ACIM Text Reading for June 1
Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship
V. The Healed Relationship
The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world. Like everything about salvation, the holy instant is a practical device, witnessed to by its results. The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is. And as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker, so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships.
The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old, unholy relationship, transformed and seen anew. The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in this; the only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit, to use for His purposes.
This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. This is accomplished very rapidly, but it makes the relationship seem disturbed, disjunctive and even quite distressing. The reason is quite clear. For the relationship as it is is out of line with its own goal, and clearly unsuited to the purpose that has been accepted for it. In its unholy condition, your goal was all that seemed to give it meaning. Now it seems to make no sense. Many relationships have been broken off at this point, and the pursuit of the old goal re-established in another relationship. For once the unholy relationship has accepted the goal of holiness, it can never again be what it was.
The temptation of the ego becomes extremely intense with this shift in goals. For the relationship has not as yet been changed sufficiently to make its former goal completely without attraction, and its structure is “threatened” by the recognition of its inappropriateness for meeting its new purpose. The conflict between the goal and the structure of the relationship is so apparent that they cannot coexist. Yet now the goal will not be changed. Set firmly in the unholy relationship, there is no course except to change the relationship to fit the goal. Until this happy solution is seen and accepted as the only way out of the conflict, the relationship may seem to be severely strained.
It would not be kinder to shift the goal more slowly, for the contrast would be obscured, and the ego given time to reinterpret each slow step according to its liking. Only a radical shift in purpose could induce a complete change of mind about what the whole relationship is for. As this change develops and is finally accomplished, it grows increasingly beneficent and joyous. But at the beginning, the situation is experienced as very precarious. A relationship, undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes, suddenly has holiness for its goal. As these two contemplate their relationship from the point of view of this new purpose, they are inevitably appalled. Their perception of the relationship may even become quite disorganized. And yet, the former organization of their perception no longer serves the purpose they have agreed to meet.
This is the time for faith. You let this goal be set for you. That was an act of faith. Do not abandon faith, now that the rewards of faith are being introduced. If you believed the Holy Spirit was there to accept the relationship, why would you now not still believe that He is there to purify what He has taken under His guidance? Have faith in your brother in what but seems to be a trying time. The goal is set. And your relationship has sanity as its purpose. For now you find yourself in an insane relationship, recognized as such in the light of its goal.
Now the ego counsels thus; substitute for this another relationship to which your former goal was quite appropriate. You can escape from your distress only by getting rid of your brother. You need not part entirely if you choose not to do so. But you must exclude major areas of fantasy from each other, to save your sanity. Hear not this now! Have faith in Him Who answered you. He heard. Has He not been very explicit in His answer? You are not now wholly insane. Can you deny that He has given you a most explicit statement? Now He asks for faith a little longer, even in bewilderment. For this will go, and you will see the justification for your faith emerge, to bring you shining conviction. Abandon Him not now, nor one another. This relationship has been reborn as holy.
Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame your brother for the “failure” of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you, and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not breathe life into your failing ego. For your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been saved.
You are very new in the ways of salvation, and think you have lost your way. Your way is lost, but think not this is loss. In your newness, remember that you have started again, together. And take each other’s hand, to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God, from which your true intent was never absent.
Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard, in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing, and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now is your blessing, that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.
You undertook, together, to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work. And He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all. Have you been similarly grateful to your brother? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts, and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes? Perhaps you are now entering upon a campaign to blame him for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourself. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude you make yourself unable to express the holy instant, and thus lose sight of it.
The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time, but not concealed within it. The instant remains. But where are you? To give thanks to one another is to appreciate the holy instant, and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack your brother is not to lose the instant, but to make it powerless in its effects.
You have received the holy instant, but you may have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realize that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack your brother, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself, and to recognize what has been given and received by you.
You and your brother stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes Heaven glad. If Heaven were outside you, you could not share in its gladness. Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You are joined in purpose, but remain still separate and divided on the means. Yet the goal is fixed, firm and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so.
As you begin to recognize and accept the gifts you have so freely given to your brother, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship, and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 1
The power of decision is my own.
No one can suffer loss unless it be his own decision. No one suffers pain except his choice elects this state for him. No one can grieve nor fear nor think him sick unless these are the outcomes that he wants. And no one dies without his own consent. Nothing occurs but represents your wish, and nothing is omitted that you choose. Here is your world, complete in all details. Here is its whole reality for you. And it is only here salvation is.
You may believe that this position is extreme, and too inclusive to be true. Yet can truth have exceptions? If you have the gift of everything, can loss be real? Can pain be part of peace, or grief of joy? Can fear and sickness enter in a mind where love and perfect holiness abide? Truth must be all-inclusive, if it be the truth at all. Accept no opposites and no exceptions, for to do so is to contradict the truth entirely.
Salvation is the recognition that the truth is true, and nothing else is true. This you have heard before, but may not yet accept both parts of it. Without the first, the second has no meaning. But without the second, is the first no longer true. Truth cannot have an opposite. This can not be too often said and thought about. For if what is not true is true as well as what is true, then part of truth is false. And truth has lost its meaning. Nothing but the truth is true, and what is false is false.
This is the simplest of distinctions, yet the most obscure. But not because it is a difficult distinction to perceive. It is concealed behind a vast array of choices that do not appear to be entirely your own. And thus the truth appears to have some aspects that belie consistency, but do not seem to be but contradictions introduced by you.
As God created you, you must remain unchangeable, with transitory states by definition false. And that includes all shifts in feeling, alterations in conditions of the body and the mind; in all awareness and in all response. This is the all-inclusiveness which sets the truth apart from falsehood, and the false kept separate from the truth, as what it is.
