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
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.