order not to miss the point Jesus is making.

Moreover, the Course makes it clear that the human intellect itself is often an impediment in the quest for truth: “You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is” (T.18.IV.7:5). It is a paradox that we must learn, by first using our intellectual powers, that our intellectual powers are a defense against the truth, which goes along with the Holy Spirit directing us to use the world and time as a means of learning that the world and time are illusory. We are just challenged on every single level to examine the premises and the values and expectations we bring to our study of the Course, so that we can identify exactly what we are thinking and doing that keeps love and truth out of our awareness.

For some further study of this issue, you might want to consult our tape album, “Duality As Metaphor in A Course in Miracles” and Chapter 2 “The Course’s Use of Language — I” in Few Choose to Listen, Volume II of The Message of A Course in Miracles.

you have no idea

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 27

ACIM Text Reading for August 27

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

VII. The Dreamer of the Dream
Suffering is an emphasis upon all that the world has done to injure you. Here is the world’s demented version of salvation clearly shown. Like to a dream of punishment, in which the dreamer is unconscious of what brought on the attack against himself, he sees himself attacked unjustly and by something not himself. He is the victim of this “something else,” a thing outside himself, for which he has no reason to be held responsible. He must be innocent because he knows not what he does, but what is done to him. Yet is his own attack upon himself apparent still, for it is he who bears the suffering. And he cannot escape because its source is seen outside himself.

Now you are being shown you can escape. All that is needed is you look upon the problem as it is, and not the way that you have set it up. How could there be another way to solve a problem that is very simple, but has been obscured by heavy clouds of complication, which were made to keep the problem unresolved? Without the clouds the problem will emerge in all its primitive simplicity. The choice will not be difficult, because the problem is absurd when clearly seen. No one has difficulty making up his mind to let a simple problem be resolved if it is seen as hurting him, and also very easily removed.

The “reasoning” by which the world is made, on which it rests, by which it is maintained, is simply this: “You are the cause of what I do. Your presence justifies my wrath, and you exist and think apart from me. While you attack I must be innocent. And what I suffer from is your attack.” No one who looks upon this “reasoning” exactly as it is could fail to see it does not follow and it makes no sense. Yet it seems sensible, because it looks as if the world were hurting you. And so it seems as if there is no need to go beyond the obvious in terms of cause.

There is indeed a need. The world’s escape from condemnation is a need which those within the world are joined in sharing. Yet they do not recognize their common need. For each one thinks that if he does his part, the condemnation of the world will rest on him. And it is this that he perceives to be his part in its deliverance. Vengeance must have a focus. Otherwise is the avenger’s knife in his own hand, and pointed to himself. And he must see it in another’s hand, if he would be a victim of attack he did not choose. And thus he suffers from the wounds a knife he does not hold has made upon himself.

This is the purpose of the world he sees. And looked at thus, the world provides the means by which this purpose seems to be fulfilled. The means attest the purpose, but are not themselves a cause. Nor will the cause be changed by seeing it apart from its effects. The cause produces the effects, which then bear witness to the cause, and not themselves. Look, then, beyond effects. It is not here the cause of suffering and sin must lie. And dwell not on the suffering and sin, for they are but reflections of their cause.

The part you play in salvaging the world from condemnation is your own escape. Forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world. And this is where your guilt was first beheld. In separation from your brother was the first attack upon yourself begun. And it is this the world bears witness to. Seek not another cause, nor look among the mighty legions of its witnesses for its undoing. They support its claim on your allegiance. What conceals the truth is not where you should look to find the truth.

The witnesses to sin all stand within one little space. And it is here you find the cause of your perspective on the world. Once you were unaware of what the cause of everything the world appeared to thrust upon you, uninvited and unasked, must really be. Of one thing you were sure: Of all the many causes you perceived as bringing pain and suffering to you, your guilt was not among them. Nor did you in any way request them for yourself. This is how all illusions came about. The one who makes them does not see himself as making them, and their reality does not depend on him. Whatever cause they have is something quite apart from him, and what he sees is separate from his mind. He cannot doubt his dreams’ reality, because he does not see the part he plays in making them and making them seem real.

No one can waken from a dream the world is dreaming for him. He becomes a part of someone else’s dream. He cannot choose to waken from a dream he did not make. Helpless he stands, a victim to a dream conceived and cherished by a separate mind. Careless indeed of him this mind must be, as thoughtless of his peace and happiness as is the weather or the time of day. It loves him not, but casts him as it will in any role that satisfies its dream. So little is his worth that he is but a dancing shadow, leaping up and down according to a senseless plot conceived within the idle dreaming of the world.

This is the only picture you can see; the one alternative that you can choose, the other possibility of cause, if you be not the dreamer of your dreams. And this is what you choose if you deny the cause of suffering is in your mind. Be glad indeed it is, for thus are you the one decider of your destiny in time. The choice is yours to make between a sleeping death and dreams of evil or a happy wakening and joy of life.

What could you choose between but life or death, waking or sleeping, peace or war, your dreams or your reality? There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self Which God created. Yet a thing can never be its opposite. And death is opposite to peace, because it is the opposite of life. And life is peace. Awaken and forget all thoughts of death, and you will find you have the peace of God. Yet if the choice is really given you, then you must see the causes of the things you choose between exactly as they are and where they are.

What choices can be made between two states, but one of which is clearly recognized? Who could be free to choose between effects, when only one is seen as up to him? An honest choice could never be perceived as one in which the choice is split between a tiny you and an enormous world, with different dreams about the truth in you. The gap between reality and dreams lies not between the dreaming of the world and what you dream in secret. They are one. The dreaming of the world is but a part of your own dream you gave away, and saw as if it were its start and ending, both. Yet was it started by your secret dream, which you do not perceive although it caused the part you see and do not doubt is real. How could you doubt it while you lie asleep, and dream in secret that its cause is real?

A brother separated from yourself, an ancient enemy, a murderer who stalks you in the night and plots your death, yet plans that it be lingering and slow; of this you dream. Yet underneath this dream is yet another, in which you become the murderer, the secret enemy, the scavenger and the destroyer of your brother and the world alike. Here is the cause of suffering, the space between your little dreams and your reality. The little gap you do not even see, the birthplace of illusions and of fear, the time of terror and of ancient hate, the instant of disaster, all are here. Here is the cause of unreality. And it is here that it will be undone.

You are the dreamer of the world of dreams. No other cause it has, nor ever will. Nothing more fearful than an idle dream has terrified God’s Son, and made him think that he has lost his innocence, denied his Father, and made war upon himself. So fearful is the dream, so seeming real, he could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear, unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking, and allowed his calmer mind to welcome, not to fear, the Voice That calls with love to waken him; a gentler dream, in which his suffering was healed and where his brother was his friend. God willed he waken gently and with joy, and gave him means to waken without fear.

