ACIM Text Reading for May 2
Chapter 14 ~ Teaching for Truth
IV. The Decision for Guiltlessness
The happy learner cannot feel guilty about learning. This is so essential to learning that it should never be forgotten. The guiltless learner learns easily because his thoughts are free. Yet this entails the recognition that guilt is interference, not salvation, and serves no useful function at all.
Perhaps you are accustomed to using guiltlessness merely to offset the pain of guilt, and do not look upon it as having value in itself. You believe that guilt and guiltlessness are both of value, each representing an escape from what the other does not offer you. You do not want either alone, for without both you do not see yourself as whole and therefore happy. Yet you are whole only in your guiltlessness, and only in your guiltlessness can you be happy. There is no conflict here. To wish for guilt in any way, in any form, will lose appreciation of the value of your guiltlessness, and push it from your sight.
There is no compromise that you can make with guilt, and escape the pain that only guiltlessness allays. Learning is living here, as creating is being in Heaven. Whenever the pain of guilt seems to attract you, remember that if you yield to it, you are deciding against your happiness, and will not learn how to be happy. Say therefore, to yourself, gently, but with the conviction born of the Love of God and of His Son:
- “What I experience I will make manifest.
- If I am guiltless, I have nothing to fear.
- I choose to testify to my acceptance of the Atonement, not to its rejection.
- I would accept my guiltlessness by making it manifest and sharing it.
- Let me bring peace to God’s Son from his Father.”
Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours. What you can decide between is fixed, because there are no alternatives except truth and illusion. And there is no overlap between them, because they are opposites which cannot be reconciled and cannot both be true. You are guilty or guiltless, bound or free, unhappy or happy.
The miracle teaches you that you have chosen guiltlessness, freedom and joy. It is not a cause, but an effect. It is the natural result of choosing right, attesting to your happiness that comes from choosing to be free of guilt. Everyone you offer healing to returns it. Everyone you attack keeps it and cherishes it by holding it against you. Whether he does this or does it not will make no difference; you will think he does. It is impossible to offer what you do not want without this penalty. The cost of giving is receiving. Either it is a penalty from which you suffer, or the happy purchase of a treasure to hold dear.
No penalty is ever asked of God’s Son except by himself and of himself. Every chance given him to heal is another opportunity to replace darkness with light and fear with love. If he refuses it he binds himself to darkness, because he did not choose to free his brother and enter light with him. By giving power to nothing, he throws away the joyous opportunity to learn that nothing has no power. And by not dispelling darkness, he became afraid of darkness and of light. The joy of learning that darkness has no power over the Son of God is the happy lesson the Holy Spirit teaches, and would have you teach with Him. It is His joy to teach it, as it will be yours.
The way to teach this simple lesson is merely this: Guiltlessness is invulnerability. Therefore, make your invulnerability manifest to everyone. Teach him that, whatever he may try to do to you, your perfect freedom from the belief that you can be harmed shows him that he is guiltless. He can do nothing that can hurt you, and by refusing to allow him to think he can, you teach him that the Atonement, which you have accepted for yourself, is also his. There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God. His guilt is wholly without cause, and being without cause, cannot exist.
God is the only Cause, and guilt is not of Him. Teach no one he has hurt you, for if you do, you teach yourself that what is not of God has power over you. The causeless cannot be. Do not attest to it, and do not foster belief in it in any mind. Remember always that mind is one, and cause is one. You will learn communication with this oneness only when you learn to deny the causeless, and accept the Cause of God as yours. The power that God has given to His Son is his, and nothing else can His Son see or choose to look upon without imposing on himself the penalty of guilt, in place of all the happy teaching the Holy Spirit would gladly offer him.
Whenever you choose to make decisions for yourself you are thinking destructively, and the decision will be wrong. It will hurt you because of the concept of decision that led to it. It is not true that you can make decisions by yourself or for yourself alone. No thought of God’s Son can be separate or isolated in its effects. Every decision is made for the whole Sonship, directed in and out, and influencing a constellation larger than anything you ever dreamed of.
