ACIM Text Reading for April 15
Chapter 12 ~ The Holy Spirit’s Curriculum
VII. Looking Within
Miracles demonstrate that learning has occurred under the right guidance, for learning is invisible and what has been learned can be recognized only by its results. Its generalization is demonstrated as you use it in more and more situations. You will recognize that you have learned there is no order of difficulty in miracles when you apply them to all situations. There is no situation to which miracles do not apply, and by applying them to all situations you will gain the real world. For in this holy perception you will be made whole, and the Atonement will radiate from your acceptance of it for yourself to everyone the Holy Spirit sends you for your blessing. In every child of God His blessing lies, and in your blessing of the children of God is His blessing to you.
Everyone in the world must play his part in its redemption, in order to recognize that the world has been redeemed. You cannot see the invisible. Yet if you see its effects you know it must be there. By perceiving what it does, you recognize its being. And by what it does, you learn what it is. You cannot see your strengths, but you gain confidence in their existence as they enable you to act. And the results of your actions you can see.
The Holy Spirit is invisible, but you can see the results of His Presence, and through them you will learn that He is there. What He enables you to do is clearly not of this world, for miracles violate every law of reality as this world judges it. Every law of time and space, of magnitude and mass is transcended, for what the Holy Spirit enables you to do is clearly beyond all of them. Perceiving His results, you will understand where He must be, and finally know what He is.
You cannot see the Holy Spirit, but you can see His manifestations. And unless you do, you will not realize He is there. Miracles are His witnesses, and speak for His Presence. What you cannot see becomes real to you only through the witnesses that speak for it. For you can be aware of what you cannot see, and it can become compellingly real to you as Its Presence becomes manifest through you. Do the Holy Spirit’s work, for you share in His function. As your function in Heaven is creation, so your function on earth is healing. God shares His function with you in Heaven, and the Holy Spirit shares His with you on earth. As long as you believe you have other functions, so long will you need correction. For this belief is the destruction of peace, a goal in direct opposition to the Holy Spirit’s purpose.
You see what you expect, and you expect what you invite. Your perception is the result of your invitation, coming to you as you sent for it. Whose manifestations would you see? Of whose presence would you be convinced? For you will believe in what you manifest, and as you look out so will you see in. Two ways of looking at the world are in your mind, and your perception will reflect the guidance you have chosen.
I am the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and when you see me it will be because you have invited Him. For He will send you His witnesses if you will but look upon them. Remember always that you see what you seek, for what you seek you will find. The ego finds what it seeks, and only that. It does not find love, for that is not what it is seeking. Yet seeking and finding are the same, and if you seek for two goals you will find them, but you will recognize neither. You will think they are the same because you want both of them. The mind always strives for integration, and if it is split and wants to keep the split, it will still believe it has one goal by making it seem to be one.
I said before that what you project or extend is up to you, but you must do one or the other, for that is a law of mind, and you must look in before you look out. As you look in, you choose the guide for seeing. And then you look out and behold his witnesses. This is why you find what you seek. What you want in yourself you will make manifest, and you will accept it from the world because you put it there by wanting it. When you think you are projecting what you do not want, it is still because you do want it. This leads directly to dissociation, for it represents the acceptance of two goals, each perceived in a different place; separated from each other because you made them different. The mind then sees a divided world outside itself, but not within. This gives it an illusion of integrity, and enables it to believe that it is pursuing one goal. Yet as long as you perceive the world as split, you are not healed. For to be healed is to pursue one goal, because you have accepted only one and want but one.
When you want only love you will see nothing else. The contradictory nature of the witnesses you perceive is merely the reflection of your conflicting invitations. You have looked upon your mind and accepted opposition there, having sought it there. But do not then believe that the witnesses for opposition are true, for they attest only to your decision about reality, returning to you the messages you gave them. Love, too, is recognized by its messengers. If you make love manifest, its messengers will come to you because you invited them.
The power of decision is your one remaining freedom as a prisoner of this world. You can decide to see it right. What you made of it is not its reality, for its reality is only what you give it. You cannot really give anything but love to anyone or anything, nor can you really receive anything but love from them. If you think you have received anything else, it is because you have looked within and thought you saw the power to give something else within yourself. It was only this decision that determined what you found, for it was the decision for what you sought.
You are afraid of me because you looked within and are afraid of what you saw. Yet you could not have seen reality, for the reality of your mind is the loveliest of God’s creations. Coming only from God, its power and grandeur could only bring you peace if you really looked upon it. If you are afraid, it is because you saw something that is not there. Yet in that same place you could have looked upon me and all your brothers, in the perfect safety of the Mind which created us. For we are there in the peace of the Father, Who wills to extend His peace through you.
When you have accepted your mission to extend peace you will find peace, for by making it manifest you will see it. Its holy witnesses will surround you because you called upon them, and they will come to you. I have heard your call and I have answered it, but you will not look upon me nor hear the answer that you sought. That is because you do not yet want only that. Yet as I become more real to you, you will learn that you do want only that. And you will see me as you look within, and we will look upon the real world together. Through the eyes of Christ, only the real world exists and only the real world can be seen. As you decide so will you see. And all that you see but witnesses to your decision.