Accept the dream He gave instead of yours. It is not difficult to change a dream when once the dreamer has been recognized. Rest in the Holy Spirit, and allow His gentle dreams to take the place of those you dreamed in terror and in fear of death. He brings forgiving dreams, in which the choice is not who is the murderer and who shall be the victim. In the dreams He brings there is no murder and there is no death. The dream of guilt is fading from your sight, although your eyes are closed. A smile has come to lighten up your sleeping face. The sleep is peaceful now, for these are happy dreams.

Dream softly of your sinless brother, who unites with you in holy innocence. And from this dream the Lord of Heaven will Himself awaken His beloved Son. Dream of your brother’s kindnesses instead of dwelling in your dreams on his mistakes. Select his thoughtfulness to dream about instead of counting up the hurts he gave. Forgive him his illusions, and give thanks to him for all the helpfulness he gave. And do not brush aside his many gifts because he is not perfect in your dreams. He represents his Father, Whom you see as offering both life and death to you.

Brother, He gives but life. Yet what you see as gifts your brother offers represent the gifts you dream your Father gives to you. Let all your brother’s gifts be seen in light of charity and kindness offered you. And let no pain disturb your dream of deep appreciation for his gifts to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 27

Lesson 239
The glory of my Father is my own.

Let not the truth about ourselves today be hidden by a false humility. Let us instead be thankful for the gifts our Father gave us. Can we see in those with whom He shares His glory any trace of sin and guilt? And can it be that we are not among them, when He loves His Son forever and with perfect constancy, knowing he is as He created him?

We thank You, Father, for the light that shines forever in us. And we honor it, because You share it with us. We are one, united in this light and one with You, at peace with all creation and ourselves.

***

ACIM Q & A Today

Q #1235: Could you please explain the following passages in the text of A Course in Miracles which refer to being in someone else’s dream: T.27.VII.8.2; T.28.II.4:1).

A: It is important to be aware that Jesus is speaking metaphorically when he talks about us dreaming and awakening. We are all very familiar with our experiences of having dreams at night and then waking and realizing, “Oh, it was just a dream! It wasn’t real.” Because that is such a common experience that we all can relate to, Jesus describes our spiritual journey as analogous to that type of an experience.

The first passage comes in the section, “The Dreamer of the Dream” (T.27.VII), and the point being made is that the only way we can awaken is to learn that our lives are unfolding only in a dream we ourselves are dreaming. It appears that much of what happens in our lives is done to us, and that is what Jesus is referring to when he says we become part of someone else’s dream — that we perceive ourselves as the victims of what other people do to us or what the world does to us. If when you are dreaming, however, you become aware that you are dreaming (a lucid dreamer), then eventually you would be able to control your dreams and make them anything you want them to be. At the end of this chapter Jesus summarizes this rather forcefully by stating, “The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. . . . For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream” (T.27.VII.10:1,2,5,6).

The second passage you refer to comes in “Reversing Effect and Cause” (T.28.II) , and the point is basically the same — that we have left vacant our role as decision-making minds (the cause), and instead see our experience as the effect of what is done to us: “Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself, and but a part of someone else’s dream” (T.28.II.4:1). As we know ourselves now, we are alien both to our true Self as Christ (“you have put yourself to sleep”) , and also to the power in our split mind to change our identification from the ego thought system of separation to the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness. If we reverse our thinking that we are victims of what others do to us (i.e., that we are part of someone else’s dream), then we begin the process of restoring our role as decision-making minds. Using the metaphor of dreaming again, Jesus thus says, “Yet if you are the dreamer, you perceive this much at least: that you have caused the dream, and can accept another dream as well” (T.28.II.5:2). Jesus then goes on to teach us about the role of the miracle in this process: “The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true” (T.28.II.5:2). This shift frees us to continue our process of removing all that stands in the way of our remembering the Love in which we were created and in which we forever remain.

*

Q #1236: I’ve heard it said that we don’t see with the body’s eyes. Could it be possible, then, for someone who lost his eyes to see like any other?

A: In one sense, yes; in another sense, no. A non-sighted person can “see” like a sighted person on the level of content (mind), but not on the level of form (sensory data). A Course in Miracles teaches that perception is always an interpretation, not a fact; therefore both sighted and non- sighted persons can have similar perceptions. Both can learn to “see” that we all share a common interest and that what separates us is illusory. This would be known as right-minded perception or vision, which is not physical sight. In one passage Jesus tells us: “ The unreal or the real, the false or true is what you see and only what you see. Perception is consistent with your choice, and hell or Heaven comes to you as one” (W.pI.130.10:2,3). This applies to both sighted and non-sighted persons, since Jesus is always speaking about our inner experiences, not what our physical eyes see. Remember, the world (the stimuli that seem to affect our senses) is not what it appears to be: it is “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5).

The body does only what the mind tells it to do, as the body is simply a projection of the mind, not an autonomous entity. The body’s sensory apparatus is made by the ego to follow certain “laws”; thus, a person who “has lost his eyes” will not have visual data, and in that respect will not “see” what a sighted person sees. The bodily limitations we have are part of our own script, our mind’s choice. Our function, then, as students of A Course in Miracles, is to learn that the peace of God within us can in no way be affected by bodily conditions. It is a terribly difficult lesson, but that power of choice is our path to salvation. “I will remain forever as I was, created by the Changeless like Himself. And I am one with Him, and He with me” (W.pI.112.2:2,3).

certain as god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 26

ACIM Text Reading for August 26

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

VI. The Witnesses to Sin
Pain demonstrates the body must be real. It is a loud, obscuring voice whose shrieks would silence what the Holy Spirit says, and keep His words from your awareness. Pain compels attention, drawing it away from Him and focusing upon itself. Its purpose is the same as pleasure, for they both are means to make the body real. What shares a common purpose is the same. This is the law of purpose, which unites all those who share in it within itself. Pleasure and pain are equally unreal, because their purpose cannot be achieved. Thus are they means for nothing, for they have a goal without a meaning. And they share the lack of meaning which their purpose has.

Sin shifts from pain to pleasure, and again to pain. For either witness is the same, and carries but one message: “You are here, within this body, and you can be hurt. You can have pleasure, too, but only at the cost of pain.” These witnesses are joined by many more. Each one seems different because it has a different name, and so it seems to answer to a different sound. Except for this, the witnesses of sin are all alike. Call pleasure pain, and it will hurt. Call pain a pleasure, and the pain behind the pleasure will be felt no more. Sin’s witnesses but shift from name to name, as one steps forward and another back. Yet which is foremost makes no difference. Sin’s witnesses hear but the call of death.