Those who accept the Atonement are invulnerable. But those who believe they are guilty will respond to guilt, because they think it is salvation, and will not refuse to see it and side with it. And they will fail to understand the simple fact that what they do not want must hurt them. All this arises because they do not believe that what they want is good. Yet will was given them because it is holy, and will bring to them all that they need, coming as naturally as peace that knows no limits. There is nothing their will fails to provide that offers them anything of value. Yet because they do not understand their will, the Holy Spirit quietly understands it for them, and gives them what they want without effort, strain, or the impossible burden of deciding what they want and need alone.
It will never happen that you must make decisions for yourself. You are not bereft of help, and Help that knows the answer. Would you be content with little, which is all that you alone can offer yourself, when He Who gives you everything will simply offer it to you? He will never ask what you have done to make you worthy of the gift of God. Ask it not therefore of yourself. Instead, accept His answer, for He knows that you are worthy of everything God wills for you. Do not try to escape the gift of God He so freely and so gladly offers you. He offers you but what God gave Him for you. You need not decide whether or not you are deserving of it. God knows you are.
Would you deny the truth of God’s decision, and place your pitiful appraisal of yourself in place of His calm and unswerving value of His Son? Nothing can shake God’s conviction of the perfect purity of everything that He created, for it is wholly pure. Do not decide against it, for being of Him it must be true. Peace abides in every mind that quietly accepts the plan God set for its Atonement, relinquishing its own. You know not of salvation, for you do not understand it. Make no decisions about what it is or where it lies, but ask the Holy Spirit everything, and leave all decisions to His gentle counsel.
The One Who knows the plan of God that God would have you follow can teach you what it is. Only His wisdom is capable of guiding you to follow it. Every decision you undertake alone but signifies that you would define what salvation is, and what you would be saved from. The Holy Spirit knows that all salvation is escape from guilt. You have no other “enemy,” and against this strange distortion of the purity of the Son of God the Holy Spirit is your only Friend. He is the strong protector of the innocence that sets you free. And it is His decision to undo everything that would obscure your innocence from your unclouded mind.
Let Him, therefore, be the only Guide that you would follow to salvation. He knows the way, and leads you gladly on it. With Him you will not fail to learn that what God wills for you is your will. Without His guidance you will think you know alone, and will decide against your peace as surely as you decided that salvation lay in you alone. Salvation is of Him to Whom God gave it for you. He has not forgotten it. Forget Him not and He will make every decision for you, for your salvation and the peace of God in you.
Seek not to appraise the worth of God’s Son whom He created holy, for to do so is to evaluate his Father and judge against Him. And you will feel guilty for this imagined crime, which no one in this world or Heaven could possibly commit. The Holy Spirit teaches only that the “sin” of self-replacement on the throne of God is not a source of guilt. What cannot happen can have no effects to fear. Be quiet in your faith in Him Who loves you, and would lead you out of insanity. Madness may be your choice, but not your reality. Never forget the Love of God, Who has remembered you. For it is quite impossible that He could ever let His Son drop from the loving Mind wherein he was created, and where his abode was fixed in perfect peace forever.
Say to the Holy Spirit only, “Decide for me,” and it is done. For His decisions are reflections of what God knows about you, and in this light, error of any kind becomes impossible. Why would you struggle so frantically to anticipate all you cannot know, when all knowledge lies behind every decision the Holy Spirit makes for you? Learn of His wisdom and His love, and teach His answer to everyone who struggles in the dark. For you decide for them and for yourself.
How gracious it is to decide all things through Him Whose equal love is given equally to all alike! He leaves you no one outside you. And so He gives you what is yours, because your Father would have you share it with Him. In everything be led by Him, and do not reconsider. Trust Him to answer quickly, surely, and with Love for everyone who will be touched in any way by the decision. And everyone will be. Would you take unto yourself the sole responsibility for deciding what can bring only good to everyone? Would you know this?
