ACIM Text Reading for March 17
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
II. The Answer to Prayer
Everyone who ever tried to use prayer to ask for something has experienced what appears to be failure. This is not only true in connection with specific things that might be harmful, but also in connection with requests that are strictly in line with this course. The latter in particular might be incorrectly interpreted as “proof” that the course does not mean what it says. You must remember, however, that the course states, and repeatedly, that its purpose is the escape from fear.
Let us suppose, then, that what you ask of the Holy Spirit is what you really want, but you are still afraid of it. Should this be the case, your attainment of it would no longer be what you want. This is why certain specific forms of healing are not achieved, even when the state of healing is. An individual may ask for physical healing because he is fearful of bodily harm. At the same time, if he were healed physically, the threat to his thought system might be considerably more fearful to him than its physical expression. In this case he is not really asking for release from fear, but for the removal of a symptom that he himself selected. This request is, therefore, not for healing at all.
The Bible emphasizes that all prayer is answered, and this is indeed true. The very fact that the Holy Spirit has been asked for anything will ensure a response. Yet it is equally certain that no response given by Him will ever be one that would increase fear. It is possible that His answer will not be heard. It is impossible, however, that it will be lost. There are many answers you have already received but have not yet heard. I assure you that they are waiting for you.
If you would know your prayers are answered, never doubt a Son of God. Do not question him and do not confound him, for your faith in him is your faith in yourself. If you would know God and His Answer, believe in me whose faith in you cannot be shaken. Can you ask of the Holy Spirit truly, and doubt your brother? Believe his words are true because of the truth that is in him. You will unite with the truth in him, and his words will be true. As you hear him you will hear me. Listening to truth is the only way you can hear it now, and finally know it.
The message your brother gives you is up to you. What does he say to you? What would you have him say? Your decision about him determines the message you receive. Remember that the Holy Spirit is in him, and His Voice speaks to you through him. What can so holy a brother tell you except truth? But are you listening to it? Your brother may not know who he is, but there is a light in his mind that does know. This light can shine into yours, giving truth to his words and making you able to hear them. His words are the Holy Spirit’s answer to you. Is your faith in him strong enough to let you hear?
You can no more pray for yourself alone than you can find joy for yourself alone. Prayer is the restatement of inclusion, directed by the Holy Spirit under the laws of God. Salvation is of your brother. The Holy Spirit extends from your mind to his, and answers you. You cannot hear the Voice for God in yourself alone, because you are not alone. And His answer is only for what you are. You will not know the trust I have in you unless you extend it. You will not trust the guidance of the Holy Spirit, or believe that it is for you unless you hear it in others. It must be for your brother because it is for you. Would God have created a Voice for you alone? Could you hear His answer except as He answers all of God’s Sons? Hear of your brother what you would have me hear of you, for you would not want me to be deceived.
I love you for the truth in you, as God does. Your deceptions may deceive you, but they cannot deceive me. Knowing what you are, I cannot doubt you. I hear only the Holy Spirit in you, Who speaks to me through you. If you would hear me, hear my brothers in whom God’s Voice speaks. The answer to all prayers lies in them. You will be answered as you hear the answer in everyone. Do not listen to anything else or you will not hear truly.
Believe in your brothers because I believe in you, and you will learn that my belief in you is justified. Believe in me by believing in them, for the sake of what God gave them. They will answer you if you learn to ask only truth of them. Do not ask for blessings without blessing them, for only in this way can you learn how blessed you are. By following this way you are seeking the truth in you. This is not going beyond yourself but toward yourself. Hear only God’s Answer in His Sons, and you are answered.
To disbelieve is to side against, or to attack. To believe is to accept, and to side with. To believe is not to be credulous, but to accept and appreciate. What you do not believe you do not appreciate, and you cannot be grateful for what you do not value. There is a price you will pay for judgment, because judgment is the setting of a price. And as you set it you will pay it.
If paying is equated with getting, you will set the price low but demand a high return. You will have forgotten, however, that your return is in proportion to your judgment of worth. If paying is associated with giving it cannot be perceived as loss, and the reciprocal relationship of giving and receiving will be recognized. The price will then be set high, because of the value of the return. The price for getting is to lose sight of value, making it inevitable that you will not value what you receive. Valuing it little, you will not appreciate it and you will not want it.