This body, purposeless within itself, holds all your memories and all your hopes. You use its eyes to see, its ears to hear, and let it tell you what it is it feels. It does not know. It tells you but the names you gave to it to use, when you call forth the witnesses to its reality. You cannot choose among them which are real, for any one you choose is like the rest. This name or that, but nothing more, you choose. You do not make a witness true because you called him by truth’s name. The truth is found in him if it is truth he represents. And otherwise he lies, if you should call him by the holy Name of God Himself.

God’s Witness sees no witnesses against the body. Neither does He harken to the witnesses by other names that speak in other ways for its reality. He knows it is not real. For nothing could contain what you believe it holds within. Nor could it tell a part of God Himself what it should feel and what its function is. Yet must He love whatever you hold dear. And for each witness to the body’s death He sends a witness to your life in Him Who knows no death. Each miracle He brings is witness that the body is not real. Its pains and pleasures does He heal alike, for all sin’s witnesses do His replace.

The miracle makes no distinctions in the names by which sin’s witnesses are called. It merely proves that what they represent has no effects. And this it proves because its own effects have come to take their place. It matters not the name by which you called your suffering. It is no longer there. The One Who brings the miracle perceives them all as one, and called by name of fear. As fear is witness unto death, so is the miracle the witness unto life. It is a witness no one can deny, for it is the effects of life it brings. The dying live, the dead arise, and pain has vanished. Yet a miracle speaks not but for itself, but what it represents.

Love, too, has symbols in a world of sin. The miracle forgives because it stands for what is past forgiveness and is true. How foolish and insane it is to think a miracle is bound by laws that it came solely to undo! The laws of sin have different witnesses with different strengths. And they attest to different sufferings. Yet to the One Who sends forth miracles to bless the world, a tiny stab of pain, a little worldly pleasure, and the throes of death itself are but a single sound; a call for healing, and a plaintive cry for help within a world of misery. It is their sameness that the miracle attests. It is their sameness that it proves. The laws that call them different are dissolved, and shown as powerless. The purpose of a miracle is to accomplish this. And God Himself has guaranteed the strength of miracles for what they witness to.

Be you then witness to the miracle, and not the laws of sin. There is no need to suffer any more. But there is need that you be healed, because the suffering and sorrow of the world have made it deaf to its salvation and deliverance.

The resurrection of the world awaits your healing and your happiness, that you may demonstrate the healing of the world. The holy instant will replace all sin if you but carry its effects with you. And no one will elect to suffer more. What better function could you serve than this? Be healed that you may heal, and suffer not the laws of sin to be applied to you. And truth will be revealed to you who chose to let love’s symbols take the place of sin.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 26

Lesson 238
On my decision all salvation rests.

Father, Your trust in me has been so great, I must be worthy. You created me, and know me as I am. And yet You placed Your Son’s salvation in my hands, and let it rest on my decision. I must be beloved of You indeed. And I must be steadfast in holiness as well, that You would give Your Son to me in certainty that he is safe Who still is part of You, and yet is mine, because He is my Self.

And so, again today, we pause to think how much our Father loves us. And how dear His Son, created by His Love, remains to Him Whose Love is made complete in him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #30: I play computer games, which I really like to do. I believe I have to quit playing these games one day, because I want the Holy Spirit’s alternative. There is another distraction I cherish, which is even an addiction. The addiction pulls me completely out of right-mindedness; it is a kick, a thrill, but with many side effects, disadvantages, the burden of anticipation etc. When I really look at it with Jesus, I do not want it anymore. And this is still not what I choose (up until now). There is an unwillingness to let go of these things. That they conflict with the Course…[Jesus] went shoe shopping with Helen for awhile, but then also advised her to let it go.

A: Keep in mind that this is a process, and that it takes a long time for most of us. Patience and gentleness with ourselves are key parts of this process; otherwise, we fall into the ego’s trap of making the error real. An important piece of advice Jesus gives us at the beginning of the “Rules for Decision” is: “Do not fight yourself” (T-30.I.1:7). Therefore, the most helpful approach would be to simply look at your reluctance to accept the Holy Spirit’s alternative, and your feeling that Jesus’ love is not enough for you, and then not condemn yourself for feeling that way. Just continue to be honest with yourself and with Jesus about how much you do not want to believe and accept what this Course is teaching you, and then don’t judge yourself for it. You will be practicing the Course in a very effective way if you can do this. That is what forgiveness is all about. You will be learning that the “sin” you have accused yourself of has had no effect, and that it was only a “tiny, mad idea” that has not changed love in any way.

Jesus is always and only interested in purpose. Thus, Helen was ready to change the purpose of her shopping sprees. She no longer needed to “protect” herself from Jesus’ love; therefore, she did not need to go shopping anymore. When our fear of accepting Jesus’ love lessens, our involvement in our defenses against accepting that love will lessen as well. While the specific activities may still be a part of our lives, their purpose will have changed entirely. It is always content, not form. The experience of peace or conflict has nothing to do with the activity or object itself. Peace and conflict are the result of our having chosen our ego or Jesus as our teacher.

Finally, speaking in general with regard to addictions: It often is necessary to deal with the behavior first — to take whatever steps can be taken to curtail or stop the destructive behavior. This would reflect the mind’s decision to be more loving towards oneself and others. Then, when the behavior is more under control, the person can begin to deal with the cause of the addiction in the mind. Addictions most often are rooted in overwhelming self-hatred and guilt, which then gets projected onto one’s own and/or another’s body.

Into Christ's Presence

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 25

ACIM Text Reading for August 25

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

V. The Healing Example
The only way to heal is to be healed. The miracle extends without your help, but you are needed that it can begin. Accept the miracle of healing, and it will go forth because of what it is. It is its nature to extend itself the instant it is born. And it is born the instant it is offered and received. No one can ask another to be healed. But he can let himself be healed, and thus offer the other what he has received. Who can bestow upon another what he does not have? And who can share what he denies himself? The Holy Spirit speaks to you. He does not speak to someone else. Yet by your listening His Voice extends, because you have accepted what He says.

Health is the witness unto health. As long as it is unattested, it remains without conviction. Only when it has been demonstrated is it proved, and must provide a witness that compels belief. No one is healed through double messages. If you wish only to be healed, you heal. Your single purpose makes this possible. But if you are afraid of healing, then it cannot come through you. The only thing that is required for a healing is a lack of fear. The fearful are not healed, and cannot heal. This does not mean the conflict must be gone forever from your mind to heal. For if it were, there were no need for healing then. But it does mean, if only for an instant, you love without attack. An instant is sufficient. Miracles wait not on time.

