ACIM Text Reading for May 19
Chapter 15 ~ The Holy Instant
X. The Time of Rebirth
It is in your power, in time, to delay the perfect union of the Father and the Son. For in this world, the attraction of guilt does stand between them. Neither time nor season means anything in eternity. But here it is the Holy Spirit’s function to use them both, though not as the ego uses them. This is the season when you would celebrate my birth into the world. Yet you know not how to do it. Let the Holy Spirit teach you, and let me celebrate your birth through Him. The only gift I can accept of you is the gift I gave to you. Release me as I choose your own release. The time of Christ we celebrate together, for it has no meaning if we are apart.
The holy instant is truly the time of Christ. For in this liberating instant no guilt is laid upon the Son of God, and his unlimited power is thus restored to him. What other gift can you offer me, when only this I choose to offer you? And to see me is to see me in everyone, and offer everyone the gift you offer me. I am as incapable of receiving sacrifice as God is, and every sacrifice you ask of yourself you ask of me. Learn now that sacrifice of any kind is nothing but a limitation imposed on giving. And by this limitation you have limited acceptance of the gift I offer you.
We who are one cannot give separately. When you are willing to accept our relationship as real, guilt will hold no attraction for you. For in our union you will accept all of our brothers. The gift of union is the only gift that I was born to give. Give it to me, that you may have it. The time of Christ is the time appointed for the gift of freedom, offered to everyone. And by your acceptance of it, you offer it to everyone.
It is in your power to make this season holy, for it is in your power to make the time of Christ be now. It is possible to do this all at once because there is but one shift in perception that is necessary, for you made but one mistake. It seems like many, but it is all the same. For though the ego takes many forms, it is always the same idea. What is not love is always fear, and nothing else.
It is not necessary to follow fear through all the circuitous routes by which it burrows underground and hides in darkness, to emerge in forms quite different from what it is. Yet it is necessary to examine each one as long as you would retain the principle that governs all of them. When you are willing to regard them, not as separate, but as different manifestations of the same idea, and one you do not want, they go together. The idea is simply this: You believe it is possible to be host to the ego or hostage to God. This is the choice you think you have, and the decision you believe that you must make. You see no other alternatives, for you cannot accept the fact that sacrifice gets nothing. Sacrifice is so essential to your thought system that salvation apart from sacrifice means nothing to you. Your confusion of sacrifice and love is so profound that you cannot conceive of love without sacrifice. And it is this that you must look upon; sacrifice is attack, not love. If you would accept but this one idea, your fear of love would vanish. Guilt cannot last when the idea of sacrifice has been removed. For if there is sacrifice, someone must pay and someone must get. And the only question that remains is how much is the price, and for getting what.
As host to the ego, you believe that you can give all your guilt away whenever you want, and thereby purchase peace. And the payment does not seem to be yours. While it is obvious that the ego does demand payment it never seems to be demanding it of you. You are unwilling to recognize that the ego, which you invited, is treacherous only to those who think they are its host. The ego will never let you perceive this, since this recognition would make it homeless. For when the recognition dawns clearly, you will not be deceived by any form the ego takes to protect itself from your sight. Each form will be recognized as but a cover for the one idea that hides behind them all; that love demands sacrifice, and is therefore inseparable from attack and fear. And that guilt is the price of love, which must be paid by fear.
How fearful, then, has God become to you, and how great a sacrifice do you believe His Love demands! For total love would demand total sacrifice. And so the ego seems to demand less of you than God, and of the two is judged as the lesser of two evils, one to be feared a little, perhaps, but the other to be destroyed. For you see love as destructive, and your only question is who is to be destroyed, you or another? You seek to answer this question in your special relationships, in which you seem to be both destroyer and destroyed in part, but able to be neither completely. And this you think saves you from God, Whose total Love would completely destroy you.
You think that everyone outside yourself demands your sacrifice, but you do not see that only you demand sacrifice, and only of yourself. Yet the demand of sacrifice is so savage and so fearful that you cannot accept it where it is. The real price of not accepting this has been so great that you have given God away rather than look at it. For if God would demand total sacrifice of you, it seems safer to project Him outward and away from you, and not be host to Him. To Him you ascribed the ego’s treachery, inviting it to take His place to protect you from Him. And you do not recognize that it is what you invited in that would destroy you, and does demand total sacrifice of you. No partial sacrifice will appease this savage guest, for it is an invader who but seems to offer kindness, but always to make the sacrifice complete.
