ACIM Text Reading for October 27
Manual for Teachers
22. Is Reincarnation So?
In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth into a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense. Our only question should be, “Is the concept helpful?” And that depends, of course, on what it is used for. If it is used to strengthen the recognition of the eternal nature of life, it is helpful indeed. Is any other question about it really useful in lighting up the way? Like many other beliefs, it can be bitterly misused. At least, such misuse offers preoccupation and perhaps pride in the past. At worst, it induces inertia in the present. In between, many kinds of folly are possible.
Reincarnation would not, under any circumstances, be the problem to be dealt with now. If it were responsible for some of the difficulties the individual faces now, his task would still be only to escape from them now. If he is laying the groundwork for a future life, he can still work out his salvation only now. To some, there may be comfort in the concept, and if it heartens them its value is self-evident. It is certain, however, that the way to salvation can be found by those who believe in reincarnation and by those who do not. The idea cannot, therefore, be regarded as essential to the curriculum. There is always some risk in seeing the present in terms of the past. There is always some good in any thought which strengthens the idea that life and the body are not the same.
For our purposes, it would not be helpful to take any definite stand on reincarnation. A teacher of God should be as helpful to those who believe in it as to those who do not. If a definite stand were required of him, it would merely limit his usefulness, as well as his own decision making. Our course is not concerned with any concept that is not acceptable to anyone, regardless of his formal beliefs. His ego will be enough for him to cope with, and it is not the part of wisdom to add sectarian controversies to his burdens. Nor would there be an advantage in his premature acceptance of the course merely because it advocates a long-held belief of his own.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that this course aims at a complete reversal of thought. When this is finally accomplished, issues such as the validity of reincarnation become meaningless. Until then, they are likely to be merely controversial. The teacher of God is, therefore, wise to step away from all such questions, for he has much to teach and learn apart from them. He should both learn and teach that theoretical issues but waste time, draining it away from its appointed purpose. If there are aspects to any concept or belief that will be helpful, he will be told about it. He will also be told how to use it. What more need he know?
Does this mean that the teacher of God should not believe in reincarnation himself, or discuss it with others who do? The answer is, certainly not! If he does believe in reincarnation, it would be a mistake for him to renounce the belief unless his internal Teacher so advised. And this is most unlikely. He might be advised that he is misusing the belief in some way that is detrimental to his pupil’s advance or his own. Reinterpretation would then be recommended, because it is necessary. All that must be recognized, however, is that birth was not the beginning, and death is not the end. Yet even this much is not required of the beginner. He need merely accept the idea that what he knows is not necessarily all there is to learn. His journey has begun.
The emphasis of this course always remains the same;–it is at this moment that complete salvation is offered you, and it is at this moment that you can accept it. This is still your one responsibility. Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future. Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time. No teaching that does not lead to this is of concern to God’s teachers. All beliefs will point to this if properly interpreted. In this sense, it can be said that their truth lies in their usefulness. All beliefs that lead to progress should be honored. This is the sole criterion this course requires. No more than this is necessary.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 27
I love You, Father, and I love Your Son.
My gratitude permits my love to be accepted without fear. And thus am I restored to my reality at last. All that intruded on my holy sight forgiveness takes away. And I draw near the end of senseless journeys, mad careers and artificial values. I accept instead what God establishes as mine, sure that in that alone I will be saved; sure that I go through fear to meet my Love.
Father, I come to You today, because I would not follow any way but Yours. You are beside me. Certain is Your way. And I am grateful for Your holy gifts of certain sanctuary, and escape from everything that would obscure my love for God my Father and His holy Son.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #565: As a student of A Course in Miracles, my goal is to accept the Atonement for myself and live above the battleground in the real world until my body fails and then exist in oneness with God. Will I be aware of, or be able to influence those loved ones left behind who still consider themselves separated individuals living lives, or is this beyond what we can know now. Also, when people die who have never heard of the Course and/or are completely invested in their bodies, lives, individuality and separation, can they still choose to reject oneness after “death” and long to return to bodies and “life”? Is this an explanation of reincarnation? OR– Whether or not they study the Course and whether or not they believe that they are separated individuals, do they still become one with God automatically after death? Once you are one with God, why would you long for a body again and choose to reincarnate!