The holy instant is the miracle’s abiding place. From there, each one is born into this world as witness to a state of mind that has transcended conflict, and has reached to peace. It carries comfort from the place of peace into the battleground, and demonstrates that war has no effects. For all the hurt that war has sought to bring, the broken bodies and the shattered limbs, the screaming dying and the silent dead, are gently lifted up and comforted.

There is no sadness where a miracle has come to heal. And nothing more than just one instant of your love without attack is necessary that all this occur. In that one instant you are healed, and in that single instant is all healing done. What stands apart from you, when you accept the blessing that the holy instant brings? Be not afraid of blessing, for the One Who blesses you loves all the world, and leaves nothing within the world that could be feared. But if you shrink from blessing, will the world indeed seem fearful, for you have withheld its peace and comfort, leaving it to die.

Would not a world so bitterly bereft be looked on as a condemnation by the one who could have saved it, but stepped back because he was afraid of being healed? The eyes of all the dying bring reproach, and suffering whispers, “What is there to fear?” Consider well its question. It is asked of you on your behalf. A dying world asks only that you rest an instant from attack upon yourself, that it be healed.

Come to the holy instant and be healed, for nothing that is there received is left behind on your returning to the world. And being blessed you will bring blessing. Life is given you to give the dying world. And suffering eyes no longer will accuse, but shine in thanks to you who blessing gave. The holy instant’s radiance will light your eyes, and give them sight to see beyond all suffering and see Christ’s face instead. Healing replaces suffering. Who looks on one cannot perceive the other, for they cannot both be there. And what you see the world will witness, and will witness to.

Thus is your healing everything the world requires, that it may be healed. It needs one lesson that has perfectly been learned. And then, when you forget it, will the world remind you gently of what you have taught. No reinforcement will its thanks withhold from you who let yourself be healed that it might live. It will call forth its witnesses to show the face of Christ to you who brought the sight to them, by which they witnessed it. The world of accusation is replaced by one in which all eyes look lovingly upon the Friend who brought them their release. And happily your brother will perceive the many friends he thought were enemies.

Problems are not specific but they take specific forms, and these specific shapes make up the world. And no one understands the nature of his problem. If he did, it would be there no more for him to see. Its very nature is that it is not. And thus, while he perceives it he can not perceive it as it is. But healing is apparent in specific instances, and generalizes to include them all. This is because they really are the same, despite their different forms. All learning aims at transfer, which becomes complete within two situations that are seen as one, for only common elements are there. Yet this can only be attained by One Who does not see the differences you see. The total transfer of your learning is not made by you. But that it has been made in spite of all the differences you see, convinces you that they could not be real.

Your healing will extend, and will be brought to problems that you thought were not your own. And it will also be apparent that your many different problems will be solved as any one of them has been escaped. It cannot be their differences which made this possible, for learning does not jump from situations to their opposites and bring the same results. All healing must proceed in lawful manner, in accord with laws that have been properly perceived but never violated. Fear you not the way that you perceive them. You are wrong, but there is One within you Who is right.

Leave, then, the transfer of your learning to the One Who really understands its laws, and Who will guarantee that they remain unviolated and unlimited. Your part is merely to apply what He has taught you to yourself, and He will do the rest. And it is thus the power of your learning will be proved to you by all the many different witnesses it finds. Your brother first among them will be seen, but thousands stand behind him, and beyond each one of them there are a thousand more. Each one may seem to have a problem that is different from the rest. Yet they are solved together. And their common answer shows the questions could not have been separate.

Peace be to you to whom is healing offered. And you will learn that peace is given you when you accept the healing for yourself. Its total value need not be appraised by you to let you understand that you have benefited from it. What occurred within the instant that love entered in without attack will stay with you forever. Your healing will be one of its effects, as will your brother’s. Everywhere you go, will you behold its multiplied effects. Yet all the witnesses that you behold will be far less than all there really are. Infinity cannot be understood by merely counting up its separate parts. God thanks you for your healing, for He knows it is a gift of love unto His Son, and therefore is it given unto Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 25

Lesson 237
Now would I be as God created me.

Today I will accept the truth about myself. I will arise in glory, and allow the light in me to shine upon the world throughout the day. I bring the world the tidings of salvation which I hear as God my Father speaks to me. And I behold the world that Christ would have me see, aware it ends the bitter dream of death; aware it is my Father’s Call to me.

Christ is my eyes today, and He the ears that listen to the Voice for God today. Father, I come to You through Him Who is Your Son, and my true Self as well. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #89: The course says we are not our body. The Christ Self is in us and we are not in a body. The real Self the Christ is in Holiness. Where are we then? Everything is inside but not inside the body then where? Is it the place before I became a body? Where was I before I took a body form? Is that where the Christ and my real Self is? If individual consciousness does not exist there, how does one know the place when he is there? Or is (not knowing) real knowledge.

A: We are at a distinct disadvantage in trying to answer these questions, which are everyone’s questions. The reason is that we have no way of conceptualizing or understanding what does not have physical (quantifiable) dimensions. And that is precisely what the Christ Self is — beyond time and space entirely. Therefore “where” does not apply — “where” always has spatial connotations, as do the terms inside and outside. We have no concepts nor a language that can encompass non-physical reality. And to take this one step further, we are trying to understand a realm of reality which we have chosen to banish from our awareness, and/or have changed its true meaning entirely. Moreover, the body (i.e., the brain) was specifically made not to understand (T.18.IX.4,5). So we are really severely “disabled” when we start grappling with these issues, and yet they are vitally important to us.

Indeed, we can say that the Christ Self is nowhere, which is “where” we were before we took bodily form, and we will have no trouble recognizing it when we return because it is not a place, and besides, we never left. Okay, now that you are even more confused, let’s see if we can unravel this a bit:

We are told that “to be without a body is to be in our natural state” (W.pI.72.9:3), but that “what you have done to hurt your mind has made it so unnatural that it does not remember what is natural to it. And when you are told what is natural, you cannot understand it” (T.16.II.3:1,2). This is our predicament. We have hurt our minds by denying we have a mind and thinking instead that we are bodies. We continue to do this — although we are not aware that we are making these choices — so that we can keep the separation going. Thus we think physical existence is real, and our true Self is an unknown and distant reality. When we no longer have a need to deny our true Identity as spirit, as Christ, we will simply be what we always have been. We never truly “became” a body. We remain decision-making minds simply fantasizing or hallucinating that we are something other than our Christ Self. As a result, there would not be a problem recognizing “where” we are when we no longer are “in” a body, because we are never “in” a body at all. The mind just chooses to think it is a body. Our body is just an idea in the mind, and since “ideas leave not their source,” it has no reality outside the mind that thinks it. That is why Jesus concentrates so much on the need to look within our minds with him — so that we would become aware of this thought system, which we have chosen to govern all of our thinking and perception.