You will not succeed in being partial hostage to the ego, for it keeps no bargains and would leave you nothing. You must choose between total freedom and total bondage, for there are no alternatives but these. You have tried many compromises in the attempt to avoid recognizing the one decision you must make. And yet it is the recognition of the decision, just as it is, that makes the decision so easy. Salvation is simple, being of God, and therefore very easy to understand. Do not try to project it from you and see it outside yourself. In you are both the question and the answer; the demand for sacrifice and the peace of God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 19
I will accept Atonement for myself.
Here is the end of choice. For here we come to a decision to accept ourselves as God created us. And what is choice except uncertainty of what we are? There is no doubt that is not rooted here. There is no question but reflects this one. There is no conflict that does not entail the single, simple question, “What am I?”
Yet who could ask this question except one who has refused to recognize himself? Only refusal to accept yourself could make the question seem to be sincere. The only thing that can be surely known by any living thing is what it is. From this one point of certainty, it looks on other things as certain as itself.
Uncertainty about what you must be is self-deception on a scale so vast, its magnitude can hardly be conceived. To be alive and not to know yourself is to believe that you are really dead. For what is life except to be yourself, and what but you can be alive instead? Who is the doubter? What is it he doubts? Whom does he question? Who can answer him?
He merely states that he is not himself, and therefore, being something else, becomes a questioner of what that something is. Yet he could never be alive at all unless he knew the answer. If he asks as if he does not know, it merely shows he does not want to be the thing he is. He has accepted it because he lives; has judged against it and denied its worth, and has decided that he does not know the only certainty by which he lives.
Thus he becomes uncertain of his life, for what it is has been denied by him. It is for this denial that you need Atonement. Your denial made no change in what you are. But you have split your mind into what knows and does not know the truth. You are yourself. There is no doubt of this. And yet you doubt it. But you do not ask what part of you can really doubt yourself. It cannot really be a part of you that asks this question. For it asks of one who knows the answer. Were it part of you, then certainty would be impossible.
Atonement remedies the strange idea that it is possible to doubt yourself, and be unsure of what you really are. This is the depth of madness. Yet it is the universal question of the world. What does this mean except the world is mad? Why share its madness in the sad belief that what is universal here is true?
Nothing the world believes is true. It is a place whose purpose is to be a home where those who claim they do not know themselves can come to question what it is they are. And they will come again until the time Atonement is accepted, and they learn it is impossible to doubt yourself, and not to be aware of what you are.
Only acceptance can be asked of you, for what you are is certain. It is set forever in the holy Mind of God, and in your own. It is so far beyond all doubt and question that to ask what it must be is all the proof you need to show that you believe the contradiction that you know not what you cannot fail to know. Is this a question, or a statement which denies itself in statement? Let us not allow our holy minds to occupy themselves with senseless musings such as this.
We have a mission here. We did not come to reinforce the madness that we once believed in. Let us not forget the goal that we accepted. It is more than just our happiness alone we came to gain. What we accept as what we are proclaims what everyone must be, along with us. Fail not your brothers, or you fail yourself. Look lovingly on them, that they may know that they are part of you, and you of them.
This does Atonement teach, and demonstrates the Oneness of God’s Son is unassailed by his belief he knows not what he is. Today accept Atonement, not to change reality, but merely to accept the truth about yourself, and go your way rejoicing in the endless Love of God. It is but this that we are asked to do. It is but this that we will do today.
Five minutes in the morning and at night we will devote to dedicate our minds to our assignment for today. We start with this review of what our mission is:
I will accept Atonement for myself,
For I remain as God created me.
We have not lost the knowledge that God gave to us when He created us like Him. We can remember it for everyone, for in creation are all minds as one. And in our memory is the recall how dear our brothers are to us in truth, how much a part of us is every mind, how faithful they have really been to us, and how our Father’s Love contains them all.
In thanks for all creation, in the Name of its Creator and His Oneness with all aspects of creation, we repeat our dedication to our cause today each hour, as we lay aside all thoughts that would distract us from our holy aim. For several minutes let your mind be cleared of all the foolish cobwebs which the world would weave around the holy Son of God. And learn the fragile nature of the chains that seem to keep the knowledge of yourself apart from your awareness, as you say:
I will accept Atonement for myself,
For I remain as God created me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #337: What are errors and mistakes? Are they physical actions or ways of looking? Why does the ego always remind us of how we hurt people or ourselves, or if something wasn’t fair. Why does the ego seem right and why does it seem logical? Is it the ego or the Holy Spirit pointing out my faults? If the Holy Spirit helps one correct the error does that mean the ego is right in its judgment of the so-called “error”? How do you know if it’s an error and why does the ego demand “correction” of it as well? Also it states a few times about how a Son of God will not murder yet animals murder all the time to live. Is nature wrong and how are we exempt from it?
