ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 30

ACIM Text Reading for September 30

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

VI. Recognizing the Spirit

You see the flesh or recognize the spirit. There is no compromise between the two. If one is real the other must be false, for what is real denies its opposite. There is no choice in vision but this one. What you decide in this determines all you see and think is real and hold as true. On this one choice does all your world depend, for here have you established what you are, as flesh or spirit in your own belief. If you choose flesh, you never will escape the body as your own reality, for you have chosen that you want it so. But choose the spirit, and all Heaven bends to touch your eyes and bless your holy sight, that you may see the world of flesh no more except to heal and comfort and to bless.

Salvation is undoing. If you choose to see the body, you behold a world of separation, unrelated things, and happenings that make no sense at all. This one appears and disappears in death; that one is doomed to suffering and loss. And no one is exactly as he was an instant previous, nor will he be the same as he is now an instant hence. Who could have trust where so much change is seen, for who is worthy if he be but dust? Salvation is undoing of all this. For constancy arises in the sight of those whose eyes salvation has released from looking at the cost of keeping guilt, because they chose to let it go instead.

Salvation does not ask that you behold the spirit and perceive the body not. It merely asks that this should be your choice. For you can see the body without help, but do not understand how to behold a world apart from it. It is your world salvation will undo, and let you see another world your eyes could never find. Be not concerned how this could ever be. You do not understand how what you see arose to meet your sight. For if you did, it would be gone. The veil of ignorance is drawn across the evil and the good, and must be passed that both may disappear, so that perception finds no hiding place. How is this done? It is not done at all. What could there be within the universe that God created that must still be done?

Only in arrogance could you conceive that you must make the way to Heaven plain. The means are given you by which to see the world that will replace the one you made. Your will be done! In Heaven as on earth this is forever true. It matters not where you believe you are, nor what you think the truth about yourself must really be. It makes no difference what you look upon, nor what you choose to feel or think or wish. For God Himself has said, “Your will be done.” And it is done to you accordingly.

You who believe that you can choose to see the Son of God as you would have him be, forget not that no concept of yourself will stand against the truth of what you are. Undoing truth would be impossible. But concepts are not difficult to change. One vision, clearly seen, that does not fit the picture as it was perceived before will change the world for eyes that learn to see, because the concept of the self has changed.

Are you invulnerable? Then the world is harmless in your sight. Do you forgive? Then is the world forgiving, for you have forgiven it its trespasses, and so it looks on you with eyes that see as yours. Are you a body? So is all the world perceived as treacherous, and out to kill. Are you a spirit, deathless, and without the promise of corruption and the stain of sin upon you? So the world is seen as stable, fully worthy of your trust; a happy place to rest in for a while, where nothing need be feared, but only loved. Who is unwelcome to the kind in heart? And what could hurt the truly innocent?

Your will be done, you holy child of God. It does not matter if you think you are in earth or Heaven. What your Father wills of you can never change. The truth in you remains as radiant as a star, as pure as light, as innocent as love itself. And you are worthy that your will be done!

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 30

Lesson 272

How can illusions satisfy God’s Son?

Father, the truth belongs to me. My home is set in Heaven by Your Will and mine. Can dreams content me? Can illusions bring me happiness? What but Your memory can satisfy Your Son? I will accept no less than You have given me. I am surrounded by Your Love, forever still, forever gentle and forever safe. God’s Son must be as You created him.

Today we pass illusions by. And if we hear temptation call to us to stay and linger in a dream, we turn aside and ask ourselves if we, the Sons of God, could be content with dreams, when Heaven can be chosen just as easily as hell, and love will happily replace all fear.

 ***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #76: A number of philosophers and psychologists have noted that Western civilization, in the development of science and the growth of the self into an individual, autonomous ego — the healthy and mature adult ego — has been characterized by an acute split between body and mind (i.e., ego mind — the brain). This division also shows up in the split between man and nature in our civilization. The psychological repression and alienation from nature has produced a lack of vitality, enthusiasm, and zest for living in our culture. Now the Course does not seem to deal with this problem and even appears to increase the alienation by saying the body and the world do not exist. It seems that in order to transcend the ego we will first need to recover much of what was lost. I think the Course is saying that as we look at our egos with the Holy Spirit and practice forgiveness, we begin to heal the repression and alienation. Is this correct? It seems that even if this is correct there is a real danger that people who study the Course will not realize the importance of having a strong, sensitive, alert, healthy body in order to have the vitality to transcend the ego.

A: There can be no doubt that the experience of the ego thought system, in whatever forms it may be manifested, will be one of profound repression and alienation. These are core elements of its basic premise — the desirability of splitting off from the Whole followed by the denial of responsibility for the decision and its seeming consequences (T.6.II.1,2,3). And so what you describe as characterizing Western civilization is just one of the many different but inevitable consequences in form of the desire for separation.

While the Course does assert the unreality of the body and the world, for the most part our understanding of this will be only intellectual and not experiential until the very end of the journey. And this should not be a student’s focus as we attempt to put the Course’s principles of forgiveness into practice, or we will risk going even deeper into denial about what is buried in our unconscious mind. It will be much more important that we acknowledge the purpose for which we have made the world and our bodies — to play the roles of victim and victimizer — than that we simply deny that they exist.

And so if we practice forgiveness as the Course teaches us — releasing the judgments we have been holding on to, thereby making the differences we have been perceiving between ourselves and everyone and everything else in the world no longer important — we will no longer see our purpose as separate from everyone and everything else. This will inevitably reduce feelings of alienation and isolation between ourselves and all that we have seen as outside of ourselves.

And since the body is really neutral in all of this (W.pI.294), our focus need not be on the body but on our thoughts about the body and the purpose for which we choose to use it. That is not to say that while we believe that our body is real and we are so intimately identified with it that we may neglect or abuse it. But our belief in its vulnerability and weakness and need for protection is nothing more than a displacement of our underlying belief about ourselves (our mind), separated from the Whole and identified with the ego. And it is that belief that needs correction and healing.


Q #77: Why does the Holy Spirit speak so softly? It seems it would be so much easier to follow His guidance if He could shout sometimes.

A: You join a chorus of many hundreds of Course students fervently pleading with the Holy Spirit to turn up the volume! Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, the problem is on our end, which means it has something to do with a choice we are making, which we can now change. It is the interference we generate that seems to make the Holy Spirit’s Voice inaudible, just as radio transmissions often don’t come through clearly because of static. There is nothing wrong with the signal. The problem is on the receiving end, not the sending end, Jesus tells us in what seems to be a gentle rebuke: “What answer that the Holy Spirit gives can reach you, when it is your specialness to which you listen, and which asks and answers? Its tiny answer, soundless in the melody that pours from God to you eternally in loving praise of what you are, is all you listen to. And that vast song of honor and of love for what you are seems silent and unheard before its ‘mightiness.’ You strain your ears to hear its soundless voice, and yet the Call of God Himself is soundless to you” (T.24.II.4:3,4,5,6). This is reinforced in the manual when Jesus says, “only few can hear God’s Voice at all” (M.12.3:3).

This is hard to take, yet rather than be discouraged, we can be grateful that at least we know what the problem is, and that we can work hand-in-hand with our loving brother Jesus to restore the communication to full clarity. If we are truly honest with ourselves, we will nod in acknowledgment that his explanation for our not hearing the Holy Spirit is indeed the truth.

As we continue to work with the material, it becomes clear that the two requirements Jesus is insistent about are honesty and humility. It is profoundly humbling to run into passage after passage in the Course in which he tells us that we are wrong about everything we think and have thought, and that we are just spiritual children, even referring to us at times as babies (e.g., T.4.II.5:2). He talks as well about the methods he must use to get through to us, because we have erected so many blockades to truth in our minds. For example, “How do you teach someone the value of something he has deliberately thrown away?” (T.4.VI.5:1). And then there are many passages that speak specifically of the “damage” we have done to our own minds, one example being: “what you have done to hurt your mind has made it so unnatural that it does not remember what is natural to it” (T.16.II.3:1). It is just so easy to forget that we are the ones who banished the Holy Spirit from our minds. We conceal this and then wind up thinking that His absence from our awareness somehow has to do with a deficiency on His part, or even with Jesus’ instructions. So we are ultimately thrust back to a very humble position, from which all our efforts must proceed.

Another important factor to keep in mind is that the Holy Spirit’s guidance can come in many different ways. We should not expect it to be only in the form of words specifically telling us what to do. His Presence could very well be felt as an impulse to be kind or compassionate in a given moment. Often His guidance is in the form of an idea that suddenly occurs to us, or something that happens in a dream, or simply while we are talking with a friend. The Holy Spirit’s correction of our wrong-minded thinking can come in any number of ways.

And finally, we always want to be careful that we have not defined the problem, and then expect the answer to come on terms we ourselves have set. This is an all too common form of interference on our part that makes access to right-minded thinking more difficult. “Be willing, for an instant, to leave your altars free of what you placed upon them, and what is really there you cannot fail to see [hear]” (T.21.II.8:1).Jesus has guaranteed that our efforts will meet with success, and in fact they already have. We need only accept this with no reservations and then the Voice for God will be the only Voice we hear.

forgiveness is still

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 29

ACIM Text Reading for September 29
Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision
V. Self Concept versus Self

The learning of the world is built upon a concept of the self adjusted to the world’s reality. It fits it well. For this an image is that suits a world of shadows and illusions. Here it walks at home, where what it sees is one with it. The building of a concept of the self is what the learning of the world is for. This is its purpose; that you come without a self, and make one as you go along. And by the time you reach “maturity” you have perfected it, to meet the world on equal terms, at one with its demands.

A concept of the self is made by you. It bears no likeness to yourself at all. It is an idol, made to take the place of your reality as Son of God. The concept of the self the world would teach is not the thing that it appears to be. For it is made to serve two purposes, but one of which the mind can recognize. The first presents the face of innocence, the aspect acted on. It is this face that smiles and charms and even seems to love. It searches for companions and it looks, at times with pity, on the suffering, and sometimes offers solace. It believes that it is good within an evil world.

This aspect can grow angry, for the world is wicked and unable to provide the love and shelter innocence deserves. And so this face is often wet with tears at the injustices the world accords to those who would be generous and good. This aspect never makes the first attack. But every day a hundred little things make small assaults upon its innocence, provoking it to irritation, and at last to open insult and abuse.

The face of innocence the concept of the self so proudly wears can tolerate attack in self-defense, for is it not a well-known fact the world deals harshly with defenseless innocence? No one who makes a picture of himself omits this face, for he has need of it. The other side he does not want to see. Yet it is here the learning of the world has set its sights, for it is here the world’s “reality” is set, to see to it the idol lasts.

