ACIM Text Reading for May 17
Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant
VII. The Needless Sacrifice
Beyond the poor attraction of the special love relationship, and always obscured by it, is the powerful attraction of the Father for His Son. There is no other love that can satisfy you, because there is no other love. This is the only love that is fully given and fully returned. Being complete, it asks nothing. Being wholly pure, everyone joined in it has everything. This is not the basis for any relationship in which the ego enters. For every relationship on which the ego embarks is special.
The ego establishes relationships only to get something. And it would keep the giver bound to itself through guilt. It is impossible for the ego to enter into any relationship without anger, for the ego believes that anger makes friends. This is not its statement, but it is its purpose. For the ego really believes that it can get and keep by making guilty. This is its one attraction; an attraction so weak that it would have no hold at all, except that no one recognizes it. For the ego always seems to attract through love, and has no attraction at all to anyone who perceives that it attracts through guilt.
The sick attraction of guilt must be recognized for what it is. For having been made real to you, it is essential to look at it clearly, and by withdrawing your investment in it, to learn to let it go. No one would choose to let go what he believes has value. Yet the attraction of guilt has value to you only because you have not looked at what it is, and have judged it completely in the dark. As we bring it to light, your only question will be why it was you ever wanted it. You have nothing to lose by looking open-eyed, for ugliness such as this belongs not in your holy mind. This host of God can have no real investment here.
We said before that the ego attempts to maintain and increase guilt, but in such a way that you do not recognize what it would do to you. For it is the ego’s fundamental doctrine that what you do to others you have escaped. The ego wishes no one well. Yet its survival depends on your belief that you are exempt from its evil intentions. It counsels, therefore, that if you are host to it, it will enable you to direct its anger outward, thus protecting you. And thus it embarks on an endless, unrewarding chain of special relationships, forged out of anger and dedicated to but one insane belief; that the more anger you invest outside yourself, the safer you become.
It is this chain that binds the Son of God to guilt, and it is this chain the Holy Spirit would remove from his holy mind. For the chain of savagery belongs not around the chosen host of God, who cannot make himself host to the ego. In the name of his release, and in the Name of Him Who would release him, let us look more closely at the relationships the ego contrives, and let the Holy Spirit judge them truly. For it is certain that if you will look at them, you will offer them gladly to Him. What He can make of them you do not know, but you will become willing to find out, if you are willing first to perceive what you have made of them.
In one way or another, every relationship the ego makes is based on the idea that by sacrificing itself, it becomes bigger. The “sacrifice,” which it regards as purification, is actually the root of its bitter resentment. For it would prefer to attack directly, and avoid delaying what it really wants. Yet the ego acknowledges “reality” as it sees it, and recognizes that no one could interpret direct attack as love. Yet to make guilty is direct attack, although it does not seem to be. For the guilty expect attack, and having asked for it they are attracted to it.
In such insane relationships, the attraction of what you do not want seems to be much stronger than the attraction of what you do want. For each one thinks that he has sacrificed something to the other, and hates him for it. Yet this is what he thinks he wants. He is not in love with the other at all. He merely believes he is in love with sacrifice. And for this sacrifice, which he demands of himself, he demands that the other accept the guilt and sacrifice himself as well. Forgiveness becomes impossible, for the ego believes that to forgive another is to lose him. It is only by attack without forgiveness that the ego can ensure the guilt that holds all its relationships together.
Yet they only seem to be together. For relationships, to the ego, mean only that bodies are together. It is always this that the ego demands, and it does not object where the mind goes or what it thinks, for this seems unimportant. As long as the body is there to receive its sacrifice, it is content. To the ego the mind is private, and only the body can be shared. Ideas are basically of no concern, except as they bring the body of another closer or farther. And it is in these terms that it evaluates ideas as good or bad. What makes another guilty and holds him through guilt is “good.” What releases him from guilt is “bad,” because he would no longer believe that bodies communicate, and so he would be “gone.”
Suffering and sacrifice are the gifts with which the ego would “bless” all unions. And those who are united at its altar accept suffering and sacrifice as the price of union. In their angry alliances, born of the fear of loneliness and yet dedicated to the continuance of loneliness, each seeks relief from guilt by increasing it in the other. For each believes that this decreases guilt in him. The other seems always to be attacking and wounding him, perhaps in little ways, perhaps “unconsciously,” yet never without demand of sacrifice. The fury of those joined at the ego’s altar far exceeds your awareness of it. For what the ego really wants you do not realize.
Whenever you are angry, you can be sure that you have formed a special relationship which the ego has “blessed,” for anger is its blessing. Anger takes many forms, but it cannot long deceive those who will learn that love brings no guilt at all, and what brings guilt cannot be love and must be anger. All anger is nothing more than an attempt to make someone feel guilty, and this attempt is the only basis the ego accepts for special relationships. Guilt is the only need the ego has, and as long as you identify with it, guilt will remain attractive to you. Yet remember this; to be with a body is not communication. And if you think it is, you will feel guilty about communication and will be afraid to hear the Holy Spirit, recognizing in His Voice your own need to communicate.
