ACIM Text Reading for August 18
Chapter 26 ~ The Transition
VIII. The Immediacy of Salvation
The one remaining problem that you have is that you see an interval between the time when you forgive, and will receive the benefits of trusting in your brother. This but reflects the little you would keep between you and your brother, that you and he might be a little separate. For time and space are one illusion, which takes different forms. If it has been projected beyond your mind you think of it as time. The nearer it is brought to where it is, the more you think of it in terms of space.
There is a distance you would keep apart from your brother, and this space you perceive as time because you still believe you are external to him. This makes trust impossible. And you cannot believe that trust would settle every problem now. Thus do you think it safer to remain a little careful and a little watchful of interests perceived as separate. From this perception you cannot conceive of gaining what forgiveness offers now. The interval you think lies in between the giving and receiving of the gift seems to be one in which you sacrifice and suffer loss. You see eventual salvation, not immediate results.
Salvation is immediate. Unless you so perceive it, you will be afraid of it, believing that the risk of loss is great between the time its purpose is made yours and its effects will come to you. In this form is the error still obscured that is the source of fear. Salvation would wipe out the space you see between you still, and let you instantly become as one. And it is here you fear the loss would lie. Do not project this fear to time, for time is not the enemy that you perceive. Time is as neutral as the body is, except in terms of what you see it for. If you would keep a little space between you and your brother still, you then would want a little time in which forgiveness is withheld a little while. And this but makes the interval between the time in which forgiveness is withheld from you and given seem dangerous, with terror justified.
Yet space between you and your brother is apparent only in the present, now, and cannot be perceived in future time. No more can it be overlooked except within the present. Future loss is not your fear. But present joining is your dread. Who can feel desolation except now? A future cause as yet has no effects. And therefore must it be that if you fear, there is a present cause. And it is this that needs correction, not a future state.
The plans you make for safety all are laid within the future, where you cannot plan. No purpose has been given it as yet, and what will happen has as yet no cause. Who can predict effects without a cause? And who could fear effects unless he thought they had been caused, and judged disastrous now? Belief in sin arouses fear, and like its cause, is looking forward, looking back, but overlooking what is here and now. Yet only here and now its cause must be, if its effects already have been judged as fearful. And in overlooking this, is it protected and kept separate from healing. For a miracle is now. It stands already here, in present grace, within the only interval of time that sin and fear have overlooked, but which is all there is to time.
The working out of all correction takes no time at all. Yet the acceptance of the working out can seem to take forever. The change of purpose the Holy Spirit brought to your relationship has in it all effects that you will see. They can be looked at now. Why wait till they unfold in time and fear they may not come, although already there? You have been told that everything brings good that comes from God. And yet it seems as if this is not so. Good in disaster’s form is difficult to credit in advance. Nor is there really sense in this idea.
Why should the good appear in evil’s form? And is it not deception if it does? Its cause is here, if it appears at all. Why are not its effects apparent, then? Why in the future? And you seek to be content with sighing, and with “reasoning” you do not understand it now, but will some day. And then its meaning will be clear. This is not reason, for it is unjust, and clearly hints at punishment until the time of liberation is at hand. Given a change of purpose for the good, there is no reason for an interval in which disaster strikes, to be perceived as “good” some day but now in form of pain. This is a sacrifice of now, which could not be the cost the Holy Spirit asks for what He gave without a cost at all.
Yet this illusion has a cause which, though untrue, must be already in your mind. And this illusion is but one effect that it engenders, and one form in which its outcome is perceived. This interval in time, when retribution is perceived to be the form in which the “good” appears, is but one aspect of the little space that lies between you, unforgiven still.
Be not content with future happiness. It has no meaning, and is not your just reward. For you have cause for freedom now. What profits freedom in a prisoner’s form? Why should deliverance be disguised as death? Delay is senseless, and the “reasoning” that would maintain effects of present cause must be delayed until a future time, is merely a denial of the fact that consequence and cause must come as one. Look not to time, but to the little space between you still, to be delivered from. And do not let it be disguised as time, and so preserved because its form is changed and what it is cannot be recognized. The Holy Spirit’s purpose now is yours. Should not His happiness be yours as well?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 18
Now will I seek and find the peace of God.