Beneath the face of innocence there is a lesson that the concept of the self was made to teach. It is a lesson in a terrible displacement, and a fear so devastating that the face that smiles above it must forever look away, lest it perceive the treachery it hides. The lesson teaches this: “I am the thing you made of me, and as you look on me, you stand condemned because of what I am.” On this conception of the self the world smiles with approval, for it guarantees the pathways of the world are safely kept, and those who walk on them will not escape.

Here is the central lesson that ensures your brother is condemned eternally. For what you are has now become his sin. For this is no forgiveness possible. No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering and deadly in its aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept still deeper in the mists below the face of innocence. And in these shrouded vaults are all his sins and yours preserved and kept in darkness, where they cannot be perceived as errors, which the light would surely show. You can be neither blamed for what you are, nor can you change the things it makes you do. Your brother then is symbol of your sins to you who are but silently, and yet with ceaseless urgency, condemning still your brother for the hated thing you are.

Concepts are learned. They are not natural. Apart from learning they do not exist. They are not given, so they must be made. Not one of them is true, and many come from feverish imaginations, hot with hatred and distortions born of fear. What is a concept but a thought to which its maker gives a meaning of his own? Concepts maintain the world. But they can not be used to demonstrate the world is real. For all of them are made within the world, born in its shadow, growing in its ways and finally “maturing” in its thought. They are ideas of idols, painted with the brushes of the world, which cannot make a single picture representing truth.

A concept of the self is meaningless, for no one here can see what it is for, and therefore cannot picture what it is. Yet is all learning that the world directs begun and ended with the single aim of teaching you this concept of yourself, that you will choose to follow this world’s laws, and never seek to go beyond its roads nor realize the way you see yourself. Now must the Holy Spirit find a way to help you see this concept of the self must be undone, if any peace of mind is to be given you. Nor can it be unlearned except by lessons aimed to teach that you are something else. For otherwise, you would be asked to make exchange of what you now believe for total loss of self, and greater terror would arise in you.

Thus are the Holy Spirit’s lesson plans arranged in easy steps, that though there be some lack of ease at times and some distress, there is no shattering of what was learned, but just a re-translation of what seems to be the evidence on its behalf. Let us consider, then, what proof there is that you are what your brother made of you. For even though you do not yet perceive that this is what you think, you surely learned by now that you behave as if it were. Does he react for you? And does he know exactly what would happen? Can he see your future and ordain, before it comes, what you should do in every circumstance? He must have made the world as well as you to have such prescience in the things to come.

That you are what your brother made of you seems most unlikely. Even if he did, who gave the face of innocence to you? Is this your contribution? Who is, then, the “you” who made it? And who is deceived by all your goodness, and attacks it so? Let us forget the concept’s foolishness, and merely think of this; there are two parts to what you think yourself to be. If one were generated by your brother, who was there to make the other? And from whom must something be kept hidden? If the world be evil, there is still no need to hide what you are made of. Who is there to see? And what but is attacked could need defense?

Perhaps the reason why this concept must be kept in darkness is that, in the light, the one who would not think it true is you. And what would happen to the world you see, if all its underpinnings were removed? Your concept of the world depends upon this concept of the self. And both would go, if either one were ever raised to doubt. The Holy Spirit does not seek to throw you into panic. So He merely asks if just a little question might be raised.

There are alternatives about the thing that you must be. You might, for instance, be the thing you chose to have your brother be. This shifts the concept of the self from what is wholly passive, and at least makes way for active choice, and some acknowledgment that interaction must have entered in. There is some understanding that you chose for both of you, and what he represents has meaning that was given it by you. It also shows some glimmering of sight into perception’s law that what you see reflects the state of the perceiver’s mind. Yet who was it that did the choosing first? If you are what you chose your brother be, alternatives were there to choose among, and someone must have first decided on the one to choose, and let the other go.

Although this step has gains, it does not yet approach a basic question. Something must have gone before these concepts of the self. And something must have done the learning which gave rise to them. Nor can this be explained by either view. The main advantage of the shifting to the second from the first is that you somehow entered in the choice by your decision. But this gain is paid in almost equal loss, for now you stand accused of guilt for what your brother is. And you must share his guilt, because you chose it for him in the image of your own. While only he was treacherous before, now must you be condemned along with him.

The concept of the self has always been the great preoccupation of the world. And everyone believes that he must find the answer to the riddle of himself. Salvation can be seen as nothing more than the escape from concepts. It does not concern itself with content of the mind, but with the simple statement that it thinks. And what can think has choice, and can be shown that different thoughts have different consequence. So it can learn that everything it thinks reflects the deep confusion that it feels about how it was made and what it is. And vaguely does the concept of the self appear to answer what it does not know.

Seek not your Self in symbols. There can be no concept that can stand for what you are. What matters it which concept you accept while you perceive a self that interacts with evil, and reacts to wicked things? Your concept of yourself will still remain quite meaningless. And you will not perceive that you can interact but with yourself. To see a guilty world is but the sign your learning has been guided by the world, and you behold it as you see yourself. The concept of the self embraces all you look upon, and nothing is outside of this perception. If you can be hurt by anything, you see a picture of your secret wishes. Nothing more than this. And in your suffering of any kind you see your own concealed desire to kill.

You will make many concepts of the self as learning goes along. Each one will show the changes in your own relationships, as your perception of yourself is changed. There will be some confusion every time there is a shift, but be you thankful that the learning of the world is loosening its grasp upon your mind. And be you sure and happy in the confidence that it will go at last, and leave your mind at peace. The role of the accuser will appear in many places and in many forms. And each will seem to be accusing you. Yet have no fear it will not be undone.

The world can teach no images of you unless you want to learn them. There will come a time when images have all gone by, and you will see you know not what you are. It is to this unsealed and open mind that truth returns, unhindered and unbound. Where concepts of the self have been laid by is truth revealed exactly as it is. When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this:

“I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing,
where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself.”

Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 29
Lesson 271
Section 6. What is the Christ?

Christ is God’s Son as He created Him. He is the Self we share, uniting us with one another, and with God as well. He is the Thought which still abides within the Mind that is His Source. He has not left His holy home, nor lost the innocence in which He was created. He abides unchanged forever in the Mind of God.

Christ is the link that keeps you one with God, and guarantees that separation is no more than an illusion of despair, for hope forever will abide in Him. Your mind is part of His, and His of yours. He is the part in which God’s Answer lies; where all decisions are already made, and dreams are over. He remains untouched by anything the body’s eyes perceive. For though in Him His Father placed the means for your salvation, yet does He remain the Self Who, like His Father, knows no sin.

Home of the Holy Spirit, and at home in God alone, does Christ remain at peace within the Heaven of your holy mind. This is the only part of you that has reality in truth. The rest is dreams. Yet will these dreams be given unto Christ, to fade before His glory and reveal your holy Self, the Christ, to you at last.

The Holy Spirit reaches from the Christ in you to all your dreams, and bids them come to Him, to be translated into truth. He will exchange them for the final dream which God appointed as the end of dreams. For when forgiveness rests upon the world and peace has come to every Son of God, what could there be to keep things separate, for what remains to see except Christ’s face?

And how long will this holy face be seen, when it is but the symbol that the time for learning now is over, and the goal of the Atonement has been reached at last? So therefore let us seek to find Christ’s face and look on nothing else. As we behold His glory, will we know we have no need of learning or perception or of time, or anything except the holy Self, the Christ Whom God created as His Son.


Lesson 271

Christ’s is the vision I will use today.

Each day, each hour, every instant, I am choosing what I want to look upon, the sounds I want to hear, the witnesses to what I want to be the truth for me. Today I choose to look upon what Christ would have me see, to listen to God’s Voice, and seek the witnesses to what is true in God’s creation. In Christ’s sight, the world and God’s creation meet, and as they come together all perception disappears. His kindly sight redeems the world from death, for nothing that He looks on but must live, remembering the Father and the Son; Creator and creation unified.

Father, Christ’s vision is the way to You. What He beholds invites Your memory to be restored to me. And this I choose, to be what I would look upon today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #186: In Chapter 31 of A Course in Miracles, Section V, “Self-Concept vs Self,” Jesus says, “The role of the accuser will appear in many places and in many forms. And each will seem to be accusing you” (T.31.V.16:5,6). Can you explain what is meant by this?

A: As earlier parts of this section make clear, each judgment we hold against another is really a deeply buried self-accusation. Perhaps most graphic is the following; “No longer does it matter what he does, for your accusing finger points to him, unwavering in its deadly aim. It points to you as well, but this is kept deeper in the mists below the face of innocence” (T.31.V.6:4,5).

The section then goes on (T.31.V.15,16) to discuss how we will assume various concepts or roles for our self-identity over time (e.g., child, sibling, student, lover, spouse, parent, employee, boss) — all the while believing that we are a victim in these various relationships, treated unfairly by a world of evil that exists outside ourselves. But all the accusations we hold against others as we assume the various roles of our lives (i.e., “the role of the accuser…in many places and in many forms”) really represent the hidden accusations of guilt and sin over the original separation thought and all its seeming ramifications that we hold against ourselves. And so as we accept and put into practice the Course’s teaching on projection, it will now seem that the finger we have pointed at others is, in each case, now pointing at ourselves. But the reality of our true Self is beyond all these roles and concepts And so Jesus reassures us, “Yet have no fear it [each role] will not be undone” (T.31.V.16:7). For none of the images of good or evil that we have made of both our brother and ourselves is real. And when we no longer want any of them, we will know Who we truly are (T.31.V.17).


Q #187: So what happens when one is finally able to let go of one’s ego? Does one, as an individual, cease to exist? I know I am attached to my individuality. I like my life, basically. I don’t want to disappear into….what? I like the world and think it is beautiful. I don’t want the world to disappear. What happens when our bodies die? What happens when we awake from the dream? Do we awake from the dream when our bodies die?

A: You can rest assured that so long as you want an individual self and the world to be your reality, they will be. Jesus makes this clear in a number of passages. Speaking of the world we see, he says, “…you invented it. You can give it up as easily as you made it up. You will see it or not see it, as you wish. While you want it you will see it; when you no longer want it, it will not be there for you to see” (W.pI.32.1:2,3,4,5). And later in the workbook, “There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release….It is not pride which tells you that you made the world you see, and that it changes as you change your mind” (W.pI.132.5:1,5). And earlier in the text, he assures us, “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T.16.VI.8:1).

So you are not at this point looking for release — that is fine. Jesus has no judgment about that. He may question your sanity (T.23.II.13:4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13). But he does not judge you for preferring the world to his love. Most of us do not recognize or believe that this is the choice we are making. And so one of the purposes of A Course in Miracles is to help us see that we are choosing the world and our individual self, and that choice represents a choice against love and peace. Genuine love and peace can only be found in unity, not in separation and differences.