Never forget, then, that you set the value on what you receive, and price it by what you give. To believe that it is possible to get much for little is to believe that you can bargain with God. God’s laws are always fair and perfectly consistent. By giving you receive. But to receive is to accept, not to get. It is impossible not to have, but it is possible not to know you have. The recognition of having is the willingness for giving, and only by this willingness can you recognize what you have. What you give is therefore the value you put on what you have, being the exact measure of the value you put upon it. And this, in turn, is the measure of how much you want it.
You can ask of the Holy Spirit, then, only by giving to Him, and you can give to Him only where you recognize Him. If you recognize Him in everyone, consider how much you will be asking of Him, and how much you will receive. He will deny you nothing because you have denied Him nothing, and so you can share everything. This is the way, and the only way to have His answer, because His answer is all you can ask for and want. Say, then, to everyone:
- “Because I will to know myself, I see you as God’s Son and my brother.”
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 17
I am under no laws but God’s.
We have observed before how many senseless things have seemed to you to be salvation. Each has imprisoned you with laws as senseless as itself. You are not bound by them. Yet to understand that this is so, you must first realize salvation lies not there. While you would seek for it in things that have no meaning, you bind yourself to laws that make no sense. Thus do you seek to prove salvation is where it is not.
Today we will be glad you cannot prove it. For if you could, you would forever seek salvation where it is not, and never find it. The idea for today tells you once again how simple is salvation. Look for it where it waits for you, and there it will be found. Look nowhere else, for it is nowhere else.
Think of the freedom in the recognition that you are not bound by all the strange and twisted laws you have set up to save you. You really think that you would starve unless you have stacks of green paper strips and piles of metal discs. You really think a small round pellet or some fluid pushed into your veins through a sharpened needle will ward off disease and death. You really think you are alone unless another body is with you.
It is insanity that thinks these things. You call them laws, and put them under different names in a long catalogue of rituals that have no use and serve no purpose. You think you must obey the “laws” of medicine, of economics and of health. Protect the body, and you will be saved.
These are not laws, but madness. The body is endangered by the mind that hurts itself. The body suffers just in order that the mind will fail to see it is the victim of itself. The body’s suffering is a mask the mind holds up to hide what really suffers. It would not understand it is its own enemy; that it attacks itself and wants to die. It is from this your “laws” would save the body. It is for this you think you are a body.
There are no laws except the laws of God. This needs repeating, over and over, until you realize it applies to everything that you have made in opposition to God’s Will. Your magic has no meaning. What it is meant to save does not exist. Only what it is meant to hide will save you.
The laws of God can never be replaced. We will devote today to rejoicing that this is so. It is no longer a truth that we would hide. We realize instead it is a truth that keeps us free forever. Magic imprisons, but the laws of God make free. The light has come because there are no laws but His.
We will begin the longer practice periods today with a short review of the different kinds of “laws” we have believed we must obey. These would include, for example, the “laws” of nutrition, of immunization, of medication, and of the body’s protection in innumerable ways. Think further; you believe in the “laws” of friendship, of “good” relationships and reciprocity. Perhaps you even think that there are laws which set forth what is God’s and what is yours. Many “religions” have been based on this. They would not save but damn in Heaven’s name. Yet they are no more strange than other “laws” you hold must be obeyed to make you safe.
There are no laws but God’s. Dismiss all foolish magical beliefs today, and hold your mind in silent readiness to hear the Voice that speaks the truth to you. You will be listening to One Who says there is no loss under the laws of God. Payment is neither given nor received. Exchange cannot be made; there are no substitutes; and nothing is replaced by something else. God’s laws forever give and never take.
Hear Him Who tells you this, and realize how foolish are the “laws” you thought upheld the world you thought you saw. Then listen further. He will tell you more. About the Love your Father has for you. About the endless joy He offers you. About His yearning for His only Son, created as His channel for creation; denied to Him by his belief in hell.
Let us today open God’s channels to Him, and let His Will extend through us to Him. Thus is creation endlessly increased. His Voice will speak of this to us, as well as of the joys of Heaven which His laws keep limitless forever. We will repeat today’s idea until we have listened and understood there are no laws but God’s. Then we will tell ourselves, as a dedication with which the practice period concludes:
I am under no laws but God’s.
