ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 30

ACIM Text Reading for June 30

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

V. Heralds of Eternity

In this world, God’s Son comes closest to himself in a holy relationship. There he begins to find the certainty his Father has in him. And there he finds his function of restoring his Father’s laws to what was held outside them, and finding what was lost. Only in time can anything be lost, and never lost forever. So do the parts of God’s Son gradually join in time, and with each joining is the end of time brought nearer. Each miracle of joining is a mighty herald of eternity. No one who has a single purpose, unified and sure, can be afraid. No one who shares his purpose with him can not be one with him.

Each herald of eternity sings of the end of sin and fear. Each speaks in time of what is far beyond it. Two voices raised together call to the hearts of everyone, to let them beat as one. And in that single heartbeat is the unity of love proclaimed and given welcome. Peace to your holy relationship, which has the power to hold the unity of the Son of God together. You give to one another for everyone, and in your gift is everyone made glad. Forget not Who has given you the gifts you give, and through your not forgetting this, will you remember Who gave the gifts to Him to give to you.

It is impossible to overestimate your brother’s value. Only the ego does this, but all it means is that it wants the other for itself, and therefore values him too little. What is inestimable clearly cannot be evaluated. Do you recognize the fear that rises from the meaningless attempt to judge what lies so far beyond your judgment you cannot even see it? Judge not what is invisible to you or you will never see it, but wait in patience for its coming. It will be given you to see your brother’s worth when all you want for him is peace. And what you want for him you will receive.

How can you estimate the worth of him who offers peace to you? What would you want except his offering? His worth has been established by his Father, and you will recognize it as you receive his Father’s gift through him. What is in him will shine so brightly in your grateful vision that you will merely love him and be glad. You will not think to judge him, for who would see the face of Christ and yet insist that judgment still has meaning? For this insistence is of those who do not see. Vision or judgment is your choice, but never both of these.

Your brother’s body is as little use to you as it is to him. When it is used only as the Holy Spirit teaches, it has no function. For minds need not the body to communicate. The sight that sees the body has no use which serves the purpose of a holy relationship. And while you look upon your brother thus, the means and end have not been brought in line. Why should it take so many holy instants to let this be accomplished, when one would do? There is but one. The little breath of eternity that runs through time like golden light is all the same; nothing before it, nothing afterwards.

You look upon each holy instant as a different point in time. It never changes. All that it ever held or will ever hold is here right now. The past takes nothing from it, and the future will add no more. Here, then, is everything. Here is the loveliness of your relationship, with means and end in perfect harmony already. Here is the perfect faith that you will one day offer to your brother already offered you; and here the limitless forgiveness you will give each other already given, the face of Christ you yet will look upon already seen.

Can you evaluate the giver of a gift like this? Would you exchange this gift for any other? This gift returns the laws of God to your remembrance. And merely by remembering them, the laws that held you prisoner to pain and death must be forgotten. This is no gift your brother’s body offers you. The veil that hides the gift hides him as well. He is the gift, and yet he knows it not. No more do you. And yet, have faith that He Who sees the gift in both of you will offer and receive it for you both. And through His vision will you see it, and through his understanding recognize it and love it as your own.

Be comforted, and feel the Holy Spirit watching over you in love and perfect confidence in what he sees. He knows the Son of God, and shares his Father’s certainty the universe rests in his gentle hands in safety and in peace. Let us consider now what he must learn, to share his Father’s confidence in him. What is he, that the Creator of the universe should offer it to him and know it rests in safety? He looks upon himself not as his Father knows him. And yet it is impossible the confidence of God should be misplaced.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 30

Lesson 181

Introduction to Lessons 181-200

Our next few lessons make a special point of firming up your willingness to make your weak commitment strong; your scattered goals blend into one intent.  You are not asked for total dedication all the time as yet.  But you are asked to practice now in order to attain the sense of peace such unified commitment will bestow, if only intermittently.  It is experiencing this that makes it sure that you will give your total willingness to following the way the course sets forth.

Our lessons now are geared specifically to widening horizons, and direct approaches to the special blocks that keep your vision narrow, and too limited to let you see the value of our goal.  We are attempting now to lift these blocks, however briefly.  Words alone can not convey the sense of liberation which their lifting brings.  But the experience of freedom and of peace that comes as you give up your tight control of what you see speaks for itself.  Your motivation will be so intensified that words become of little consequence.  You will be sure of what you want, and what is valueless.

And so we start our journey beyond words by concentrating first on what impedes your progress still.  Experience of what exists beyond defensiveness remains beyond achievement while it is denied.  It may be there, but you cannot accept its presence.  So we now attempt to go past all defenses for a little while each day.  No more than this is asked, because no more than this is needed.  It will be enough to guarantee the rest will come.


Lesson 181

I trust my brothers, who are one with me.

Trusting your brothers is essential to establishing and holding up your faith in your ability to transcend doubt and lack of sure conviction in yourself. When you attack a brother, you proclaim that he is limited by what you have perceived in him. You do not look beyond his errors. Rather, they are magnified, becoming blocks to your awareness of the Self that lies beyond your own mistakes, and past his seeming sins as well as yours.

Perception has a focus. It is this that gives consistency to what you see. Change but this focus, and what you behold will change accordingly. Your vision now will shift, to give support to the intent which has replaced the one you held before. Remove your focus on your brother’s sins, and you experience the peace that comes from faith in sinlessness. This faith receives its only sure support from what you see in others past their sins. For their mistakes, if focused on, are witnesses to sins in you. And you will not transcend their sight and see the sinlessness that lies beyond.

Therefore, in practicing today, we first let all such little focuses give way to our great need to let our sinlessness become apparent. We instruct our minds that it is this we seek, and only this, for just a little while. We do not care about our future goals. And what we saw an instant previous has no concern for us within this interval of time wherein we practice changing our intent. We seek for innocence and nothing else. We seek for it with no concern but now.

A major hazard to success has been involvement with your past and future goals. You have been quite preoccupied with how extremely different the goals this course is advocating are from those you held before. And you have also been dismayed by the depressing and restricting thought that, even if you should succeed, you will inevitably lose your way again.

How could this matter? For the past is gone; the future but imagined. These concerns are but defenses against present change of focus in perception. Nothing more. We lay these pointless limitations by a little while. We do not look to past beliefs, and what we will believe will not intrude upon us now. We enter in the time of practicing with one intent; to look upon the sinlessness within.

We recognize that we have lost this goal if anger blocks our way in any form. And if a brother’s sins occur to us, our narrowed focus will restrict our sight, and turn our eyes upon our own mistakes, which we will magnify and call our “sins.” So, for a little while, without regard to past or future, should such blocks arise we will transcend them with instructions to our minds to change their focus, as we say:

It is not this that I would look upon.
I trust my brothers, who are one with me.

And we will also use this thought to keep us safe throughout the day. We do not seek for long-range goals. As each obstruction seems to block the vision of our sinlessness, we seek but for surcease an instant from the misery the focus upon sin will bring, and uncorrected will remain.

Nor do we ask for fantasies. For what we seek to look upon is really there. And as our focus goes beyond mistakes, we will behold a wholly sinless world. When seeing this is all we want to see, when this is all we seek for in the name of true perception, are the eyes of Christ inevitably ours. And the Love He feels for us becomes our own as well. This will become the only thing we see reflected in the world and in ourselves.

The world which once proclaimed our sins becomes the proof that we are sinless. And our love for everyone we look upon attests to our remembrance of the holy Self which knows no sin, and never could conceive of anything without Its sinlessness. We seek for this remembrance as we turn our minds to practicing today. We look neither ahead nor backwards. We look straight into the present. And we give our trust to the experience we ask for now. Our sinlessness is but the Will of God. This instant is our willing one with His.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #188: After studying A Course in Miracles for 11 years, I’m only now beginning to understand how much I don’t want to learn it. I know this really means how much I fear it, and that I might need to be more “gentle” with myself. But trying to take things less seriously would seem to undermine the Course’s attempt to show us just how deeply we are committed to the ego thought system. Thank you for any suggestions on this, from a student who still loves being the dream figure amid glimpses that he is not.

A: Apparently, trying to take things less seriously has in fact shown you “just how deeply we are committed to the ego thought system”. Taking things less seriously is not as easy as it may sound. Any attempt to do so leads us to realize that we do take things very seriously. In studying the Course, we soon become aware that if we begin to take some aspects of the ego thought system less seriously we will end up taking the whole thing less seriously. In the end, rather than undermining the Course’s teaching, this will actually undermine the ego’s thought system. This is why we don’t do it. And this is why we don’t want to learn what the Course teaches. This in itself is an important and helpful realization. It means that you have some understanding of what the Course is saying about who we are (the dreamer of the dream), and more importantly, who we are not (a figure in the dream). A clear recognition of our resistance to learning this gives us an appreciation for the process and, as you say, the need for gentleness in applying the teachings of the Course.

It is not surprising that it is difficult to take things less seriously. The Course does not discount how seriously we have taken our mistaken beliefs about ourselves and our world. “No one believes there really was a time when he knew nothing of a body, and could never have conceived this world as real. He would have seen at once that these ideas are one illusion, too ridiculous for anything but to be laughed away. How serious they now appear to be! And no one can remember when they would have met with laughter and with disbelief. We can remember this, if we but look directly at their cause. And we will see the grounds for laughter, not a cause for fear” (T.27.VIII.5:5,6,7,8,9,10).