A: The way the Course views death is quite different from the way we ordinarily view it and the way religions have traditionally viewed it. Unlike practically all traditions east and west, the Course teaches that we do not have to wait for the body to die to become one with God — death of the body has nothing to do with whether or not we are one with God. That is solely a matter of the decision our minds make — to continue to believe that we are not one with God, or to deny that denial of the truth. The purpose of the miracle is to reverse the ego perception that the body is a real, independent entity that houses the soul that is released upon the death of the body. The miracle helps us realize that the body is a thought that never leaves its source in the mind and does nothing other than represent the mind’s decision (“the outside picture of inward condition” [T.21.in.1:5]). The critical factor therefore is the decision we make in our minds to be or not to be as God created us.
When we accept the truth of our oneness, and reject the illusion of separation from God, our minds, now free of guilt are guided solely by love, and that may or may not result in the laying aside of the body. Death in this state of mind is simply a decision; there is no waiting for the body to die so that one can return home. (SeeThe Song of Prayer [S.3.II] for a discussion of death as a right-minded choice.) Love may need the body as a suitable form of expression for other minds still frightened of abstract love. But if you are in the real world, you would already know that the body is not your identity — you are fully present to love, and love is fully present to you. The body has nothing to do with that. Moreover, in the real world there would be no you (a separate identity) that would decide whether to help others “left behind.” There is only the perception of the Holy Spirit: love is either being expressed or called for. And those calling for love await but their own decision to accept what is already within.
Finally, to ask why, if you are one with God, would you long for a body again and choose to reincarnate is to fall into one of the ego’s favorite traps, for to ask the question is to assume that it happened once before; and the Atonement principle is a statement of the impossibility of that ever happening at all. Moreover, it makes the body into the enemy . . . and therefore real.
Q #566: I understand that A Course in Miracles teaches that God does not know about the world, and as far as He is concerned we are one with Him dreaming of exile and separation. I am not clear how the decision was made to send us Jesus and the Holy Spirit; Jesus in charge of the Atonement and the Holy Spirit as our Voice, Comfort, and Guide. How did our Teacher even know we had and are continuing to make such a mess of things?
A: A reasonable question, asked by almost every student in one form or another. The statements in the Course pertaining to the Holy Spirit as being sent by God as the Answer to the separation are among those meant metaphorically. Other statements are meant literally; and if this distinction is not recognized, the Course can seem to be saying contradictory things, leaving a reader feeling rather baffled. The account of the separation and its undoing are presented as mythology, specifically within a framework that is meaningful to people in Western philosophical and religious traditions. The language used in the Course to present its teachings reflect these heritages; and further, a considerable part of its teachings are clearly corrections of what it views as the mistakes of biblically based religions. Its basic metaphysics is a strict non-dualism, which means therefore that it is not quite accurate to say that as far as God is concerned, “we are one with Him dreaming of exile and separation” — that is dualism. If that were true, then a state other than that of perfect Oneness is possible, which would be contrary to what is maintained throughout the Course. We return to these points frequently in our answers to students questions, because of their critical importance in students’ work with the Course.
We refer you to Love Does Not Condemn (pp. 419,420,421) for a full discussion of the Holy Spirit in the context of the metaphysical basis of A Course in Miracles. Briefly, the Course teaches that the Holy Spirit is really the memory of God’s perfect love that remained in the Son’s mind when he fell asleep; and therefore the Holy Spirit is not a person, but rather a Presence within each seemingly fragmented mind — a Call or a Voice, not of a separate being, but simply a part of the mind that retains the memory of its true Identity. The language used is biblical; thus, terms like Comforter. In keeping with the strict non-dualism of the Course, we would therefore have to say that God’s “Answer” is really, to quote from Love Does Not Condemn: “His own unchanging and eternal love that forever shines in our split minds, as does a beacon of light shine out into the darkness. God’s love does not do anything; it simply is: an ongoing state of love’s presence which we call the Holy Spirit” (pp. 420,421).
Jesus, then, is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit — a symbol in our minds that have become so identified with specifics that we can relate most comfortably and meaningfully only to specifics. Thus, in his loving gentleness as our teacher, he ultimately reflects to us the love that we have split off from our awareness. We relate to him as a separate person at first, but as we grow to trust him more and experience his love more and more, the differences between ourselves and Jesus fade until we, like him, are totally identified with love. Our individuality lessens in significance and meaning as this process takes place, which begins with our feeling that he has been sent and ends with our complete transcendence of that and all other concepts of separation.