The following quote nicely expresses some of these points: “The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained. I can make you aware of the conditions of truth, but the experience is of God. Together we can meet its conditions, but truth will dawn upon you of itself” (T.8.VI.9:6,7,8,9,10,11).

The conditions Jesus is talking about of course pertain to forgiveness, which is why it is the central theme of his teachings. A major effect of practicing forgiveness is that our identification with the body automatically begins to weaken and is replaced by more frequent perceptions of our oneness with each other beyond the body. So as we continue to forgive ourselves and others, we gradually allow back into our awareness what we had been denying by believing we are individuals living in a physical world with separate and competing interests and goals. As we make our way back up the ladder separation led us down (T.28.III.1:2), our identity shifts slowly and the kinds of questions you raise begin to fade and ultimately disappear, because they have come from the perspective of bodily, individualized existence, and that perspective has now shifted.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 24

ACIM Text Reading for August 24

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

IV. The Quiet Answer

In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved. In conflict there can be no answer and no resolution, for its purpose is to make no resolution possible, and to ensure no answer will be plain. A problem set in conflict has no answer, for it is seen in different ways. And what would be an answer from one point of view is not an answer in another light. You are in conflict. Thus it must be clear you cannot answer anything at all, for conflict has no limited effects. Yet if God gave an answer there must be a way in which your problems are resolved, for what He wills already has been done.

Thus it must be that time is not involved and every problem can be answered now. Yet it must also be that, in your state of mind, solution is impossible. Therefore, God must have given you a way of reaching to another state of mind in which the answer is already there. Such is the holy instant. It is here that all your problems should be brought and left. Here they belong, for here their answer is. And where its answer is, a problem must be simple and be easily resolved. It must be pointless to attempt to solve a problem where the answer cannot be. Yet just as surely it must be resolved, if it is brought to where the answer is.

Attempt to solve no problems but within the holy instant’s surety. For there the problem will be answered and resolved. Outside there will be no solution, for there is no answer there that could be found. Nowhere outside a single, simple question is ever asked. The world can only ask a double question. One with many answers can have no answers. None of them will do. It does not ask a question to be answered, but only to restate its point of view.

All questions asked within this world are but a way of looking, not a question asked. A question asked in hate cannot be answered, because it is an answer in itself. A double question asks and answers, both attesting the same thing in different form. The world asks but one question. It is this: “Of these illusions, which of them is true? Which ones establish peace and offer joy? And which can bring escape from all the pain of which this world is made?” Whatever form the question takes, its purpose is the same. It asks but to establish sin is real, and answers in the form of preference. “Which sin do you prefer? That is the one that you should choose. The others are not true. What can the body get that you would want the most of all? It is your servant and also your friend. But tell it what you want, and it will serve you lovingly and well.” And this is not a question, for it tells you what you want and where to go for it. It leaves no room to question its beliefs, except that what it states takes question’s form.

A pseudo-question has no answer. It dictates the answer even as it asks. Thus is all questioning within the world a form of propaganda for itself. Just as the body’s witnesses are but the senses from within itself, so are the answers to the questions of the world contained within the questions that are asked. Where answers represent the questions, they add nothing new and nothing has been learned. An honest question is a learning tool that asks for something that you do not know. It does not set conditions for response, but merely asks what the response should be. But no one in a conflict state is free to ask this question, for he does not want an honest answer where the conflict ends.

Only within the holy instant can an honest question honestly be asked. And from the meaning of the question does the meaningfulness of the answer come. Here is it possible to separate your wishes from the answer, so it can be given you and also be received. The answer is provided everywhere. Yet it is only here it can be heard. An honest answer asks no sacrifice because it answers questions truly asked. The questions of the world but ask of whom is sacrifice demanded, asking not if sacrifice is meaningful at all. And so, unless the answer tells “of whom,” it will remain unrecognized, unheard, and thus the question is preserved intact because it gave the answer to itself. The holy instant is the interval in which the mind is still enough to hear an answer that is not entailed within the question asked. It offers something new and different from the question. How could it be answered if it but repeats itself?

Therefore, attempt to solve no problems in a world from which the answer has been barred. But bring the problem to the only place that holds the answer lovingly for you. Here are the answers that will solve your problems because they stand apart from them, and see what can be answered; what the question is. Within the world the answers merely raise another question, though they leave the first unanswered. In the holy instant, you can bring the question to the answer, and receive the answer that was made for you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 24

Lesson 236
I rule my mind, which I alone must rule.

I have a kingdom I must rule. At times, it does not seem I am its king at all. It seems to triumph over me, and tell me what to think, and what to do and feel. And yet it has been given me to serve whatever purpose I perceive in it. My mind can only serve. Today I give its service to the Holy Spirit to employ as He sees fit. I thus direct my mind, which I alone can rule. And thus I set it free to do the Will of God.

Father, my mind is open to Your Thoughts, and closed today to every thought but Yours. I rule my mind, and offer it to You. Accept my gift, for it is Yours to me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #236: One of the things I find hardest to accept about A Course in Miracles is its apparent dismissal of humanity’s “higher strivings,” as embodied, especially, in art and science. Clearly what the Course understands by our “creations” is something entirely different from “creativity” in the artistic or scientific sense. The latter, it would seem, generates nothing more than illusion within illusion (shades of Plato?), rather than pointing Man to a higher and more beautiful reality. Does this mean that artists and scientists should pack it in, and the rest of us dismiss their efforts as part of the big ego-distraction?

A: You raise an important question, one that has troubled many students and observers of A Course in Miracles. On the one hand, it is indeed possible to concentrate on learning and practicing forgiveness while setting aside for a while this dimension of the Course’s theory. On the other hand, this issue cannot be ignored if one is to attain a comprehensive understanding of what the Course is saying about our world and ourselves.

Examining this issue in the light of the two levels on which this Course is written, along with the distinction between form and content might help with your concern.

Although it is true that artistic and scientific “creativity” “generates nothing more than illusion within illusion,” this does not mean that “artists and scientists should pack it in, and the rest of us dismiss their efforts as part of the big ego-distraction” — any more than the fact that the body is part of the ego’s plan to attack God means that surgeons, chiropractors, dentists, physical therapists, etc., should “pack it in.” The Course would indeed not be the practical, gentle, and kind course that it is if this were what it advocated.