If the world still holds great appeal for you, the Course will be less desirable as a spiritual path. It will teach you the value of letting go of your judgments and, as a result, of having less pain, guilt and anxiety in your relationships. But the metaphysics that is the Course’s foundation for forgiveness asserts the unreality of the separation, the individual self, and the world. Such a teaching runs counter to your expressed preference for the world and at some point you may experience conflict. But the truth is, none of us would find ourselves here in the world if it were not our preference and our choice, as the passages cited above make clear.

So what is most important is that you are honest with yourself and Jesus about what you want right now and how you feel. If, over time, you come to accept that the choice you are making has a cost to you, you can reconsider your decision at that point.

When you are ready to release completely your identification with the ego self and the world, which is its defense, nothing really will happen. You will simply experience a profound shift in perception. Death has nothing to do with this shift anymore than birth has. The death of the body does not change the decision being made in the mind to be separate — it may in fact reinforce that choice, if the death in any way feels like a punishment or a deprivation or an escape. And then we will simply choose another lifetime to continue our experience of individuality and specialness.

Everything is happening in the mind and when your mind lets go of the ego, you will simply awaken to the fact that you have only been dreaming a dream of separation, And so there is no separation, no separate self and no external world. The dream may appear to continue, but you will not take it seriously, knowing it is simply a fantasy or illusion that has no real meaning or effects. You will know you are limitless mind and not a limited bodily self. And the joy that comes from the realization that the mind is truly one will make whatever joy and beauty the world seemed to offer you before seem like a pale, lifeless shadow in comparison.

See also Question #68 for a discussion of the relationship between the mind and death of the body.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 28

ACIM Text Reading for September 28

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

IV. The Real Alternative

There is a tendency to think the world can offer consolation and escape from problems that its purpose is to keep. Why should this be? Because it is a place where choice among illusions seems to be the only choice. And you are in control of outcomes of your choosing. Thus you think, within the narrow band from birth to death, a little time is given you to use for you alone; a time when everyone conflicts with you, but you can choose which road will lead you out of conflict, and away from difficulties that concern you not. Yet they are your concern. How, then, can you escape from them by leaving them behind? What must go with you, you will take with you whatever road you choose to walk along.

Real choice is no illusion. But the world has none to offer. All its roads but lead to disappointment, nothingness and death. There is no choice in its alternatives. Seek not escape from problems here. The world was made that problems could not be escaped. Be not deceived by all the different names its roads are given. They have but one end. And each is but the means to gain that end, for it is here that all its roads will lead, however differently they seem to start; however differently they seem to go. Their end is certain, for there is no choice among them. All of them will lead to death. On some you travel gaily for a while, before the bleakness enters. And on some the thorns are felt at once. The choice is not what will the ending be, but when it comes.

There is no choice where every end is sure. Perhaps you would prefer to try them all, before you really learn they are but one. The roads this world can offer seem to be quite large in number, but the time must come when everyone begins to see how like they are to one another. Men have died on seeing this, because they saw no way except the pathways offered by the world. And learning they led nowhere, lost their hope. And yet this was the time they could have learned their greatest lesson. All must reach this point, and go beyond it. It is true indeed there is no choice at all within the world. But this is not the lesson in itself. The lesson has a purpose, and in this you come to understand what it is for.

Why would you seek to try another road, another person or another place, when you have learned the way the lesson starts, but do not yet perceive what it is for? Its purpose is the answer to the search that all must undertake who still believe there is another answer to be found. Learn now, without despair, there is no hope of answer in the world. But do not judge the lesson that is but begun with this. Seek not another signpost in the world that seems to point to still another road. No longer look for hope where there is none. Make fast your learning now, and understand you but waste time unless you go beyond what you have learned to what is yet to learn. For from this lowest point will learning lead to heights of happiness, in which you see the purpose of the lesson shining clear, and perfectly within your learning grasp.

Who would be willing to be turned away from all the roadways of the world, unless he understood their real futility? Is it not needful that he should begin with this, to seek another way instead? For while he sees a choice where there is none, what power of decision can he use? The great release of power must begin with learning where it really has a use. And what decision has power if it be applied in situations without choice?

The learning that the world can offer but one choice, no matter what its form may be, is the beginning of acceptance that there is a real alternative instead. To fight against this step is to defeat your purpose here. You did not come to learn to find a road the world does not contain. The search for different pathways in the world is but the search for different forms of truth. And this would keep the truth from being reached.

Think not that happiness is ever found by following a road away from it. This makes no sense, and cannot be the way. To you who seem to find this course to be too difficult to learn, let me repeat that to achieve a goal you must proceed in its direction, not away from it. And every road that leads the other way will not advance the purpose to be found. If this be difficult to understand, then is this course impossible to learn. But only then. For otherwise, it is a simple teaching in the obvious.

There is a choice that you have power to make when you have seen the real alternatives. Until that point is reached you have no choice, and you can but decide how you would choose the better to deceive yourself again. This course attempts to teach no more than that the power of decision cannot lie in choosing different forms of what is still the same illusion and the same mistake. All choices in the world depend on this; you choose between your brother and yourself, and you will gain as much as he will lose, and what you lose is what is given him. How utterly opposed to truth is this, when all the lesson’s purpose is to teach that what your brother loses you have lost, and what he gains is what is given you.

He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love. No pathway in the world can lead to Him, nor any worldly goal be one with His. What road in all the world will lead within, when every road was made to separate the journey from the purpose it must have unless it be but futile wandering? All roads that lead away from what you are will lead you to confusion and despair. Yet has He never left His Thoughts to die, without their Source forever in themselves.

He has not left His Thoughts! He could no more depart from them than they could keep Him out. In unity with Him do they abide, and in Their Oneness Both are kept complete. There is no road that leads away from Him. A journey from yourself does not exist. How foolish and insane it is to think that there could be a road with such an aim! Where could it go? And how could you be made to travel on it, walking there without your own reality at one with you?

Forgive yourself your madness, and forget all senseless journeys and all goal-less aims. They have no meaning. You can not escape from what you are. For God is merciful, and did not let His Son abandon Him. For what He is be thankful, for in that is your escape from madness and from death. Nowhere but where He is can you be found. There is no path that does not lead to Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 28

Lesson 270

I will not use the body’s eyes today.

Father, Christ’s vision is Your gift to me, and it has power to translate all that the body’s eyes behold into the sight of a forgiven world. How glorious and gracious is this world! Yet how much more will I perceive in it than sight can give. The world forgiven signifies Your Son acknowledges his Father, lets his dreams be brought to truth, and waits expectantly the one remaining instant more of time which ends forever, as Your memory returns to him. And now his will is one with Yours. His function now is but Your Own, and every thought except Your Own is gone.

The quiet of today will bless our hearts, and through them peace will come to everyone. Christ is our eyes today. And through His sight we offer healing to the world through Him, the holy Son whom God created whole; the holy Son whom God created One.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1151(i): (The following two questions were posed by the same person.) Could you please explain the meaning of the following passage from A Course in Miracles : “He has not left His Thoughts! But you forgot His Presence and remembered not His Love” (T.31.lV.9:1,2).

A: “His Thoughts” refers to the extension of God, which is Christ, His Son — the capital T indicates that it refers to Christ. Jesus is using the plural form because of the context of his message in this section. The content of the statement is that Love is perfect Oneness that can never be divided or changed in any way. Contrary to what the ego says of God, Jesus is reminding us that Love never abandons. God leaving His Son is an absolute impossibility. But the Son can believe he has left his Source, even though, in truth, that is an impossibility as well. That is the Atonement principle running throughout the Course: the separation from God never truly happened.


Q #1151(ii): Also, what would be the formula for seeing a brother you disliked in the past, but now with spiritual vision instead of judgment? What thoughts/prayers are best to use while with my brothers/sisters in order to let go of judgment?

A: There is no formula as such in the Course, but in many ways seeing your brother as sinless is what the whole Course is about, for when you see the face of Christ in your brother, you then remember God. There are two important parts to the process that leads to this vision of sinless­ness: recognizing the purpose judgment serves and the cost judging. Judgment is the life-blood of the ego; it keeps the belief in differences alive, and the belief in differences keeps separation real. Thus, we judge because we want to remain separate but not be held responsible for that choice. Locating our problems and lack of peace in what others to do us, thereby judging them as sinful and guilty, effectively hides the choice we are upholding in our minds.

Therefore, what we need to do, as Jesus teaches in many different ways, is to look with him at our need to judge, and to learn that the price we are willing to pay to continue to judge is the loss of our own peace. Jesus thus appeals to us: “You have no idea of the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment. When you recognize what you are and what your brothers are, you will realize that judging them in any way is without meaning. In fact, their meaning is lost to you precisely because you are judging them” (T.3.VI.3:1,2,3). Judging costs us dearly! We lose our peace and all sense of the identity we share with each other. In return we get to be right (at least some of the time), and we keep our special individuality. Is it worth it? We need only look at this, and not force ourselves to stop judging when it is still so meaningful to us. Eventually we will let ourselves feel the pain of continued judgment, and then we will be less willing to pay the price, especially when we also realize that it is not a sacrifice to give up judgment, in view of the fact that we are incapable of judging in the first place ( see M.10.2).

Lesson 335, “I choose to see my brother’s sinlessness” (W.pII.335), might be helpful in keep­ing these teachings present in your mind. Remember, though, you never want to fight against your need to judge others (or yourself). That will only force you into denial and then your progress will be halted. It is far more helpful to be honest about not wanting to see your brother sinless, and then not condemn yourself for that, yet remind yourself that there’s a price to be paid for such resistance. Gentleness and patience are essential.

In summary: “Your function here on earth is only to forgive him [your brother] , that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him” (W.pI.192.10:6,7,8,9).

guiltless mind


ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 27

ACIM Text Reading for September 27

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

III. The Self-Accused
Only the self-accused condemn. As you prepare to make a choice that will result in different outcomes, there is first one thing that must be overlearned. It must become a habit of response so typical of everything you do that it becomes your first response to all temptation, and to every situation that occurs. Learn this, and learn it well, for it is here delay of happiness is shortened by a span of time you cannot realize. You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe them to be yours, and therefore meriting a “just” attack.

Why should his sins be sins, if you did not believe they could not be forgiven in you? Why are they real in him, if you did not believe that they are your reality? And why do you attack them everywhere except you hate yourself? Are you a sin? You answer “yes” whenever you attack, for by attack do you assert that you are guilty, and must give as you deserve. And what can you deserve but what you are? If you did not believe that you deserved attack, it never would occur to you to give attack to anyone at all. Why should you? What would be the gain to you? What could the outcome be that you would want? And how could murder bring you benefit?

Sins are in bodies. They are not perceived in minds. They are not seen as purposes, but actions. Bodies act, and minds do not. And therefore must the body be at fault for what it does. It is not seen to be a passive thing, obeying your commands, and doing nothing of itself at all. If you are sin you are a body, for the mind acts not. And purpose must be in the body, not the mind. The body must act on its own, and motivate itself. If you are sin you lock the mind within the body, and you give its purpose to its prison house, which acts instead of it. A jailer does not follow orders, but enforces orders on the prisoner.

