ACIM Text Reading for October 17
Manual for Teachers
14. How Will the World End?
Can what has no beginning really end? The world will end in an illusion, as it began. Yet will its ending be an illusion of mercy. The illusion of forgiveness, complete, excluding no one, limitless in gentleness, will cover it, hiding all evil, concealing all sin and ending guilt forever. So ends the world that guilt had made, for now it has no purpose and is gone. The father of illusions is the belief that they have a purpose; that they serve a need or gratify a want. Perceived as purposeless, they are no longer seen. Their uselessness is recognized, and they are gone. How but in this way are all illusions ended? They have been brought to truth, and truth saw them not. It merely overlooked the meaningless.
Until forgiveness is complete, the world does have a purpose. It becomes the home in which forgiveness is born, and where it grows and becomes stronger and more all-embracing. Here is it nourished, for here it is needed. A gentle Savior, born where sin was made and guilt seemed real. Here is His home, for here there is need of Him indeed. He brings the ending of the world with Him. It is His Call God’s teachers answer, turning to Him in silence to receive His Word. The world will end when all things in it have been rightly judged by His judgment. The world will end with the benediction of holiness upon it. When not one thought of sin remains, the world is over. It will not be destroyed nor attacked nor even touched. It will merely cease to seem to be.
Certainly this seems to be a long, long while away. “When not one thought of sin remains” appears to be a long-range goal indeed. But time stands still, and waits on the goal of God’s teachers. Not one thought of sin will remain the instant any one of them accepts Atonement for himself. It is not easier to forgive one sin than to forgive all of them. The illusion of orders of difficulty is an obstacle the teacher of God must learn to pass by and leave behind. One sin perfectly forgiven by one teacher of God can make salvation complete. Can you understand this? No; it is meaningless to anyone here. Yet it is the final lesson in which unity is restored. It goes against all the thinking of the world, but so does Heaven.
The world will end when its thought system has been completely reversed. Until then, bits and pieces of its thinking will still seem sensible. The final lesson, which brings the ending of the world, cannot be grasped by those not yet prepared to leave the world and go beyond its tiny reach. What, then, is the function of the teacher of God in this concluding lesson? He need merely learn how to approach it; to be willing to go in its direction. He need merely trust that, if God’s Voice tells him it is a lesson he can learn, he can learn it. He does not judge it either as hard or easy. His Teacher points to it, and he trusts that He will show him how to learn it.
The world will end in joy, because it is a place of sorrow. When joy has come, the purpose of the world has gone. The world will end in peace, because it is a place of war. When peace has come, what is the purpose of the world? The world will end in laughter, because it is a place of tears. Where there is laughter, who can longer weep? And only complete forgiveness brings all this to bless the world. In blessing it departs, for it will not end as it began. To turn hell into Heaven is the function of God’s teachers, for what they teach are lessons in which Heaven is reflected. And now sit down in true humility, and realize that all God would have you do you can do. Do not be arrogant and say you cannot learn His Own curriculum. His Word says otherwise. His Will be done. It cannot be otherwise. And be you thankful it is so.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 17
The past is over. It can touch me not.
Unless the past is over in my mind, the real world must escape my sight. For I am really looking nowhere; seeing but what is not there. How can I then perceive the world forgiveness offers? This the past was made to hide, for this the world that can be looked on only now. It has no past. For what can be forgiven but the past, and if it is forgiven it is gone.
Father, let me not look upon a past that is not there. For You have offered me Your Own replacement, in a present world the past has left untouched and free of sin. Here is the end of guilt. And here am I made ready for Your final step. Shall I demand that You wait longer for Your Son to find the loveliness You planned to be the end of all his dreams and all his pain?
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #990: It seems to me that the more deeply I move into A Course in Miracles , the less I feel in touch with God. Here my ego has trapped my spirit in a body and I spend my life choosing between higher-self and lower-self reactions to supposed others, while God is blissfully unaware of what I believe is my existence. So God becomes more and more an amorphous and theoretical concept to me. There are even periods when I entertain the thought that there is no God. What keeps me going is that I cannot see how the Course could come from any being of this world. I also cannot find any better explanation for the craziness of this world or “existence,” or any better path than the Course for dealing with it. Part of me knows that all of this could just be one great – – and I wish, last ditch — ego defense to stop me from moving through the Course. Do you have any ideas about this paradox and how it can best be dealt with?
A: While painful, your sense that you are feeling less in touch with God is a normal and perhaps even critical stage of working with the Course. After all, the Course is telling us that the God most of us grew up with does not exist. Unlike the God of the Bible, the Course’s God “does not know of separation” [i.e., this world] ( Psychotherapy Purpose, Process and Practice P.2.VII.1:11) . Fortunately, however, Jesus’ message does not end there. His real goal is to help us to understand that “nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.132.12:4) . We remain as a “Oneness joined as One…at home in God, dreaming of exile” (T.25.1.7:1, T.10.I.2:1). Thus, God is not unaware of us because He is ignorant or uncaring. He does not know about us because we — as the separated beings we think we are — do not exist . This is our dream not His.
Despite its Christian language, which refers to God as a being with thoughts and feelings, the Course’s underlying message is that God is not a being and neither are we . To our sleeping mind, under the tutelage of the ego, this concept is both incomprehensible and very threatening. So the ego acts quickly to annihilate this threat and maintain its grip on us. It perverts the Course’s potentially mind-altering message by telling us, “You see, you thought God was angry at you. But it’s even worse than that. He doesn’t even care about you at all!” This defense lets us remain firmly rooted in this dream with our one-or-the-other mentality perfectly intact.
However, as you stated in your question, there is a part of our mind that recognizes a loving presence in the Course, which could not possibly have come from within the thought system of this world. And part of us knows that if we recognize something, it must be within us. We grasp – – perhaps faintly at times — that there is something within us to which we long to return. But Jesus knows that although we long desperately to feel God’s all-encompassing Love, we cannot understand it or make sense of it from within this dream. And so he does not attempt to teach us what God or His Love is. Rather, he focuses on teaching us what they are not .
He does not ask us to believe in God. Rather he strives to help us gradually come to know God by letting forgiveness take the place of all the guilty illusions that block His Love from our awareness. Perhaps Jesus’ best summation of this point comes in the pamphletPsychotherapy Purpose, Process and Practice . In the following passage, Jesus is referring specifically to psychotherapy. But what he says reveals his perspective on the entire spiritual journey that he asks us to take. “It would be unfair indeed if belief in God were necessary…Nor is belief in God a really meaningful concept, for God can be but known. Belief implies that unbelief is possible, but knowledge of God has no true opposite. Not to know God is to have no knowledge, and it is to this that all unforgiveness leads. And without knowledge one can have only belief” (P.2.II.4:3,4,5,6,7).
And so, happily, conflicted thoughts about the existence of God, and confusion about what God is, are neither personal shortcomings nor impediments to our progress as students of the Course. The best approach is to simply watch them make their inevitable appearance as we continue on our journey of questioning every value that we hold (T.24.In.2:1) .
For a related discussion about the nature of God according to A Course in Miracles , please see Question #625.