ACIM Text Reading for October 14
Manual for Teachers
XI. How Is Peace Possible in this World?
This is a question everyone must ask. Certainly peace seems to be impossible here. Yet the Word of God promises other things that seem impossible, as well as this. His Word has promised peace. It has also promised that there is no death, that resurrection must occur, and that rebirth is man’s inheritance. The world you see cannot be the world God loves, and yet His Word assures us that He loves the world. God’s Word has promised that peace is possible here, and what He promises can hardly be impossible. But it is true that the world must be looked at differently, if His promises are to be accepted. What the world is, is but a fact. You cannot choose what this should be. But you can choose how you would see it. Indeed, you must choose this.
Again we come to the question of judgment. This time ask yourself whether your judgment or the Word of God is more likely to be true. For they say different things about the world, and things so opposite that it is pointless to try to reconcile them. God offers the world salvation; your judgment would condemn it. God says there is no death; your judgment sees but death as the inevitable end of life. God’s Word assures you that He loves the world; your judgment says it is unlovable. Who is right? For one of you is wrong. It must be so.
The text explains that the Holy Spirit is the Answer to all problems you have made. These problems are not real, but that is meaningless to those who believe in them. And everyone believes in what he made, for it was made by his believing it. Into this strange and paradoxical situation, — one without meaning and devoid of sense, yet out of which no way seems possible, — God has sent His Judgment to answer yours. Gently His Judgment substitutes for yours. And through this substitution is the un-understandable made understandable. How is peace possible in this world? In your judgment it is not possible, and can never be possible. But in the Judgment of God what is reflected here is only peace.
Peace is impossible to those who look on war. Peace is inevitable to those who offer peace. How easily, then, is your judgment of the world escaped! It is not the world that makes peace seem impossible. It is the world you see that is impossible. Yet has God’s Judgment on this distorted world redeemed it and made it fit to welcome peace. And peace descends on it in joyous answer. Peace now belongs here, because a Thought of God has entered. What else but a Thought of God turns hell to Heaven merely by being what it is? The earth bows down before its gracious Presence, and it leans down in answer, to raise it up again. Now is the question different. It is no longer, “Can peace be possible in this world?” but instead, “Is it not impossible that peace be absent here?”
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 14
The hush of Heaven holds my heart today.
Father, how still today! How quietly do all things fall in place! This is the day that has been chosen as the time in which I come to understand the lesson that there is no need that I do anything. In You is every choice already made. In You has every conflict been resolved. In You is everything I hope to find already given me. Your peace is mine. My heart is quiet, and my mind at rest. Your Love is Heaven, and Your Love is mine.
The stillness of today will give us hope that we have found the way, and travelled far along it to a wholly certain goal. Today we will not doubt the end which God Himself has promised us. We trust in Him, and in our Self, Who still is One with Him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1000: From “There is no world!” (W.pI.132.6:2), to “What the world is, is but a fact” (M.11.1:9). Certainly in the illusion the world seems to us a fact and we experience it as a fact. I was surprised to find this reference to the world as a fact in the manual. Is this a reference merely to the natural world (grass, mountains, trees, etc.)? After all the references in A Course in Miracles to the world as an illusion, is this but one more example of another contradiction in words in the Course? Or is it an emphasis on informing us we must deal with the world we made as a fact? I am thinking here of: “There are decisions to make here, and they must be made whether they be illusions or not” (S.I.1:2:4). I found myself rather unsettled and somewhat confused after reading the statement in the manual.
A: Yes, Jesus is making different points about the world in different places in the Course. This is why we stress the need to distinguish between the two levels on which the Course is written. Level One contrasts truth and illusion, wherein only God and Heaven are real (including His Son, Christ and the creations of Christ). All else is illusory and not real: “There is no world!” But since we are too fearful of accepting that and living accordingly, Jesus talks to us about the world as though it were real — becausewe think it is. This is not really contradictory, as the sentences preceding and following the one you cite about decisions explain:“You have been told to ask the Holy Spirit for the answer to any specific problem, and that you will receive a specific answer if such be your need. You have also been told that there is only one problem and one answer. In prayer this is not contradictory. . . . You cannot be asked to accept answers which are beyond the level of need that you can recognize” (S.1.I.2:1,2,3,5) . Jesus is letting us know that this is a process — like climbing a ladder. He thus gently and gradually helps us change our minds about the reality of the world by having us see that our perceptions are really interpretations emanating from the prior choice we make in our minds to take either the ego’s hand or his as we go through our day. This is the other level on which the Course is written — Level Two, which contrasts the wrong-minded (the ego’s) and right-minded (the Holy Spirit’s) ways of looking at the world.