Our learning process requires that first we recognize just how seriously we take ourselves. Trying to force ourselves not to take things seriously probably won’t work. The only way we can learn to do this is mentioned in the quote above. We need to learn to look at the cause of our beliefs. The cause is the decision in the mind to separate from God, and then believe it is an accomplished fact. The Course is telling us this is ridiculous, and eventually we will laugh at it. This will happen when we have let go of our guilt over having taken it seriously in the first place. Obviously we are not laughing yet. You may find it helpful to practice not taking your resistance too seriously, and not judging yourself for your love of being a figure in the dream. Our resistance and unwillingness do not change truth, or justify our fear, and we are not banished from Heaven because of them. Furthermore, full acceptance is not required for us to practice what the Course teaches. As the Introduction to the workbook tells us: “Remember only this; you need not believe the ideas, you need not accept them, and you need not even welcome them. Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy” (W.in.9:1,2,3). If you continue to remind yourself that what you see and experience in the dream is not real and has no effect on the real you, it will become increasingly easier to take things less seriously. Each remembrance strengthens belief in the Holy Spirit’s thought system and diminishes our “seriousness.” As with God, the laughter is inevitable.


Q #189: What does A Course in Miracles refer to as “all” in the sentence “To have, give all to all.” (T.6.V.A:13)? I have heard Ken say that it doesn’t mean to give everything away in this world and go live on a mountain top. What does it mean?

A: First, Jesus is correcting the ego’s version, which is “to have, take all from all.” To the ego, the only way of having something is to get it from somewhere or someone. Therefore, Jesus tells us, “the first step in the reversal or undoing process is the undoing of the getting concept” (T.6.V.B.3:1). This is directly related to our learning to prefer shared interests instead of separate, competing interests; and that by seeking to take something from someone, we will wind up as the loser, because we will have once again denied that God’s Son is one and that as His creation we already have everything (W.pI.133.7).

So this has nothing to do with form or with behavior; it has to do with our attitude or inner orientation: the content, not the form. It has to do with undoing our inclination to exclude others and to acquire what we want at another’s expense. It has to do with looking at how we value uniqueness and specialness, and how that leads to more conflict instead of peace. We would begin to question the value of something that cannot be shared with everyone — why we would want something that cannot be shared with everyone. Again, this has to do with our attitude. Obviously, as you said, we are not being asked to buy enough for everyone in the world whenever we go shopping. Jesus is working with the premises that govern our thinking.

This first lesson of the Holy Spirit, then, is essentially about undoing our concept of getting as the means of having: “You must learn first that having rests on giving, and not on getting” (T.6.V.C.6:1).

today belongs to love

 

Advertisements

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 29

ACIM Text Reading for June 29

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

IV. Entering the Ark

Nothing can hurt you unless you give it the power to do so. Yet you give power as the laws of this world interpret giving; as you give you lose. It is not up to you to give power at all. Power is of God, given by Him and reawakened by the holy Spirit, Who knows that as you give you gain. He gives no power to sin, and therefore it has none; nor to its results as this world sees them, — sickness and death and misery and pain. These things have not occurred because the Holy Spirit sees them not, and gives no power to their seeming source. Thus would He keep you free of them. Being without illusion of what you are, the Holy Spirit merely gives everything to God, Who has already given and received all that is true. The untrue He has neither received nor given.

Sin has no place in Heaven, where its results are alien and can no more enter than can their source. And therein lies your need to see your brother sinless. In him is Heaven. See sin in him instead, and Heaven is lost to you. But see him as he is, and what is yours shines from him to you. Your savior gives you only love, but what you would receive of him is up to you. It lies in him to overlook all your mistakes, and therein lies his own salvation. And so it is with yours. It is the reawakening of the laws of God in minds that have established other laws, and given them power to enforce what God created not.

Your insane laws were made to guarantee that you would make mistakes, and give them power over you by accepting their results as your just due. What could this be but madness? And is it this that you would see within your savior from insanity? He is as free from this as you are, and in the freedom that you see in him you see your own. For this you share. What God has given follows His laws, and His alone. Nor is it possible for those who follow them to suffer the results of any other source.

Those who choose freedom will experience only its results. Their power is of God, and they will give it only to what God has given, to share with them. Nothing but this can touch them, for they see only this, sharing their power according to the Will of God. And thus their freedom is established and maintained. It is upheld through all temptation to imprison and to be imprisoned. It is of them who learned of freedom that you should ask what freedom is. Ask not the sparrow how the eagle soars, for those with little wings have not accepted for themselves the power to share with you.

The sinless give as they received. See, then, the power of sinlessness within your brother, and share with him the power of the release from sin you offered him. To each who walks this earth in seeming solitude is a savior given, whose special function here is to release him, and so to free himself. In the world of separation each is appointed separately, though they are all the same. Yet those who know that they are all the same need not salvation. And each one finds his savior when he is ready to look upon the face of Christ, and see Him sinless.

The plan is not of you, nor need you be concerned with anything except the part that has been given you to learn. For He Who knows the rest will see to it without your help. But think not that He does not need your part to help Him with the rest. For in your part lies all of it, without which is no part complete, nor is the whole completed without your part. The ark of peace is entered two by two, yet the beginning of another world goes with them. Each holy relationship must enter here, to learn its special function in the Holy Spirit’s plan, now that it shares His purpose. And as this purpose is fulfilled, a new world rises in which sin can enter not, and where the Son of God can enter without fear and where he rests a while, to forget imprisonment and to remember freedom. How can he enter, to rest and to remember, without you? Except you be there, he is not complete. And it is his completion that he remembers there.

This is the purpose given you. Think not that your forgiveness of your brother serves but you two alone. For the whole new world rests in the hands of every two who enter here to rest. And as they rest, the face of Christ shines on them and they remember the laws of God, forgetting all the rest and yearning only to have His laws perfectly fulfilled in them and all their brothers. Think you when this has been achieved that you will rest without them? You could no more leave one of them outside than I could leave you, and forget part of myself.

You may wonder how you can be at peace when, while you are in time, there is so much that must be done before the way to peace is open. Perhaps this seems impossible to you. But ask yourself if it is possible that God would have a plan for your salvation that does not work. Once you accept His plan as the one function that you would fulfill, there will be nothing else the Holy Spirit will not arrange for you without your effort. He will go before you making straight your path, and leaving in your way no stones to trip on, and no obstacles to bar your way. Nothing you need will be denied you. Not one seeming difficulty but will melt away before you reach it. You need take thought for nothing, careless of everything except the only purpose that you would fulfill. As that was given you, so will its fulfillment be. God’s guarantee will hold against all obstacles, for it rests on certainty and not contingency. It rests on you. And what can be more certain than a Son of God?
***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 29

Lesson 180

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(169) By grace I live. By grace I am released.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(170) There is no cruelty in God and none in me.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #223: I would like an understanding of “Entering the Ark” (T.20.1V). This section seems to indicate that we have one special person with whom we work out our salvation, whereas my understanding is that every seemingly separate individual out there is our brother and so we must see the face of Christ in every living thing. I am in a marriage where my wife does not study A Course in Miracles and, in my perception, is afraid of what it is teaching us. I have also encountered a Course teaching institution that tells us we must have one special buddy with whom we can really study and work out our salvation. Can you resolve this confusion for me?

A: You seem to be raising two related questions: the first is whether there is only one relationship or many in which we must practice forgiveness; the second is whether we can really practice the Course and learn our forgiveness lessons if our learning partner is not a student of the Course.

For the first, you are no doubt referring in particular to the sentence in “The Ark of Peace” that says, “To each who walks this earth in seeming solitude is a savior given, whose special function here is to release him, and so to free himself” (T.20.IV.5:3). Jesus then adds, “In the world of separation each is appointed separately, though they are all the same” (T.20.IV.5:4). You are correct, as this second sentence suggests, in observing that forgiveness must come to rest upon every seemingly separate brother until we see them as all the same. But it is also usually the case that, at any point in time, there is one particular person with whom we are struggling, who provides our most challenging lessons in forgiveness. Who this other is may or may not change over time. But even though the faces may change, the underlying lessons will remain the same, until we are willing to look at and then release the guilt that we have projected on to them because we have not wanted to acknowledge it is in our own minds. So every relationship provides opportunities to practice forgiveness, but those that seem to push more of our buttons are the greater symbols of our own buried guilt and so provide the maximal opportunities for learning our lessons. Jesus speaks in the manual of these different levels of learning opportunities in the context of teacher-student relationships (M.3).

As for your second question, a careful reading of the section you refer to should make it clear that Jesus is only talking about how we perceive our learning partner and not about what specifically happens at the level of behavior or form between the two of us. It is our ego that wants to bring the focus to what we do with our partner at the level of bodies. According to the Course, relationships exist only in the mind and not between bodies in the world (T.28.IV.3). And so my healing in any relationship is completely unrelated to how you as my learning partner may or may not participate in the study and application of Course principles. If I were dependent on your involvement in any way, I would be at the mercy of your choices, and not simply dependent on my own internal decision about how to perceive you. Now in some cases, it may be helpful if a partner is also studying the Course and there are opportunities for sharing and discussing on the level of form. But this can in no way be necessary for my salvation or Jesus would be selling us the same bill of goods that the ego has been trying to pass off on us from the beginning — victimization of myself by another would be alive and well and inescapable.

Furthermore, whether you as my learning partner are in your right mind or your wrong mind in any of our interactions, if the Holy Spirit is my Guide for how I perceive you, my response will always be the same. For, accepting the Holy Spirit’s judgment rather than my own, I will know that you are only either extending love or giving a call for love, and my response is always the same — I allow myself to be an instrument of the Holy Spirit’s Love (T.12.I). My resistance to accepting the Holy Spirit’s perception of you in any aspects of our relationship simply points to those areas where my forgiveness lessons remain unlearned. And that is how you, as my learning partner, are really my savior, for you direct me to the unhealed thoughts of darkness in my mind, so that now I can make a different choice about how to see myself.

sinless son

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 28

ACIM Text Reading for June 28

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

III. Sin as an Adjustment

The belief in sin is an adjustment. And an adjustment is a change; a shift in perception, or a belief that what was so before has been made different. Every adjustment is therefore a distortion, and calls upon defenses to uphold it against reality. Knowledge requires no adjustments and, in fact, is lost if any shift or change is undertaken. For this reduces it at once to mere perception; a way of looking in which certainty is lost and doubt has entered. To this impaired condition are adjustments necessary, because it is not true. Who need adjust to truth, which calls on only what he is, to understand?