Yet is the body prisoner, and not the mind. The body thinks no thoughts. It has no power to learn, to pardon, nor enslave. It gives no orders that the mind need serve, nor sets conditions that it must obey. It holds in prison but the willing mind that would abide in it. It sickens at the bidding of the mind that would become its prisoner. And it grows old and dies, because that mind is sick within itself. Learning is all that causes change. And so the body, where no learning can occur, could never change unless the mind preferred the body change in its appearances, to suit the purpose given by the mind. For mind can learn, and there is all change made.

The mind that thinks it is a sin has but one purpose; that the body be the source of sin, to keep it in the prison house it chose and guards and holds itself at bay, a sleeping prisoner to the snarling dogs of hate and evil, sickness and attack; of pain and age, of grief and suffering. Here are the thoughts of sacrifice preserved, for here guilt rules, and orders that the world be like itself; a place where nothing can find mercy, nor survive the ravages of fear except in murder and in death. For here are you made sin, and sin cannot abide the joyous and the free, for they are enemies which sin must kill. In death is sin preserved, and those who think that they are sin must die for what they think they are.

Let us be glad that you will see what you believe, and that it has been given you to change what you believe. The body will but follow. It can never lead you where you would not be. It does not guard your sleep, nor interfere with your awakening. Release your body from imprisonment, and you will see no one as prisoner to what you have escaped. You will not want to hold in guilt your chosen enemies, nor keep in chains, to the illusion of a changing love, the ones you think are friends.

The innocent release in gratitude for their release. And what they see upholds their freedom from imprisonment and death. Open your mind to change, and there will be no ancient penalty exacted from your brother or yourself. For God has said there is no sacrifice that can be asked; there is no sacrifice that can be made.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 27

Lesson 269
My sight goes forth to look upon Christ’s face.

I ask Your blessing on my sight today. It is the means which You have chosen to become the way to show me my mistakes, and look beyond them. It is given me to find a new perception through the Guide You gave to me, and through His lessons to surpass perception and return to truth. I ask for the illusion which transcends all those I made. Today I choose to see a world forgiven, in which everyone shows me the face of Christ, and teaches me that what I look upon belongs to me; that nothing is, except Your holy Son.

Today our sight is blessed indeed. We share one vision, as we look upon the face of Him Whose Self is ours. We are one because of Him Who is the Son of God; of Him Who is our own Identity.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #155: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for a little under a year. I would appreciate clarification on something that I just read in the text. Jesus speaks of the “immediacy of salvation,” and that the reason someone will not experience this immediacy is because there is still a small desire to be separate, and to hold onto guilt and unforgiveness. I have suffered with very disabling panic attacks for ten years, and I can completely accept and acknowledge that I have created this condition, and that my desire to be separate, guilty, and unforgiving are the erroneous thoughts that I have held onto. It is my deepest yearning to heal and release these misperceptions, because the pain of suffering this anxiety is completely unbearable and unacceptable to me. As great as my acknowledgment of my responsibility and my willingness to have my misperceptions corrected, I continue to suffer. Where is my error? Why has my deep acknowledgment and willingness not been enough to create the miracle, the immediacy of salvation promised by Jesus?

A: In the section you refer to, Jesus speaks of the space that we would maintain between ourselves and our brother as little, but because the space is small does not mean we should minimize the tremendous investment we have in keeping that distance intact. Our whole identification with this self we believe we are is maintained by keeping the thought of separation real in our mind, along with its projection into the external world as space between our body and our brother’s. And so we have a tremendous fear of losing our self if we let go completely of all of our grievances and thoughts of attack now. Jesus comments on this 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” (T.26.VIII.3:4,5).

So you want to learn to respect the depth of your fear, reflected in your panic attacks. The goal is to join with Jesus in looking at your fear, asking for his help in understanding its deeper source and purpose, buried in the part of the mind that wants to maintain its individual, separate existence. Patience with yourself, acknowledging that this is a process that will almost certainly take time, is also important. Resisting the feelings only pushes them down and maintains their intensity.

Salvation is immediate in the sense that in any instant, if you are willing to let go of your investment in sin and guilt and fear, even temporarily, the peace that is ever-present in your mind can be your experience — until you make the choice for guilt again as a result of re-identifying with the ego and fear. With repeated practice, as you are ready and willing, you will come to realize that that is no sin, but only a mistaken choice that will become increasingly conscious in your mind.

You do not say whether you have sought any kind of professional help for your panic attacks. Looking for outside agents (e.g., doctors, therapists, medication) to assist you in dealing with your symptoms can in fact be one expression of your willingness to no longer see yourself as separate and alone. It is only kind to be willing to open yourself to the help you need, in whatever form you are presently willing to accept (T.2.IV.4,5; M.5.II.2,3).

For other questions that are relevant in various ways to the question your raise, you may wish to read Questions #128, 142 and 148.

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 26

ACIM Text Reading for September 26

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

II. Walking with Christ
An ancient lesson is not overcome by the opposing of the new and old. It is not vanquished that the truth be known, nor fought against to lose to truth’s appeal. There is no battle that must be prepared; no time to be expended, and no plans that need be laid for bringing in the new. There is an ancient battle being waged against the truth, but truth does not respond. Who could be hurt in such a war, unless he hurts himself? He has no enemy in truth. And can he be assailed by dreams?

Let us review again what seems to stand between you and the truth of what you are. For there are steps in its relinquishment. The first is a decision that you make. But afterwards, the truth is given you. You would establish truth. And by your wish you set two choices to be made, each time you think you must decide on anything. Neither is true. Nor are they different. Yet must we see them both, before you can look past them to the one alternative that is a different choice. But not in dreams you made, that this might be obscured to you.

What you would choose between is not a choice and gives but the illusion it is free, for it will have one outcome either way. Thus is it really not a choice at all. The leader and the follower emerge as separate roles, each seeming to possess advantages you would not want to lose. So in their fusion there appears to be the hope of satisfaction and of peace. You see yourself divided into both these roles, forever split between the two. And every friend or enemy becomes a means to help you save yourself from this.

Perhaps you call it love. Perhaps you think that it is murder justified at last. You hate the one you gave the leader’s role when you would have it, and you hate as well his not assuming it at times you want to let the follower in you arise, and give away the role of leadership. And this is what you made your brother for, and learned to think that this his purpose is. Unless he serves it, he has not fulfilled the function that was given him by you. And thus he merits death, because he has no purpose and no usefulness to you.

And what of him? What does he want of you? What could he want, but what you want of him? Herein is life as easily as death, for what you choose you choose as well for him. Two calls you make to him, as he to you. Between these two is choice, because from them there is a different outcome. If he be the leader or the follower to you it matters not, for you have chosen death. But if he calls for death or calls for life, for hate or for forgiveness and for help, is not the same in outcome. Hear the one, and you are separate from him and are lost. But hear the other, and you join with him and in your answer is salvation found. The voice you hear in him is but your own. What does he ask you for? And listen well! For he is asking what will come to you, because you see an image of yourself and hear your voice requesting what you want.

Before you answer, pause to think of this:

“The answer that I give my brother is
What I am asking for. And what I learn
Of him is what I learn about myself.”
Then let us wait an instant and be still, forgetting everything we thought we heard; remembering how much we do not know. This brother neither leads nor follows us, but walks beside us on the selfsame road. He is like us, as near or far away from what we want as we will let him be. We make no gains he does not make with us, and we fall back if he does not advance. Take not his hand in anger but in love, for in his progress do you count your own. And we go separately along the way unless you keep him safely by your side.

Because he is your equal in God’s Love, you will be saved from all appearances and answer to the Christ Who calls to you. Be still and listen. Think not ancient thoughts. Forget the dismal lessons that you learned about this Son of God who calls to you. Christ calls to all with equal tenderness, seeing no leaders and no followers, and hearing but one answer to them all. Because He hears one Voice, He cannot hear a different answer from the one He gave when God appointed Him His only Son.

Be very still an instant. Come without all thought of what you ever learned before, and put aside all images you made. The old will fall away before the new without your opposition or intent. There will be no attack upon the things you thought were precious and in need of care. There will be no assault upon your wish to hear a call that never has been made. Nothing will hurt you in this holy place, to which you come to listen silently and learn the truth of what you really want. No more than this will you be asked to learn. But as you hear it, you will understand you need but come away without the thoughts you did not want, and that were never true.

Forgive your brother all appearances, that are but ancient lessons you have taught yourself about the sinfulness in you. Hear but his call for mercy and release from all the fearful images he holds of what he is and of what you must be. He is afraid to walk with you, and thinks perhaps a bit behind, a bit ahead would be a safer place for him to be. Can you make progress if you think the same, advancing only when he would step back, and falling back when he would go ahead? For so do you forget the journey’s goal, which is but to decide to walk with him, so neither leads nor follows. Thus it is a way you go together, not alone. And in this choice is learning’s outcome changed, for Christ has been reborn to both of you.

An instant spent without your old ideas of who your great companion is and what he should be asking for, will be enough to let this happen. And you will perceive his purpose is the same as yours. He asks for what you want, and needs the same as you. It takes, perhaps, a different form in him, but it is not the form you answer to. He asks and you receive, for you have come with but one purpose; that you learn you love your brother with a brother’s love. And as a brother, must his Father be the same as yours, as he is like yourself in truth.

Together is your joint inheritance remembered and accepted by you both. Alone it is denied to both of you. Is it not clear that while you still insist on leading or on following, you think you walk alone, with no one by your side? This is the road to nowhere, for the light cannot be given while you walk alone, and so you cannot see which way you go. And thus there is confusion, and a sense of endless doubting as you stagger back and forward in the darkness and alone. Yet these are but appearances of what the journey is, and how it must be made. For next to you is One Who holds the light before you, so that every step is made in certainty and sureness of the road. A blindfold can indeed obscure your sight, but cannot make the way itself grow dark. And He Who travels with you has the light.

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 26

Lesson 268
Let all things be exactly as they are.

Let me not be Your critic, Lord, today, and judge against You. Let me not attempt to interfere with Your creation, and distort it into sickly forms. Let me be willing to withdraw my wishes from its unity, and thus to let it be as You created it. For thus will I be able, too, to recognize my Self as You created me. In love was I created, and in love will I remain forever. What can frighten me, when I let all things be exactly as they are?

Let not our sight be blasphemous today, nor let our ears attend to lying tongues. Only reality is free of pain. Only reality is free of loss. Only reality is wholly safe. And it is only this we seek today.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #38: What is the Course referring to when it says: “There will be no assault upon your wish to hear a call that never has been made” (T.31.II.8.5)?

