ACIM Text Reading for September 12
Chapter 29 ~ The Awakening
VII. Seek Not Outside Yourself
Seek not outside yourself. For it will fail, and you will weep each time an idol falls. Heaven cannot be found where it is not, and there can be no peace excepting there. Each idol that you worship when God calls will never answer in His place. There is no other answer you can substitute, and find the happiness His answer brings. Seek not outside yourself. For all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want, insisting where it must be found. What if it is not there? Do you prefer that you be right or happy? Be you glad that you are told where happiness abides, and seek no longer elsewhere. You will fail. But it is given you to know the truth, and not to seek for it outside yourself.
No one who comes here but must still have hope, some lingering illusion, or some dream that there is something outside of himself that will bring happiness and peace to him. If everything is in him this cannot be so. And therefore by his coming, he denies the truth about himself, and seeks for something more than everything, as if a part of it were separated off and found where all the rest of it is not. This is the purpose he bestows upon the body; that it seek for what he lacks, and give him what would make himself complete. And thus he wanders aimlessly about, in search of something that he cannot find, believing that he is what he is not.
The lingering illusion will impel him to seek out a thousand idols, and to seek beyond them for a thousand more. And each will fail him, all excepting one; for he will die, and does not understand the idol that he seeks is but his death. Its form appears to be outside himself. Yet does he seek to kill God’s Son within, and prove that he is victor over him. This is the purpose every idol has, for this the role that is assigned to it, and this the role that cannot be fulfilled.
Whenever you attempt to reach a goal in which the body’s betterment is cast as major beneficiary, you try to bring about your death. For you believe that you can suffer lack, and lack is death. To sacrifice is to give up, and thus to be without and to have suffered loss. And by this giving up is life renounced. Seek not outside yourself. The search implies you are not whole within and fear to look upon your devastation, but prefer to seek outside yourself for what you are.
Idols must fall because they have no life, and what is lifeless is a sign of death. You came to die, and what would you expect but to perceive the signs of death you seek? No sadness and no suffering proclaim a message other than an idol found that represents a parody of life which, in its lifelessness, is really death, conceived as real and given living form. Yet each must fail and crumble and decay, because a form of death cannot be life, and what is sacrificed cannot be whole.
All idols of this world were made to keep the truth within from being known to you, and to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find what is outside yourself to be complete and happy. It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him. No idol takes His place. Look not to idols. Do not seek outside yourself.
Let us forget the purpose of the world the past has given it. For otherwise, the future will be like the past, and but a series of depressing dreams, in which all idols fail you, one by one, and you see death and disappointment everywhere.
To change all this, and open up a road of hope and of release in what appeared to be an endless circle of despair, you need but to decide you do not know the purpose of the world. You give it goals it does not have, and thus do you decide what it is for. You try to see in it a place of idols found outside yourself, with power to make complete what is within by splitting what you are between the two. You choose your dreams, for they are what you wish, perceived as if it had been given you. Your idols do what you would have them do, and have the power you ascribe to them. And you pursue them vainly in the dream, because you want their power as your own.
Yet where are dreams but in a mind asleep? And can a dream succeed in making real the picture it projects outside itself? Save time, my brother; learn what time is for. And speed the end of idols in a world made sad and sick by seeing idols there. Your holy mind is altar unto God, and where He is no idols can abide. The fear of God is but the fear of loss of idols. It is not the fear of loss of your reality. But you have made of your reality an idol, which you must protect against the light of truth. And all the world becomes the means by which this idol can be saved. Salvation thus appears to threaten life and offer death.
It is not so. Salvation seeks to prove there is no death, and only life exists. The sacrifice of death is nothing lost. An idol cannot take the place of God. Let Him remind you of His Love for you, and do not seek to drown His Voice in chants of deep despair to idols of yourself. Seek not outside your Father for your hope. For hope of happiness is not despair.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 12
This day I choose to spend in perfect peace.
It does not seem to me that I can choose to have but peace today. And yet, my God assures me that His Son is like Himself. Let me this day have faith in Him Who says I am God’s Son. And let the peace I choose be mine today bear witness to the truth of what He says. God’s Son can have no cares, and must remain forever in the peace of Heaven. In His Name, I give today to finding what my Father wills for me, accepting it as mine, and giving it to all my Father’s Sons, along with me.
And so, my Father, would I pass this day with You. Your Son has not forgotten You. The peace You gave him still is in his mind, and it is there I choose to spend today.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #87: “Swear not to die, you holy Son of God!” Just in case, I did that. But I need do nothing to make truth true. So, this phrase is meant more poetically? Like asking me to make a commitment to truth, going for it?
