ACIM Text Reading for January 14
Chapter 2 ~ The Separation and the Atonement
III. The Altar of God
The Atonement can only be accepted within you by releasing the inner light. Since the separation, defenses have been used almost entirely to defend against the Atonement, and thus maintain the separation. This is generally seen as a need to protect the body. The many body fantasies in which minds engage arise from the distorted belief that the body can be used as a means for attaining “atonement.” Perceiving the body as a temple is only the first step in correcting this distortion, because it alters only part of it. It does recognize that Atonement in physical terms is impossible. The next step, however, is to realize that a temple is not a structure at all. Its true holiness lies at the inner altar around which the structure is built. The emphasis on beautiful structures is a sign of the fear of Atonement, and an unwillingness to reach the altar itself. The real beauty of the temple cannot be seen with the physical eye. Spiritual sight, on the other hand, cannot see the structure at all because it is perfect vision. It can, however, see the altar with perfect clarity.
For perfect effectiveness the Atonement belongs at the center of the inner altar, where it undoes the separation and restores the wholeness of the mind. Before the separation the mind was invulnerable to fear, because fear did not exist. Both the separation and the fear are miscreations that must be undone for the restoration of the temple, and for the opening of the altar to receive the Atonement. This heals the separation by placing within you the one effective defense against all separation thoughts and making you perfectly invulnerable.
The acceptance of the Atonement by everyone is only a matter of time. This may appear to contradict free will because of the inevitability of the final decision, but this is not so. You can temporize and you are capable of enormous procrastination, but you cannot depart entirely from your creator, who set the limits on your ability to miscreate. An imprisoned will engenders a situation which, in the extreme, becomes altogether intolerable. Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit. Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way. As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point. This ultimately reawakens spiritual vision, simultaneously weakening the investment in physical sight. The alternating investment in the two levels of perception is usually experienced as conflict, which can become very acute. But the outcome is as certain as God.
Spiritual vision literally cannot see error, and merely looks for Atonement. All solutions the physical eye seeks dissolve. Spiritual vision looks within and recognizes immediately that the altar has been defiled and needs to be repaired and protected. Perfectly aware of the right defense it passes over all others, looking past error to truth. Because of the strength of its vision, it brings the mind into its service. This re-establishes the power of the mind and makes it increasingly unable to tolerate delay, realizing that it only adds unnecessary pain. As a result, the mind becomes increasingly sensitive to what it would once have regarded as very minor intrusions of discomfort.
The children of God are entitled to the perfect comfort that comes from perfect trust. Until they achieve this, they waste themselves and their true creative powers on useless attempts to make themselves more comfortable by inappropriate means. But the real means are already provided, and do not involve any effort at all on their part. The Atonement is the only gift that is worthy of being offered at the altar of God, because of the value of the altar itself. It was created perfect and is entirely worthy of receiving perfection. God and His creations are completely dependent on each other. He depends on them because He created them perfect. He gave them His peace so they could not be shaken and could not be deceived. Whenever you are afraid you are deceived, and your mind cannot serve the Holy Spirit. This starves you by denying you your daily bread. God is lonely without His Sons, and they are lonely without Him. They must learn to look upon the world as a means of healing the separation. The Atonement is the guarantee that they will ultimately succeed.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for January 14
God did not create a meaningless world.
The idea for today is, of course, the reason why a meaningless world is impossible. What God did not create does not exist. And everything that does exist exists as He created it. The world you see has nothing to do with reality. It is of your own making, and it does not exist.
The exercises for today are to be practiced with eyes closed throughout. The mind-searching period should be short, a minute at most. Do not have more than three practice periods with today’s idea unless you find them comfortable. If you do, it will be because you really understand what they are for.
The idea for today is another step in learning to let go the thoughts that you have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place. The early steps in this exchange, which can truly be called salvation, can be quite difficult and even quite painful. Some of them will lead you directly into fear. You will not be left there. You will go far beyond it. Our direction is toward perfect safety and perfect peace.
With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say, for example:
God did not create that war, and so it is not real.
God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real.
God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real.
Suitable subjects for the application of today’s idea also include anything you are afraid might happen to you, or to anyone about whom you are concerned. In each case, name the “disaster” quite specifically. Do not use general terms. For example, do not say, “God did not create illness,” but, “God did not create cancer,” or heart attacks, or whatever may arouse fear in you.
This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking. These things are part of the world you see. Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell. It does not matter. What God did not create can only be in your own mind apart from His. Therefore, it has no meaning. In recognition of this fact, conclude the practice periods by repeating today’s idea:
God did not create a meaningless world.