A: It could take a book to answer your litany of questions satisfactorily, but we will try to suggest a few ideas here that will hopefully point you in the right direction. Since, from the perspective of A Course in Miracles, there is only mind, errors or mistakes can be only of the mind. Jesus clarifies this very early in the text when he explains that “only the mind is capable of error. The body can act wrongly only when it is responding to misthought” (T.2.IV.2:4,5). And, as you suggest, errors are really mistaken ways of looking or, to be more specific, mistaken ways of looking at the world, our brothers, and ourselves with the ego as our guide rather than with Jesus or the Holy Spirit. And ego-directed looking is always judgmental. It is only the ego that points out our faults. The Holy Spirit will gently invite us to recognize how our thinking is misguided when we listen to the ego, but His purpose would never be to accuse us or to induce guilt in us over our mistakes (T.9.III.1).
Now our original error was the thought that we could separate ourselves from God and that we have in fact succeeded in establishing a separate identity for ourselves independent of Him. Every error that has followed since in our thinking comes from that initial thought of separation. But we have deliberately compounded the errors in our mind in such a way that we have quite intentionally confused ourselves and lost sight of that original error. So all of our errors since the initial one are really subterfuges that keep us unaware of the original mistake and focused instead on addressing all the other seeming mistakes and problems in our life. And so that is why the ego, as you observe, is always reminding us of how we hurt others or have been hurt ourselves — this is the cover for the real problem, so that we never call the belief in separation into question.
Just because the ego is based on a mistaken thought, an insane premise — that we could separate from God — does not mean that the thought system built on that premise does not have a very definite and persuasive internal logic to it, once we accept its premise. Jesus in the Course says, “The ego’s logic is as impeccable as that of the Holy Spirit, because your mind has the means at its disposal to side with Heaven or earth, as it elects” (T.5.V.1:4). And in fact, logic has its origins in the ego thought system, for there is nothing to decide or deduce or prove in Heaven. But having once accepted the ego’s logic, which seems to condemn us to hell for eternity, the good news is that we can let go of our guilt-reinforcing use for it and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in its application, with very different results: “The Holy Spirit uses logic as easily and as well as does the ego, except that His conclusions are not insane. They take a direction exactly opposite, pointing as clearly to Heaven as the ego points to darkness and to death. We have followed much of the ego’s logic, and have seen its logical conclusions. And having seen them, we have realized that they cannot be seen except in illusions, for there alone their seeming clearness seems to be clearly seen. Let us now turn away from them, and follow the simple logic by which the Holy Spirit teaches the simple conclusions that speak for truth, and only truth” (T.14.in.1:4,5,6,7,8).
Correction in the Holy Spirit’s thought system is different in every way, including purpose, from the ego’s. The ego sees error as sin to prove its own existence and to convince us that we can see the guilt we have made real over that error in others rather than in ourselves. In contrast, the only error the Holy Spirit corrects is our belief in the ego. Clearly this is an error the ego cannot correct, since its own existence depends on our belief in separation. The ego corrects through attack and punishment, the Holy Spirit through the gentle process of forgiveness. And the Holy Spirit begins to undo our belief in separation by leading us toward a recognition of shared rather than separate interests with our brothers. For more on the contrast between the Holy Spirit’s and the ego’s correction of error, you may wish to look at “The Correction of Error” in the text (T.9.III).
The Son of God cannot attack or murder in reality. But that he can believe he can is apparent when you pick up a newspaper or watch the news on TV, or simply examine your own thoughts when you are angry. It is not nature that leads humans or other animals to kill. Nature is just an aspect of the illusory world, which is an effect of our mistaken choice in the mind for separation. It is the desire to protect our individual illusory self at any cost that leads to murder first in thought and then in action. And yet, contrary to what the ego, the world and our senses may tell us, correction is not needed at the level of behavior, but only in our feverish imaginations that believe that all of this is real. “What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? Could you have faith in what you see, if you accepted this? And would you see it?” (T.20.VIII.7:3,4,5,6,7). This does not mean that we are asked to deny what our eyes seem to show us, but rather to be open to a different interpretation of what we see, through the miracle. The miracle brings our focus back from the world to our minds, where we can acknowledge the purpose we have given the world — to be the projection of our error outward, so blame rests elsewhere. Having taken this step, we can then invite the Holy Spirit to give the world His purpose — the recognition that the error in truth never really happened and our guilt is not real.