A: The “call that never has been made” refers to the “call” to be separate from God, heard constantly in our wrong minds. It is impossible to separate from totality, from everything; therefore, the call “never was made.” That is another way of stating the Atonement principle that the separation never happened in reality. And we will not be punished for wishing to hear the call that tells us that our individual, separate identity is real. In a different context, Jesus says basically the same thing: “Here is your promise never to allow union to call you out of separation” (T.19.IV.D.3). But he never tires of reminding us that it is not a sin deserving of retribution to prefer to exist as an individual being and make up a God in our own image rather than answer the call of the Holy Spirit to return to our true Identity as spirit, as Christ. This is what is meant by: “There will be no assault…” It corrects the traditional biblical views that an offended, vengeful God demands atonement through sacrifice for the sins of His children.

*

Q #40: I have heard and read from some that the Course is not for everyone and some Course authorities go so far as to say that it is intended for a more intellectual/educated audience. I find this claim to be very dangerous. Are these claims true or are they nothing more than a form of seeking salvation through separation and a desire to create a level of specialness within a certain demographic namely those educated enough to understand, comprehend, live the Course? How do we reconcile these claims with the text statement: All are called?

A: Anyone at all can benefit from the Course. One does not have to be an intellectual to learn from it and use it as a spiritual path. Nonetheless, it is obvious that it is written on a high intellectual level with sophisticated metaphysical, theological, and psychological concepts integrated into the teaching throughout the three books. Much of it is written in blank verse. Thus, a reader/ student who is not intellectually inclined and has no background in these areas would have difficulty understanding a great deal of the material. This does not mean, though, that such a person could not be helped by reading through it and doing the exercises in the workbook. If the person comes away from the Course being more kind, more loving, and reassured of God’s Love, and less angry, depressed, and fearful, then its purpose has been fulfilled. On the other hand, there have been many highly educated people who were not able relate to the Course at all, for a variety of reasons. They will find another path more suitable to their needs and inclinations.

Thus, to say that the Course is not for everyone is not to say that it deliberately excludes people. The Course says of itself that it is only one among many thousands of other forms of the universal course (M.1.4). It does not have to be for everyone. Some religions have claimed that theirs is the only true religion, the only way to be reconciled with God. A Course in Miracles does not do that. Rather, the implication throughout the Course is that everyone will eventually find a path that will lead them to God. It does not have to be this one.

here to represent

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 25

ACIM Text Reading for September 25

Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision

I. The Simplicity of Salvation
How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all. Can this be hard to learn by anyone who wants it to be true? Only unwillingness to learn it could make such an easy lesson difficult. How hard is it to see that what is false can not be true, and what is true can not be false? You can no longer say that you perceive no differences in false and true. You have been told exactly how to tell one from the other, and just what to do if you become confused. Why, then, do you persist in learning not such simple things?

There is a reason. But confuse it not with difficulty in the simple things salvation asks you learn. It teaches but the very obvious. It merely goes from one apparent lesson to the next, in easy steps that lead you gently from one to another, with no strain at all. This cannot be confusing, yet you are confused. For somehow you believe that what is totally confused is easier to learn and understand. What you have taught yourself is such a giant learning feat it is indeed incredible. But you accomplished it because you wanted to, and did not pause in diligence to judge it hard to learn or too complex to grasp.

No one who understands what you have learned, how carefully you learned it, and the pains to which you went to practice and repeat the lessons endlessly, in every form you could conceive of them, could ever doubt the power of your learning skill. There is no greater power in the world. The world was made by it, and even now depends on nothing else. The lessons you have taught yourself have been so overlearned and fixed they rise like heavy curtains to obscure the simple and the obvious. Say not you cannot learn them. For your power to learn is strong enough to teach you that your will is not your own, your thoughts do not belong to you, and even you are someone else.

Who could maintain that lessons such as these are easy? Yet you have learned more than this. You have continued, taking every step, however difficult, without complaint, until a world was built that suited you. And every lesson that makes up the world arises from the first accomplishment of learning; an enormity so great the Holy Spirit’s Voice seems small and still before its magnitude. The world began with one strange lesson, powerful enough to render God forgotten, and His Son an alien to himself, in exile from the home where God Himself established him. You who have taught yourself the Son of God is guilty, say not that you cannot learn the simple things salvation teaches you!

Learning is an ability you made and gave yourself. It was not made to do the Will of God, but to uphold a wish that it could be opposed, and that a will apart from it was yet more real than it. And this has learning sought to demonstrate, and you have learned what it was made to teach. Now does your ancient overlearning stand implacable before the Voice of truth, and teach you that Its lessons are not true; too hard to learn, too difficult to see, and too opposed to what is really true. Yet you will learn them, for their learning is the only purpose for your learning skill the Holy Spirit sees in all the world. His simple lessons in forgiveness have a power mightier than yours, because they call from God and from your Self to you.

Is this a little Voice, so small and still It cannot rise above the senseless noise of sounds that have no meaning? God willed not His Son forget Him. And the power of His Will is in the Voice That speaks for Him. Which lesson will you learn? What outcome is inevitable, sure as God, and far beyond all doubt and question? Can it be your little learning, strange in outcome and incredible in difficulty will withstand the simple lessons being taught to you in every moment of each day, since time began and learning had been made?

The lessons to be learned are only two. Each has its outcome in a different world. And each world follows surely from its source. The certain outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guilty is the world you see. It is a world of terror and despair. Nor is there hope of happiness in it. There is no plan for safety you can make that ever will succeed. There is no joy that you can seek for here and hope to find. Yet this is not the only outcome which your learning can produce. However much you may have overlearned your chosen task, the lesson that reflects the Love of God is stronger still. And you will learn God’s Son is innocent, and see another world.

The outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guiltless is a world in which there is no fear, and everything is lit with hope and sparkles with a gentle friendliness. Nothing but calls to you in soft appeal to be your friend, and let it join with you. And never does a call remain unheard, misunderstood, nor left unanswered in the selfsame tongue in which the call was made. And you will understand it was this call that everyone and everything within the world has always made, but you had not perceived it as it was. And now you see you were mistaken. You had been deceived by forms the call was hidden in. And so you did not hear it, and had lost a friend who always wanted to be part of you. The soft eternal calling of each part of God’s creation to the whole is heard throughout the world this second lesson brings.

There is no living thing that does not share the universal Will that it be whole, and that you do not leave its call unheard. Without your answer is it left to die, as it is saved from death when you have heard its calling as the ancient call to life, and understood that it is but your own. The Christ in you remembers God with all the certainty with which He knows His Love. But only if His Son is innocent can He be Love. For God were fear indeed if he whom He created innocent could be a slave to guilt. God’s perfect Son remembers his creation. But in guilt he has forgotten what he really is.

The fear of God results as surely from the lesson that His Son is guilty as God’s Love must be remembered when he learns his innocence. For hate must father fear, and look upon its father as itself. How wrong are you who fail to hear the call that echoes past each seeming call to death, that sings behind each murderous attack and pleads that love restore the dying world. You do not understand Who calls to you beyond each form of hate; each call to war. Yet you will recognize Him as you give Him answer in the language that He calls. He will appear when you have answered Him, and you will know in Him that God is Love.

What is temptation but a wish to make the wrong decision on what you would learn, and have an outcome that you do not want? It is the recognition that it is a state of mind unwanted that becomes the means whereby the choice is reassessed; another outcome seen to be preferred. You are deceived if you believe you want disaster and disunity and pain. Hear not the call for this within yourself. But listen, rather, to the deeper call beyond it that appeals for peace and joy. And all the world will give you joy and peace. For as you hear, you answer. And behold! Your answer is the proof of what you learned. Its outcome is the world you look upon.

Let us be still an instant, and forget all things we ever learned, all thoughts we had, and every preconception that we hold of what things mean and what their purpose is. Let us remember not our own ideas of what the world is for. We do not know. Let every image held of everyone be loosened from our minds and swept away.

Be innocent of judgment, unaware of any thoughts of evil or of good that ever crossed your mind of anyone. Now do you know him not. But you are free to learn of him, and learn of him anew. Now is he born again to you, and you are born again to him, without the past that sentenced him to die, and you with him. Now is he free to live as you are free, because an ancient learning passed away, and left a place for truth to be reborn.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 25

Lesson 267
My heart is beating in the peace of God.

Surrounding me is all the life that God created in His Love. It calls to me in every heartbeat and in every breath; in every action and in every thought. Peace fills my heart, and floods my body with the purpose of forgiveness. Now my mind is healed, and all I need to save the world is given me. Each heartbeat brings me peace; each breath infuses me with strength. I am a messenger of God, directed by His Voice, sustained by Him in love, and held forever quiet and at peace within His loving Arms. Each heartbeat calls His Name, and every one is answered by His Voice, assuring me I am at home in Him.

Let me attend Your Answer, not my own. Father, my heart is beating in the peace the Heart of Love created. It is there and only there that I can be at home.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1353: I wonder about gratitude and its usefulness in practicing A Course in Miracles . Other Course friends frequently bring up the practice of gratitude as being very helpful to them and how they feel. I’m not really sure what I’m to be grateful for as a Course student. I do feel grateful when I experience relief from fear or pain, joy in relationship to another, the experience of peace. But, can this be a tool? Or is it an effect? I am bothered when I hear people say that the practice of gratitude has changed their whole perception of a situation.

A: Gratitude is integral to the practice of the Course. This is particularly evident from a study of the workbook lesson “Love is the way I walk in gratitude” (W.pI.195). There Jesus contrasts the world’s view of gratitude, which reflects the ego’s strategy to keep us separate, with the Course’s view, which reflects “the Love that is the Source of all creation” (W.pI.195.10:3).

On our Web site, under Teaching Materials/Excerpts, we have posted the edited transcript of a workshop Ken presented called “Our Gratitude to God.” We refer you to that series for an in- depth discussion of this important dimension of the healing of our minds. As with most of the concepts addressed in the Course, gratitude is approached first from the ego’s point of view and then from the corrected perspective in our right minds. Our resistance to being grateful is also considered.

Briefly stated, our gratitude is threefold: 1) to God for sharing everything of Himself with us in our creation; 2) to Jesus who is present to us as a brother helping us to remember God; 3) for all the circumstances and people in our lives, for they form the classroom in which we learn to awaken from our dream of fear.

If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize within us some rather strenuous resistance to these levels of gratitude. This would have to be the case considering the thought system from which our individualized existence emanates: The ego basically said to God, “Who needs You? I can make it on my own. Watch me!” This underlying attitude is present in the minds of everyone, and therefore to the extent that we value our independence and autonomy we would find very little justification for being grateful to God for creating us. This would also have to be true of our relationship with Jesus, as he symbolizes the Love of God for us. Being grateful would conflict with our unconscious need to prove that we can make something of our lives on our own. We might need some help from others now and then, but the ideal held out to us, especially in this country, is self-reliance and independence. “I did it my way,” as the popular song proclaims. What all of this means is that before we can experience true gratitude, we must look at the ingratitude we feel and what it represents, which is basically valuing separation. As we recognize the pain associated with that, we can turn to the loving, gentle teacher within, who will look at it with us. Choosing against all else but that love, “our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than [we] could ever dream of” (W.pI.195.10:1).