Adjustments of any kind are of the ego. For it is the ego’s fixed belief that all relationships depend upon adjustments, to make of them what it would have them be. Direct relationships, in which there are no interferences, are always seen as dangerous. The ego is the self-appointed mediator of all relationships, making whatever adjustments it deems necessary and interposing them between those who would meet, to keep them separate and prevent their union. It is this studied interference that makes it difficult for you to recognize your holy relationship for what it is.

The holy do not interfere with truth. They are not afraid of it, for it is within the truth they recognize their holiness, and rejoice at what they see. They look on it directly, without attempting to adjust themselves to it, or it to them. And so they see that it was in them, not deciding first where they would have it be. Their looking merely asks a question, and it is what they see that answers them. You make the world and then adjust to it, and it to you. Nor is there any difference between yourself and it in your perception, which made them both.

A simple question yet remains, and needs an answer. Do you like what you have made? –a world of murder and attack, through which you thread your timid way through constant dangers, alone and frightened, hoping at most that death will wait a little longer before it overtakes you and you disappear. You made this up. It is a picture of what you think you are; of how you see yourself. A murderer is frightened, and those who kill fear death. All these are but the fearful thoughts of those who would adjust themselves to a world made fearful by their adjustments. And they look out in sorrow from what is sad within, and see the sadness there.

Have you not wondered what the world is really like; how it would look through happy eyes? The world you see is but a judgment on yourself. It is not there at all. Yet judgment lays a sentence on it, justifies it and makes it real. Such is the world you see; a judgment on yourself, and made by you. This sickly picture of yourself is carefully preserved by the ego, whose image it is and which it loves, and placed outside you in the world. And to this world must you adjust as long as you believe this picture is outside, and has you at its mercy. This world is merciless, and were it outside you, you should indeed be fearful. Yet it was you who made it merciless, and now if mercilessness seems to look back at you, it can be corrected.

Who in a holy relationship can long remain unholy? The world the holy see is one with them, just as the world the ego looks upon is like itself. The world the holy see is beautiful because they see their innocence in it. They did not tell it what it was; they did not make adjustments to fit their orders. They gently questioned it and whispered, “What are you?” And He Who watches over all perception answered. Take not the judgment of the world as answer to the question, “What am I?” The world believes in sin, but the belief that made it as you see it is not outside you.

Seek not to make the Son of God adjust to his insanity. There is a stranger in him, who wandered carelessly into the home of truth and who will wander off. He came without a purpose, but he will not remain before the shining light the Holy Spirit offered, and you accepted. For there the stranger is made homeless and you are welcome. Ask not this transient stranger, “What am I?” He is the only thing in all the universe that does not know. Yet it is he you ask, and it is to his answer that you would adjust. This one wild thought, fierce in its arrogance, and yet so tiny and so meaningless it slips unnoticed through the universe of truth, becomes your guide. To it you turn to ask the meaning of the universe. And of the one blind thing in all the seeing universe of truth you ask, “How shall I look upon the Son of God?”

Does one ask judgment of what is totally bereft of judgment? And if you have, would you believe the answer, and adjust to it as if it were the truth? The world you look on is the answer that it gave you, and you have given it power to adjust the world to make its answer true. You asked this puff of madness for the meaning of your unholy relationship, and adjusted it according to its insane answer. How happy did it make you? Did you meet with joy to bless the Son of God, and give him thanks for all the happiness that he held out to you? Did you recognize your brother as the eternal gift of God to you? Did you see the holiness that shone in both of you, to bless the other? That is the purpose of your holy relationship. Ask not the means of its attainment of the one thing that still would have it be unholy. Give it no power to adjust the means and end.

Prisoners bound with heavy chains for years, starved and emaciated, weak and exhausted, and with eyes so long cast down in darkness they remember not the light, do not leap up in joy the instant they are made free. It takes a while for them to understand what freedom is. You groped but feebly in the dust and found your brother’s hand, uncertain whether to let it go or to take hold on life so long forgotten. Strengthen your hold and raise your eyes unto your strong companion, in whom the meaning of your freedom lies. He seemed to be crucified beside you. And yet his holiness remained untouched and perfect, and with him beside you, you shall this day enter with him to Paradise, and know the peace of God.

Such is my will for you, and for each of you for one another and for himself. Here there is only holiness and joining without limit. For what is Heaven but union, direct and perfect, and without the veil of fear upon it? Here are we one, looking with perfect gentleness upon each other and on ourselves. Here all thoughts of any separation between us become impossible. You who were prisoners in separation are now made free in Paradise. And here would I unite with you, my friends, my brothers and my Self.

Your gift unto your brother has given me the certainty our union will be soon. Share, then, this faith with me, and know that it is justified. There is no fear in perfect love because it knows no sin, and it must look on others as on itself. Looking with charity within, what can it fear without? The innocent see safety, and the pure in heart see God within His Son, and look unto the Son to lead them to the Father. And where else would they go but where they will to be? Each of you now will lead the other to the Father as surely as God created His Son holy, and kept him so. In your brother is the light of God’s eternal promise of your immortality. See him as sinless, and there can be no fear in you.

 

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 28

Lesson 179

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(167) There is one life, and that I share with God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(168) Your grace is given me. I claim it now.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #202: I am a professional who works with kids. I have wondered what are some basics of A Course in Miracles that you all talk about when it comes to working with children, as a parent, teacher, counselor, coach, or whatever role is in use. I use “what do you want to come out of this?” Unfortunately, most kids are not conscious enough to answer that question with much wisdom. I also emphasize the role of “choice.” What else?

A: We addressed this issue in Q #179 in the context of parenting. It is always a good thing to help children (as well as adults) to accept responsibility for their behavior, and to help them realize that choices are available to them; but the concepts and principles of the Course are far beyond what children and most adolescents are capable of grasping. Children must first learn to become strong, healthy egos in order to function effectively and to cope with the many challenges in world. A basically sound level of psychological stability is necessary before anyone can “safely” begin to deal with the concept of the world and individuality as illusions. Immature or psychologically fragile people can be thrown into a panic, or far worse, if they are inappropriately confronted with such topics.

The best way to teach the Course to children is to demonstrate it in our own lives. The focus should always be on the content in our minds — watching for, and then bringing to the love of Jesus, all of our ego thoughts and dynamics: for example, our need to control, dominate, or cannibalize (psychologically) others; our need to manipulate and use others to get what we want and then dispense with them. When we humbly acknowledge that we have been wrong in our choice of teachers, and then choose the teacher of forgiveness in our right minds, we will automatically manifest the message of the Course in our lives. The words we say do not matter, because if we are centered in the love of Jesus, then whatever we do or say will be loving and the most helpful to the children in our care. Children will connect with the source of our words or actions, and consequently they will feel safe and accepted regardless of what they do. When discipline is called for, if we have let go of our ego for just an instant, our behavior will be conducted in a manner that is appropriately firm and effective, but not punitive, retaliative, judgmental, condescending, nor triggered by anger or by fear. Again, the message the children will get — after their normal period of pouting — is that they are cared for and accepted, even though what they just did was not acceptable. We all can attest to the fact that the teachers and adults who stand out in our memories of our childhood are those who were kind and caring and accepting of us, or were just the opposite. The words they said have probably been forgotten — except for those perhaps that manifested acceptance or rejection. Children immediately tune into the message being transmitted through the adult’s words and behavior.

Jesus asks us to be like him, to take him as our model. And therefore the way we teach our children is to be a model for them of our right minds. A helpful paragraph to study in this regard is under “The Function of the Teacher of God” in the manual (M.5.III.2).

10380454_10204446556664769_7181123961313419099_o

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 27

ACIM Text Reading for June 27

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

II. The Gift of Lilies

Look upon all the trinkets made to hang upon the body, or to cover it or for its use. See all the useless things made for its eyes to see. Think on the many offerings made for its pleasure, and remember all these were made to make seem lovely what you hate. Would you employ this hated thing to draw your brother to you, and to attract his body’s eyes? Learn you but offer him a crown of thorns, not recognizing it for what it is, and trying to justify your own interpretation of its value by his acceptance. Yet still the gift proclaims his worthlessness to you, as his acceptance and delight acknowledges the lack of value he places on himself.

Gifts are not made through bodies, if they be truly given and received. For bodies can neither offer nor accept; hold out nor take. Only the mind can value, and only the mind decides on what it would receive and give. And every gift it offers depends on what it wants. It will adorn its chosen home most carefully, making it ready to receive the gifts it wants by offering them to those who come unto its chosen home, or those it would attract to it. And there they will exchange their gifts, offering and receiving what their minds judge to be worthy of them.

Each gift is an evaluation of the receiver and the giver. No one but sees his chosen home as an altar to himself. No one but seeks to draw to it the worshippers of what he placed upon it, making it worthy of their devotion. And each has set a light upon his altar, that they may see what he has placed upon it and take it for their own. Here is the value that you lay upon your brother and on yourself. Here is your gift to both; your judgment on the Son of God for what he is. Forget not that it is your savior to whom the gift is offered. Offer him thorns and you are crucified. Offer him lilies and it is yourself you free.

I have great need for lilies, for the Son of God has not forgiven me. And can I offer him forgiveness when he offers thorns to me? For he who offers thorns to anyone is against me still, and who is whole without him? Be you his friend for me, that I may be forgiven and you may look upon the Son of God as whole. But look you first upon the altar in your chosen home, and see what you have laid upon it to offer me. If it be thorns whose points gleam sharply in a blood-red light, the body is your chosen home and it is separation that you offer me. And yet the thorns are gone. Look you still closer at them now, and you will see your altar is no longer what it was.

You look still with the body’s eyes, and they can see but thorns. Yet you have asked for and received another sight. Those who accept the Holy Spirit’s purpose as their own share also His vision. And what enables Him to see His purpose shine forth from every altar now is yours as well as His. He sees no strangers; only dearly loved and loving friends. He sees no thorns but only lilies, gleaming in the gentle glow of peace that shines on everything He looks upon and loves.