You taught yourself the most unnatural habit of not communicating with your Creator. Yet you remain in close communication with Him, and with everything that is within Him, as it is within yourself. Unlearn isolation through His loving guidance, and learn of all the happy communication that you have thrown away but could not lose.
Whenever you are in doubt what you should do, think of His Presence in you, and tell yourself this, and only this:
- “He leadeth me and knows the way, which I know not.
- Yet He will never keep from me what He would have me learn.
- And so I trust Him to communicate to me all that He knows for me.”
Then let Him teach you quietly how to perceive your guiltlessness, which is already there.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 2
Forgiveness offers everything I want.
What could you want forgiveness cannot give? Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness, a quiet mind, a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care and safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep, abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset?
All this forgiveness offers you, and more. It sparkles on your eyes as you awake, and gives you joy with which to meet the day. It soothes your forehead while you sleep, and rests upon your eyelids so you see no dreams of fear and evil, malice and attack. And when you wake again, it offers you another day of happiness and peace. All this forgiveness offers you, and more.
Forgiveness lets the veil be lifted up that hides the face of Christ from those who look with unforgiving eyes upon the world. It lets you recognize the Son of God, and clears your memory of all dead thoughts so that remembrance of your Father can arise across the threshold of your mind. What would you want forgiveness cannot give? What gifts but these are worthy to be sought? What fancied value, trivial effect or transient promise, never to be kept, can hold more hope than what forgiveness brings?
Why would you seek an answer other than the answer that will answer everything? Here is the perfect answer, given to imperfect questions, meaningless requests, halfhearted willingness to hear, and less than halfway diligence and partial trust. Here is the answer! Seek for it no more. You will not find another one instead.
God’s plan for your salvation cannot change, nor can it fail. Be thankful it remains exactly as He planned it. Changelessly it stands before you like an open door, with warmth and welcome calling from beyond the doorway, bidding you to enter in and make yourself at home, where you belong.
Here is the answer! Would you stand outside while all of Heaven waits for you within? Forgive and be forgiven. As you give you will receive. There is no plan but this for the salvation of the Son of God. Let us today rejoice that this is so, for here we have an answer, clear and plain, beyond deceit in its simplicity. All the complexities the world has spun of fragile cobwebs disappear before the power and the majesty of this extremely simple statement of the truth.
Here is the answer! Do not turn away in aimless wandering again. Accept salvation now. It is the gift of God, and not the world. The world can give no gifts of any value to a mind that has received what God has given as its own. God wills salvation be received today, and that the intricacies of your dreams no longer hide their nothingness from you.
Open your eyes today and look upon a happy world of safety and of peace. Forgiveness is the means by which it comes to take the place of hell. In quietness it rises up to greet your open eyes, and fill your heart with deep tranquility as ancient truths, forever newly born, arise in your awareness. What you will remember then can never be described. Yet your forgiveness offers it to you.
Remembering the gifts forgiveness gives, we undertake our practicing today with hope and faith that this will be the day salvation will be ours. Earnestly and gladly will we seek for it today, aware we hold the key within our hands, accepting Heaven’s answer to the hell we made, but where we would remain no more.
Morning and evening do we gladly give a quarter of an hour to the search in which the end of hell is guaranteed. Begin in hopefulness, for we have reached the turning point at which the road becomes far easier. And now the way is short that yet we travel. We are close indeed to the appointed ending of the dream.
Sink into happiness as you begin these practice periods, for they hold out the sure rewards of questions answered and what your acceptance of the answer brings. Today it will be given you to feel the peace forgiveness offers, and the joy the lifting of the veil holds out to you.
Before the light you will receive today the world will fade until it disappears, and you will see another world arise you have no words to picture. Now we walk directly into light, and we receive the gifts that have been held in store for us since time began, kept waiting for today.