First, throughout the Course, Jesus is trying to help us see things from his point of view, to step outside the entire world to view its origin in the thought system we maintain in our minds, and to see what we have given up in exchange for our individual, separate existence, so that we may have a better basis for understanding and evaluating what we have. He appeals to us in many ways to recognize that even the best of what we have in this world is unimaginably miniscule when compared to the glory that we rejected in our choice to prefer separation over oneness.

Jesus consistently teaches us that nothing in this world, or of this world, is of God, and therefore it has no reality. On this level of absolute truth, which we call Level One, all human activity is futile and meaningless. The only genuine creativity is in Heaven, in the extension of infinite Love: “True giving is creation. It extends the limitless to the unlimited, eternity to timelessness, and love unto itself. It adds to all that is complete already. . . by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything it has away, thus securing it forever for itself” (W.pI.105.4:2,3,4,5).

Moving from Level One of the Course to Level Two — which is the level of teaching in which Jesus communicates in a framework that is meaningful to us, and which he can use to start us back up the ladder our choice to be separate led us down (T.28.III.1:2) — he tells us that we have a split mind, and that when we left Heaven (an impossibility of course), we took with us the memory of all we left behind, but buried it far beyond awareness. Since it is still there in our split minds, however, it can be evoked. Practicing A Course in Miracles is one way of bringing this memory back into awareness. In fact, anything at all may be utilized toward this end, including the work of artists and scientists. But it is not the form that is decisive, although the form may be the starting point. It is what the form reminds us of that is relevant, its content, in other words. The perfection of Michelangelo’s statue of David, for example, can transport one from the physical realm to the non-physical, abstract perfection of God’s creation in Heaven. The same inspiration can come from viewing a distorted body, however. It is entirely conditional on the viewer first choosing to shift from the wrong mind to the right mind, from identifying with the ego to identifying with the Atonement principle, that the separation never happened in reality.

From another angle: since our minds are split, we are not totally insane; and therefore we are sometimes motivated by selflessness, defenselessness, and a willingness to see our interests as shared with everyone else’s. Thus, the efforts of a scientist or doctor to relieve pain and reduce human misery can serve as a reminder of our ego-free state in our right minds, the reflection of our pure innocence and oneness as Christ. Jesus would never simply dismiss our efforts as meaningless in and of themselves — whether they be the “higher strivings” of humanity, or the humble efforts of a street cleaner to keep the neighborhood looking nice. Jesus looks only at the purpose, which can transcend self-centeredness, self-aggrandizement, or be limited solely to them. The value of our activities is associated only with their purpose, which is always the result of a decision made in our minds to see either shared or separate interests. We therefore can serve each other best by being reminders of the truth and flawless beauty of our immaculate Identity as Christ, which is reflected in our right minds, and which we witness to by our willingness to see all people as the same. Again, this may come through the work of scientists, artists, poets, or welders in a factory. It is always a matter of content, not form.

complete forgiveness

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 23

ACIM Text Reading for August 23

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

III. Beyond All Symbols

Power cannot oppose. For opposition would weaken it, and weakened power is a contradiction in ideas. Weak strength is meaningless, and power used to weaken is employed to limit. And therefore it must be limited and weak, because that is its purpose. Power is unopposed, to be itself. No weakness can intrude on it without changing it into something it is not. To weaken is to limit, and impose an opposite that contradicts the concept that it attacks. And by this does it join to the idea a something it is not, and make it unintelligible. Who can understand a double concept, such as “weakened power” or “hateful love?”

You have decided that your brother is a symbol for a “hateful love,” a “weakened power,” and above all, a “living death.” And so he has no meaning to you, for he stands for what is meaningless. He represents a double thought, where half is canceled out by the remaining half. Yet even this is quickly contradicted by the half it canceled out, and so they both are gone. And now he stands for nothing. Symbols which but represent ideas that cannot be must stand for empty space and nothingness. Yet nothingness and empty space can not be interference. What can interfere with the awareness of reality is the belief that there is something there.

The picture of your brother that you see means nothing. There is nothing to attack or to deny; to love or hate, or to endow with power or to see as weak. The picture has been wholly cancelled out, because it symbolized a contradiction that canceled out the thought it represents. And thus the picture has no cause at all. Who can perceive effect without a cause? What can the causeless be but nothingness? The picture of your brother that you see is wholly absent and has never been. Let, then, the empty space it occupies be recognized as vacant, and the time devoted to its seeing be perceived as idly spent, a time unoccupied.

An empty space that is not seen as filled, an unused interval of time not seen as spent and fully occupied, become a silent invitation to the truth to enter, and to make itself at home. No preparation can be made that would enhance the invitation’s real appeal. For what you leave as vacant God will fill, and where He is there must the truth abide. Unweakened power, with no opposite, is what creation is. For this there are no symbols. Nothing points beyond the truth, for what can stand for more than everything? Yet true undoing must be kind. And so the first replacement for your picture is another picture of another kind.

As nothingness cannot be pictured, so there is no symbol for totality. Reality is ultimately known without a form, unpictured and unseen. Forgiveness is not yet a power known as wholly free of limits. Yet it sets no limits you have chosen to impose. Forgiveness is the means by which the truth is represented temporarily. It lets the Holy Spirit make exchange of pictures possible, until the time when aids are meaningless and learning done. No learning aid has use that can extend beyond the goal of learning. When its aim has been accomplished it is functionless. Yet in the learning interval it has a use that now you fear, but yet will love.

The picture of your brother given you to occupy the space so lately left unoccupied and vacant will not need defense of any kind. For you will give it overwhelming preference. Nor delay an instant in deciding that it is the only one you want. It does not stand for double concepts. Though it is but half the picture and is incomplete, within itself it is the same. The other half of what it represents remains unknown, but is not cancelled out. And thus is God left free to take the final step Himself. For this you need no pictures and no learning aids. And what will ultimately take the place of every learning aid will merely be.

Forgiveness vanishes and symbols fade, and nothing that the eyes have ever seen or ears have heard remains to be perceived. A power wholly limitless has come, not to destroy, but to receive its own. There is no choice of function anywhere. The choice you fear to lose you never had. Yet only this appears to interfere with power unlimited and single thoughts, complete and happy, without opposite. You do not know the peace of power that opposes nothing. Yet no other kind can be at all. Give welcome to the power beyond forgiveness, and beyond the world of symbols and of limitations. He would merely be, and so He merely is.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 23

Lesson 235
God in His mercy wills that I be saved.

I need but look upon all things that seem to hurt me, and with perfect certainty assure myself, “God wills that I be saved from this,” and merely watch them disappear. I need but keep in mind my Father’s Will for me is only happiness, to find that only happiness has come to me. And I need but remember that God’s Love surrounds His Son and keeps his sinlessness forever perfect, to be sure that I am saved and safe forever in His Arms. I am the Son He loves. And I am saved because God in His mercy wills it so.

