ACIM Text Reading for October 23
Manual for Teachers
20. What Is the Peace of God?
It has been said that there is a kind of peace that is not of this world. How is it recognized? How is it found? And being found, how can it be retained? Let us consider each of these questions separately, for each reflects a different step along the way.
First, how can the peace of God be recognized? God’s peace is recognized at first by just one thing; in every way it is totally unlike all previous experiences. It calls to mind nothing that went before. It brings with it no past associations. It is a new thing entirely. There is a contrast, yes, between this thing and all the past. But strangely, it is not a contrast of true differences. The past just slips away, and in its place is everlasting quiet. Only that. The contrast first perceived has merely gone. Quiet has reached to cover everything.
How is this quiet found? No one can fail to find it who but seeks out its conditions. God’s peace can never come where anger is, for anger must deny that peace exists. Who sees anger as justified in any way or any circumstance proclaims that peace is meaningless, and must believe that it cannot exist. In this condition, peace cannot be found. Therefore, forgiveness is the necessary condition for finding the peace of God. More than this, given forgiveness there must be peace. For what except attack will lead to war? And what but peace is opposite to war? Here the initial contrast stands out clear and apparent. Yet when peace is found, the war is meaningless. And it is conflict now that is perceived as nonexistent and unreal.
How is the peace of God retained, once it is found? Returning anger, in whatever form, will drop the heavy curtain once again, and the belief that peace cannot exist will certainly return. War is again accepted as the one reality. Now must you once again lay down your sword, although you do not recognize that you have picked it up again. But you will learn, as you remember even faintly now what happiness was yours without it, that you must have taken it again as your defense. Stop for a moment now and think of this: Is conflict what you want, or is God’s peace the better choice? Which gives you more? A tranquil mind is not a little gift. Would you not rather live than choose to die?
Living is joy, but death can only weep. You see in death escape from what you made. But this you do not see; that you made death, and it is but illusion of an end. Death cannot be escape, because it is not life in which the problem lies. Life has no opposite, for it is God. Life and death seem to be opposites because you have decided death ends life. Forgive the world, and you will understand that everything that God created cannot have an end, and nothing He did not create is real. In this one sentence is our course explained. In this one sentence is our practicing given its one direction. And in this one sentence is the Holy Spirit’s whole curriculum specified exactly as it is.
What is the peace of God? No more than this; the simple understanding that His Will is wholly without opposite. There is no thought that contradicts His Will, yet can be true. The contrast between His Will and yours but seemed to be reality. In truth there was no conflict, for His Will is yours. Now is the mighty Will of God Himself His gift to you. He does not seek to keep it for Himself. Why would you seek to keep your tiny frail imaginings apart from Him? The Will of God is One and all there is. This is your heritage. The universe beyond the sun and stars, and all the thoughts of which you can conceive, belong to you. God’s peace is the condition for His Will. Attain His peace, and you remember Him.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 23
My body is a wholly neutral thing.
I am a Son of God. And can I be another thing as well? Did God create the mortal and corruptible? What use has God’s beloved Son for what must die? And yet a neutral thing does not see death, for thoughts of fear are not invested there, nor is a mockery of love bestowed upon it. Its neutrality protects it while it has a use. And afterwards, without a purpose, it is laid aside. It is not sick nor old nor hurt. It is but functionless, unneeded and cast off. Let me not see it more than this today; of service for a while and fit to serve, to keep its usefulness while it can serve, and then to be replaced for greater good.
My body, Father, cannot be Your Son. And what is not created cannot be sinful nor sinless; neither good nor bad. Let me, then, use this dream to help Your plan that we awaken from all dreams we made.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1136: My father has always had a fear of death or nonexisting. He believes this world and the body are all that exist because he has no proof otherwise; and therefore he gets very depressed when he has health issues My views are totally different. If he dies with the beliefs he has and I die with mine (both with the Holy Spirit), but at the time of physical death he still believes only in himself (ego), would we experience death differently? Also, does the Holy Spirit have any influence on us in terms of controlling how long we remain in the body/ world once we invite His memory back to guide our life?
A: From the point of view of A Course in Miracles , death is always a decision we make in our minds (W.pI.152.1:4; M.12.5:6,7) , and that decision can be made with the ego or with the Holy Spirit. If it is made with the Holy Spirit, there will be no sense of regret, fear, bitterness, loss, or blame in one’s mind. The mind would simply continue on as before; nothing happens to the mind because the body is no longer classified as “living” according to the world’s standards (W.pI.167.3,4) . Everything takes place in the mind and not in the body. That is what Jesus is always trying to help us realize. We, as minds, are always and only choosing to uphold the ego’s thought system of separation and judgment or the Holy Spirit’s thought system of oneness and forgiveness. Our experience reflects only that choice, never what goes on in our bodies. That is very difficult for us to accept, because we want so much to have Jesus validate our belief that we are real as bodies. He cannot do that, though, because it is a false belief. “There is no death. The Son of God is free” (W.pI.163) .