A. In this passage (T.29.VI.2:1), Jesus is talking about a promise that we have already made, by virtue of our having identified with the ego thought system. His “command” is therefore meant literally. He is telling us that we need to look at and reconsider our attraction to the “holy” waxen image of death…you swore in blood not to desert, as he so movingly describes it at the end of the fourth obstacle to peace (T.19.IV.D.6:3). In other words, we have already pledged our loyalty to the ego thought system, in which death — including ours — is the central reality. We have already taken this oath to believe that God’s Son is not as He created Him, invulnerable and eternally present within the Being of His Father. It is part of the bargain we made with the ego, so that our individual, separate identity would be preserved. Here Jesus is asking us to undo that bargain.
This passage is often mistakenly understood to mean that Jesus is saying that we can be immortal as human beings — as if the comma were placed after “Swear,” thus meaning that we are going to swear that we will never die. But such an interpretation would contradict Jesus’ overriding emphasis in the Course about the nature of the body. Why would we want to remain in what is not our home? It would be insane to want to stay in the body, which was not made by love (T.18.VI.4:7), and in fact was made as “a limit on love”…”to limit the unlimited” (T.18.VIII.1:2), and to embody the ego’s wish to replace God (W.pI.72.2).
Q #88: I keep thinking of the error, the original thought, whatever it was that happened. This is a struggle for me. What could it have been for us to want to escape in fear? How could this happen? If we were created in the likeness of God than why did this error happen? How could we do this? I would think that we couldn’t foul up. Everything about this course seems right to me. It is the only thought system that makes any sense, except I keep wondering about this error. I feel as though I failed, and that makes me harbor self hatred, today. Tomorrow I will feel differently as this happens so often, and I usually forget the whole thing in a matter of seconds.
A: The “error” to which you refer is the separation. The simple answer to your question is that the “error” did not in fact occur. In the Clarification of Terms the Course tells us: “Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so” (C.2.2:5). The question, therefore, is actually a statement that implies a belief in the separation. The question cannot truly be answered: “The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, ‘How did the impossible occur?’, ‘To what did the impossible happen?’, and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you” (C.in.4). Separation from God is impossible: “You cannot walk the world apart from God, because you could not be without Him. He is what your life is. Where you are He is. There is one life. That life you share with Him. Nothing can be apart from Him and live” (W.pI.156.2:4,5,6,7,8,9). The Course’s explanation of how we seem to be in bodies, walking around in a world of physical form, is that we are asleep “dreaming of exile” (T.10.I.2:1). This is the only “explanation” for a situation that does not really exist, a separation that did not and cannot occur.
However, we do seem to be very real in our experience in this dream, just as in our so called sleeping dreams all the characters seem to be real, until we wake up and realize we were only dreaming. The reason we seem to be so real in this dream is that we want the dream to be real. We are actively choosing to identify with the character we call ourselves in the dream, and by doing this we are choosing the seeming separation. Recognizing this choice is very important, and is basic to the Course’s teaching, that we have a mind with the power to choose. The only possible explanation for making the choice for separation is our attraction to the initial “rush” that goes with the feeling of being independent individuals. But then we become instantly aware of a profound loneliness, which impels us to seek for completion to fill the void caused by the separation. In our insanity we seek outside ourselves: “No one who comes here but must still have hope, some lingering illusion, or some dream that there is something outside of himself that will bring happiness and peace to him” (T.29.VII.2:1).
This does not make us failures. It does make us badly mistaken. The guilt we feel for making this mistake, is overwhelming, and so we call the mistake a “sin,” make it practically unforgivable, and hate ourselves for it. We then project this hatred out on to everyone and everything in the world. To compound our error, we make up a false god, so we can blame him for making such a painful world, and accuse him of trying to punish us for this terrible “sin.” We go on and on in this endless cycle; choosing separation, feeling guilty, projecting, blaming, hiding, denying. This keeps the world in operation, makes the error real in our experience, and seems to be happening without any responsibility on our part. It is only when as we become acutely aware of the pain it causes us, and learn, through the Course’s teaching, to make the undeniable association between the pain and its source, which is the separation, will we begin to “choose differently.” But first we must accept responsibility for the choice. In our insanity, we repeatedly choose the separation, hoping that we can make it work without the pain. The Course is teaching us how wrong we are. Learning to choose differently is our only hope, and the way out of the dream of separation. As we are told in the Text: “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, ‘My brother, choose again’” (T.31.VIII.3:1,2).