Forgiveness offers everything you want. Today all things you want are given you. Let not your gifts recede throughout the day, as you return again to meet a world of shifting change and bleak appearances. Retain your gifts in clear awareness as you see the changeless in the heart of change; the light of truth behind appearances.
Be tempted not to let your gifts slip by and drift into forgetfulness, but hold them firmly in your mind by your attempts to think of them at least a minute as each quarter of an hour passes by. Remind yourself how precious are these gifts with this reminder, which has power to hold your gifts in your awareness through the day:
Forgiveness offers everything I want.
Today I have accepted this as true.
Today I have received the gifts of God.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #63: We were discussing anger in our study group and it was suggested that to experience anger, we would not “express” it outwardly, but instead, as the Course encourages us, be “Above the Battleground” (T.23.IV), “Be lifted up, and from a higher place look down upon it” (5:1). This certainly sounds better than overtly abusing another with our anger. But what about the idea of yelling into a pillow or hitting a punching bag? Is that still considered attack? What if my anger is so intense that I am unable (unwilling) to “Be lifted up, and from a higher place look down upon it”?
A: Your question suggests a confusion that many students often make in their work with the Course. The Course, like the Holy Spirit, is only concerned with content (thought) and not form (behavior). If I am in conflict and am feeling anger, I am no longer at peace, whether I act on that anger or not. Anger and attack are in the mind and that is where correction is needed. Being disciplined enough not to act out the anger, or to direct it at an inanimate object (such as a pillow or a punching bag) rather than at a person, has certain advantages in that it does not set in motion a possible sequence of overt attack and retaliation at the level of behavior which will almost certainly serve to reinforce the guilt in both your mind and the mind of the person you are attacking back. But the attack is still alive and well in your mind and the problem of the anger will not be resolved until you address it at its source in the mind. This will involve recognizing that your angry feelings and thoughts of attack have nothing to do with the other person at whom those feelings are directed and by whom they seem to have been elicited.
To “be lifted up, and from a higher place look down upon” your anger is to remember that you are a mind that has a choice whether to look at the conflict with your ego or with the Holy Spirit as your teacher. When you “look” with your ego, you will still believe that your angry feelings are somehow justified, that at some level you have been treated unfairly and that your reaction is a reasonable one, even if you choose not to act on it. If that continues to be your perception, no healing has occurred.
But when you look with the Holy Spirit, you will come to understand that the problem is not the other person but rather a choice you first made within your own mind to see yourself as separate from love. That choice, as it always does, produces guilt, which you find unbearable. And so the guilt must be projected outside yourself, onto someone else whom you will want to see as treating you unfairly, upon whom the guilt can then rest. And so the feelings of conflict that have come from your own decision to separate in your mind from love then seem to be caused by what this other person has “done” to you. And yet if you had not chosen guilt in the first place, their words or actions would have absolutely no effect on you. The fact that they seem to only tells you about your prior decision to turn to your ego and away from love. Once you have accepted this realization and the correction offered by the Holy Spirit — that you are not separate from love and never have been — the guilt vanishes, as well as the anger and the conflict that were its effect, and you no longer need to see someone else as your opponent, deserving of your attack (in self-defense, of course!).
By the way, although the Course says that “anger is never justified” (T.30.VI.1:1) — and why that is true should be apparent from what we have just discussed — the Course never says we should not get angry. In fact, much of the Course is addressed at telling us what happens when we do get angry and how it can be corrected, and this is only because Jesus understands that we will continue to become angry and will need the correction he offers us. And sometimes we may be able to put the brakes on acting out our anger and sometimes we may feel compelled to act it out, but the problem — the guilt in our mind — and the solution — recognizing the choice of purpose we have in all of it — remain the same. Rather than denying our anger, Jesus wants us to look at it with him so we can recognize its real source, rather than attempt to justify it based on our mistaken perceptions of our own victimization. Our justifications, quite simply, are always invalid.