In answer to your second question: No, the Holy Spirit does not control the length of time we remain in our bodies once we accept Him as our Teacher. The Holy Spirit represents in our minds the truth that we split off when we chose to believe we had our own individual lives in a world apart from the world of Heaven and God. To be guided by the Holy Spirit means to think in accordance with what is true about ourselves and reality, rather than what is false. To share His perception means to consciously practice seeing everyone as having the same interests, and excluding no one from our love and compassion. Eventually, we will let go of all investment in having separation be the truth, and then there will be no difference between the Holy Spirit’s perception and our own (T.14.VII.7) . But all this means is that we have at last accepted back into our awareness our true Identity and the oneness of the Sonship. The Holy Spirit has not done anything. We retain our bodily identification only to the extent that we choose to keep ourselves split off from the truth. When the pain of that rejection is no longer worth it, we change our minds, and then all interferences to love and truth fall away, and we regain what we never lost. “And what am I except the Christ in me?” (W.pII.354.1:7).
Q #1137: I was recently reading a Christian book and it said that if you lie or cheat you should turn yourself in. Several examples were given that left me feeling very upset, because of the implications for my life. Is God really the originator of all the moral codes that we believe in and should I follow them to the letter? I think everyone lies and steals to a certain degree. Would a person who has accepted the Atonement not do these things in any degree? It might be easier for me to follow a moral code going forward, but the thought of the sacrifice of paying for my past actions now is overwhelming — like quitting my job, giving back to people what I accuse myself of taking from them, fixing things I think I have done wrong, and believing I have to “redo” something the right way fills me with fear, and I know I will never actually follow what my fears demand of me. So will I ever be saved?
A: “All morality is of the ego, since it is based upon certain prescribed standards of behavior or conduct, all geared around what the body does or does not do…. Just as ‘a universal theology is impossible’ (C.in.2:5) , so too is a universal morality, as values differ from one culture to the next, and change over time within individual cultures themselves. This relative nature of morality is proof that no ethical system can be of God, in Whom only the changeless and universal reality of non-dualistic truth can exist” (p. 336). This quote is from Kenneth’s All Are Called , Volume 1 of The Message of “A Course in Miracles,” where you will find a comprehensive presentation of ethics and morality in the context of the Course’s teaching contrasted with other systems. Another discussion of this topic appears in chapter 17 of Kenneth’s Love Does Not Condemn . Also, our answer to Question #637, part 2, discusses several important passages from the Course pertaining to morality and behavior. A study of them will help avert serious misunderstanding and misapplication of the Course’s principles.
A Course in Miracles teaches that the body has no independent existence; it is simply a projection of the mind, as part of the ego’s strategy to make the separation real. The body expresses the thought system the mind has chosen to uphold: either the ego’s or the Holy Spirit’s. Therefore, there is nothing in the Course about guidelines for behavior. Its exclusive focus is on the mind’s power to choose, and the consequences of the choice the mind makes. It is thus a course in mind- training, not in how to behave in the world. Our behavior flows directly from the thought system with which we identify, and so that is where our attention needs to be directed. Our sense of sin and guilt, according to A Course in Miracles , comes from our decision to reject the truth about reality and ourselves and make a substitute for it. All of this is denied and then gets projected onto our bodies and the world, which ends with our thinking that our problems and their solutions are in the body (behavior) and the world.
Since the ego was born of selfishness, murder, deception, and theft — it knows nothing else — then when we choose to identify with the ego, the content in our minds will be the same as the ego’s. We cannot but act that out in the world as long as we have elected to have the ego as our teacher. We don’t realize, however, that this is what runs our lives, which is why we need help from a source outside our thought system entirely: Jesus or the Holy Spirit. This is the core of the Course’s teaching and exercises. Understanding the form-content distinction is central to the practice of A Course in Miracles as it was meant to be practiced.
Salvation in A Course in Miracles has to with changing our teacher from the ego to Jesus or the Holy Spirit — or any other ego-less presence we are comfortable with. If we do this, which we would when our pain and despair causes us to cry out for “another way,” then we would begin the process of thought-reversal ( e.g., M.24.4:1) — of going back into our minds, with this loving presence guiding us, and looking without judgment at all manifestations of our mistaken choice: judgment, specialness, selfishness, authority issues, one-or-the-other and kill-or-be-killed type thinking, etc. As students of this course, we learn that choosing this insane thought system was simply a mistake in need of correction, not a sin deserving of punishment. We realize, too, that it has not brought us the peace and happiness we were led to believe it would. Now, happily and thankfully, we allow our new teacher to guide our thinking.
When, once and for all, we let go of the ego, the only content in our minds will be love; we will have restored to our awareness what we had split off and concealed — the memory of our true Identity as Christ. This is the acceptance of the Atonement, for which no sacrifice is necessary (W.pI.192.6:1). Guided only by love, everything we then do would be loving. It would be impossible to do anything that would hurt ourselves or anyone else. What that looks like specifically (form) cannot be formulated. The same behavior can originate in one’s wrong or right mind (content). In your case, therefore, whether or not you should return what you claim you stole is between you and the Holy Spirit. When in a holy instant you are free of ego interference, you will just know. And if there is no clarity, then just be as ego-free as you can for a moment, and then do what seems most loving for yourself and the others involved. We will never run out of opportunities to learn our lessons of forgiveness! (T.31.VIII.3)
Finally, God has nothing to do with any of this, as the separation, the ego and its dynamics, and the undoing of all that is inherently unreal. That is why Jesus uses various metaphors and images to talk about it: a nightmare dream of separation, a journey, a ladder. Correcting various religious traditions, he also makes it unmistakably clear that God, as Love, can only love and extend that love for eternity — condemnation and love are mutually exclusive: “God does not forgive because He has never condemned” (W.pI.60.1:2; see alsoW.pI.198) .