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
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.
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.