ACIM Supplemental Reading for November 17
The Song of Prayer
I. Forgiveness of Yourself
S-2.I.1. No gift of Heaven has been more misunderstood than has forgiveness. 2 It has, in fact, become a scourge; a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God. 3 Yet those who have not yet chosen to begin the steps of prayer cannot but use it thus. 4 Forgiveness’ kindness is obscure at first, because salvation is not understood, nor truly sought for . 5 What was meant to heal is used to hurt because forgiveness is not wanted. 6 Guilt becomes salvation, and the remedy appears to be a terrible alternative to life.
S-2.I.2. Forgiveness-to-destroy will therefore suit the purpose of the world far better than its true objective, and the honest means by which this goal is reached. 2 Forgiveness-to-destroy will overlook no sin, no crime, no guilt that it can seek and find and “love.” 3 Dear to its heart is error, and mistakes loom large and grow and swell within its sight. 4 It carefully picks out all evil things, and overlooks the loving as a plague; a hateful thing of danger and of death. 5 Forgiveness-to-destroy is death, and this it sees in all it looks upon and hates. 6 God’s mercy has become a twisted knife that would destroy the holy Son He loves.
S-2.I.3. Would you forgive yourself for doing this? 2 Then learn that God has given you the means by which you can return to Him in peace. 3Do not see error . 4 Do not make it real. 5 Select the loving and forgive the sin by choosing in its place the face of Christ. 6 How otherwise can prayer return to God? 7 He loves His Son. 8 Can you remember Him and hate what He created? 9 You will hate his Father if you hate the Son He loves. 10 For as you see the Son you see yourself, and as you see yourself is God to you.
S-2.I.4. As prayer is always for yourself, so is forgiveness always given you. 2 It is impossible to forgive another, for it is only your sins you see in him. 3 You want to see them there, and not in you. 4 That is why forgiveness of another is an illusion. 5 Yet it is the only happy dream in all the world; the only one that does not lead to death. 6 Only in someone else can you forgive yourself, for you have called him guilty of your sins, and in him must your innocence now be found. 7 Who but the sinful need to be forgiven? 8 And do not ever think you can see sin in anyone except yourself.
S-2.I.5. This is the great deception of the world, and you the great deceiver of yourself. 2 It always seems to be another who is evil, and in his sin you are the injured one. 3 How could freedom be possible if this were so? 4 You would be slave to everyone, for what he does entails your fate, your feelings, your despair or hope, your misery or joy. 5 You have no freedom unless he gives it to you. 6 And being evil, he can only give of what he is. 7 You cannot see his sins and not your own. 8 But you can free him and yourself as well.
S-2.I.6. Forgiveness, truly given, is the way in which your only hope of freedom lies. 2 Others will make mistakes and so will you, as long as this illusion of a world appears to be your home. 3 Yet God Himself has given all His Sons a remedy for all illusions that they think they see. 4 Christ’s vision does not use your eyes, but you can look through His and learn to see like Him. 5 Mistakes are tiny shadows, quickly gone, that for an instant only seem to hide the face of Christ, which still remains unchanged behind them all. 6 His constancy remains in tranquil silence and in perfect peace. 7 He does not know of shadows. 8 His the eyes that look past error to the Christ in you.
S-2.I.7. Ask, then, His help, and ask Him how to learn forgiveness as His vision lets it be. 2 You are in need of what He gives, and your salvation rests on learning this of Him. 3 Prayer cannot be released to Heaven while forgiveness-to-destroy remains with you. 4 God’s mercy would remove this withering and poisoned thinking from your holy mind. 5 Christ has forgiven you, and in His sight the world becomes as holy as Himself. 6 Who sees no evil in it sees like Him. 7 For what He has forgiven has not sinned, and guilt can be no more. 8 Salvation’s plan is made complete, and sanity has come.
S-2.I.8. Forgiveness is the call to sanity, for who but the insane would look on sin when he could see the face of Christ instead? 2 This is the choice you make; the simplest one, and yet the only one that you can make. 3 God calls on you to save His Son from death by offering Christ’s Love to him. 4 This is your need, and God holds out this gift to you. 5 As He would give, so must you give as well. 6 And thus is prayer restored to formlessness, beyond all limits into timelessness, with nothing of the past to hold it back from re-uniting with the ceaseless song that all creation sings unto its God.
