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
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.