The Holy Spirit cannot teach through fear. And how can He communicate with you, while you believe that to communicate is to make yourself alone? It is clearly insane to believe that by communicating you will be abandoned. And yet many do believe it. For they think their minds must be kept private or they will lose them, but if their bodies are together their minds remain their own. The union of bodies thus becomes the way in which they would keep minds apart. For bodies cannot forgive. They can only do as the mind directs.
The illusion of the autonomy of the body and its ability to overcome loneliness is but the working of the ego’s plan to establish its own autonomy. As long as you believe that to be with a body is companionship, you will be compelled to attempt to keep your brother in his body, held there by guilt. And you will see safety in guilt and danger in communication. For the ego will always teach that loneliness is solved by guilt, and that communication is the cause of loneliness. And despite the evident insanity of this lesson, many have learned it.
Forgiveness lies in communication as surely as damnation lies in guilt. It is the Holy Spirit’s teaching function to instruct those who believe communication to be damnation that communication is salvation. And He will do so, for the power of God in Him and you is joined in a real relationship so holy and so strong, that it can overcome even this without fear.
It is through the holy instant that what seems impossible is accomplished, making it evident that it is not impossible. In the holy instant guilt holds no attraction, since communication has been restored. And guilt, whose only purpose is to disrupt communication, has no function here. Here there is no concealment, and no private thoughts. The willingness to communicate attracts communication to it, and overcomes loneliness completely. There is complete forgiveness here, for there is no desire to exclude anyone from your completion, in sudden recognition of the value of his part in it. In the protection of your wholeness, all are invited and made welcome. And you understand that your completion is God’s, Whose only need is to have you be complete. For your completion makes you His in your awareness. And here it is that you experience yourself as you were created, and as you are.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 17
When I am healed I am not healed alone.
Today’s idea remains the central thought on which salvation rests. For healing is the opposite of all the world’s ideas which dwell on sickness and on separate states. Sickness is a retreat from others, and a shutting off of joining. It becomes a door that closes on a separate self, and keeps it isolated and alone.
Sickness is isolation. For it seems to keep one self apart from all the rest, to suffer what the others do not feel. It gives the body final power to make the separation real, and keep the mind in solitary prison, split apart and held in pieces by a solid wall of sickened flesh, which it can not surmount.
The world obeys the laws that sickness serves, but healing operates apart from them. It is impossible that anyone be healed alone. In sickness must he be apart and separate. But healing is his own decision to be one again, and to accept his Self with all Its parts intact and unassailed. In sickness does his Self appear to be dismembered, and without the unity that gives It life. But healing is accomplished as he sees the body has no power to attack the universal Oneness of God’s Son.
Sickness would prove that lies must be the truth. But healing demonstrates that truth is true. The separation sickness would impose has never really happened. To be healed is merely to accept what always was the simple truth, and always will remain exactly as it has forever been. Yet eyes accustomed to illusions must be shown that what they look upon is false. So healing, never needed by the truth, must demonstrate that sickness is not real.
Healing might thus be called a counter-dream, which cancels out the dream of sickness in the name of truth, but not in truth itself. Just as forgiveness overlooks all sins that never were accomplished, healing but removes illusions that have not occurred. Just as the real world will arise to take the place of what has never been at all, healing but offers restitution for imagined states and false ideas which dreams embroider into pictures of the truth.
Yet think not healing is unworthy of your function here. For anti-Christ becomes more powerful than Christ to those who dream the world is real. The body seems to be more solid and more stable than the mind. And love becomes a dream, while fear remains the one reality that can be seen and justified and fully understood.
Just as forgiveness shines away all sin and the real world will occupy the place of what you made, so healing must replace the fantasies of sickness which you hold before the simple truth. When sickness has been seen to disappear in spite of all the laws that hold it cannot but be real, then questions have been answered. And the laws can be no longer cherished nor obeyed.
Healing is freedom. For it demonstrates that dreams will not prevail against the truth. Healing is shared. And by this attribute it proves that laws unlike the ones which hold that sickness is inevitable are more potent than their sickly opposites. Healing is strength. For by its gentle hand is weakness overcome, and minds that were walled off within a body free to join with other minds, to be forever strong.
Healing, forgiveness, and the glad exchange of all the world of sorrow for a world where sadness cannot enter, are the means by which the Holy Spirit urges you to follow Him. His gentle lessons teach how easily salvation can be yours; how little practice you need undertake to let His laws replace the ones you made to hold yourself a prisoner to death. His life becomes your own, as you extend the little help He asks in freeing you from everything that ever caused you pain.