When you look within and see me, it will be because you have decided to manifest truth. And as you manifest it you will see it both without and within. Everything you behold without is a judgment of what you beheld within. If it is your judgment it will be wrong, for judgment is not your function. If it is the judgment of the Holy Spirit it will be right, for judgment is His function. You share His function only by judging as He does, reserving no judgment at all for yourself. You will judge against yourself, but He will judge for you.
Remember, then, that whenever you look without and react unfavorably to what you see, you have judged yourself unworthy and have condemned yourself to death. The death penalty is the ego’s ultimate goal, for it fully believes that you are a criminal, as deserving of death as God knows you are deserving of life. The death penalty never leaves the ego’s mind, for that is what it always reserves for you in the end. Wanting to kill you as the final expression of its feeling for you, it lets you live but to await death. It will torment you while you live, but its hatred is not satisfied until you die. For your destruction is the one end toward which it works, and the only end with which it will be satisfied.
The ego is not a traitor to God, to Whom treachery is impossible. But it is a traitor to you who believe that you have been treacherous to your Father. That is why the undoing of guilt is an essential part of the Holy Spirit’s teaching. For as long as you feel guilty you are listening to the voice of the ego, which tells you that you have been treacherous to God and therefore deserve death. You will think that death comes from God and not from the ego because, by confusing yourself with the ego, you believe that you want death. And from what you want God does not save you.
When you are tempted to yield to the desire for death, remember that I did not die. You will realize that this is true when you look within and see me. Would I have overcome death for myself alone? And would eternal life have been given me of the Father unless He had also given it to you? When you learn to make me manifest, you will never see death. For you will have looked upon the deathless in yourself, and you will see only the eternal as you look out upon a world that cannot die.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 15
God’s peace and joy are mine.
God’s peace and joy are yours. Today we will accept them, knowing they belong to us. And we will try to understand these gifts increase as we receive them. They are not like to the gifts the world can give, in which the giver loses as he gives the gift; the taker is the richer by his loss. Such are not gifts, but bargains made with guilt. The truly given gift entails no loss. It is impossible that one can gain because another loses. This implies a limit and an insufficiency.
No gift is given thus. Such “gifts” are but a bid for a more valuable return; a loan with interest to be paid in full; a temporary lending, meant to be a pledge of debt to be repaid with more than was received by him who took the gift. This strange distortion of what giving means pervades all levels of the world you see. It strips all meaning from the gifts you give, and leaves you nothing in the ones you take.
A major learning goal this course has set is to reverse your view of giving, so you can receive. For giving has become a source of fear, and so you would avoid the only means by which you can receive. Accept God’s peace and joy, and you will learn a different way of looking at a gift. God’s gifts will never lessen when they are given away. They but increase thereby.
As Heaven’s peace and joy intensify when you accept them as God’s gift to you, so does the joy of your Creator grow when you accept His joy and peace as yours. True giving is creation. It extends the limitless to the unlimited, eternity to timelessness, and love unto itself. It adds to all that is complete already, not in simple terms of adding more, for that implies that it was less before. It adds by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything it has away, securing it forever for itself.
Today accept God’s peace and joy as yours. Let Him complete Himself as He defines completion. You will understand that what completes Him must complete His Son as well. He cannot give through loss. No more can you. Receive His gift of joy and peace today, and He will thank you for your gift to Him.
Today our practice periods will start a little differently. Begin today by thinking of those brothers who have been denied by you the peace and joy that are their right under the equal laws of God. Here you denied them to yourself. And here you must return to claim them as your own.
Think of your “enemies” a little while, and tell each one, as he occurs to you:
My brother, peace and joy I offer you,
That I may have God’s peace and joy as mine.
Thus you prepare yourself to recognize God’s gifts to you, and let your mind be free of all that would prevent success today. Now are you ready to accept the gift of peace and joy that God has given you. Now are you ready to experience the joy and peace you have denied yourself. Now you can say, “God’s peace and joy are mine,” for you have given what you would receive.
You must succeed today, if you prepare your mind as we suggest. For you have let all bars to peace and joy be lifted up, and what is yours can come to you at last. So tell yourself, “God’s peace and joy are mine,” and close your eyes a while, and let His Voice assure you that the words you speak are true.