Is it not strange that you believe to think you made the world you see is arrogance? God made it not. Of this you can be sure. What can He know of the ephemeral, the sinful and the guilty, the afraid, the suffering and lonely, and the mind that lives within a body that must die? You but accuse Him of insanity, to think He made a world where such things seem to have reality. He is not mad. Yet only madness makes a world like this.
To think that God made chaos, contradicts His Will, invented opposites to truth, and suffers death to triumph over life; all this is arrogance. Humility would see at once these things are not of Him. And can you see what God created not? To think you can is merely to believe you can perceive what God willed not to be. And what could be more arrogant than this?
Let us today be truly humble, and accept what we have made as what it is. The power of decision is our own. Decide but to accept your rightful place as co-creator of the universe, and all you think you made will disappear. What rises to awareness then will be all that there ever was, eternally as it is now. And it will take the place of self-deceptions made but to usurp the altar to the Father and the Son.
Today we practice true humility, abandoning the false pretense by which the ego seeks to prove it arrogant. Only the ego can be arrogant. But truth is humble in acknowledging its mightiness, its changelessness and its eternal wholeness, all-encompassing, God’s perfect gift to His beloved Son. We lay aside the arrogance which says that we are sinners, guilty and afraid, ashamed of what we are; and lift our hearts in true humility instead to Him Who has created us immaculate, like to Himself in power and in love.
The power of decision is our own. And we accept of Him that which we are, and humbly recognize the Son of God. To recognize God’s Son implies as well that all self-concepts have been laid aside, and recognized as false. Their arrogance has been perceived. And in humility the radiance of God’s Son, his gentleness, his perfect sinlessness, his Father’s Love, his right to Heaven and release from hell, are joyously accepted as our own.
Now do we join in glad acknowledgment that lies are false, and only truth is true. We think of truth alone as we arise, and spend five minutes practicing its ways, encouraging our frightened minds with this:
The power of decision is my own.
This day I will accept myself as what
my Father’s Will created me to be.
Then will we wait in silence, giving up all self-deceptions, as we humbly ask our Self that He reveal Himself to us. And He Who never left will come again to our awareness, grateful to restore His home to God, as it was meant to be.
In patience wait for Him throughout the day, and hourly invite Him with the words with which the day began, concluding it with this same invitation to your Self. God’s Voice will answer, for He speaks for you and for your Father. He will substitute the peace of God for all your frantic thoughts, the truth of God for self-deceptions, and God’s Son for your illusions of yourself.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1239: There is a line in one of the lessons in the workbook of A Course in Miracles that says “no one dies without his own consent” ( W.pI.152.1:4 ). Could that mean that on some level in our mind we get to a point (while here, experiencing living in a body) that we say, “I am done with this,” or does our dying (death of the physical body) happen at whatever point in time as a result of making the first decision to become a body? I would appreciate it if you could give me your understanding of this statement.
A: This statement about dying is best understood in the context of the only two purposes we can ever choose to identify with in our minds, and which we are always choosing between at every instant. We are always choosing either to reinforce our belief in separation or to undo it. Thus, death can come upon the completion of our forgiveness lessons, as explained in The Song of Prayer : “a quiet choice, made joyfully and with a sense of peace, because the body has been kindly used to help the Son of God along the way he goes to God” ( S.3.II.2:1 ). Understand, though, that this expresses the content in the mind only; the form could be cancer, a stroke, or any number of other ways in which the body ceases to function. The form does not necessarily indicate the content in the mind. The purpose of a fatal illness could also be ego based — a way of punishing oneself or others, for example. It is always a choice, though.
With regard to the second point . . . Since the mind is not bound by time, there is no predetermined time for the death of the body. To use the analogy of a video-tape library, there are multiple videos of death, and the decision maker can choose any one of them, depending on the purpose it has identified with. But all of this occurs outside time and space, so it is practically impossible for us to comprehend it in our present state.
Other questions on this Service address this important issue from several points of view, and we refer you to them for additional discussion and references: #135, #175, and #262.
Q #1332: My question is in regard to sickness. I understand the idea that sickness, according to A Course in Miracles , is of the mind and is a perspective, etc. However, we obviously will all die of something unless we have reached a level of enlightenment in which we can just leave our bodies at will and break with the illusion. Does this mean that everyone who dies, no matter what level they have reached spiritually is still holding “unforgiveness”? I know of some very high beings who still got diseases, had strokes, and other health issues.
A: A Course in Miracles states that “no one dies without his own consent” (W.pI.152.1) ; but this decision can be wrong-minded or right-minded. Our discussion in Question #262 focuses on the important distinction between form and content in the Course’s view of death. Helpful references are also provided there as well as in Questions #494 and #604. The key point is that the condition of the body does not automatically tell us which thought system the mind has chosen and whether or not the mind has reached enlightenment. Thus, we should not attempt to judge based upon appearances. A healed mind could take the form of a cancer-consumed dying body if there were a valuable teaching purpose in it, for example. That mind, though, would not be suffering — a most difficult teaching for us to comprehend and accept, because of our lack of awareness of our mind and our body-oriented way of thinking. Jesus’ body certainly seemed to be in terrible condition at the end, but we would not conclude that his mind must therefore have been in terrible condition as well. A seemingly pain-wracked body is not necessarily a regrettable tragedy, in other words. Again, this can only be understood from the perspective of the mind’s right-minded position “above the battleground” of the ego’s world of bodies.