ACIM Text Reading for June 5
Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream
I. The Substitute Reality
To substitute is to accept instead. If you would but consider exactly what this entails, you would perceive at once how much at variance this is with the goal the Holy Spirit has given you, and would accomplish for you. To substitute is to choose between, renouncing one aspect of the Sonship in favor of the other. For this special purpose, one is judged more valuable and the other is replaced by him. The relationship in which the substitution occurred is thus fragmented, and its purpose split accordingly. To fragment is to exclude, and substitution is the strongest defense the ego has for separation.
The Holy Spirit never uses substitutes. Where the ego perceives one person as a replacement for another, the Holy Spirit sees them joined and indivisible. He does not judge between them, knowing they are one. Being united, they are one because they are the same. Substitution is clearly a process in which they are perceived as different. One would unite; the other separate. Nothing can come between what God has joined and what the Holy Spirit sees as one. But everything seems to come between the fragmented relationships the ego sponsors to destroy.
The one emotion in which substitution is impossible is love. Fear involves substitution by definition, for it is love’s replacement. Fear is both a fragmented and fragmenting emotion. It seems to take many forms, and each one seems to require a different form of acting out for satisfaction. While this appears to introduce quite variable behavior, a far more serious effect lies in the fragmented perception from which the behavior stems. No one is seen complete. The body is emphasized, with special emphasis on certain parts, and used as the standard for comparison of acceptance or rejection for acting out a special form of fear.
You who believe that God is fear made but one substitution. It has taken many forms, because it was the substitution of illusion for truth; of fragmentation for wholeness. It has become so splintered and subdivided and divided again, over and over, that it is now almost impossible to perceive it once was one, and still is what it was. That one error, which brought truth to illusion, infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made. Your whole world rests upon it. Everything you see reflects it, and every special relationship that you have ever made is part of it.
You may be surprised to hear how very different is reality from what you see. You do not realize the magnitude of that one error. It was so vast and so completely incredible that from it a world of total unreality had to emerge. What else could come of it? Its fragmented aspects are fearful enough, as you begin to look at them. But nothing you have seen begins to show you the enormity of the original error, which seemed to cast you out of Heaven, to shatter knowledge into meaningless bits of disunited perceptions, and to force you to make further substitutions.
That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it, and became the screen on which it was projected and drawn between you and the truth. For truth extends inward, where the idea of loss is meaningless and only increase is conceivable. Do you really think it strange that a world in which everything is backwards and upside down arose from this projection of error? For truth brought to this could only remain within in quiet, and take no part in all the mad projection by which this world was made. Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it.
When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rising to frighten you, say only, “God is not fear, but love,” and it will disappear. The truth will save you. It has not left you, to go out into the mad world and so depart from you. Inward is sanity; insanity is outside you. You but believe it is the other way; that truth is outside, and error and guilt within. Your little, senseless substitutions, touched with insanity and swirling lightly off on a mad course like feathers dancing insanely in the wind, have no substance. They fuse and merge and separate, in shifting and totally meaningless patterns that need not be judged at all. To judge them individually is pointless. Their tiny differences in form are no real differences at all. None of them matters. That they have in common and nothing else. Yet what else is necessary to make them all the same?
Let them all go, dancing in the wind, dipping and turning till they disappear from sight, far, far outside of you. And turn you to the stately calm within, where in holy stillness dwells the living God you never left, and Who never left you. The Holy Spirit takes you gently by the hand, and retraces with you your mad journey outside yourself, leading you gently back to the truth and safety within. He brings all your insane projections and the wild substitutions that you have placed outside you to the truth. Thus he reverses the course of insanity and restores you to reason.
In your relationship with your brother, where He has taken charge of everything at your request, He has set the course inward to the truth you share. In the mad world outside you nothing can be shared but only substituted, and sharing and substituting have nothing in common in reality. Within yourself you love your brother with a perfect love. Here is holy ground, in which no substitution can enter, and where only the truth in one another can abide. Here you are joined in God, as much together as you are with Him. The original error has not entered here, nor ever will. Here is the radiant truth, to which the Holy Spirit has committed your relationship. Let Him bring it here, where you would have it be. Give Him but a little faith in your brother, to help him show you that no substitute you made for Heaven can keep you from it.
In you there is no separation, and no substitute can keep you from your brother. Your reality was God’s creation, and has no substitute. You are so firmly joined in truth that only God is there. And He would never accept something else instead of you. He loves you both, equally and as one. And as He loves you, so you are. You are not joined together in illusions, but in the Thought so holy and so perfect that illusions cannot remain to darken the holy place in which you stand together. God is with you, my brother. Let us join in Him in peace and gratitude, and accept His gift as our most holy and perfect reality, which we share in Him.