This Easter, look with different eyes upon your brother. You have forgiven me. And yet I cannot use your gift of lilies while you see them not. Nor can you use what I have given unless you share it. The Holy Spirit’s vision is no idle gift, no plaything to be tossed about a while and laid aside. Listen and hear this carefully, nor think it but a dream, a careless thought to play with, or a toy you would pick up from time to time and then put by. For if you do, so will it be to you.

You have the vision now to look past all illusions. It has been given you to see no thorns, no strangers and no obstacles to peace. The fear of God is nothing to you now. Who is afraid to look upon illusions, knowing his savior stands beside him? With him, your vision has become the greatest power for the undoing of illusion that God Himself could give. For what God gave the Holy Spirit, you have received. The Son of God looks unto you for his release. For you have asked for and been given the strength to look upon this final obstacle, and see no thorns nor nails to crucify the Son of God, and crown him king of death.

Your chosen home is on the other side, beyond the veil. It has been carefully prepared for you, and it is ready to receive you now. You will not see it with the body’s eyes. Yet all you need you have. Your home has called to you since time began, nor have you ever failed entirely to hear. You heard, but knew not how to look, nor where. And now you know. In you the knowledge lies, ready to be unveiled and freed from all the terror that kept it hidden. There is no fear in love. The song of Easter is the glad refrain the Son of God was never crucified. Let us lift up our eyes together, not in fear but faith. And there will be no fear in us, for in our vision will be no illusions; only a pathway to the open door of Heaven, the home we share in quietness and where we live in gentleness and peace, as one together.

Would you not have your holy brother lead you there? His innocence will light your way, offering you its guiding light and sure protection, and shining from the holy altar within him where you laid the lilies of forgiveness. Let him be to you the savior from illusions, and look on him with the new vision that looks upon the lilies and brings you joy. We go beyond the veil of fear, lighting each other’s way. The holiness that leads us is within us, as is our home. So will we find what we were meant to find by Him Who leads us.

This is the way to Heaven and to the peace of Easter, in which we join in glad awareness that the Son of God is risen from the past, and has awakened to the present. Now is he free, unlimited in his communion with all that is within him. Now are the lilies of his innocence untouched by guilt, and perfectly protected from the cold chill of fear and withering blight of sin alike. Your gift has saved him from the thorns and nails, and his strong arm is free to guide you safely through them and beyond. Walk with him now rejoicing, for the savior from illusions has come to greet you, and lead you home with him.

Here is your savior and your friend, released from crucifixion through your vision, and free to lead you now where he would be. He will not leave you, nor forsake the savior in his pain. And gladly will you walk the way of innocence together, singing as you behold the open door of Heaven and recognize the home that called to you. Give joyously to one another the freedom and the strength to lead you there. And come before each other’s holy altar where the strength and freedom wait, to offer and receive the bright awareness that leads you home. The lamp is lit in both of you for one another. And by the hands that gave it to your brother shall both of you be led past fear to love.

 

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 27

Lesson 178

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(165) Let not my mind deny the Thought of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(166) I am entrusted with the gifts of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***
ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #420: In A Course in Miracles Jesus says: “I have great need for lilies, for the Son of God has not forgiven me. And can I offer him forgiveness when he offers thorns to me? For he who offers thorns to anyone is against me still, and who is whole without him? Be you his friend for me, that I may be forgiven and you may look upon the Son of God as whole” (T.20.II.4;1,2,3,4). I am not entirely sure what Jesus needs us to forgive him for. What has he done? Is it not we who should be asking him to forgive us that in our insane wrong- mindedness we were and still are mistaken about his and our identity?

A: First, in the passage you quote, Jesus is teaching us again that the Sonship is one: we cannot attack another person without simultaneously attacking ourselves and him. Now with regard to forgiving Jesus… We will give a brief answer here and then suggest some references for an in- depth study of this important topic. There are two levels on which we need to forgive Jesus — all based on what he tells us in the Course. The first level pertains to our projections onto him, the “bitter idols” he mentions in the clarification of terms at the end of the manual for teachers (C.5.5:7). On the one hand, we (the world) have made him into a figure of judgment and punishment who demands suffering and sacrifice. On the other hand, we have made him into a magical savior who will solve our problems, and reward us for our faith and our good deeds. These two images, of course, are prominent in the New Testament, and have been throughout the history of Christianity.

On this first level, then, we need to forgive Jesus for what he has never done and for what he has never been. This really is a defense against the more basic underlying level, which is our need to forgive Jesus for who he truly is, as he reveals himself in A Course in Miracles, thus correcting the distorted and mistaken descriptions given in most religions for the past two thousand years. If Jesus is indeed present within our minds as the reflection of God’s Love — the pure expression of the Atonement principle — then our entire identity as a separated physical and psychological being is undone. He is the living proof within our dream that we are wrong about everything, that our individual lives and the entire world are made up. He has not come to help us make our lives in the world better. When we allow ourselves to look honestly at who Jesus truly is and what he truly represents, we could not but react with fear and even hatred. So it is because of who he truly is that our forgiveness of him is needed. In this sense, we can all relate to the profound feelings expressed in Helen’s poem “Stranger on the Road,” in which she portrays her fear of confronting the truth of Jesus’ reality.

There is much more to say about this aspect of our relationship with Jesus, but space limitations prevent us from doing so here, and so we refer you to some of our publications for further study:

Question #54 in The Most Commonly Asked Questions about A Course in Miracles; “Why Must We Forgive Jesus?” in Chapter 15 of Forgiveness and Jesus: The Meeting Place of A Course in Miracles and Christianity; The Afterword in the second edition of Christian Psychology in A Course in Miracles, and “Forgiving Jesus: Stranger on the Road, an audio tape album.

Into Christ's Presence

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 26

ACIM Text Reading for June 26

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

I. Holy Week

This is Palm Sunday, the celebration of victory and the acceptance of the truth. Let us not spend this holy week brooding on the crucifixion of God’s Son, but happily in the celebration of his release. For Easter is the sign of peace, not pain. A slain Christ has no meaning. But a risen Christ becomes the symbol of the Son of God’s forgiveness on himself; the sign he looks upon himself as healed and whole.

This week begins with palms and ends with lilies, the white and holy sign the Son of God is innocent. Let no dark sign of crucifixion intervene between the journey and its purpose; between the acceptance of the truth and its expression. This week we celebrate life, not death. And we honor the perfect purity of the Son of God, and not his sins. Offer your brother the gift of lilies, not the crown of thorns; the gift of love and not the “gift” of fear. You stand beside your brother, thorns in one hand and lilies in the other, uncertain which to give. Join now with me and throw away the thorns, offering the lilies to replace them. This Easter I would have the gift of your forgiveness offered by you to me, and returned by me to you. We cannot be united in crucifixion and in death. Nor can the resurrection be complete till your forgiveness rests on Christ, along with mine.

A week is short, and yet this holy week is the symbol of the whole journey the Son of God has undertaken. He started with the sign of victory, the promise of the resurrection, already given him. Let him not wander into the temptation of crucifixion, and delay him there. Help him to go in peace beyond it, with the light of his own innocence lighting his way to his redemption and release. Hold him not back with thorns and nails when his redemption is so near. But let the whiteness of your shining gift of lilies speed him on his way to resurrection.

If you see glimpses of the face of Christ behind the veil, looking between the snow-white petals of the lilies you have received and given as your gift, you will behold your brother’s face and recognize it. I was a stranger and you took me in, not knowing who I was. Yet for your gift of lilies you will know. In your forgiveness of this stranger, alien to you and yet your ancient Friend, lies his release and your redemption with him. The time of Easter is a time of joy, and not of mourning. Look on your risen Friend, and celebrate his holiness along with me. For Easter is the time of your salvation, along with mine.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 26

Lesson 177

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(163) There is no death. The Son of God is free.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(164) Now are we one with Him Who is our Source.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1241: I have struggled most of my life with never being fully aware of God’s Love for me. I understand and appreciate His Love for others, just not me. Perhaps experiences from my childhood are the cause, or just a very poor sense of self-worth. The reasons could be endless. I see the problems and the errors in my thinking; but that does not provide an answer or healing. I feel abandoned by God. His Love is just not quite within my reach. How do I heal this thought when I do not even see myself as worthy enough to be heard by God? When I read and study the Course, it feels as though my ego, my resistance is greater and stronger than God and He is waiting for me to heal this perception of myself and of Him first, and until then He will just remain silent. Could this be true?

A: Resistance to changing our beliefs about ourselves is a major aspect of every student’s spiritual process, as is feeling unworthy of love. Kenneth’s book Ending Our Resistance to Love speaks to these issues directly. As is discussed in this book, being aware of your resistance is extremely helpful; but what you want to add to that is a decision not to justify your feelings of unworthiness. Although sometimes it is helpful to delve into the past to shed some light on this sense of unworthiness, the key to resolving the conflict is realizing that you are making a decision to hold on to that belief about yourself in the present. That is what you want to focus on. The ego loves to bring in the past because the past cannot be changed, which means we will be tempted to treat present conditions as limitations or handicaps we can do nothing about. Score one for the ego!

Approaching your sense of unworthiness as a belief you are choosing in the present (even though you do not experience it that way) advances you to the next step of looking at it now from the perspective of purpose : if you are choosing that belief, it must be for a purpose, which means there is a payoff to it, something you want. Since it leaves you feeling completely separate from God and even hopeless, then the goal of continuing to believe in it is to maintain your existence as separate from God. But the guilt over that (unconscious, of course) would necessitate projecting responsibility for it, resulting in the feeling that God has abandoned you.