We will repeat this dedication as often as possible today; at least four or five times an hour, as well as in response to any temptation to experience ourselves as subject to other laws throughout the day. It is our statement of freedom from all danger and all tyranny. It is our acknowledgment that God is our Father, and that His Son is saved.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1203: I am currently on Lesson 76 “I am under no laws but God’s” (W.pI.76). I must admit, up until now, all of the lessons resonated wonderfully with me and my spirit received them well. However, I am having a very hard time with this, and I feel as if I am positioning myself to accept chaos in my life. It appears to me that God’s law would not concern itself with me going to work, or even getting there on time, or whether I dressed appropriately or not, and on and on.
A: Yes, you are correct in your understanding of God’s law. Most students find it very unsettling (to put it mildly) to discover this aspect of A Course in Miracles’ teachings. But it is only the ego in you that feels the outcome would be chaos, because the sane part of your mind knows that you are taking a major step in the direction of restoring lasting peace to your mind. It is essential for the ego’s survival to keep you thinking that God and you are separate, that your life takes place in this world, and that you must sacrifice, pray, and do good things to get into Heaven after you die. That is the ego’s thought system, which Jesus teaches us is simply an insane substitute for the truth, which is that separation from God is impossible and that we are forever one with Him.
The fact that God does not know about us and our seeming individual lives does not mean that we have been abandoned and are completely on our own without any comfort or guidance. The purpose of our work with the Course is to develop a relationship with Jesus who is always lovingly present in our minds so that we could allow him then to help us identify and then remove the barriers we have placed between ourselves and love’s presence (T.16.IV.6:1). That is the only kind of help that is truly of value, and the only kind we should ever want. Making our lives better in this world is a futile endeavor, for nothing but God’s eternal peace and Love could ever satisfy us, and our continuing to believe that we really exist as individuals apart from God is what keeps us from experiencing the peace and Love in which we were created.
Questions #131, #157, and #643 all discuss this important issue.
Q #1225: The lesson “I am under no laws but God’s” (W.pI.76) implies, among other startling powers, that we don’t need to eat. A Course in Miracles has been around long enough and supposedly practiced by millions, and so it would seem that a few folks would not need to eat by now.
A: Although demonstrations of being beyond physical laws may be helpful reminders to us, that really is not the point of this lesson. Jesus is simply stating the truth — that in reality there is no body, and therefore there can be no laws that govern it. This is what we refer to as Level One, where Jesus contrasts truth and illusion. Level Two discussions are only about the illusory realm, where he contrasts the ego’s thought system of separation (wrong-mindedness) and the Holy Spirit’s thought system of Atonement (right-mindedness). Thus, by reminding us in this lesson that what we believe in is not really there, he is helping us develop a different perspective on our seeming lives in the world. Unfortunately, far too many students have missed the distinction between Level One and Level Two, and therefore have wound up denying their physical and psychological experiences, to the detriment of themselves, their families, friends, etc. They have forgotten that Jesus stated early in the text that it is practically impossible to deny our physical experience in this world (T.2.IV.3:10). He never encourages us to deny our bodily experiences or our belief that we are individual persons living in a physical world.
Rather than making fun of us or challenging us to give up our belief in the necessity of medical treatment, eating, breathing, earning money, and having relationships, he is helping us learn how not to take it all so seriously, recognizing where our investment in that belief is coming from (the dynamics of the ego that govern the wrong-minded part of our split mind). The body and its seeming laws are not the problem, in other words. The problem is our unconscious need to believe that we are not as God created us, and, as a means of dealing with the guilt over that, we are instead bodies subject to laws not of our own making. To correct this, our attention therefore has to be re-directed from the body to learning how to become aware of our minds and our ongoing decision to uphold that thought system. That is why the emphasis throughout A Course in Miracles is on having us change our minds about the body — which means becoming aware of the purpose for which we constantly use the body. Thus Jesus says, “You are asked to live so as to demonstrate that you are not an ego . . .” (T.4.VI.6:3); and this means looking at and eventually letting go of all the ways in which we keep ourselves separate from God and from each other — through judgment and specialness, for example. Similarly, in the context of relationships: “Your question should not be, ‘How can I see my brother without the body?’ Ask only, Do I really wish to see him sinless?” (T.20.VII.9:1,2).
In essence, thus, Jesus is teaching us in this lesson to look through his eyes at our dependency on all the laws we think bind us so that we can see the roots of this dependency in the guilt in our minds, and then give the purpose of forgiveness to all of our interactions in the world, thus allowing ourselves to accept the Atonement, the ultimate goal of our work with the Course and our relationship with Jesus.
Kenneth has given an extensive commentary on this lesson in Volume 2 of his Journey through the Workbook of “A Course in Miracles.”