Q #1354: I am reading “A Vast Illusion: Time According to A Course in Miracles” and am trying to understand the idea of the observer. I think you are saying that the observer is still part of our split mind, but on another level from form. Is this correct?

A: Yes, the observer is the decision-making part of the split mind. Form, however, has to do only with the projections of the mind, the ego’s way of trying to prevent us from looking at the content in the minds so that we will not remember that we have the power to change our minds about our having chosen the ego instead of the Holy Spirit. The observer, or decision maker, is thus the capacity of our mind to choose to identify either with the ego’s thought system or the Holy Spirit’s ( see, for example, T.14.III.4) . When it chooses the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness, it then looks at or observes all the ego thoughts in the mind without judgment. They then begin to fade, and finally they disappear, because their nothingness becomes apparent when they are seen in the light of truth (the right mind).

Your question is raised frequently by students, and so for further study, we refer you to previous discussions of this topic in the following Questions: #264, #663, #713, #715, and #814.

Peace of God

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 24

ACIM Text Reading for September 24

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

IX. Changeless Reality

Appearances deceive, but can be changed. Reality is changeless. It does not deceive at all, and if you fail to see beyond appearances you are deceived. For everything you see will change, and yet you thought it real before, and now you think it real again. Reality is thus reduced to form, and capable of change. Reality is changeless. It is this that makes it real, and keeps it separate from all appearances. It must transcend all form to be itself. It cannot change.

The miracle is means to demonstrate that all appearances can change because they are appearances, and cannot have the changelessness reality entails. The miracle attests salvation from appearances by showing they can change. Your brother has a changelessness in him beyond appearance and deception, both. It is obscured by changing views of him that you perceive as his reality. The happy dream about him takes the form of the appearance of his perfect health, his perfect freedom from all forms of lack, and safety from disaster of all kinds. The miracle is proof he is not bound by loss or suffering in any form, because it can so easily be changed. This demonstrates that it was never real, and could not stem from his reality. For that is changeless, and has no effects that anything in Heaven or on earth could ever alter. But appearances are shown to be unreal because they change.

What is temptation but a wish to make illusions real? It does not seem to be the wish that no reality be so. Yet it is an assertion that some forms of idols have a powerful appeal that makes them harder to resist than those you would not want to have reality. Temptation, then, is nothing more than this; a prayer the miracle touch not some dreams, but keep their unreality obscure and give to them reality instead. And Heaven gives no answer to the prayer, nor can a miracle be given you to heal appearances you do not like. You have established limits. What you ask is given you, but not of God Who knows no limits. You have limited yourself.

Reality is changeless. Miracles but show what you have interposed between reality and your awareness is unreal, and does not interfere at all. The cost of the belief there must be some appearances beyond the hope of change is that the miracle cannot come forth from you consistently. For you have asked it be withheld from power to heal all dreams. There is no miracle you cannot have when you desire healing. But there is no miracle that can be given you unless you want it. Choose what you would heal, and He Who gives all miracles has not been given freedom to bestow His gifts upon God’s Son. When he is tempted, he denies reality. And he becomes the willing slave of what he chose instead.

Because reality is changeless is a miracle already there to heal all things that change, and offer them to you to see in happy form, devoid of fear. It will be given you to look upon your brother thus. But not while you would have it otherwise in some respects. For this but means you would not have him healed and whole. The Christ in him is perfect. Is it this that you would look upon? Then let there be no dreams about him that you would prefer to seeing this. And you will see the Christ in him because you let Him come to you. And when He has appeared to you, you will be certain you are like Him, for He is the changeless in your brother and in you.

This will you look upon when you decide there is not one appearance you would hold in place of what your brother really is. Let no temptation to prefer a dream allow uncertainty to enter here. Be not made guilty and afraid when you are tempted by a dream of what he is. But do not give it power to replace the changeless in him in your sight of him. There is no false appearance but will fade, if you request a miracle instead. There is no pain from which he is not free, if you would have him be but what he is. Why should you fear to see the Christ in him? You but behold yourself in what you see. As he is healed are you made free of guilt, for his appearance is your own to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 24

Lesson 266
My holy Self abides in you, God’s Son.

Father, You gave me all Your Sons, to be my saviors and my counselors in sight; the bearers of Your holy Voice to me. In them are You reflected, and in them does Christ look back upon me from my Self. Let not Your Son forget Your holy Name. Let not Your Son forget his holy Source. Let not Your Son forget his Name is Yours.

This day we enter into Paradise, calling upon God’s Name and on our own, acknowledging our Self in each of us; united in the holy Love of God. How many saviors God has given us! How can we lose the way to Him, when He has filled the world with those who point to Him, and given us the sight to look on them?

 

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #456: This is a three part question:

i. My understanding of the teachings of A Course in Miracles is that eventually we realize we are all one spirit. Do we then lose our awareness or memory of the experiences we had as individuals? Jesus figured out the truth while here on earth, yet seems to interact with those of us still experiencing the dream of individuality as the individual Jesus. So will the rest of us, after we realize the truth, still retain our individual selves? I realize I am asking this question as someone who likes my “self” and the other selves I interact with, i.e., family and friends.

A: Your awareness of yourself as an individual will last only as long as you value that identity. It is never taken away by Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The focus of our study and practice is learning that our interests are really the same, not separate; and that would lead us to the next step, which is recognizing that not only do we share the same interests, but we share the same self as well. We all share the same ego thought system, and we all share the same right-minded thought system of forgiveness, as well as the power to choose between the two. As long as we are attracted to an identity as an individual self, though, we will resist this teaching rather strenuously. There would have to be some motivation to move beyond individuality, and what Jesus teaches us is that if we looked deeply and honestly at our lives as individual selves, we would conclude that we are paying a heavy price to sustain that existence. That does not mean it is bad or wrong to enjoy existing in this world. He asks only that we look openly at the picture, and not be deceived by the glitter of the frame (T.17.IV.8,9). “The body is a limit on love” (T.18.VIII.1:2). So valuing bodily existence is valuing limited love. That is the connection Jesus wants us to make, just so that we could be aware that we are deliberately (once we remember we are decision-making minds) cutting ourselves off from the totality of the love that comes with the memory of our oneness as God’s Son. Again, liking your self and your family and friends is not wrong or bad; just be aware that this is not all you are or they are. If living in this world is working for you and you are happy and content with it, then it would be foolish to change it. Recall that the Course came to two people who were no longer content with the way things were going and were determined to find a “better way.”

Jesus stands outside the dream of individuality gently helping us to awaken from it. He appears to be an individual relating to us as individuals, but if you consider the above quote about the body being a limit on love, you can begin to understand that he appears that way because we choose to see him that way. Love is abstract — formless — but our perception conforms to our identity. Were we to let go of the need to limit love, we would experience Jesus quite differently — and ourselves as well. The trouble is, we don’t consciously realize that this is what we are doing, which is why so much of the Course is directed at helping us realize that we have a mind and that practically everything we do is a defense against our realizing that. We don’t want to remember we are decision-making minds, because on some level we know where that realization would take us. We would eventually see clearly what individuality is all about, and it would not be a very pretty picture. To avoid those consequences, we try to make Jesus like us, but that will never square with what he spends so much time teaching us in the Course. It is much more helpful, and would reduce the internal conflict, to state simply and honestly, that you like being a self amidst other individual selves, and that some day you may have a reason to reconsider that choice, but right now you don’t. Period! That’s where you are, and it’s okay. Jesus’ love for you is not lessened in the least.

ii. What are our real creations? Are they what are left when we awake from the dream? Are we creating even as we dream?

A: Please see Question #103 for the definition of creations. Nothing real ever takes places in the dream. The Self that never left Its Source continually creates, which means simply that love always extends itself.

iii. If it only takes one to awake from the dream for all to awake and one cannot find Atonement alone and Jesus achieved this, why are the rest of us still dreaming?

A: From our perspective within the dream, there is no way of our comprehending this process; it cannot be solved through logical reasoning. Our framework for understanding is severely limited, because we believe we are actually here, and that belief is intended to push truth away and replace it with another system of thought that is entirely false. Very humbling! It is virtually impossible for us not to think in terms of separate bodies in time and space, but Jesus is not referring to bodies in time and space. Nevertheless, we can say at least this much — that there is one mind, and the illusion of many minds, all asleep and dreaming. When you are in the real world you know there is only one mind. So the only mind that needs to awaken is yours.

Know Yourself

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 23

ACIM Text Reading for September 23

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VIII. The New Interpretation
Would God have left the meaning of the world to your interpretation? If He had, it has no meaning. For it cannot be that meaning changes constantly, and yet is true. The Holy Spirit looks upon the world as with one purpose, changelessly established. And no situation can affect its aim, but must be in accord with it. For only if its aim could change with every situation could each one be open to interpretation which is different every time you think of it. You add an element into the script you write for every minute in the day, and all that happens now means something else. You take away another element, and every meaning shifts accordingly.

What do your scripts reflect except your plans for what the day should be? And thus you judge disaster and success, advance, retreat, and gain and loss. These judgments all are made according to the roles the script assigns. The fact they have no meaning in themselves is demonstrated by the ease with which these labels change with other judgments, made on different aspects of experience. And then, in looking back, you think you see another meaning in what went before. What have you really done, except to show there was no meaning there? But you assigned a meaning in the light of goals that change, with every meaning shifting as they change.

Only a constant purpose can endow events with stable meaning. But it must accord one meaning to them all. If they are given different meanings, it must be that they reflect but different purposes. And this is all the meaning that they have. Can this be meaning? Can confusion be what meaning means? Perception cannot be in constant flux, and make allowance for stability of meaning anywhere. Fear is a judgment never justified. Its presence has no meaning but to show you wrote a fearful script, and are afraid accordingly. But not because the thing you fear has fearful meaning in itself.

A common purpose is the only means whereby perception can be stabilized, and one interpretation given to the world and all experiences here. In this shared purpose is one judgment shared by everyone and everything you see. You do not have to judge, for you have learned one meaning has been given everything, and you are glad to see it everywhere. It cannot change because you would perceive it everywhere, unchanged by circumstance. And so you offer it to all events, and let them offer you stability.

Escape from judgment simply lies in this; all things have but one purpose, which you share with all the world. And nothing in the world can be opposed to it, for it belongs to everything, as it belongs to you. In single purpose is the end of all ideas of sacrifice, which must assume a different purpose for the one who gains and him who loses. There could be no thought of sacrifice apart from this idea. And it is this idea of different goals that makes perception shift and meaning change. In one united goal does this become impossible, for your agreement makes interpretation stabilize and last.