Father, Your Holiness is mine. Your Love created me, and made my sinlessness forever part of You. I have no guilt nor sin in me, for there is none in You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1160: Where does the Course stand in regard to the ideas of twinflame, soul mate, and karmic relationships? Are those concepts true, or do they really just add to the belief of separation among brothers and special relationships?

A: A Course in Miracles does not say whether these concepts are true or not. On the level of absolute truth, of course, there are no relationships, because reality is non-dualistic, a state of perfect Oneness. In our separated state within the dream, though, we obviously have relationships; and the Course helps us realize that the only meaningful aspect of relationships is the purpose we have given them in our minds — either the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s. As we explain in Question #320, the key aspects of a special relationship — which means the ego purpose of separation has been given it — are dependency, completion, and needs. Thus, the feeling that someone is your soul mate could reflect the ego’s purpose of reinforcing your belief that you are separate, incomplete, and have needs that must be met, or it could reflect your desire to undo these belief, and that this person will be your partner in the forgiveness process. It can be a right- minded or wrong-minded attraction.

With regard to karma, one of the major differences between that approach and the Course’s is that the Course sees time as holographic, not linear, which means there can be no causal connection between the past and our present experience — unless our minds deliberately put one there. Another point of difference is that since “projection makes perception” and the world is “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:1,5) , we do nothing to the world and the world does nothing to us. A comprehensive view of this issue can be found in the following Questions: #332, #363, #514i, #516, and #577.

Q #1161: What does A Course in Miracles mean about relinquishing all other goals except salvation? Are we not meant to use our gifts? Are we not meant to cherish the goal of manifesting our gifts and using our talent?

*

A: Interestingly, in the passage you are referring to, Jesus describes these other goals as ones “you have invented for yourself” (W.pI.65.1:5; italics added ). That means they have nothing to do with our true Identity, and instead pertain to the self we made as replacement for the Self God created. As God created us, our true and only function is creating in Heaven (W.pI.192.1) . What we regard as our gifts and our talents are part of a substitute, ego-based identity. Once we understand and accept ourselves in that light, we can then ask Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help us use our so-called gifts and talents for the purpose of salvation, rather than for their original purpose of keeping us separate from our identity as spirit. Then, our only purpose will be forgiveness (W.pI.192.2,3) , “the only function meaningful in time. It is the means the Holy Spirit uses to translate specialness from sin into salvation” (T.25.VI.5:3,4).

Talents are very much an individual thing, setting people apart from one another — the ones who have them from the ones who do not; the specially gifted from the modestly gifted, and so on. This, despite the fact that many people use their talents in the service of others, or as members of teams and groups. The Course is not saying not to develop our talents, but to become aware of our purpose for doing so, as would be the case with anything of the body and the world. As students of A Course in Miracles , we can learn to regard them simply as part of the curriculum our teacher of forgiveness can use to help us learn that we are all the same in sharing the same purpose, and ultimately that we are all the same as God’s one Son.

complete forgiveness

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 22

ACIM Text Reading for August 22

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

II. The Fear of Healing
Is healing frightening? To many, yes. For accusation is a bar to love, and damaged bodies are accusers. They stand firmly in the way of trust and peace, proclaiming that the frail can have no trust and that the damaged have no grounds for peace. Who has been injured by his brother, and could love and trust him still? He has attacked and will attack again. Protect him not, because your damaged body shows that you must be protected from him. To forgive may be an act of charity, but not his due. He may be pitied for his guilt, but not exonerated. And if you forgive him his transgressions, you but add to all the guilt that he has really earned.

The unhealed cannot pardon. For they are the witnesses that pardon is unfair. They would retain the consequences of the guilt they overlook. Yet no one can forgive a sin that he believes is real. And what has consequences must be real, because what it has done is there to see. Forgiveness is not pity, which but seeks to pardon what it thinks to be the truth. Good cannot be returned for evil, for forgiveness does not first establish sin and then forgive it. Who can say and mean, “My brother, you have injured me, and yet, because I am the better of the two, I pardon you my hurt.” His pardon and your hurt cannot exist together. One denies the other and must make it false.

To witness sin and yet forgive it is a paradox that reason cannot see. For it maintains what has been done to you deserves no pardon. And by giving it, you grant your brother mercy but retain the proof he is not really innocent. The sick remain accusers. They cannot forgive their brothers and themselves as well. For no one in whom true forgiveness rests can suffer. He holds not the proof of sin before his brother’s eyes. And thus he must have overlooked it and removed it from his own. Forgiveness cannot be for one and not the other. Who forgives is healed. And in his healing lies the proof that he has truly pardoned, and retains no trace of condemnation that he still would hold against himself or any living thing.

Forgiveness is not real unless it brings a healing to your brother and yourself. You must attest his sins have no effect on you to demonstrate they are not real. How else could he be guiltless? And how could his innocence be justified unless his sins have no effect to warrant guilt? Sins are beyond forgiveness just because they would entail effects that cannot be undone and overlooked entirely. In their undoing lies the proof that they are merely errors. Let yourself be healed that you may be forgiving, offering salvation to your brother and yourself.

A broken body shows the mind has not been healed. A miracle of healing proves that separation is without effect. What you would prove to him you will believe. The power of witness comes from your belief. And everything you say or do or think but testifies to what you teach to him. Your body can be means to teach that it has never suffered pain because of him. And in its healing can it offer him mute testimony of his innocence. It is this testimony that can speak with power greater than a thousand tongues. For here is his forgiveness proved to him.

A miracle can offer nothing less to him than it has given unto you. So does your healing show your mind is healed, and has forgiven what he did not do. And so is he convinced his innocence was never lost, and healed along with you. Thus does the miracle undo all things the world attests can never be undone. And hopelessness and death must disappear before the ancient clarion call of life. This call has power far beyond the weak and miserable cry of death and guilt. The ancient calling of the Father to His Son, and of the Son unto His Own, will yet be the last trumpet that the world will ever hear. Brother, there is no death. And this you learn when you but wish to show your brother that you had no hurt of him. He thinks your blood is on his hands, and so he stands condemned. Yet it is given you to show him, by your healing, that his guilt is but the fabric of a senseless dream.

How just are miracles! For they bestow an equal gift of full deliverance from guilt upon your brother and yourself. Your healing saves him pain as well as you, and you are healed because you wished him well. This is the law the miracle obeys; that healing sees no specialness at all. It does not come from pity but from love. And love would prove all suffering is but a vain imagining, a foolish wish with no effects. Your health is a result of your desire to see your brother with no blood upon his hands, nor guilt upon his heart made heavy with the proof of sin. And what you wish is given you to see.