This is why Jesus emphasizes that feeling unworthy of God’s Love is not humility or virtuous in any sense, unlike the view of many other spiritual paths ( W.pI.61 ) . Lesson 93 “Light and joy and peace abide in me” points out that our negative feelings are “so firmly fixed that it is difficult to help you see that they are based on nothing” ( W.pI.93.2:1 ). They are meaningless beliefs and feelings because they rest on the false assumption that we truly are separate from God and hopelessly sinful and unworthy as a result. As part of the correction, Jesus assures us, “Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God. Over and over this must be repeated, until it is accepted. . . . You are what God created or what you made. One Self is true, the other is not there. Try to experience the unity of your one Self” ( W.pI.93.6:1,2 ; 9:1,2,3). Realizing that our negativity is rooted in nothing real is extremely helpful, as we then would not be fighting against something we think is real.

To answer your last question: From the Course’s perspective, it could not be true that God is waiting for you to change your beliefs before He comes to you. That would be to give God human traits, and more importantly, it would imply that God somehow recognizes us as separate from Him, which is the exact opposite of the Atonement principle that states the separation never happened. The passages in the Course that speak of God that way are meant to help us with our fear of Him so that we would grow to trust Him as loving, comforting, and forgiving rather than as vindictive, judgmental, and unpredictable. This course is corrective of all our misperceptions about everything, and it must use language that meets us at our level of need, so that it can then raise us to higher levels, drawing us closer and closer to the perfect Oneness of Love, our true and eternal Identity.

Since Love is perfect Oneness, it is just plain silly to think that there can be anything real that can oppose It, “a power past omnipotence” (T. 29.VIII.6:2 ). What seems so powerful and destructive is nothing more than “a frightened mouse that would attack the universe” ( T.22.V.4:3 ); our seemingly monstrous ego has not even the power to stop the fall of a button ( T.18.IX.6:4 ) , and if we think otherwise, it is only because we want it to be that way, not because it is in reality. Again, our feelings of helplessness and unworthiness are all based on nothing. That is what choosing Jesus as our teacher would help us to learn, thus freeing us to be the Self that God created.

Related discussions may be found in Questions #180, #721, and #1042.

teach not that i died in vain

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 25

ACIM Text Reading for June 25

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

XII. The Lifting of the Veil

Forget not that you came this far together, you and your brother. And it was surely not the ego that led you here. No obstacle to peace can be surmounted through its help. It does not open up its secrets, and bid you look on them and go beyond them. It would not have you see its weakness, and learn it has no power to keep you from the truth. The Guide Who brought you here remains with you, and when you raise your eyes you will be ready to look on terror with no fear at all. But first, lift up your eyes and look on one another in innocence born of complete forgiveness of each other’s illusions, and through the eyes of faith that sees them not.

No one can look upon the fear of God unterrified, unless he has accepted the Atonement and learned illusions are not real. No one can stand before this obstacle alone, for he could not have reached this far unless his brother walked beside him. And no one would dare to look on it without complete forgiveness of his brother in his heart. Stand you here a while and tremble not. You will be ready. Let us join together in a holy instant, here in this place where the purpose, given in a holy instant, has led you. And let us join in faith that He Who brought us here together will offer you the innocence you need, and that you will accept it for my love and His.

Nor is it possible to look on this too soon. This is the place to which everyone must come when he is ready. Once he has found his brother he is ready. Yet merely to reach the place is not enough. A journey without a purpose is still meaningless, and even when it is over it seems to make no sense. How can you know that it is over unless you realize its purpose is accomplished? Here, with the journey’s end before you, you see its purpose. And it is here you choose whether to look upon it or wander on, only to return and make the choice again.

To look upon the fear of God does need some preparation. Only the sane can look on stark insanity and raving madness with pity and compassion, but not with fear. For only if they share in it does it seem fearful, and you do share in it until you look upon your brother with perfect faith and love and tenderness. Before complete forgiveness you still stand unforgiving. You are afraid of God because you fear your brother. Those you do not forgive you fear. And no one reaches love with fear beside him.

This brother who stands beside you still seems to be a stranger. You do not know him, and your interpretation of him is very fearful. And you attack him still, to keep what seems to be yourself unharmed. Yet in his hands is your salvation. You see his madness, which you hate because you share it. And all the pity and forgiveness that would heal it gives way to fear. Brother, you need forgiveness of each other, for you will share in madness or in Heaven together. And you will raise your eyes in faith together, or not at all.

Beside each of you is one who offers you the chalice of Atonement, for the Holy Spirit is in him. Would you hold his sins against him, or accept his gift to you? Is this giver of salvation your friend or enemy? Choose which he is, remembering that you will receive of him according to your choice. He has in him the power to forgive your sin, as you for him. Neither can give it to himself alone. And yet your savior stands beside each one. Let him be what he is, and seek not to make of love an enemy.

Behold your Friend, the Christ Who stands beside you. How holy and beautiful He is! You thought He sinned because you cast the veil of sin upon Him to hide His loveliness. Yet still He holds forgiveness out to you, to share His holiness. This “enemy,” this “stranger” still offers you salvation as His Friend. The “enemies” of Christ, the worshippers of sin, know not Whom they attack.

This is your brother, crucified by sin and waiting for release from pain. Would you not offer him forgiveness, when only he can offer it to you? For his redemption he will give you yours, as surely as God created every living thing and loves it. And he will give it truly, for it will be both offered and received. There is no grace of Heaven that you cannot offer to one another, and receive from your most holy Friend. Let him withhold it not, for by receiving it you offer it to him. Redemption has been given you to give each other, and thus receive it. Whom you forgive is free, and what you give you share. Forgive the sins your brother thinks he has committed, and all the guilt you think you see in him.

Here is the holy place of resurrection, to which we come again; to which we will return until redemption is accomplished and received. Think who your brother is, before you would condemn him. And offer thanks to God that he is holy, and has been given the gift of holiness for you. Join him in gladness, and remove all trace of guilt from his disturbed and tortured mind. Help him to lift the heavy burden of sin you laid upon him and he accepted as his own, and toss it lightly and with happy laughter away from him. Press it not like thorns against his brow, nor nail him to it, unredeemed and hopeless.

Give faith to one another, for faith and hope and mercy are yours to give. Into the hands that give, the gift is given. Look on your brother, and see in him the gift of God you would receive. It is almost Easter, the time of resurrection. Let us give redemption to each other and share in it, that we may rise as one in resurrection, not separate in death. Behold the gift of freedom that I gave the Holy Spirit for you. And be you free together, as you offer to the Holy Spirit this same gift. And giving it, receive it of Him in return for what you gave. He leadeth you and me together, that we might meet here in this holy place, and make the same decision.

Free your brother here, as I freed you. Give him the selfsame gift, nor look upon him with condemnation of any kind. See him as guiltless as I look on you, and overlook the sins he thinks he sees within himself. Offer your brother freedom and complete release from sin, here in the garden of seeming agony and death. So will we prepare together the way unto the resurrection of God’s Son, and let him rise again to glad remembrance of his Father, Who knows no sin, no death, but only life eternal.

Together we will disappear into the Presence beyond the veil, not to be lost but found; not to be seen but known. And knowing, nothing in the plan God has established for salvation will be left undone. This is the journey’s purpose, without which is the journey meaningless. Here is the peace of God, given to you eternally by Him. Here is the rest and quiet that you seek, the reason for the journey from its beginning. Heaven is the gift you owe your brother, the debt of gratitude you offer to the Son of God in thanks for what he is, and what his Father created him to be.

Think carefully how you would look upon the giver of this gift, for as you look on him so will the gift itself appear to be. As he is seen as either the giver of guilt or of salvation, so will his offering be seen and so received. The crucified give pain because they are in pain. But the redeemed give joy because they have been healed of pain. Everyone gives as he receives, but he must choose what it will be that he receives. And he will recognize his choice by what he gives, and what is given him. Nor is it given anything in hell or Heaven to interfere with his decision.

You came this far because the journey was your choice. And no one undertakes to do what he believes is meaningless. What you had faith in still is faithful, and watches over you in faith so gentle yet so strong that it would lift you far beyond the veil, and place the Son of God safely within the sure protection of his Father. Here is the only purpose that gives this world, and the long journey through this world, whatever meaning lies in them. Beyond this, they are meaningless. You and your brother stand together, still without conviction they have a purpose. Yet it is given you to see this purpose in your holy Friend, and recognize it as your own.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 25

Lesson 176

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(161) Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(162) I am as God created me.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #722: I am certain that I have read and heard Ken say that our lives here (in the dream) are the constant acting out of what we believe happened to cause the separation from God — that we wanted to be special and because God cannot give special favor, we killed Him and usurped His place. In that moment the mind split. The facilitator in the group I attend often defines the separation as something that happened to us when we were very young – usually by a parent whom we loved and trusted, and that parent did or said something that was not love, and so we gave it an interpretation other than love, and that was our introduction to the “ego”. Can you comment on these interpretations — they seem to be saying the same thing. I see my relationship with my parents as being the acting out of my relationship with God. I chose autonomy from God and continue to do so and I chose autonomy from my parents as all children do in this dream.

A: The separation, as it is spoken of in A Course in Miracles, has nothing to do with the body. The body is simply the projection of a thought of guilt in the mind — it embodies that thought, if you will. The separation began, as you say, when the Son of God believed he had killed God and gave himself existence as a separate mind (not in reality, of course). The process of fragmenting what once was one continued, culminating in our experience right now of there being multitudes of separate, individualized beings. All that we are doing, however, despite appearances, is reliving “the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love” (T.26.V.13:1). So, yes, our interactions with our parents — and everyone else as well — would reflect the ego thoughts in our minds or, in a holy instant, the love in our minds. What is so hard for us to fathom is that the mind (not the brain) of the infant or child is a mature mind containing both the thought system of the ego and the thought system of the Holy Spirit along with the capacity to choose between the two. The separation is already a “reality” for that mind. It projects itself into the form of a body, which appears to begin as an infant and then develops through various stages into adulthood. But since ideas leave not their source, this is all going on only within the mind, which is outside time and space.