How can communication really be established while the symbols that are used mean different things? The Holy Spirit’s goal gives one interpretation, meaningful to you and to your brother. Thus can you communicate with him, and he with you. In symbols that you both can understand the sacrifice of meaning is undone. All sacrifice entails the loss of your ability to see relationships among events. And looked at separately they have no meaning. For there is no light by which they can be seen and understood. They have no purpose. And what they are for cannot be seen. In any thought of loss there is no meaning. No one has agreed with you on what it means. It is a part of a distorted script, which cannot be interpreted with meaning. It must be forever unintelligible. This is not communication. Your dark dreams are but the senseless, isolated scripts you write in sleep. Look not to separate dreams for meaning. Only dreams of pardon can be shared. They mean the same to both of you.

Do not interpret out of solitude, for what you see means nothing. It will shift in what it stands for, and you will believe the world is an uncertain place, in which you walk in danger and uncertainty. It is but your interpretations which are lacking in stability, for they are not in line with what you really are. This is a state so seemingly unsafe that fear must rise. Do not continue thus, my brother. We have one Interpreter. And through His use of symbols are we joined, so that they mean the same to all of us. Our common language lets us speak to all our brothers, and to understand with them forgiveness has been given to us all, and thus we can communicate again.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 23

Lesson 265
Creation’s gentleness is all I see.

I have indeed misunderstood the world, because I laid my sins on it and saw them looking back at me. How fierce they seemed! And how deceived was I to think that what I feared was in the world, instead of in my mind alone. Today I see the world in the celestial gentleness with which creation shines. There is no fear in it. Let no appearance of my sins obscure the light of Heaven shining on the world. What is reflected there is in God’s Mind. The images I see reflect my thoughts. Yet is my mind at one with God’s. And so I can perceive creation’s gentleness.

In quiet would I look upon the world, which but reflects Your Thoughts, and mine as well. Let me remember that they are the same, and I will see creation’s gentleness.

***

 

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #175: The following three questions all address the issue of death and so will be answered together:

i: I would like to know more about “death solves nothing.”

ii: It is common for us to say when a person dies that he or she is finally “at peace.” Does death of the ego not release us from it’s fear based thinking and grant us peace?

iii: Would you kindly explain what A Course in Miracles teaches regarding finding peace after death?

A: Since everyone in this world suffers the excruciating pain of believing they are separated from their true Home and their Creator, there are times throughout one’s life that the thought of escape from this pain would seem to be a blessing. In this instance, death represents escape from our pain. And yet, A Course in Miracles teaches us that we are not our bodies: “The body is the symbol of what you think you are. It is clearly a separation device, and therefore does not exist (T.6.V.A.2:2,3). Therefore we need not escape from our bodies, whether they be physical, psychological, emotional, astral, etc. What we do need to escape from, however, is the thought of separation, and this is accomplished through the process of forgiveness. If the mind has not been totally healed of the thought of separation once the body “dies,” the unforgiveness that it holds will be played out in other times and other forms until forgiveness is perfected.

“When your body and your ego and your dreams are gone, you will know that you will last forever. Perhaps you think this is accomplished through death, but nothing is accomplished through death, because death is nothing” (T.6.V.A.1:1,2).

At other times, we are may believe this world to be a spiritual testing ground, and death symbolizes an end to our testing, and our ticket back Home. Or we may believe that once we die, our egos are automatically transcended, and we will be at peace. Beliefs such as this tempt one to want death to come sooner rather than later. “There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self which God created” (T.27.VII.10:2). It is important to keep in mind that the “death of the ego” does not come from the body’s death, but rather from the process of forgiveness, which only occurs within the mind. And, our bodies may die with or without completing this process.

You can see in any of this instances how we are tempted to attribute pain to our body rather than to our mind. Once we have learned where the real problem lies, the Holy Spirit can begin to use our body to teach us our true identity as a mind: “The Holy Spirit, as always, takes what you have made [the body] and translates it into a learning device….He reinterprets what the ego uses as an argument for separation into a demonstration against it (T.6.V.A.2:4,5).

So death (which is nothing) of the body (also nothing) solves nothing (the thought of separation, another nothing). Nothing plus nothing equals nothing!

jesus there is no death

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 22

ACIM Text Reading for September 22

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VII. The Justification for Forgiveness
Anger is never justified. Attack has no foundation. It is here escape from fear begins, and will be made complete. Here is the real world given in exchange for dreams of terror. For it is on this forgiveness rests, and is but natural. You are not asked to offer pardon where attack is due, and would be justified. For that would mean that you forgive a sin by overlooking what is really there. This is not pardon. For it would assume that, by responding in a way which is not justified, your pardon will become the answer to attack that has been made. And thus is pardon inappropriate, by being granted where it is not due.

Pardon is always justified. It has a sure foundation. You do not forgive the unforgivable, nor overlook a real attack that calls for punishment. Salvation does not lie in being asked to make unnatural responses which are inappropriate to what is real. Instead, it merely asks that you respond appropriately to what is not real by not perceiving what has not occurred. If pardon were unjustified, you would be asked to sacrifice your rights when you return forgiveness for attack. But you are merely asked to see forgiveness as the natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help. Forgiveness is the only sane response. It keeps your rights from being sacrificed.

This understanding is the only change that lets the real world rise to take the place of dreams of terror. Fear cannot arise unless attack is justified, and if it had a real foundation pardon would have none. The real world is achieved when you perceive the basis of forgiveness is quite real and fully justified. While you regard it as a gift unwarranted, it must uphold the guilt you would “forgive.” Unjustified forgiveness is attack. And this is all the world can ever give. It pardons “sinners” sometimes, but remains aware that they have sinned. And so they do not merit the forgiveness that it gives.

This is the false forgiveness which the world employs to keep the sense of sin alive. And recognizing God is just, it seems impossible His pardon could be real. Thus is the fear of God the sure result of seeing pardon as unmerited. No one who sees himself as guilty can avoid the fear of God. But he is saved from this dilemma if he can forgive. The mind must think of its Creator as it looks upon itself. If you can see your brother merits pardon, you have learned forgiveness is your right as much as his. Nor will you think that God intends for you a fearful judgment that your brother does not merit. For it is the truth that you can merit neither more nor less than he.

Forgiveness recognized as merited will heal. It gives the miracle its strength to overlook illusions. This is how you learn that you must be forgiven too. There can be no appearance that can not be overlooked. For if there were, it would be necessary first there be some sin that stands beyond forgiveness. There would be an error that is more than a mistake; a special form of error that remains unchangeable, eternal, and beyond correction or escape. There would be one mistake that had the power to undo creation, and to make a world that could replace it and destroy the Will of God. Only if this were possible could there be some appearances that could withstand the miracle, and not be healed by it.

There is no surer proof idolatry is what you wish than a belief there are some forms of sickness and of joylessness forgiveness cannot heal. This means that you prefer to keep some idols, and are not prepared, as yet, to let all idols go. And thus you think that some appearances are real and not appearances at all. Be not deceived about the meaning of a fixed belief that some appearances are harder to look past than others are. It always means you think forgiveness must be limited. And you have set a goal of partial pardon and a limited escape from guilt for you. What can this be except a false forgiveness of yourself, and everyone who seems apart from you?

It must be true the miracle can heal all forms of sickness, or it cannot heal. Its purpose cannot be to judge which forms are real, and which appearances are true. If one appearance must remain apart from healing, one illusion must be part of truth. And you could not escape all guilt, but only some of it. You must forgive God’s Son entirely. Or you will keep an image of yourself that is not whole, and will remain afraid to look within and find escape from every idol there. Salvation rests on faith there cannot be some forms of guilt that you cannot forgive. And so there cannot be appearances that have replaced the truth about God’s Son.

Look on your brother with the willingness to see him as he is. And do not keep a part of him outside your willingness that he be healed. To heal is to make whole. And what is whole can have no missing parts that have been kept outside. Forgiveness rests on recognizing this, and being glad there cannot be some forms of sickness which the miracle must lack the power to heal.

God’s Son is perfect, or he cannot be God’s Son. Nor will you know him, if you think he does not merit the escape from guilt in all its consequences and its forms. There is no way to think of him but this, if you would know the truth about yourself.

“I thank You, Father, for Your perfect Son,
and in his glory will I see my own.”
Here is the joyful statement that there are no forms of evil that can overcome the Will of God; the glad acknowledgment that guilt has not succeeded by your wish to make illusions real. And what is this except a simple statement of the truth?

Look on your brother with this hope in you, and you will understand he could not make an error that could change the truth in him. It is not difficult to overlook mistakes that have been given no effects. But what you see as having power to make an idol of the Son of God you will not pardon. For he has become to you a graven image and a sign of death. Is this your savior? Is his Father wrong about His Son? Or have you been deceived in him who has been given you to heal, for your salvation and deliverance?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 22

Lesson 264
I am surrounded by the Love of God.

Father, You stand before me and behind, beside me, in the place I see myself, and everywhere I go. You are in all the things I look upon, the sounds I hear, and every hand that reaches for my own. In You time disappears, and place becomes a meaningless belief. For what surrounds Your Son and keeps him safe is Love itself. There is no source but this, and nothing is that does not share its holiness; that stands beyond Your one creation, or without the Love which holds all things within itself. Father, Your Son is like Yourself. We come to You in Your Own Name today, to be at peace within Your everlasting Love.

My brothers, join with me in this today. This is salvation’s prayer. Must we not join in what will save the world, along with us?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1295: Traditional psychotherapy and A Course in Miracles seem to define the term ego in different ways. I’ve been in counseling for about the past two years and my therapist is working with me to build an ego. She tells me that I’ve got to get an ego first before I can give it up. It would seem that what she defines as ego and what Jesus is talking about are two different things, but I’m not completely sure just how to sort them out.

A: Counselors and therapists use the term ego thanks to Sigmund Freud. Freud divided the human personality into three parts: id, ego, and superego. According to his theory, the id operates on the pleasure principle, seeking immediate gratification for our instinctual drives. The superego is our internal, moral censor that represses the id. And the ego mediates between the id, superego, and the outside world, seeking to find means for us to express ourselves in socially acceptable ways. The ego is the conscious part of the psyche — basically the personality with which we identify.

Today’s counselors who speak of the ego do not necessarily view the psyche from a Freudian perspective. But they have largely adopted the word ego as a shortcut for saying our personality and identity as an individual . The goal of most counselors is to assist others in becoming healthier individuals — helping them to be more comfortable and functional within this world. So, we could say that they are helping their clients or patients to develop healthy egos.