Spend your five minutes thus with Him each time you can today, but do not think that less is worthless when you cannot give Him more. At least remember hourly to say the words which call to Him to give you what He wills to give, and wills you to receive. Determine not to interfere today with what He wills. And if a brother seems to tempt you to deny God’s gift to him, see it as but another chance to let yourself receive the gifts of God as yours. Then bless your brother thankfully, and say:
My brother, peace and joy I offer you,
That I may have God’s peace and joy as mine.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: We are not able to comment on these paragraphs line by line because of space limitations, so we will highlight the main ideas. In paragraphs 3 and 4, Jesus builds on the first two paragraphs in the section, teaching us that the Holy Spirit is not a physical or tangible presence as a person, but that miracles witness to His Presence and to where and what He is. This is because miracles transcend “every law of time and space, of magnitude and mass” (T.12.VII.3:3), and therefore the source of miracles must be the mind, which is outside time and space, and specifically, the part of our mind that contains the correction for all the errors of separation. Prior to these two paragraphs, Jesus referred to the process of generalizing and learning thereby that “there is no order of difficulty in miracles” (T.12.VII.1:2,3). Miracles, thus, are not bound by any of the laws that operate in the world — they cut across all of time and space, magnitude and mass. The Holy Spirit, as the source of miracles in our minds therefore transcends the world and its laws in every way.
Paragraph 5 is extremely important and is at the heart of what Jesus is teaching us throughout his course. It overturns completely what we usually think perception is all about; namely, that it begins with external stimuli affecting our senses. Quite to the contrary, Jesus instructs us, perception is a result of a choice our minds have made to manifest an internal thought system we have identify with: “You see what you expect, and you expect what you invite. Your perception is the result of your invitation coming to you as you sent for it.…Two ways of looking at the world are in your mind, and your perception will reflect the guidance you have chosen” (T.12.VII.5:1,2,6). This foreshadows the important principle: projection makes perception. We first look within, decide whether hate or love is real and then we project out what we have made real inside. Thus we expect to find hatred outside because we put it there; importantly, this does not mean that our decision is responsible for what other people do. This is solely about our internal experience. In that sense, we (as decision-making minds) invite either the ego or the Holy Spirit to direct our thinking. We will know which choice we have made by looking at what we are perceiving outside, because, again, what we perceive and make real outside is coming from what we first made real inside. The manifestation of forgiveness will be our growing perception that we all share the same interests, and so we will be less and less attracted to the one-or-the-other/kill-or-be-killed mentality: competition, comparisons, sacrifice, getting what we want at someone else’s expense. The manifestations of the rule of guilt in our minds will be perceptions of victimization, clashing interests and goals, insatiable needs, accompanied by feelings of anger, fear, triumph, etc. Note again that this is not about the objective forms in the world, but about our perception or interpretation of them. That is why Jesus says there are “two ways of looking” — we can look at (perceive) the same form in two different ways, depending on the “guidance” we have chosen.
This is the basis for what next appears in paragraphs 6 through 8. In addition to reinforcing the principles of perception in paragraph 5, Jesus addresses the conflict in our mind’s seeking and its maladaptive solution to that conflict. The conflict arises from our decision to maintain our separation and our individuality (with all the guilt and self-hatred connected with that) and seek for love at the same time. But the two are mutually exclusive (love and specialness). So we attempt to be loving without sacrificing specialness, thus keeping the split, but suppressing it by appearing to have one goal, “the illusion of integrity” (T.12.VII.7:9): love. This internal split between the wrong mind (the thought system of hatred) and the right mind (the thought system of love), if not resolved in the mind, must get projected out, meaning that the good and bad will be seen outside, not within one’s own mind, where we always have the opportunity to accept the illusory nature of the wrong mind. The world, both personal and collective, will then be perceived as a battleground with ceaseless conflict between opposing forces. Thus, “good” people will seek to destroy those they think are evil, and feel justified, even divinely sanctioned in doing so. How many examples have there been throughout the centuries of condemnation and death conferred in the name of love? — out of their love for God and Jesus, people have judged and killed others, the slaying of pagans and heretics by Christians being but one prominent expression. Martyrdom and sacrifice witness to the same projection: the pure and innocent suffer and die at the hands of the evil and wicked. The split within the mind is thus seen and dealt with outside the mind. Religions give voice to this in their teaching that suffering and death are both demanded and blessed by God. This is the love born of the mind that has chosen to keep separation real and seek for love at the same time. Separate, conflicting interests prevail.
When the conflict of wanting both specialness and love remains unresolved in the mind, our seeking after love will always be contaminated by our desire for specialness, which unfortunately means that more often than not we will think we are coming from love, when we are really driven by the selfishness of special love, as the examples above well affirm. That is the purpose of Jesus’ teaching: to help us recognize what we are doing so that we can heal the split in our minds, not continue to project it. Thus, in paragraph 8 he tells us, “when you want only love you will see nothing else” (T.12.VII.8:1). Nothing in the world may have changed, but when we have looked within our minds and have chosen against the ego, we will then perceive only love: shared interests, extensions of love or calls for love, without exception.
Again, if you want to know which teacher you have chosen, pay attention to how you perceive what appears to be outside you — how you react to it. Perception is interpretation. Do you see evil and sin all around you calling out for the ego’s version of justice (punishment and vengeance)?– or do you see frightened calls for love? Which you see will be determined by which teacher you chose inside.