Q #723: Is it right that from the viewpoint of A Course in Miracles we are already “saved” and have always been, and isn’t that the humorous part in all of the book that we ask so many questions and struggle and struggle and it’s all already done for us? If someone from outside were watching us, wouldn’t that be good stuff for a comedy? Aren’t love and humor closely linked? How can we express that love in this world without being absorbed by it? By letting ourselves be absorbed?

A: As Jesus tells us in the text: “It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity …” (T.27.VIII.6:5). This means that when viewed from the Holy Spirit’s perspective we find ourselves in a humorous situation as you indicate. In the end, just before God reaches down to lift us to Himself, we will smile at the foolishness of the entire dream. Meanwhile, that smile can be experienced in the dream in the holy instant and the real world (T.19.III.10; 27.VII.14; W.pI.153.14; T.15.V.11). For one who knows that separation from God is impossible, the belief in separation is preposterous and perhaps comical. For one who believes separation is real, its effects seem real as well, and are experienced as disastrous and painful (T.27.VIII.8:4,5,6,7). You are correct in saying that we are saved and have, in truth, never left our home in God. We certainly would not need to struggle and question if we accepted this truth as true. The problem is that we think we are here and do notbelieve the truth about ourselves. As Jesus tells us in the text: “This is a very simple course. Perhaps you do not feel you need a course which, in the end, teaches that only reality is true. But do you believe it? When you perceive the real world, you will recognize that you did not believe it” (T.11.VIII.1: 1,2,3,4 italics ours). This means that until we reach the real world, we do not believe reality is true. We have chosen to believe instead the ego’s lie of separation, which is why we take ourselves and the dream of separation seriously, and are not smiling the smile the Course speaks of, nor laughing “… at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death” (W.pI.187.6:4). Our resistance to learning what is true is the source of our struggle with the Course’s teaching, and of our inability to smile peacefully at everything in our lives and our world.

Resistance is undone through the process of forgiveness, whereby we look at all the judgments that issue from the choice to identify with the ego, with a little willingness to offer them to the Holy Spirit to be transformed. The process begins with the recognition that our interpretation of every experience is a projection of guilt for having chosen to believe the separation is real. As forgiveness becomes a way of life, guilt and the fear of punishment diminish and the love that is always there slowly dawns upon the mind. This does not happen abruptly. Slowly, fear lessens and glimpses of love’s reflection take its place. Gradually it becomes easier and more attractive to identify with the love. When we identify with love, we are “absorbed” in it in the sense that it is the only thing we choose. In the text, Jesus tells us: “When you want only love you will see nothing else” (T.12.VII.8:1). Love then extends itself naturally with no interference from the ego. Until then, the many other things we think we want keep us holding on to the ego’s guilt and fear, which block love from our awareness. Very early in the text, Jesus tells us we are the same as he, but allow other interests to obscure our awareness: “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else” (T.1.II.3:10,11,12). Our goal is to seek the Holy Spirit’s help through forgiveness to remove “the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence” (T.in.1:7). We will then truly see the humor in the dream, smile gently at our foolishness, and be “absorbed” in love.

sinless son

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 24

ACIM Text Reading for June 24

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

XI. The Fourth Obstacle: The Fear of God

What would you see without the fear of death? What would you feel and think if death held no attraction for you? Very simply, you would remember your Father. The Creator of life, the Source of everything that lives, the Father of the universe and of the universe of universes, and of everything that lies even beyond them would you remember. And as this memory rises in your mind, peace must still surmount a final obstacle, after which is salvation completed, and the Son of God entirely restored to sanity. For here your world does end.

The fourth obstacle to be surmounted hangs like a heavy veil before the face of Christ. Yet as His face rises beyond it, shining with joy because He is in His Father’s Love, peace will lightly brush the veil aside and run to meet Him, and to join with Him at last. For this dark veil, which seems to make the face of Christ Himself like to a leper’s, and the bright Rays of His Father’s Love that light His face with glory appear as streams of blood, fades in the blazing light beyond it when the fear of death is gone.

This is the darkest veil, upheld by the belief in death and protected by its attraction. The dedication to death and to its sovereignty is but the solemn vow, the promise made in secret to the ego never to lift this veil, not to approach it, nor even to suspect that it is there. This is the secret bargain made with the ego to keep what lies beyond the veil forever blotted out and unremembered. Here is your promise never to allow union to call you out of separation; the great amnesia in which the memory of God seems quite forgotten; the cleavage of your Self from you;–the fear of God, the final step in your dissociation.

See how the belief in death would seem to “save” you. For if this were gone, what could you fear but life? It is the attraction of death that makes life seem to be ugly, cruel and tyrannical. You are no more afraid of death than of the ego. These are your chosen friends. For in your secret alliance with them you have agreed never to let the fear of God be lifted, so you could look upon the face of Christ and join Him in His Father.

Every obstacle that peace must flow across is surmounted in just the same way; the fear that raised it yields to the love beyond, and so the fear is gone. And so it is with this. The desire to get rid of peace and drive the Holy Spirit from you fades in the presence of the quiet recognition that you love Him. The exaltation of the body is given up in favor of the spirit, which you love as you could never love the body. And the appeal of death is lost forever as love’s attraction stirs and calls to you. From beyond each of the obstacles to love, Love Itself has called. And each has been surmounted by the power of the attraction of what lies beyond. Your wanting fear seemed to be holding them in place. Yet when you heard the Voice of Love beyond them, you answered and they disappeared.

And now you stand in terror before what you swore never to look upon. Your eyes look down, remembering your promise to your “friends.” The “loveliness” of sin, the delicate appeal of guilt, the “holy” waxen image of death, and the fear of vengeance of the ego you swore in blood not to desert, all rise and bid you not to raise your eyes. For you realize that if you look on this and let the veil be lifted, they will be gone forever. All of your “friends,” your “protectors” and your “home” will vanish. Nothing that you remember now will you remember.

It seems to you the world will utterly abandon you if you but raise your eyes. Yet all that will occur is you will leave the world forever. This is the re-establishment of your will. Look upon it, open-eyed, and you will nevermore believe that you are at the mercy of things beyond you, forces you cannot control, and thoughts that come to you against your will. It is your will to look on this. No mad desire, no trivial impulse to forget again, no stab of fear nor the cold sweat of seeming death can stand against your will. For what attracts you from beyond the veil is also deep within you, unseparated from it and completely one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 24

Lesson 175

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(159) I give the miracles I have received.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(160) I am at home. Fear is the stranger here.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #71: I have a “pattern” of what seems to happen to me in relationships. I keep seeing the situations end up with me being alone and feeling like something has been taken away from me and that the other person has something I want and need. They get it and I don’t.

I have been trying to ask for help in every way I can imagine. I end up seeing my Teacher as torturing me and I am afraid of Him. Lately I have been asking for all the things I want for myself for these other people. It seems to bring some relief but the underlying thought of my Teacher torturing me is still there. How do I trust someone that is torturing me?

A: It appears that the situation you describe in your relationships is one of being victimized by your partner, a situation that you have projected on to your Teacher. Since you capitalize “Teacher” and “Him” you must be referring to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. It may be helpful to make this assumption in answering your question. The Course tells us that while our minds are not healed all our relationships are marked with the victim/victimizer theme. This takes the form of feeling needy, unfairly treated and deprived. We blame others for causing our sense of scarcity. The Course invites us to see the real cause of this so it can be “undone”. The real cause of feeling deprived is that we have denied our true identity and taken on an identity as separated individuals, being on our own apart from God. The guilt we feel for having made this choice to identify with the ego is too much to bear, so we project it onto others, including Jesus. We blame them for treating us unfairly. We are then caught in a vicious circle because the guilt is not undone by projecting it. It stays in the mind impelling us to continually find situations and people to project it onto. That is why you notice a pattern in your relationships. We do the same thing over and over hoping for different results. The Course asks us to accept responsibility for the choice we have made. This is the process of undoing that is the real solution to our predicament. Although we may still perceive our partners or Jesus as causing our feelings of victimization, there is a part of our mind that now knows that the feeling comes from within and not outside ourselves. This does dissipate some of the feeling and is the beginning step of the forgiveness process. This is what the Course means when it says “Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do” (T.17.III.1:5). Since we project the same feelings onto Jesus, He is obviously included in the forgiveness process as well.

There is another reason why it is normal for students of the Course to feel victimized by Jesus. The ego recognizes that by following His teaching in the Course the underpinnings of its thought system are being pulled out from under it and eventually our identification with it will be relinquished. This can indeed be experienced in a mild form as having something taken away, or in the extreme as “being tortured.” The Manual describes this process: “First, they must go through what might be called a period of undoing. This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognized” (M.4.I.A.3:1,2,3). The very title of this section, “The Development of Trust,” indicates that we are starting from a place of not trusting to be led through a process of developing trust. Our learning process with Jesus as our teacher may be viewed as similar to the healing relationship with a doctor or dentist. When we see a doctor or dentist we know that their help may seem to hurt us but they will treat our illness and eventually we will feel better. In this sense Jesus is our “doctor”; he is a teacher who is teaching us a new thought system to heal our sick minds. It seems to hurt because we are so confused and lost in our misperceptions about everything and we are attached to the thoughts of the ego that have actually made our minds sick and in need of healing. It may help to try to relate to Jesus as you would to a kind and loving doctor who is helping in the gentlest way possible. Just as the dentist or doctor would not take groans or complaining personally, neither does Jesus. In fact he expects that we have grievances against him and knows that we are just learning to trust him: “Forgive me, then, today. And you will know you have forgiven me if you behold your brother in the light of holiness. He cannot be less holy than can I, and you can not be holier than he” (W.pII.288.2:1,2,3).Our forgiveness then includes Jesus and all of our brothers. It is the answer to our problem of separation and our feelings of deprivation. In the process it is important not to deny the negative feelings towards Jesus, but not to think they have any effect on his love or his ability to help in spite of our fear or lack of trust. The fact that you ask for help must mean that on some level you do trust him and you do know he can help you.