The “cost” of your serenity is his. This is the “price” the Holy Spirit and the world interpret differently. The world perceives it as a statement of the “fact” that your salvation sacrifices his. The Holy Spirit knows your healing is the witness unto his, and cannot be apart from his at all. As long as he consents to suffer, you will be unhealed. Yet you can show him that his suffering is purposeless and wholly without cause. Show him your healing, and he will consent no more to suffer. For his innocence has been established in your sight and his. And laughter will replace your sighs, because God’s Son remembered that he is God’s Son.

Who, then, fears healing? Only those to whom their brother’s sacrifice and pain are seen to represent their own serenity. Their helplessness and weakness represent the grounds on which they justify his pain. The constant sting of guilt he suffers serves to prove that he is slave, but they are free. The constant pain they suffer demonstrates that they are free because they hold him bound. And sickness is desired to prevent a shift of balance in the sacrifice. How could the Holy Spirit be deterred an instant, even less, to reason with an argument for sickness such as this? And need your healing be delayed because you pause to listen to insanity?

Consider how this self-perception must extend, and do not overlook the fact that every thought extends because that is its purpose, being what it really is. From an idea of self as two, there comes a necessary view of function split between the two. And what you would correct is only half the error, which you think is all of it. Your brother’s sins become the central target for correction, lest your errors and his own be seen as one. Yours are mistakes, but his are sins and not the same as yours. His merit punishment, while yours, in fairness, should be overlooked.

In this interpretation of correction, your own mistakes you will not even see. The focus of correction has been placed outside yourself, on one who cannot be a part of you while this perception lasts. What is condemned can never be returned to its accuser, who had hated it, and hates it still as symbol of his fear. This is your brother, focus of your hate, unworthy to be part of you and thus outside yourself; the other half, which is denied. And only what is left without his presence is perceived as all of you. To this remaining half the Holy Spirit must represent the other half until you recognize it is the other half. And this He does by giving you and him a function that is one, not different.

Correction is the function given both, but neither one alone. And when it is fulfilled as shared, it must correct mistakes in you and him. It cannot leave mistakes in one unhealed and set the other free. That is divided purpose, which can not be shared, and so it cannot be the goal in which the Holy Spirit sees His Own. And you can rest assured that He will not fulfill a function that He does not see and recognize as His. For only thus can He keep yours preserved intact, despite Your separate views of what your function is. If He upheld divided function, you were lost indeed. His inability to see His goal divided and distinct for you and him, preserves yourself from the awareness of a function not your own. And thus is healing given you and him.

Correction must be left to One Who knows correction and forgiveness are the same. With half a mind this is not understood. Leave, then, correction to the Mind that is united, functioning as one because it is not split in purpose, and conceives a single function as its only one. Here is the function given it conceived to be its Own, and not apart from that its Giver keeps because it has been shared. In His acceptance of this function lies the means whereby your mind is unified. His single purpose unifies the halves of you that you perceive as separate. And each forgives the other, that he may accept his other half as part of him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 22

Lesson 234
Father, today I am Your Son again.

Today we will anticipate the time when dreams of sin and guilt are gone, and we have reached the holy peace we never left. Merely a tiny instant has elapsed between eternity and timelessness. So brief the interval there was no lapse in continuity, nor break in thoughts which are forever unified as one. Nothing has ever happened to disturb the peace of God the Father and the Son. This we accept as wholly true today.

We thank You, Father, that we cannot lose the memory of You and of Your Love. We recognize our safety, and give thanks for all the gifts You have bestowed on us, for all the loving help we have received, for Your eternal patience, and the Word which You have given us that we are saved.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #66: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for one year, doing the lessons and participating in two study groups. I am also in a 12-step group. My question is on friendship and extending love to others. I have never been one that worked on relationships. In the past year I have been trying to extend love to my friends but feel in some instances their love is not being reciprocated. I know love is freedom and unconditional, and yet when I reach out to a friend via a phone call or an e-mail and don’t hear from them, I’m disappointed. How can I get over this disappointment?

A: First of all, as a relatively new student to the Course, you need to know that you are doing the best that you can. The Course is a challenging process that takes time to master and it is not easy to undo the thought system of the ego to which we all have been so faithfully committed for nearly all of our time up until now. Your willingness to be taught a different way is all that Jesus is asking of you — and it takes humility to acknowledge that you don’t know the way yourself.

As you have been finding, the ego’s maxim “Seek but do not find” (T.16.V.6:5; W.pI.71.4:2; M.13.5:8) continues to operate in our lives even after we have decided we want another way of relating to others. This is because we still do not understand the purpose for which we made the world and relationships. “There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems that its purpose is to keep…The world was made that problems could not be escaped” (T.31.IV.1:1;2:6). And so, as long as we look for any satisfaction in the world and from others, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. But, contrary to our conscious awareness, this setup in fact is intentional.

Our purpose in the world and in our relationships, which we keep hidden from ourselves, is to be disappointed, treated unfairly, and victimized, so that the pain that really comes from our own secret choice for separation now seems to be coming from somebody else’s actions, or inaction. In Lesson 76, Jesus speaks of the various ego “’laws’ we have believed we [and others] must obey. These include…the ‘laws” of friendship, of ‘good’ relationships and reciprocity” (W.pI.76.8:3). These seemingly reasonable rules for relationships serve the ego purpose of establishing expectations for how we and others should act in order to be happy, thereby guaranteeing our disappointment and unhappiness when they are violated.

Now Jesus does not expect that we will suddenly stop seeking outside of ourselves for love just because he tells us it will not work (e.g., T.29.VII). His purpose in telling us is to help us gradually open our eyes to what we are doing to ourselves so that, over time, we will be more and more willing to make a different choice, to bring our pain and disappointment to him so that he can show us that the answer to what we are looking for is there inside of us, and always has been. We are the ones who have not accepted the love, and have kept pushing it away out of our fear of joining and losing our self in total, limitless love. And we will continue to resist that insight in our practice of the Course and its process of forgiveness. But Jesus does not judge us for that. He knows that we are just afraid, but that in time we will choose his alternative more and more of the time. And then we will come to recognize that our fear that prevented us from experiencing his love is no different from the fear that seems to stop others from reciprocating when we allow his love to be extended through us. And since we know that the love is always ours to experience and share, we will no longer be disappointed when others do not recognize that for themselves. The love will simply continue to extend through us to them, offering them a reminder of the same solution we have learned for ourselves — the love is already present within each of our minds. We need only undo ” the blocks to the awareness of [its] presence” (T.in.1:7).

jesus there is no death