Heaven is restored to all the Sonship through your relationship, for in it lies the Sonship, whole and beautiful, safe in your love. Heaven has entered quietly, for all illusions have been gently brought unto the truth in you, and love has shined upon you, blessing your relationship with truth. God and His whole creation have entered it together. How lovely and how holy is your relationship, with the truth shining upon it! Heaven beholds it, and rejoices that you have let it come to you. The universe within you stands with you, together. And Heaven looks with love on what is joined in it, along with its Creator.
Whom God has called should hear no substitutes. Their call is but an echo of the original error that shattered Heaven. And what became of peace in those who heard? Return with me to Heaven, walking together out of this world and through another, to the loveliness and joy the other holds within it. Would you still further weaken and break apart what is already broken and hopeless? Is it here that you would look for happiness? Or would you not prefer to heal what has been broken, and join in making whole what has been ravaged by separation and disease?
You have been called, together with your brother, to the most holy function this world contains. It is the only one that has no limits, and reaches out to every broken fragment of the Sonship with healing and uniting comfort. This is offered you, in your holy relationship. Accept it here, and you will give as you have accepted. The peace of God is given you with the glowing purpose in which you join. The holy light that brought you together must extend, as you accepted it.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 5
I walk with God in perfect holiness.
Today’s idea but states the simple truth that makes the thought of sin impossible. It promises there is no cause for guilt, and being causeless it does not exist. It follows surely from the basic thought so often mentioned in the text; ideas leave not their source. If this be true, how can you be apart from God? How could you walk the world alone and separate from your Source?
We are not inconsistent in the thoughts that we present in our curriculum. Truth must be true throughout, if it be true. It cannot contradict itself, nor be in parts uncertain and in others sure. You cannot walk the world apart from God, because you could not be without Him. He is what your life is. Where you are He is. There is one life. That life you share with Him. Nothing can be apart from Him and live.
Yet where He is, there must be holiness as well as life. No attribute of His remains unshared by everything that lives. What lives is holy as Himself, because what shares His life is part of Holiness, and could no more be sinful than the sun could choose to be of ice; the sea elect to be apart from water, or the grass to grow with roots suspended in the air.
There is a light in you which cannot die; whose presence is so holy that the world is sanctified because of you. All things that live bring gifts to you, and offer them in gratitude and gladness at your feet. The scent of flowers is their gift to you. The waves bow down before you, and the trees extend their arms to shield you from the heat, and lay their leaves before you on the ground that you may walk in softness, while the wind sinks to a whisper round your holy head.
The light in you is what the universe longs to behold. All living things are still before you, for they recognize Who walks with you. The light you carry is their own. And thus they see in you their holiness, saluting you as savior and as God. Accept their reverence, for it is due to Holiness Itself, which walks with you, transforming in Its gentle light all things unto Its likeness and Its purity.
This is the way salvation works. As you step back, the light in you steps forward and encompasses the world. It heralds not the end of sin in punishment and death. In lightness and in laughter is sin gone, because its quaint absurdity is seen. It is a foolish thought, a silly dream, not frightening, ridiculous perhaps, but who would waste an instant in approach to God Himself for such a senseless whim?
Yet you have wasted many, many years on just this foolish thought. The past is gone, with all its fantasies. They keep you bound no longer. The approach to God is near. And in the little interval of doubt that still remains, you may perhaps lose sight of your Companion, and mistake Him for the senseless, ancient dream that now is past.
“Who walks with me?” This question should be asked a thousand times a day, till certainty has ended doubting and established peace. Today let doubting cease. God speaks for you in answering your question with these words:
I walk with God in perfect holiness. I light the world,
I light my mind and all the minds which God created
one with me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #827: A Course in Miracles refers to our “attraction” to guilt and suffering as being responsible for our difficulties in this world of perception. At first hearing, this would appear to be the opposite to what we experience. To be attracted to suffering of any kind sounds undesirable with nothing to recommend it at all. However we do seem to be attracted to hearing news of disasters happening to others, but not to ourselves. I guess if there are really no “others” and only me, then that is the hidden attraction, to prove to myself that there are others around separate from me. The downside to that is that if they suffer, then I am a candidate for the same. I think I’ve just answered my question. If all is one in the real world, no separation or suffering, as promised in the Course, that sounds okay to me. What I like about the Course is that it insists that we/I really have no real choice other than to be joyful, in spite of appearances and feelings of despair. Please comment on this tricky bit of detective work.
A: Your observations are valid, as far as they go. What limits them is your perspective, which all of us who believe we are here in the world share, that begins from the premise that we know who we are, and that our identity has something to do with being a body in the world. For seeing ourselves this way, we believe a reasonable goal is to attempt to maximize our body’s pleasure and minimize its pain as we make all of our careful plans and adjustments to the world. We don’t seem to know that we are minds that have chosen to see ourselves as bodies, just so we don’t remember that we are minds! And so the Course’s teachings on guilt and suffering are hard to grasp when we operate out of our mistaken bodily identity (T.27.VI.1:1,2,3,4;2:1,2) .