As we learn to see the ego dynamics at work in our relationships and understand their purpose, we learn to be willing to take responsibility for the way we feel and no longer believe the ego’s interpretation or projection. It then becomes easier to accept that Jesus is not the cause of our dilemma; rather he is offering us a way out of hell through the teaching of the Course. He is not forcing us or rushing us, but nudges us gently along the path from the ego’s dream of darkness to the light ofhis love: “How can you wake children in a more kindly way than by a gentle Voice that will not frighten them, but will merely remind them that the night is over and the light has come? You do not inform them that the nightmares that frightened them so badly are not real, because children believe in magic. You merely reassure them that they are safe now. Then you train them to recognize the difference between sleeping and waking, so they will understand they need not be afraid of dreams. And so when bad dreams come, they will themselves call on the light to dispel them” (T.6.V.2).Holy Encounter copy

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 23

ACIM Text Reading for June 23

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

X. The Incorruptible Body

From the ego came sin and guilt and death, in opposition to life and innocence, and to the Will of God Himself. Where can such opposition lie but in the sick minds of the insane, dedicated to madness and set against the peace of Heaven? One thing is sure; God, Who created neither sin nor death, wills not that you be bound by them. He knows of neither sin nor its results. The shrouded figures in the funeral procession march not in honor of their Creator, Whose Will it is they live. They are not following His Will; they are opposing it.

And what is the black-draped body they would bury? A body which they dedicated to death, a symbol of corruption, a sacrifice to sin, offered to sin to feed upon and keep itself alive; a thing condemned, damned by its maker and lamented by every mourner who looks upon it as himself. You who believe you have condemned the Son of God to this are arrogant. But you who would release him are but honoring the Will of his Creator. The arrogance of sin, the pride of guilt, the sepulchre of separation, all are part of your unrecognized dedication to death. The glitter of guilt you laid upon the body would kill it. For what the ego loves, it kills for its obedience. But what obeys it not, it cannot kill.

You have another dedication that would keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose. The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. It is the result of a tiny, mad idea of corruption that can be corrected. For God has answered this insane idea with His Own; an Answer Which left Him not, and therefore brings the Creator to the awareness of every mind which heard His Answer and accepted It.

You who are dedicated to the incorruptible have been given through your acceptance, the power to release from corruption. What better way to teach the first and fundamental principle in a course on miracles than by showing you the one that seems to be the hardest can be accomplished first? The body can but serve your purpose. As you look on it, so will it seem to be. Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego’s goal.

Those who fear death see not how often and how loudly they call to it, and bid it come to save them from communication. For death is seen as safety, the great dark savior from the light of truth, the answer to the Answer, the silencer of the Voice That speaks for God. Yet the retreat to death is not the end of conflict. Only God’s Answer is its end. The obstacle of your seeming love for death that peace must flow across seems to be very great. For in it lie hidden all the ego’s secrets, all its strange devices for deception, all its sick ideas and weird imaginings. Here is the final end of union, the triumph of the ego’s making over creation, the victory of lifelessness on Life Itself.

Under the dusty edge of its distorted world the ego would lay the Son of God, slain by its orders, proof in his decay that God Himself is powerless before the ego’s might, unable to protect the life that He created against the ego’s savage wish to kill. My brother, child of our Father, this is a dream of death. There is no funeral, no dark altars, no grim commandments nor twisted rituals of condemnation to which the body leads you. Ask not release of it. But free it from the merciless and unrelenting orders you laid upon it, and forgive it what you ordered it to do. In its exaltation you commanded it to die, for only death could conquer life. And what but insanity could look upon the defeat of God, and think it real?

The fear of death will go as its appeal is yielded to love’s real attraction. The end of sin, which nestles quietly in the safety of your relationship, protected by your union with your brother, and ready to grow into a mighty force for God is very near. The infancy of salvation is carefully guarded by love, preserved from every thought that would attack it, and quietly made ready to fulfill the mighty task for which it was given you. Your newborn purpose is nursed by angels, cherished by the Holy Spirit and protected by God Himself. It needs not your protection; it is yours. For it is deathless, and within it lies the end of death.

What danger can assail the wholly innocent? What can attack the guiltless? What fear can enter and disturb the peace of sinlessness? What has been given you, even in its infancy, is in full communication with God and you. In its tiny hands it holds, in perfect safety, every miracle you will perform, held out to you. The miracle of life is ageless, born in time but nourished in eternity. Behold this infant, to whom you gave a resting place by your forgiveness of your brother, and see in it the Will of God. Here is the babe of Bethlehem reborn. And everyone who gives him shelter will follow him, not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life.

When anything seems to you to be a source of fear, when any situation strikes you with terror and makes your body tremble and the cold sweat of fear comes over it, remember it is always for one reason; the ego has perceived it as a symbol of fear, a sign of sin and death. Remember, then, that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves. Their meaning cannot lie in them, but must be sought in what they represent. And they may thus mean everything or nothing, according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect. Confronted with such seeming uncertainty of meaning, judge it not. Remember the holy Presence of the One given to you to be the Source of judgment. Give it to Him to judge for you, and say:

“Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.
Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.
Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace,
But let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming.”

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 23

Lesson 174

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(157) Into His Presence would I enter now.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(158) Today I learn to give as I receive.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #383: What does Ken mean when he says “Say not no to the ego” I believe this was said in an audio-tape series.

A: We are not saying “not no” to the ego. If it was stated this way on the tape, it was misspoken. The ego can be understood as a “no” to God, and to the Identity that God has given us as His innocent Son. Saying “not no” is a way of saying that we deny the reality of the ego’s thought system, and accept the truth of who we are as God’s Son. It means we do notsay no. This is related to the idea that A Course in Miracles is a process of unlearning who we are not, so that who we are can return to our awareness. The truth does not require any affirmative response on our part to be what it is — it only requires that we say “not no.”

The Course tells us that God established our identity as His innocent Son: “I am your Father and you are My Son”(W.pII.10.5:3). We have responded: “No, I am not; I am who I say I am.” And we have a long list of who we say we are. The process of forgiveness is teaching us to let go of all these concepts of the self, attributes of our made up identities, in this process we are saying “not no.”   When we have said “not” to all of our no’s, we will have cleared our minds of all the obstacles that blocked awareness of our true selves: “When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this: I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself. Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself” (T.31.V.17:5,6,7,8,9).


Q #384: I experience a free-floating anxiety or unsettled feeling sometimes after I read A Course in Miracles. This awareness doesn’t seem to have any content other than since I believe the truth of what I read, I should feel peaceful, not unsettled. Yet, what I read doesn’t seem to “stick” in my memory as something I can draw on. My life has been filled with beliefs that have filled my time with worldly concerns about who I am in relation to others and why I am afraid of money, etc. Since I started studying the Course again, I know my fears are not real and I don’t experience fear very often. I’ve experienced some deep feelings of peace and clarity lately and I wish this would become more frequent. I think perhaps I’m trying too hard or that I’m too focused on ME as being solely responsible to learn and not asking the Holy Spirit to help me learn what I need to learn. I’ve felt alone all my life – believing in God but as somehow separate from me.

A: To your right mind, the Course’s message is one that opens the door to peace. But to your ego, or wrong mind, the Course’s message will at some level be experienced as a threat, for the purpose of the Course is to teach us how to undo the ego. So long as you remain identified with your ego in any way — as all of us here continue to do — it is not surprising that you may at times experience anxiety or other unsettled feelings as you read the Course. And you are certainly not alone in finding your memory failing you when you want to be able to apply the Course’s principles, which you may have just been reading and studying five minutes earlier and now find you haven’t a clue as to what you were looking at. Anyone who has attempted to do the workbook lessons and remember them at various intervals throughout the day has found these lapses all too familiar. But again, the “forgetting” is simply an ego defense to protect itself from being undone. The preoccupation with the things of the world –our personal and bodily needs and concerns — is yet another form of defense that keeps us rooted in our ego identity, oblivious to the actual choice such a perception of ourselves represents.

We may know intellectually that our fears are not real and experience some peace as a result of this realization. But there are layers to our fear, so while we may move beyond fear of some of those old familiar monsters under the bed, we find there are others still lurking behind the shut doors of the closets of our minds, continuing to affect us until we are willing to open the doors and let the light shine on their nothingness. But there is no need to be concerned that they still linger for, again, that is to be expected until we get to the bottom of the layers of fear and release all the guilt that is concealed beneath them. And that is a process that for most of us will take time. So be patient with yourself and yes, please don’t forget that you are not alone in this process, that in fact you cannot do it alone, and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ever present in your mind, available to help you remember the way back home, which is where we have been all along, simply with the covers pulled over ourselves so we can’t see beyond the darkness we have hidden ourselves in (T.11.VIII.13,14; T.12.II.4,5).

health is inner peace

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 22

ACIM Text Reading for June 22

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

IX. The Third Obstacle: The Attraction of Death

To you and your brother, in whose special relationship the Holy Spirit entered, it is given to release and be released from the dedication to death. For it was offered you, and you accepted. Yet you must learn still more about this strange devotion, for it contains the third obstacle that peace must flow across. No one can die unless he chooses death. What seems to be the fear of death is really its attraction. Guilt, too, is feared and fearful. Yet it could have no hold at all except on those who are attracted to it and seek it out. And so it is with death. Made by the ego, its dark shadow falls across all living things, because the ego is the “enemy” of life.