The idea for today can, of course, be applied to anything that disturbs you during the day, aside from the practice periods. Be very specific in applying it. Say:
God did not create a meaningless world. He did not create [specify the situation which is disturbing you], and so it is not real.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #136: In the text, Jesus states that “God is lonely without His Sons” (T.2.III.5:11). In light of the theology of A Course in Miracles, how is this explained as true?
A: Jesus uses these words as a comfort to us, correcting our ego belief that God is angry at us and wants to punish us for attacking Him to establish our separate self, torn from the totality of Heaven (T.5.V.3:10,11). Since the Course says over and over again that the separation never happened in reality — that’s the Atonement principle — the line you refer to can not be literally true. But what a reassuring thought, while we still believe in separation, to hear not only that God is not seeking vengeance against us, but He misses us and only wants us to come back to Him! If we can allow ourselves to hear that, we can begin to heal the guilt that we have made real in our mind over our supposed assault on Love.
You may also wish to refer to Question #72 in this series for a further discussion of Course language about God, as well as Questions #42 and #85, which discuss the reasons for the metaphorical, dualistic language of the Course.
Q #617: Three different questions from the same questioner:
i. Can you explain the following sentence (W.pI.13.1:4) “However, it does not follow that you will not think you perceive something that has no meaning.” There are 3 negatives in this sentence which I do not understand.
A: The sentence means: you do perceive things that have no meaning. In the early lessons of the workbook Jesus is teaching us to distinguish between what has meaning (what exists) and what is meaningless (what does not exist). By choosing to believe the separation is real, we dream a dream in which we perceive the world and the body as real, and give them all the meaning that they have for us (W.pI.2). Nothing outside of Heaven has meaning because it does not truly exist. Since we cannot obliterate the part of the mind that remembers this, the choice against this memory causes intense conflict in the mind, which is experienced as fear and anxiety, as this lesson explains. The choice to give meaning to the meaningless puts us in competition with God as paragraph three describes. Fear that the meaning we ascribe to all things, including (and especially) ourselves, will be challenged, causes us to expend tremendous energy defending ourselves and our beliefs. This is the effect of our choosing to believe the world is real, thus perceiving things that have no meaning/existence.
ii. Regarding Question #377 concerning special relationships, what does it mean when you say “the relationship will fall away?”
A: In any relationship with people, objects, or events, healing occurs when the mind chooses to identify with the Holy Spirit’s Love instead of the ego’s thought of separation. Guilt and its projection are thus diminished, thereby transforming the relationship from serving the ego’s purpose of separation to the Holy Spirit’s purpose of healing. What then “will fall away” is the specialness. The relationship is initially marked by specialness needs due to the sense of lack that accompanies the choice to deny our true Identity by listening to the ego. This is true for all relationships. Through the healing process of forgiveness, relationships with persons become a classroom for learning that we have no separate interests. Relationships with other things “fall away” in the sense that they cease to be important. They are no longer sought after to fill the void left by the separation; having or experiencing them has neither a positive nor negative effect.
iii. In “Right Teaching and Right Learning” I would like clarification on the following: “a good teacher….must meet another condition; he must believe in the students to whom he offers the ideas.” On one level, I understand Jesus is telling us he believes in us. How does this relate to someone teaching the Course? Does it refer to a non-judgmental attitude?
A: The Course tells us that in all our relationships we are both teaching and learning/teacher and student. The passage you quote is not referring exclusively to a teacher actually teaching the Course to students. It applies to each encounter we have with others. One of the most important goals of the Course is to teach us that we are minds with the power to choose, and are therefore responsible for our choice. This is the lesson we are asked to learn for ourselves and apply to everyone, whether or not they are students of the Course. It is the foundation of the forgiveness process, whereby we recognize that every experience in the dream, as well as every judgment concerning others, is the result of a choice in the mind to listen either to the voice of the ego, or the Voice of the Holy Spirit. The ego tells us we are bodies, and are guilty sinners deserving of punishment for believing this. The Holy Spirit tells us we are God’s innocent Son. What we choose determines what we believe about ourselves and others. We then teach it by the mere fact of believing it: “Remember always that what you believe you will teach. Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers” (T.6.I.6:10,11).
When we perceive others as anything less than wholly deserving of God’s Love and ours, it is because we have believed the ego’s lie about our identity, judged ourselves as sinful, and believe the same about everyone else. We believe in students [others] by recognizing that they are not victims imprisoned in bodies; they are minds with the power to choose, just as we are.