The process involves bringing our wrong-minded perceptions to the truth of Heaven reflected in our right minds. And when at last our perceptions are all right-minded — meaning we listen only to the Voice of the Holy Spirit — our minds will no longer be split, and then love will just flow through us directing us in all we think and do. In that state of mind — what the Course calls the real world — we know the world is illusory and we will see all people as either calling out for love or expressing it. Jesus is gently leading us in that direction in all of his teachings and lessons.
Q #1001: I am a high school drop-out. I have made an ego that never was able to make an adult life for herself. I feel so isolated and helpless to change the loneliness that I want to die. In my 55 years I have failed at everything that I have tried to do. Mental illness and emotional disturbance are what my life has been and I see no hope out of this living hell. But this is just the ego I made up. Jesus says I could see peace instead of this because I am not this wretched ego! I know that intellectually, but it doesn’t make any difference — it doesn’t stop the pain. Can you please point me in the right direction as I try to accept God’s help and experience peace?
A: It may be of some comfort for you to know that you are not alone. The pain you describe is the inevitable experience of everyone when the mind chooses to believe that separation from God is possible and has been accomplished. The anguish is often denied, covered over, and camouflaged, but it is universal for all the separated ones. The pain of separation cannot be dismissed with an intellectual understanding of its origin as taught by the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles. In fact, using the principles of the Course to try to squelch the pangs of pain only exacerbates the problem. The Course’s teachings are meant to be applied gently, beginning with the kind acceptance of oneself, no matter what the ego’s baggage may look like in one’s life. The Course’s message of forgiveness is that the thought of separation is not a sin, whatever form it takes, nor is anyone a sinner who comes here seeking what cannot be found here.
Jesus acknowledges the feelings the separation engenders when he tells us in the workbook: “You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible” (W.p.I.93.1:1,2,3, ) . Notice he does not say some of you may think this. These words apply equally to those who view themselves as failures and to those who consider themselves great successes on the world’s terms. Everyone holds this secret (or not so secret) thought about themselves. The key words in this statement are: “you think you are….” Jesus is not saying that we are these things, but he acknowledges, without judgment, that we perceive ourselves in this way. This is a very important distinction and a very important passage. In it we find recognition of the condition in which we seem to find ourselves, acceptance of it as our experience, and most importantly, no judgment in its regard. This is one of the many ways Jesus provides us with a model for our learning. He does what he asks us to do: look honestly at how we truly feel, accept that these are our feelings, and not judge them as sinful. The real anguish does not come from being a failure in the world, but in the judgment that this failure is proof that you are a miserable sinner who deserves to die. It is always the interpretation of a situation that gives it meaning. These interpretations are what Jesus asks us to question so we may determine whether we have chosen to think with the ego, which fills our lives with conflict, or with the Holy Spirit, Who fills us with peace. Finding peace then requires willingness to exchange the ego’s perception for the Holy Spirit’s, which implies willingness to let go of the ego’s interpretation.
The Holy Spirit sets a standard for success and failure in direct opposition to what the ego teaches. The world bombards us with the message that we can, and must find happiness in this world, and our success is measured by this happiness. Our judgments against ourselves are founded on this belief. The Course teaches that this belief system is backwards and is based on the belief that the separation has not only occurred, but has been a smashing success. The ego views mental and emotional distress as failure; the Holy Spirit sees it and every aspect of our lives as a classroom in which to reinterpret everything according to His message. He is teaching us that the sickness we all suffer from is in the mind that believes it is a body which suffers emotionally and psychologically because it identifies with the thought of separation. The problem is not that we think monstrous things about ourselves, it is that we believe they are true, take them seriously, and more significantly, judge them to be sinful. The ego tells us that someone with mental illness is more in hell than someone who is emotionally balanced. Hell is hell. While the world offers many different Band-Aids with the illusion of relieving the pain of separation, none of them contributes to true healing. A successful life does not bring healing, and emotional distress does not prevent it. The only way to set yourself in the direction of peace is to be willing to accept that what you believe about yourself is not true, and to put your faith in the practice of forgiveness as the Course teaches. In the text, Jesus gently calls us to faith: “Have faith in only this one thing, and it will be sufficient: God wills you be in Heaven, and nothing can keep you from it, or it from you. Your wildest misperceptions, your weird imaginings, your blackest nightmares all mean nothing. They will not prevail against the peace God wills for you. (T.13.XI.7:1,2,3).
If the pain and misery of your life have led you to the teachings of the Course, they have served a useful purpose. There remains only the choice to accept the hope it offers by taking the first small step of acknowledging that the mind that chose devastation can make a different choice. Since the ego has failed you, you now have the opportunity to succeed by pursuing the Holy Spirit’s curriculum with an open mind. This requires only that you consider that maybe you have been wrong about who you are, maybe you are not a hopeless failure, and maybe the Holy Spirit is right. You have already set yourself in the right direction in seeking Jesus’ message in the Course and are therefore “…no longer wholly insane, nor no longer alone” (T.17.VII.10:2). This in itself is no small comfort.