And as you let yourself be healed, you see all those around you, or who cross your mind, or whom you touch or those who seem to have no contact with you, healed along with you. Perhaps you will not recognize them all, nor realize how great your offering to all the world, when you let healing come to you. But you are never healed alone. And legions upon legions will receive the gift that you receive when you are healed.
Those who are healed become the instruments of healing. Nor does time elapse between the instant they are healed, and all the grace of healing it is given them to give. What is opposed to God does not exist, and who accepts it not within his mind becomes a haven where the weary can remain to rest. For here is truth bestowed, and here are all illusions brought to truth.
Would you not offer shelter to God’s Will? You but invite your Self to be at home. And can this invitation be refused? Ask the inevitable to occur, and you will never fail. The other choice is but to ask what cannot be to be, and this can not succeed. Today we ask that only truth will occupy our minds; that thoughts of healing will this day go forth from what is healed to what must yet be healed, aware that they will both occur as one.
We will remember, as the hour strikes, our function is to let our minds be healed, that we may carry healing to the world, exchanging curse for blessing, pain for joy, and separation for the peace of God. Is not a minute of the hour worth the giving to receive a gift like this? Is not a little time a small expense to offer for the gift of everything?
Yet must we be prepared for such a gift. And so we will begin the day with this, and give ten minutes to these thoughts with which we will conclude today at night as well:
When I am healed I am not healed alone.
And I would share my healing with the world,
that sickness may be banished from the mind of
God’s one Son, Who is my only Self.
Let healing be through you this very day. And as you rest in quiet, be prepared to give as you receive, to hold but what you give, and to receive the Word of God to take the place of all the foolish thoughts that ever were imagined. Now we come together to make well all that was sick, and offer blessing where there was attack. Nor will we let this function be forgot as every hour of the day slips by, remembering our purpose with this thought:
When I am healed I am not healed alone.
And I would bless my brothers, for I would
be healed with them, as they are healed with me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #29: When Jesus turned over the table in the Temple, it seemed to reinforce the ego thought system. He was angry, and ultimately was punished, by being crucified. I keep repeating in my mind, there must be a different way of looking at this, to speed up the healing I submitted this question to the Foundation.
A: In “Forgiveness and Jesus: The Meeting Place of A Course in Miracles and Christianity” and “A Talk Given on A Course in Miracles; An Introduction” (by Kenneth Wapnick, published by the Foundation for A Course in Miracles) this Gospel passage is discussed at length. The full explanation presented in these books is summarized here.
As you may know the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ sayings and actions are not necessarily historical fact. It is likely that the incident in the Temple did not happen in the way that it is depicted in the Gospel. This view is accepted even by many Christian Scripture scholars. It is also important to note that the Gospel account does not say that Jesus was angry, although in the movies of Jesus’ life he has been portrayed as angry. If something of this nature did occur in which Jesus appears to be angry, without truly feeling any anger, he would have been using this outburst as a teaching tool to make a point for the large crowd of people present in the Temple at the time of the Passover. In this case the point would have been that the “chosen people” had distorted the Old Testament teaching by using the Temple for purposes other than as a “house of prayer.” This is close to the traditional interpretation of this incident by Christian scholars. As a good teacher Jesus acted in a dramatic way to more effectively draw attention to his message. One could also consider a final option; that Jesus was actually angry, having an “ego attack.” If this were the case there are at least three conditions that would have to be present; Jesus would not be at peace, God would not be his in his awareness, he would perceive the money lenders as his enemy. It is inconceivable that Jesus, whose message and presence were filled only with love and peace, would have “lost it” in this way. It is also possible to believe that Jesus did have an ego attack, but if one chose to believe that, why would one then choose to identify with his ego, rather than with the love and forgiveness he teaches us in A Course in Miracles? Moreover, even if it were possible for Jesus to have such an ego attack, the Course tells us he would certainly not be punished for his “sin” by being crucified. “There is no sin.” (T.26.VII.10:5) The central teaching of the Course is that God’s Son is innocent; “You are still My holy Son, forever innocent, forever loving and forever loved, as limitless as your Creator, and completely changeless and forever pure” (WpII.10:5). Since there is no sin there can be no punishment. The Course’s teaching on the crucifixion, therefore, is from a very different perspective. In Jesus’ words “The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example” (T.6I.2:1), much like the example of the Temple incident, if it did in fact occur. Jesus says later: “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” (T.6.I.4:6). Jesus would not regard himself insanely, and since he knew he was not a body he remained at peace during the crucifixion, fully aware that nothing was happening.
As we learn our true identity as God’s innocent Son, we also learn that we too can be at peace in the midst of seeming persecution. We, like Jesus, cannot be harmed in any way. This true identity is not to be confused with the ego identities we choose as bodies which do die. Since there is no real life here in the body, there is also no real death. This is what Jesus knew when his body was crucified. This is what he is teaching us.