Yes, as you point out, we all seem to be fascinated by disasters in the world, but not simply because they demonstrate that others exist outside of us. More importantly, they seem to validate one of the ego’s central tenets, that victimization is real (more on this shortly). And most people relish the opportunity to recount the catastrophic events they’ve personally lived through, never tiring of sharing all the excruciating details that demonstrate their specialness through their good luck or bad luck, survivor skills, etc. And the media, demonstrating the principle that ego minds are joined, seem increasingly committed to broadcasting these very dramatic tales of loss and triumphs against overwhelming odds. But beneath these more obvious examples of our attraction to guilt and suffering at the level of the world is a sinister motivation that few of us allow ourselves to be in touch with. But as we begin to grasp the purpose our false identity as bodies serves, these hidden layers become more visible.
The lie behind our conscious belief that we don’t want to suffer and see guilt is easily recognized, once we are willing to accept the Course’s premise that our identity is mind, not body. If we really did not want to suffer and experience guilt, we would give up the charade that we are bodies at the mercy of forces outside ourselves that we cannot control. The desire for most of us may be unconscious, but we all want to seem to suffer as bodies to prove that guilt and attack thoughts reside anywhere but in our own mind. If your body can cause my body to suffer, either directly or indirectly, clearly the guilt and responsibility for my pain is yours and not mine. I am the victim and you are the victimizer, the ego loudly proclaims. We don’t want to get rid of guilt, for guilt says the separation and attack on God are real. And we want the separation to be real (T.13.III.2:4,5) because we want our individuality, which comes from the belief in separation, to be real. We each just want to see the guilt in someone else. And in order to see it in someone else, we must suffer at someone else’s hands ( e.g., T.26.X.3,4; T.27.I.3,4) . And to suffer at another’s hands, we must believe that we are all separate, individual bodies, and not simply related aspects of one mind.
The suffering and pain, although they seem to be experienced in the body, are only experienced in the mind (T.19.IV.C.5:2,3,4,5; T.28.VI.2:1,2,3,4) . It is part of the ego’s ruse to keep us mindless that convinces us that it is our bodies that suffer. It is the mind that thinks it can limit itself that suffers, and not the body (T.25.in.3:1,2) , which is nothing more than the ego’s symbol for limitation (T.15.IX.2:3,4; T.26.VII.8:7,8,9,10; T.28.VI.3:10) . And so your opening observation, that the Course teaches that our attraction to guilt and suffering is responsible for our difficulties in the world of perception is true, but not in the way that you are thinking. Our attraction to guilt is responsible for our decision to believe that we have difficulties and suffer in the world so that we never look to where the suffering is really occurring, in the mind, where we could do something about it (W.pI.76.5) . We have fooled ourselves into believing that we have difficulties in the world so that we don’t have to look at our attraction to guilt and suffering — the ego’s only offerings — in our mind.
And so, while everything of the ego, including all its projections into the world of form, is illusory, until we look at what we have chosen to make real in our own mind, we will continue to believe that joylessness and despair are our only lot. Jesus knows that the only real choice is for joy, but we stubbornly refuse to accept his word and continue to believe that we can choose guilt and suffering. If we are first honest about the pain that we are each in and are willing to accept complete responsibility for our own suffering (T.11.III.1:4) , we can then make a different choice (T.28.II.12) . And we make a different choice by inviting a different Teacher to look with us at the foolish choice we have been making, so we can recognize that we don’t need to continue to suffer.
Q #828: “The Substitute Reality” in Chapter 18 states, “That one error, which brought truth to illusion, and infinity to time, and life to death, was all you ever made” (T.18.I.4:4). This seems backwards to me. I don’t understand.
A: Jesus is describing for us in this section what we have accepted in place of reality as God created it. Truth, infinity, and life are all characteristics of Heaven; but when, as one Son, we decided to leave that state of Oneness in Heaven, we came up with a substitute world of our own, which we then believed was reality and truth. This world that consists of billions of individual entities is an illusory world, of course, because separating from Infinity and Totality is impossible — that is what the Atonement principle states.
So in the sentence you quote, Jesus is saying that by believing we live in a world that is not Heaven, we have made illusion, time, and death the truth, instead of what is “truly” true. By identifying with the ego, we brought truth to the illusion. A Course in Miracles corrects that error by bringing the illusion to the truth, where it is undone.
What seems so real to us is not real at all — it is an illusion that we sustain in our minds by denying the truth and believing in what we have made up instead. The way we undo this illusion is to bring it back to the truth, which is also in our minds, just as darkness disappears when you turn the light on.