ACIM Text Reading for February 15
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
II. The Message of the Crucifixion
For learning purposes, let us consider the crucifixion again. I did not dwell on it before because of the fearful connotations you may associate with it. The only emphasis laid upon it so far has been that it was not a form of punishment. Nothing, however, can be explained in negative terms only. There is a positive interpretation of the crucifixion that is wholly devoid of fear, and therefore wholly benign in what it teaches, if it is properly understood.
The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example. Its value, like the value of any teaching device, lies solely in the kind of learning it facilitates. It can be, and has been, misunderstood. This is only because the fearful are apt to perceive fearfully. I have already told you that you can always call on me to share my decision, and thus make it stronger. I have also told you that the crucifixion was the last useless journey the Sonship need take, and that it represents release from fear to anyone who understands it. While I emphasized only the resurrection before, the purpose of the crucifixion and how it actually led to the resurrection was not clarified then. Nevertheless, it has a definite contribution to make to your own life, and if you will consider it without fear, it will help you understand your own role as a teacher.
You have probably reacted for years as if you were being crucified. This is a marked tendency of the separated, who always refuse to consider what they have done to themselves. Projection means anger, anger fosters assault, and assault promotes fear. The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible. Otherwise, I cannot serve as a model for learning.
Assault can ultimately be made only on the body. There is little doubt that one body can assault another, and can even destroy it. Yet if destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real. Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger. To the extent to which you believe that it does, you are accepting false premises and teaching them to others. The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot be persecuted. If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely.
I have made it perfectly clear that I am like you and you are like me, but our fundamental equality can be demonstrated only through joint decision. You are free to perceive yourself as persecuted if you choose. When you do choose to react that way, however, you might remember that I was persecuted as the world judges, and did not share this evaluation for myself. And because I did not share it, I did not strengthen it. I therefore offered a different interpretation of attack, and one which I want to share with you. If you will believe it, you will help me teach it.
As I have said before, “As you teach so shall you learn.” If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution. This is not a lesson a Son of God should want to teach if he is to realize his own salvation. Rather, teach your own perfect immunity, which is the truth in you, and realize that it cannot be assailed. Do not try to protect it yourself, or you are believing that it is assailable. You are not asked to be crucified, which was part of my own teaching contribution. You are merely asked to follow my example in the face of much less extreme temptations to misperceive, and not to accept them as false justifications for anger. There can be no justification for the unjustifiable. Do not believe there is, and do not teach that there is. Remember always that what you believe you will teach. Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers.
Your resurrection is your reawakening. I am the model for rebirth, but rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it. God placed it there Himself, and so it is true forever. I believed in it, and therefore accepted it as true for me. Help me to teach it to our brothers in the name of the Kingdom of God, but first believe that it is true for you, or you will teach amiss. My brothers slept during the “agony in the garden,” but I could not be angry with them because I knew I could not be abandoned.
I am sorry when my brothers do not share my decision to hear only one Voice, because it weakens them as teachers and as learners. Yet I know they cannot really betray themselves or me, and that it is still on them that I must build my church. There is no choice in this, because only you can be the foundation of God’s church. A church is where an altar is, and the presence of the altar is what makes the church holy. A church that does not inspire love has a hidden altar that is not serving the purpose for which God intended it. I must found His church on you, because those who accept me as a model are literally my disciples. Disciples are followers, and if the model they follow has chosen to save them pain in all respects, they are unwise not to follow him.
I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed. It was clear that this was only because of the projection of others onto me, since I had not harmed anyone and had healed many.
We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. The Holy Spirit is glad when you can learn from mine, and be reawakened by them. That is their only purpose, and that is the only way in which I can be perceived as the way, the truth and the life. When you hear only one Voice you are never called on to sacrifice. On the contrary, by being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and can gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably led to demonstrate His way for all.
You are not persecuted, nor was I. You are not asked to repeat my experiences because the Holy Spirit, Whom we share, makes this unnecessary. To use my experiences constructively, however, you must still follow my example in how to perceive them. My brothers and yours are constantly engaged in justifying the unjustifiable. My one lesson, which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out of accord with the judgment of the Holy Spirit can be justified. I undertook to show this was true in an extreme case, merely because it would serve as a good teaching aid to those whose temptation to give in to anger and assault would not be so extreme. I will with God that none of His Sons should suffer.
The crucifixion cannot be shared because it is the symbol of projection, but the resurrection is the symbol of sharing because the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its wholeness. Only this is knowledge.