In peace I was created. And in peace do I remain. It is not given me to change my Self. How merciful is God my Father, that when He created me He gave me peace forever. Now I ask but to be what I am. And can this be denied me, when it is forever true?
Father, I seek the peace You gave as mine in my creation. What was given then must be here now, for my creation was apart from time, and still remains beyond all change. The peace in which Your Son was born into Your Mind is shining there unchanged. I am as You created me. I need but call on You to find the peace You gave. It is Your Will that gave it to Your Son.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #411: In A Course in Miracles, Jesus says, “You can not make the body the Holy Spirit’s temple, and it will never be the seat of love. It is the home of the idolater, and of love’s condemnation. For here is love made fearful and hope abandoned” (T.20.VI.6:1,2,3). And previous to that he states of idols, specifically referring to the body that “The body is the ego’s chosen weapon for seeking power through relationships” (T.20.VI.4:3). The other day I saw a woman who was pregnant and it made me think of birth, pregnancy, the separation, and what purpose birth serves. Is not the birthing of another body extending the thought of separation since the body is “the ego’s chosen weapon for seeking power?” Aren’t we just making the thoughts of separation greater and the illusion/dream more so through the birth of a body?
A: It would seem so; but in the passages you have cited, Jesus is speaking to us on what we refer to as Level One: the contrast between reality and illusion. On that level, the body symbolizes only the ego’s murderous nature and its ongoing intention to perpetuate separation and conflict; and therefore in and of itself, the body can never be anything holy or loving. But on another level (Level Two), speaking to us within the framework of what we think is real, Jesus teaches us that “love does not condemn it [the body] and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions” (T.18.VI.4:8). His gentle means of helping us is to teach us how to use what we regard as real (even though he knows it is not real and was made to attack truth) to undo the sense of separation we feel within ourselves and in relation to everyone else. He thus tells us to regard the world and the body first as neutral (W.pII.294), and then to concentrate on the purpose of what we think and do; and that purpose will always be a variation of one of two themes: the reinforcement of our belief in separation or of the undoing of that belief through forgiveness. As we progress in this way of thinking, we will gradually and naturally begin to disidentify with the body, until we finally accept its total unreality. Thus our lives become classrooms in which we choose either the ego or Jesus as our teacher. Seen from this perspective, then, birthing — as with anything else — can be in accord with the ego’s purpose for us or with Jesus’ purpose: a wrong-minded choice or a right-minded choice. This is what we refer to as Level Two: wrong-minded versus right-minded choices within the dream of separation.
So when you see a pregnant woman, just watch your own thoughts, remembering that you do not know what her specific Atonement path involves. That could be the classroom she has chosen in which to learn her specific lessons of forgiveness. In that sense, your thoughts could be along these lines: “We both believe we are here, which means we both believe we rejected our true Identity and left our home in Heaven in order to establish an independent separate existence of our own; and we both have within us the means and all the help we need to correct our mistake and return Home. The specifics of our lives may be different, but our purpose is the same, and Jesus’ loving help is equally present to both of us.”
One last thought. To think that separation can be made worse is to make the error real — the cardinal “sin” of Course students! Linear time is one of the ego’s cleverest tricks to make us think that our experience is fresh and real. It is just another way to validate our existence as individuals. Orienting us in the right direction, Jesus tells us that we “but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:5). In that sense, we cannot make the separation greater or increase the illusion. Our awakening from this dream of separation, however, is dependent on the purpose for which we use the world and our bodies. In that sense, we can reinforce in our own minds our false identity as individual selves, or we can gradually undo this false identity with help from Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our practice of forgiveness. Giving birth to a baby is inherently neutral — it the purpose behind that decision that establishes its Atonement relevance. Pardon the pun, but you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, a temptation practically all students of the Course fall prey to, when their egos blind their eyes to the two distinct levels on which Jesus speaks to us.