And yet a shadow cannot kill. What is a shadow to the living? They but walk past and it is gone. But what of those whose dedication is not to live; the black-draped “sinners,” the ego’s mournful chorus, plodding so heavily away from life, dragging their chains and marching in the slow procession that honors their grim master, lord of death? Touch any one of them with the gentle hands of forgiveness, and watch the chains fall away, along with yours. See him throw aside the black robe he was wearing to his funeral, and hear him laugh at death. The sentence sin would lay upon him he can escape through your forgiveness. This is no arrogance. It is the Will of God. What is impossible to you who chose His Will as yours? What is death to you? Your dedication is not to death, nor to its master. When you accepted the Holy Spirit’s purpose in place of the ego’s you renounced death, exchanging it for life. We know that an idea leaves not its source. And death is the result of the thought we call the ego, as surely as life is the result of the Thought of God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 22

Lesson 173

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(155) I will step back and let Him lead the way.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(156) I walk with God in perfect holiness.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #437: There is one aspect of being a student of A Course in Miracles that just keeps nagging me. In answering Question #235 you stated that neither God nor Jesus intervenes in the world to fix problems. Does this mean that we are just on our own within the dream and have no one we can turn to for help? I understand the ultimate goal of the Course is to undo the dream, but while we are working toward that goal we are “stuck” within the dream and have things we have to accomplish just to be able to continue working with the Course. Is there really no help from within to assist us in doing what we need to do within the dream? A child may believe there is a monster under his bed, and he is terrified. An adult knows there is nothing under the bed, but he doesn’t just dismiss what the child believes and leave him comfortless. The adult does everything it can to make the child feel safe. I just find it difficult to believe that if I need something within the dream, even though to Jesus it may be just as unreal as the monster under that child’s bed, that I can’t get any help from him to accomplish what I need to do just to be able to continue within the dream.

A: Helen Schucman’s experience was that Jesus helped her with very specific things in her life, even with things that were not essential to her being able to “continue within the dream,” as you expressed it. There is nothing wrong in asking Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help with specifics, as Jesus explains in the “Ladder of Prayer” section in The Song of Prayer pamphlet. There he helps us understand what “asking-out-of-need” is all about. In fact, he says that “no one who is uncertain of his Identity can avoid praying in this way” (S.II.2:3). He just does not want us to stay at that level of relationship with either ourselves or him, because there is so much more that awaits us. He wants us to value his love above any specific form in which it may be reflected. In asking for help and comfort within the dream, you will not get stuck as long as you remember, among other things, that “the world was made that problems could not be escaped.” (T.31.IV.2:6). Our egos are sly and always seeking ways to join us in our study of the Course. And this would be one of its favorite ways: in the guise of prayer to reinforce our identity as real individuals with real needs in a real world, rekindling hope that we will yet be happy here. What will help you avoid this trap is to keep in mind that we are always dealing with symbols, symbols for dynamics in our minds that are outside time and space entirely. This is brought to light in Chapter 17 of Kenneth’s book, Absence from Felicity.

Having said this, though, it is still true that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not active in the world. That is the importance of understanding the metaphysics of the Course, particularly the symbolic nature of everything we experience within the illusion of separation, as is made clear in the chapter in Kenneth’s book just referred to. Our experience of Jesus, as well as of ourselves, will change as we identify less and less with the body, and as we take the differences we perceive among us less and less seriously. Jesus’ love will be associated less and less with answers to prayers for specifics, and more and more with the “song”: “Therefore, it is not the form of the question that matters, nor how it is asked. The form of the answer, if given by God, will suit your need as you see it. This is merely an echo of the reply of His Voice [the Holy Spirit]. The real sound is always a song of thanksgiving and of Love.…In true prayer you hear only the song. All the rest is merely added. You have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else has indeed been given you” (S.1.I.2:6,7,8,9; 3:4,5,6).

Finally, sometimes it helps to remember his reassuring words and simply trust that we will get through what seems like a very trying existence in this world: “You do not walk alone. God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless” (W.pII.ep.6:6,7,8).


Q #438: I have been wondering about a passage in A Course in Miracles that says that a conflict arises because a voice demands we obey. If we do obey, rage will follow because we will feel coerced, and if we don’t, that part of the mind will be outraged. Either way, rage will result. The Course says that this state is caused by a lack of love. My question regards my own experience. I have usually disobeyed that voice because of its cruel demanding way. I feel intense guilt because this voice reminds me that I hurt someone because I didn’t follow its instructions. So how should I feel about this voice that tells me I am wrong or I don’t deserve what I have because I didn’t follow its decree? I really need to know if I need to do anything to right the wrong because I really desperately want to get rid of all this and replace it with forgiveness.

A: The only voice that would cruelly demand obedience, or judge you in any way belongs to the ego. It is a voice that will always reflect the painful effects of having chosen to believe that the separation is real, that such a belief is a sin, guilt is justified, and punishment is inevitable. There is no resolution to this through retribution, or behavior of any kind. For a student of the Course, the only way out of its circuitous system of judgment and condemnation is to apply its principles as carefully and consistently as possible. There is no need to “do” anything else. That is how to listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit in a practical way, and only this will lead to freedom from guilt.

The passage you refer to, T.2.VI.5, is speaking about the conflict in the wrong mind. It is not contrasting the wrong mind with the right mind. It describes the insanity that follows a choice to identify with the ego thought system, and then to attempt to assuage the inevitable fear by controlling behavior, without making another choice in the mind. It is one of the ways the ego tries to have its cake and eat it, too: keep the thought of separation real, but get rid of the guilt and fear that go with it.

The passage says that “conflict is an expression of fear” (T.2.VI.7:1, italics ours); in other words, conflict is telling us that we have become afraid. In the same paragraph the Course goes on to say: “Fear arises from lack of love”(T.2.VI.7:6). Thus, fear is the result of the choice to be separate from love. Conflicted behavior and rage are the outcome when we choose separation, and then try to behave in a way that seems loving, convinced that in this way we will appease a punishing god. The bottom line in all of this is that it doesn’t work. The only thing that does work is to be honest about what we want. The process the Course leads us through can be effective only if learn to recognize all the ways our thoughts, beliefs, and acts show us the choice we have made in the mind to be separate, and then recognize the heavy price we pay (all the pain, anguish, and conflict experienced in our individual lives, and in the world). Jesus invites us to ask ourselves if we really want to pay this price for our individual, separate, and meaningless existence in the world. The process takes practice because we are so strongly attached to belief in our identity as bodies.

The Course is clear and uncompromising, but coercion of any kind is completely inconsistent with the gentleness and love of Jesus’ message. When the Course speaks of “obeying” the laws of the mind, it is not referring to a choice to be obedient or not, especially not forced obedience. It means that because “ideas leave not their source” (T.27.VII.13), a choice in the mind will have certain inevitable effects. In other words, the effect “obeys” the cause. The choice for separation always produces guilt and fear. It reinforces the ego thought system and belief in the identity of the body. The choice for the Holy Spirit’s correction (not coercion) results in peace, and allows the extension of love, which reinforces the truth of who we are. Eventually this will be all we truly want.

kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 21

ACIM Text Reading for June 21

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VIII. The Attraction of Pain

Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gives instead, without the limits that would hold its extension back, and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power, and use it for the Son of God’s release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your wish? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?

Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means, and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind, to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion that calls them forth, and therefore is compatible with them.

But think you which it is that is compatible with you. Here is your choice, and it is free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment, and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.

It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.

Is not this inevitable? Under fear’s orders the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego’s heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship that it keeps hidden, and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body’s pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, “It is death.”

Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this, and both also recognize that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himself? Who would accuse, make guilty and condemn himself?

The ego’s messages are always sent away from you, in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognizes that this is not so, but as the “enemy” of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom from attack.

Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin, and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body’s praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego’s rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.

It is not given to the ego’s disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received, to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way, and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 21

Lesson 172

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(153) In my defenselessness my safety lies.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(154) I am among the ministers of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #56: If on one level, as the Course suggests, we are responsible for our lives and our choices and deeds, why would I choose to be such a fool? Why wouldn’t all of us or most of us choose to enter this world as children of loving, spiritual, intelligent, wealthy and genetically sound parents?

A: Yes, if it’s really my choice, why indeed would I set things up so miserably for myself? The answer lies in understanding that my secret goal, kept hidden even from myself, is to be the victim of others in all of my relationships so that I never get in touch with the real cause of my misery. We think the world, beginning with our parents and continuing with all our subsequent relationships, is the cause of our pain and unhappiness. But it is not. The world and all of our relationships are only a clever, self-manufactured diversion to keep the real source of our unhappiness — our all-consuming desire that the separation be real, at any cost — hidden from ourselves. But why would we want to keep the real source hidden? The reason is that we value our individual, separate self more than all the love and happiness in the universe, and we’d even be willing to kill for it. But we’d rather not admit to that. Because if we did, then we might be more willing to let go of our identification with the ego and the special individual self that we each think we are. For what could our experience be but pain and unhappiness and lovelessness if we could in reality separate ourselves from Love?

We make up an external world, starting with our parents, out of all the guilt, pain, attack and murder that we have imagined in our mind — thoughts that seem very real and frightening to us once we seek to make the separation real. As the Course describes it, “The world you perceive is a world of separation. Perhaps you are willing to accept even death to deny your Father…it is governed by the desire to be unlike God…The world you made is therefore totally chaotic, governed by arbitrary and senseless ‘laws,’ and without meaning of any kind. For it is made out of what you do not want, projected from your mind because you are afraid of it” (T.12.III.9:1,2,5,6,7)

The world then is the effect and not the cause of how we feel, no matter how much we may have convinced ourselves otherwise. And so it follows, “If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically” (W.pI.23.2).

And so even if we could make the world and all of our relationships in any way we want, the building blocks are still the contents of the ego mind, and the goal remains the same — to see myself as a victim, with anyone but myself responsible for all my problems and how I feel. And that is what determines our experience in the world, regardless of the form the world may take, so long as the ego thought system remains our choice. As a result, even if I set it up to be the child of “loving, intelligent, wealthy and genetically sound parents”, I will still not be happy. And I will still find some reason to blame others, starting with my parents, for my unhappiness, until I’m ready to ask for another way. And that other way will involve looking within my own mind to uncover the blocks that I have placed there to the awareness of love’s presence, so that they can be removed (T.in.1:7). And the happiness I will then experience will have nothing to do with anything in the external world, including my parents.

awake & remember