The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear:
- “Teach only love, for that is what you are.”
If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the “wrath of God” as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt had made them angry.
These are some of the examples of upside-down thinking in the New Testament, although its gospel is really only the message of love. If the Apostles had not felt guilty, they never could have quoted me as saying, “I come not to bring peace but a sword.” This is clearly the opposite of everything I taught. Nor could they have described my reactions to Judas as they did, if they had really understood me. I could not have said, “Betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?” unless I believed in betrayal. The whole message of the crucifixion was simply that I did not. The “punishment” I was said to have called forth upon Judas was a similar mistake. Judas was my brother and a Son of God, as much a part of the Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I would condemn him when I was ready to demonstrate that condemnation is impossible?
As you read the teachings of the Apostles, remember that I told them myself that there was much they would understand later, because they were not wholly ready to follow me at the time. I do not want you to allow any fear to enter into the thought system toward which I am guiding you. I do not call for martyrs but for teachers. No one is punished for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners. Any concept of punishment involves the projection of blame, and reinforces the idea that blame is justified. The result is a lesson in blame, for all behavior teaches the beliefs that motivate it. The crucifixion was the result of clearly opposed thought systems; the perfect symbol of the “conflict” between the ego and the Son of God. This conflict seems just as real now, and its lessons must be learned now as well as then.
I do not need gratitude, but you need to develop your weakened ability to be grateful, or you cannot appreciate God. He does not need your appreciation, but you do. You cannot love what you do not appreciate, for fear makes appreciation impossible. When you are afraid of what you are you do not appreciate it, and will therefore reject it. As a result, you will teach rejection.
The power of the Sons of God is present all the time, because they were created as creators. Their influence on each other is without limit, and must be used for their joint salvation. Each one must learn to teach that all forms of rejection are meaningless. The separation is the notion of rejection. As long as you teach this you will believe it. This is not as God thinks, and you must think as He thinks if you are to know Him again.
Remember that the Holy Spirit is the communication link between God the Father and His separated Sons. If you will listen to His Voice you will know that you cannot either hurt or be hurt, and that many need your blessing to help them hear this for themselves. When you perceive only this need in them, and do not respond to any other, you will have learned of me and will be as eager to share your learning as I am.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for February 15
God is the Love in which I forgive.
God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.
Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.
Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.
If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:
God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].
The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:
God is the Love in which I forgive myself.
Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:
God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.
The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:
I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.
The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.
The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:
God is the Love in which I forgive you.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1176: You teach that we don’t change the world out there through forgiveness; we only change our perception. In my ego experience, however, when I catch the principle behind the problem the problem is gone, and it doesn’t occur anymore to me. If that is what you call change of perception, I’m with you. Nothing needs to be projected once I understand the content behind the “problem.” Is it correct to conclude that everything that I bring from darkness into light — forgiveness — won’t “hide” anymore in form, and, therefore, the principle/content brought to awareness won’t happen again in my illusory world?
A: To use an extreme example of what we mean . . . if you were living under the control of a repressive, cruel dictator with no way of leaving, you could practice forgiveness by realizing that this dictator cannot take away the peace that is within you, regardless of the harsh external restrictions affecting you physically. You can thus be at peace internally, having no ill feelings toward the dictator, while your external living conditions remain wretchedly inadequate. In this case, your perception would have changed in the sense that you no longer are projecting your guilt from your mind onto anything external, including your own body. You have brought the darkness of judgment and hatred to the light of Jesus’ love in your mind, and so you now look on everything through the eyes of that love. All grievances have thus dissolved and only love remains. Your problem is gone, because you have let go of the ego in this instance.
Sometimes what happens in a relationship where there are conflicts and grievances is that when one person chooses to shift from the ego’s purpose (to keep separation alive) to the Holy Spirit’s purpose (to see shared interests, thus undoing separation), the other person also breaks the special-relationship bargain with the ego, and then the relationship changes for the better. But this is not always the case, and one should have no investment in that happening. As Jesus emphasizes in A Course in Miracles , our only responsibility is to accept the Atonement for ourselves (T.2.V.5:1) . When we accept the Atonement (that the separation never happened), there is no more guilt in our minds; and if there is no more guilt, there is no need for the defenses of denial and projection against the pain of that guilt. This is the essence of what Jesus teaches us in Lessons 79 and 80 — there is only one problem and it has been solved already (W.pI.79,80). Regardless of what is going on externally, our inner peace would never be disturbed once we let go of our identification with the ego thought system.