When Jesus speaks of the ego in the Course, he is basically talking about the entire human psyche, conscious and unconscious. He tells us that the person we think we are is a false self, born of our mistaken belief that we could create a substitute for our true identity as God’s beloved Son. Thus, A Course in Miracles is all about recognizing that we would be happier if we released our grip on the ego and embraced the Holy Spirit instead. Therefore, for many Course students, the term ego has taken on a sinister ring — making the idea of developing a healthy one sound contradictory, if not downright frightening. However, this is the result of a misunderstanding. The Course encourages us to live in this world but know we are not of it. And doing that requires ego strength. To not develop a healthy ego represents fear, which must be unlearned if we are ever to move beyond fear to acceptance of God’s Love.

So, far from turning the ego into an enemy, Jesus would have us forgive it (and thus forgive ourselves) as the first step to moving beyond it. While he would ultimately have us let the ego go; Jesus would be the first to agree that we cannot move beyond the ego until we see it for what it is and make peace with it. Thus, like a great therapist, he asks us to simply watch it — turning our experience of being an ego (which, within this dream, seems to be the entirety of who we are) into a classroom in which we learn more and more about ourselves every day.

The Course and most forms of counseling do part ways in that, in counseling, becoming at peace with yourself within this world is typically the final goal, while in the Course, it is only a step toward awakening. Yet, despite both this fundamental difference and differences in the use of language, there is certainly no inherent conflict between the Course and the process of therapy. It is simply important for Course students to hold the aim of therapy as a means to an end and not an end itself.

teach not that i died in vain

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 21

ACIM Text Reading for September 21

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VI. The Only Purpose
The real world is the state of mind in which the only purpose of the world is seen to be forgiveness. Fear is not its goal, for the escape from guilt becomes its aim. The value of forgiveness is perceived and takes the place of idols, which are sought no longer, for their “gifts” are not held dear. No rules are idly set, and no demands are made of anyone or anything to twist and fit into the dream of fear. Instead, there is a wish to understand all things created as they really are. And it is recognized that all things must be first forgiven, and then understood.

Here, it is thought that understanding is acquired by attack. There, it is clear that by attack is understanding lost. The folly of pursuing guilt as goal is fully recognized. And idols are not wanted there, for guilt is understood as the sole cause of pain in any form. No one is tempted by its vain appeal, for suffering and death have been perceived as things not wanted and not striven for. The possibility of freedom has been grasped and welcomed, and the means by which it can be gained can now be understood. The world becomes a place of hope, because its only purpose is to be a place where hope of happiness can be fulfilled. And no one stands outside this hope, because the world has been united in belief the purpose of the world is one which all must share, if hope be more than just a dream.

Not yet is Heaven quite remembered, for the purpose of forgiveness still remains. Yet everyone is certain he will go beyond forgiveness, and he but remains until it is made perfect in himself. He has no wish for anything but this. And fear has dropped away, because he is united in his purpose with himself. There is a hope of happiness in him so sure and constant he can barely stay and wait a little longer, with his feet still touching earth. Yet is he glad to wait till every hand is joined, and every heart made ready to arise and go with him. For thus is he made ready for the step in which is all forgiveness left behind.

The final step is God’s, because it is but God Who could create a perfect Son and share His Fatherhood with him. No one outside of Heaven knows how this can be, for understanding this is Heaven itself. Even the real world has a purpose still beneath creation and eternity. But fear is gone because its purpose is forgiveness, not idolatry. And so is Heaven’s Son prepared to be himself, and to remember that the Son of God knows everything his Father understands, and understands it perfectly with Him.

The real world still falls short of this, for this is God’s Own purpose; only His, and yet completely shared and perfectly fulfilled. The real world is a state in which the mind has learned how easily do idols go when they are still perceived but wanted not. How willingly the mind can let them go when it has understood that idols are nothing and nowhere, and are purposeless. For only then can guilt and sin be seen without a purpose, and as meaningless.

Thus is the real world’s purpose gently brought into awareness, to replace the goal of sin and guilt. And all that stood between your image of yourself and what you are, forgiveness washes joyfully away. Yet God need not create His Son again, that what is his be given back to him. The gap between your brother and yourself was never there. And what the Son of God knew in creation he must know again.

When brothers join in purpose in the world of fear, they stand already at the edge of the real world. Perhaps they still look back, and think they see an idol that they want. Yet has their path been surely set away from idols toward reality. For when they joined their hands it was Christ’s hand they took, and they will look on Him Whose hand they hold. The face of Christ is looked upon before the Father is remembered. For He must be unremembered till His Son has reached beyond forgiveness to the Love of God. Yet is the Love of Christ accepted first. And then will come the knowledge They are One.

How light and easy is the step across the narrow boundaries of the world of fear when you have recognized Whose hand you hold! Within your hand is everything you need to walk with perfect confidence away from fear forever, and to go straight on, and quickly reach the gate of Heaven itself. For He Whose hand you hold was waiting but for you to join Him. Now that you have come, would He delay in showing you the way that He must walk with you? His blessing lies on you as surely as His Father’s Love rests upon Him. His gratitude to you is past your understanding, for you have enabled Him to rise from chains and go with you, together, to His Father’s house.

An ancient hate is passing from the world. And with it goes all hatred and all fear. Look back no longer, for what lies ahead is all you ever wanted in your heart. Give up the world! But not to sacrifice. You never wanted it. What happiness have you sought here that did not bring you pain? What moment of content has not been bought at fearful price in coins of suffering? Joy has no cost. It is your sacred right, and what you pay for is not happiness. Be speeded on your way by honesty, and let not your experiences here deceive in retrospect. They were not free from bitter cost and joyless consequence.

Do not look back except in honesty. And when an idol tempts you, think of this:

There never was a time an idol brought
You anything except the “gift” of guilt.
Not one was bought except at cost of pain,
Nor was it ever paid by you alone.
Be merciful unto your brother, then. And do not choose an idol thoughtlessly, remembering that he will pay the cost as well as you. For he will be delayed when you look back, and you will not perceive Whose loving hand you hold. Look forward, then, and walk with confidence, with happy hearts that beat in hope and do not pound in fear.

The Will of God forever lies in those whose hands are joined. Until they joined, they thought He was their enemy. But when they joined and shared a purpose, they were free to learn their will is one. And thus the Will of God must reach to their awareness. Nor can they forget for long that it is but their own.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 21

Lesson 263
My holy vision sees all things as pure.

Father, Your Mind created all that is, Your Spirit entered into it, Your Love gave life to it. And would I look upon what You created as if it could be made sinful? I would not perceive such dark and fearful images. A madman’s dream is hardly fit to be my choice, instead of all the loveliness with which You blessed creation; all its purity, its joy, and its eternal, quiet home in You.

And while we still remain outside the gate of Heaven, let us look on all we see through holy vision and the eyes of Christ. Let all appearances seem pure to us, that we may pass them by in innocence, and walk together to our Father’s house as brothers and the holy Sons of God.

***

ACIM Q  & A for Today

Q #152-a: In a few places in the text and in the lessons, Jesus says that we will “dissolve into God” at the end of time. To be straight up, I don’t like the idea of dissolving into God. I know that this is my ego speaking for me, and I accept that we are just dreaming this whole thing, that I have already dissolved into God, and I must not have gone away, because I’m still here, so to speak. Yet in my heart of hearts, I’m really afraid of loosing everything when I stop dreaming. This is probably the reason I have not stopped the dream. I understand that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are gently awakening me through Atonement and this feels right. Yet, “dissolving into God” feels, sounds, like going into nothingness. Can you help me with my fear?

#152-b: According to A Course in Miracles, does the world and all that I love in it disappear when I awaken from the dream? I ask because I don’t see life only as the source of sin, guilt, and fear. I would not want to lose the memories of loved ones and the moments of beauty, courage, creativity, etc., that I’ve known in my existence, illusory as it might be.

A: (a) Most people who practice the Course feel the way you do. They are afraid that “disappearing into the Heart of God” means oblivion and nothingness. Feeling this way is quite normal; and you don’t want to try to talk yourself out of it. That being said, though, it is obvious that it could only be the ego voicing its own fear of extinction in the presence of love, however. Therefore, when we identify with the ego — which we do whenever we value our individual existence — we definitely will fear our return to the Oneness of Heaven. But Jesus is aware of our dilemma — though it is a false dilemma — and so he reassures us in many, many places in the Course that we will awaken from this nightmare dream only when we are ready to. It is a process that is mindful of our fear and moves in accord with our readiness. As you have recognized, his is a gentle, comforting approach: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality” (T.16.VI.8:1; see also T.27.VIII.13).

There is an interim stage before we awaken in which we continue our lives here, but with less guilt, less anxiety, less anger, etc. We become more and more comfortable with a different way of being here, as we learn that we feel better when we forgive than when we are boiling inside with hatred and grievances and the pain of competing interests and goals. We gradually let go of our identification with the values the ego has held out to us and identify instead with the values of forgiveness that Jesus holds out to us. In other words, it is not that we lose our self and then just disappear; but rather, we shift in what we choose to identify with, and then that is what we become.

This process could be likened to a journey with many planned stops, but no exact timetable. You stop at various places along the way and get used to the new climate and vista. And as you continue the journey, you get to know your tour guide better and become more at ease with him. He never forces you to leave a place you don’t really want to leave, and stays there with you until you are ready to move on. He has no timetable that he makes you adhere to. When he tells you that the next stop will be even better, you more than likely would choose to continue the journey because everything he has shown you so far has been rather nice. Your trust in your guide grows, even though sometimes you get annoyed because he rouses you out of bed too early in the morning; but then you realize he did it only because he couldn’t wait to get on the road and show you the next beautiful place. The ride is often bumpy, but you forget about that once you are comfortably settled in at your next stop. You even begin to think that your guide actually knows you well and that he knows exactly what will you make you happy.

That is the way Jesus leads us. He knows that we will not lose anything and that we will be happier than we ever thought possible when we complete the journey with him; but he also sees how frightened we are of plunging into what we think is the unknown and our certain oblivion. So he gently takes us by the hand and patiently lets us go at our own pace, assuring us again and again that we will lose nothing and regain everything. Until that is our own perception, we can stay wherever we are, and know that Jesus is loving us at every instant. We cannot experience the fullness of that love, though, because we are still resisting it out of fear. But we will experience as much of his love as we let in. Time is illusory, so how long this takes is irrelevant. Jesus’ love is not conditional on time or place.

(b) When we awaken from our nocturnal dreams, we usually forget what we dreamt about, because we know “it was just a dream.” The same thing will be true when we awaken from the dream of our lives as individuals apart from God and Heaven. Preceding this awakening, of course, will be a period in which we experience ourselves as the dreamer of the dream, and we will recognize that all bodily existence, including our own, amounts to nothing but figures in the dream. We will know that we are not our bodies, nor are our loved ones their bodies, and that we are all joined now on another level that reflects our true Identity. Our attraction then will be to the radiant beauty of our sinlessness as God’s Son. The love in which we are all joined and which transcends anything that could be experienced on a bodily level would totally fill our minds. Nothing else would be in our awareness, for we would have gladly let go of whatever had blocked love’s presence from our awareness.

 

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