S-2.I.9. But to achieve this end you first must learn, before you reach where learning cannot go. 2 Forgiveness is the key, but who can use a key when he has lost the door for which the key was made, and where alone it fits? 3 Therefore we make distinctions, so that prayer can be released from darkness into light. 4 Forgiveness’ role must be reversed, and cleansed from evil usage’s and hateful goals. 5 Forgiveness-to-destroy must be unveiled in all its treachery, and then let go forever and forever. 6 There can be no trace of it remaining, if the plan that God established for returning be achieved at last, and learning be complete.
S-2.I.10. This is the world of opposites. 2 And you must choose between them every instant while this world retains reality for you. 3 Yet you must learn alternatives for choice, or you will not be able to attain your freedom. 4 Let it then be clear to you exactly what forgiveness means to you, and learn what it should be to set you free. 5 The level of your prayer depends on this, for here it waits its freedom to ascend above the world of chaos into peace.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 17
All gifts I give my brothers are my own.
As every gift my brothers give is mine, so every gift I give belongs to me. Each one allows a past mistake to go, and leave no shadow on the holy mind my Father loves. His grace is given me in every gift a brother has received throughout all time, and past all time as well. My treasure house is full, and angels watch its open doors that not one gift is lost, and only more are added. Let me come to where my treasures are, and enter in where I am truly welcome and at home, among the gifts that God has given me.
Father, I would accept Your gifts today. I do not recognize them. Yet I trust that You Who gave them will provide the means by which I can behold them, see their worth, and cherish only them as what I want.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #193: The Lord’s Prayer, supposedly given directly from Jesus, seems to make the world and sin real and request God’s involvement in our life. From the Course’s perspective, how would we explain this and what would be an example of valid prayer in the “dream”?
A: Since the Gospels were written down approximately 50 years after the historical Jesus’ death, there is no certainty that any of the accounts accurately report what the he actually said. In fact, Scripture scholars have established that Jesus probably did not say most of the things that are recorded in the Gospels. The Lord’s Prayer, therefore, would not necessarily have come directly from Jesus. It is compatible with the entire teaching of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, which, as you say, make sin and the world very real. From the perspective of A Course in Miracles, the only explanation for this is that the teaching of the Bible is not the teaching of the Course. They are not similar and can be compared only in contrast, since the Course uses terms found in the Bible but with a different interpretation.
Prayer in the dream is ultimately a reminder to ourselves that we have a mind with the power to choose. In the face of any conflict or distressing situation, our prayer can be simply stated: “brother, choose again” (T.31.VIII.3:2). Implicit in this prayer is the recognition that we have already made a choice. It is this choice, not the situation, that is the real cause of our distress, and we can “choose again.”. This is a very simple prayer, but to say it sincerely, with acceptance of the implications noted above, can meet with strong resistance. It requires taking full responsibility for our choices, as well as the predicaments we find ourselves in. Although this is the process involved in prayer as the Course teaches, the Course meets us on the many different levels of our learning. Because we have a need to experience the power of our own minds in symbolic form, we find prayers addressed to God our Father, or the Holy Spirit. Many of these are very beautiful “prayers” which actually speak to our hearts rather than to God, who does not hear prayers (T.16.VII.12). They are given to us to help us get in touch with the true desire of our hearts, and to encourage us to make another choice. This is the prayer of the heart that the Manual refers to, in contrast to the “prayer for specifics” (M.21.2:3). This prayer of the heart refers to what we truly desire.
The Course also tells us our prayer is heard, and we that we do receive what we ask for. Our “prayer” is always for only one of two things — the ego’s interpretation, or the Holy Spirit’s. We will receive the one we truly desire. This obviously occurs on the level of the mind where the choice is made. The effect of our prayer will be experienced in the dream in the form of peace (reflecting our choice for the Holy Spirit) or in some form of conflict (reflecting our choice for the ego). The specifics do not matter. It is always the disposition of our hearts, our willingness, that is most important. We “pray” when we look within with willingness to recognize whose voice we have chosen to listen to. Engaging in this process indicates that we have already chosen to listen to the ego. We then have the opportunity to ask ourselves if this is truly what we want to hear, and, as stated in the beginning, we can now choose again. We will know if we are in fact listening to the Holy Spirit by the peace we will eventually experience: “The part [of your mind] that is listening to the Voice for God is calm, always at rest and wholly certain. It is really the only part there is. The other part is a wild illusion, frantic and distraught, but without reality of any kind. Try today not to listen to it. Try to identify with the part of your mind where stillness and peace reign forever. Try to hear God’s Voice call to you lovingly, reminding you that your Creator has not forgotten His Son” (W.p.I.49.2). Our “prayer” is this listening.