ACIM Text Reading for June 16
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
III. The Unreality of Sin
The attraction of guilt is found in sin, not error. Sin will be repeated because of this attraction. Fear can become so acute that the sin is denied the acting out. But while the guilt remains attractive the mind will suffer, and not let go of the idea of sin. For guilt still calls to it, and the mind hears it and yearns for it, making itself a willing captive to its sick appeal. Sin is an idea of evil that cannot be corrected, and yet will be forever desirable. As an essential part of what the ego thinks you are, you will always want it. And only an avenger, with a mind unlike your own, could stamp it out through fear.
The ego does not think it possible that love, not fear, is really called upon by sin, and always answers. For the ego brings sin to fear, demanding punishment. Yet punishment is but another form of guilt’s protection, for what is deserving punishment must have been really done. Punishment is always the great preserver of sin, treating it with respect and honoring its enormity. For what you think is real you want, and will not let it go.
An error, on the other hand, is not attractive. What you see clearly as a mistake you want corrected. Sometimes a sin can be repeated over and over, with obviously distressing results, but without the loss of its appeal. And suddenly, you change its status from a sin to a mistake. Now you will not repeat it; you will merely stop and let it go, unless the guilt remains. For then you will but change the form of sin, granting that it was an error, but keeping it uncorrectable. This is not really a change in your perception, for it is sin that calls for punishment, not error.
The Holy Spirit cannot punish sin. Mistakes He recognizes, and would correct them all as God entrusted Him to do. But sin He knows not, nor can He recognize mistakes that cannot be corrected. For a mistake that cannot be corrected is meaningless to Him. Mistakes are for correction, and they call for nothing else. What calls for punishment must call for nothing. Every mistake must be a call for love. What, then, is sin? What could it be but a mistake you would keep hidden; a call for help that you would keep unheard and thus unanswered?
In time, the Holy Spirit clearly sees the Son of God can make mistakes. On this you share His vision. Yet you do not share His recognition of the difference between time and eternity. And when correction is completed, time is eternity. The Holy Spirit can teach you how to look on time differently and see beyond it, but not while you believe in sin. In error, yes, for this can be corrected by the mind. But sin is the belief that your perception is unchangeable, and that the mind must accept as true what it is told through it. If it does not obey, the mind is judged insane. The only power that could change perception is thus kept impotent, held to the body by the fear of changed perception which its Teacher, Who is one with it, would bring.
When you are tempted to believe that sin is real, remember this: If sin is real, Both God and you are not. If creation is extension, the Creator must have extended Himself, and it is impossible that what is part of Him is totally unlike the rest. If sin is real, God must be at war with Himself. He must be split, and torn between good and evil; partly sane and partially insane. For He must have created what wills to destroy Him, and has the power to do so. Is it not easier to believe that you have been mistaken than to believe in this?
While you believe that your reality or your brother’s is bounded by a body, you will believe in sin. While you believe that bodies can unite, you will find guilt attractive and believe that sin is precious. For the belief that bodies limit mind leads to a perception of the world in which the proof of separation seems to be everywhere. And God and His creation seem to be split apart and overthrown. For sin would prove what God created holy could not prevail against it, nor remain itself before the power of sin. Sin is perceived as mightier than God, before which God Himself must bow, and offer His creation to its conqueror. Is this humility or madness?
If sin is real, it must forever be beyond the hope of healing. For there would be a power beyond God’s, capable of making another will that could attack His Will and overcome it; and give His Son a will apart from His, and stronger. And each part of God’s fragmented creation would have a different will, opposed to His, and in eternal opposition to Him and to each other. Your holy relationship has, as its purpose now, the goal of proving this is impossible. Heaven has smiled upon it, and the belief in sin has been uprooted in its smile of love. You see it still, because you do not realize that its foundation has gone. Its source has been removed, and so it can be cherished but a little while before it vanishes. Only the habit of looking for it still remains.
And yet you look with Heaven’s smile upon your lips, and Heaven’s blessing on your sight. You will not see sin long. For in the new perception the mind corrects it when it seems to be seen, and it becomes invisible. Errors are quickly recognized and quickly given to correction, to be healed, not hidden. You will be healed of sin and all its ravages the instant that you give it no power over your brother. And you will help each other overcome mistakes by joyously releasing one another from the belief in sin.
In the holy instant, you will see the smile of Heaven shining on both of you. And you will shine upon each other, in glad acknowledgment of the grace that has been given you. For sin will not prevail against a union Heaven has smiled upon. Your perception was healed in the holy instant Heaven gave you. Forget what you have seen, and raise your eyes in faith to what you now can see. The barriers to Heaven will disappear before your holy sight, for you who were sightless have been given vision, and you can see. Look not for what has been removed, but for the glory that has been restored for you to see.
Look upon your Redeemer, and behold what He would show you in your brother, and let not sin arise again to blind your eyes. For sin would keep you separate, but your Redeemer would have you look upon your brother as yourself. Your relationship is now a temple of healing; a place where all the weary ones can come and rest. Here is the rest that waits for all, after the journey. And it is brought nearer to all by your relationship.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 16
There is one life, and that I share with God.
There are not different kinds of life, for life is like the truth. It does not have degrees. It is the one condition in which all that God created share. Like all His Thoughts, it has no opposite. There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One.
In this world, there appears to be a state that is life’s opposite. You call it death. Yet we have learned that the idea of death takes many forms. It is the one idea which underlies all feelings that are not supremely happy. It is the alarm to which you give response of any kind that is not perfect joy. All sorrow, loss, anxiety and suffering and pain, even a little sigh of weariness, a slight discomfort or the merest frown, acknowledge death. And thus deny you live.
You think that death is of the body. Yet it is but an idea, irrelevant to what is seen as physical. A thought is in the mind. It can be then applied as mind directs it. But its origin is where it must be changed, if change occurs. Ideas leave not their source. The emphasis this course has placed on that idea is due to its centrality in our attempts to change your mind about yourself. It is the reason you can heal. It is the cause of healing. It is why you cannot die. Its truth established you as one with God.
Death is the thought that you are separate from your Creator. It is the belief conditions change, emotions alternate because of causes you cannot control, you did not make, and you can never change. It is the fixed belief ideas can leave their source, and take on qualities the source does not contain, becoming different from their own origin, apart from it in kind as well as distance, time and form.
Death cannot come from life. Ideas remain united to their source. They can extend all that their source contains. In that, they can go far beyond themselves. But they can not give birth to what was never given them. As they are made, so will their making be. As they were born, so will they then give birth. And where they come from, there will they return.
The mind can think it sleeps, but that is all. It cannot change what is its waking state. It cannot make a body, nor abide within a body. What is alien to the mind does not exist, because it has no source. For mind creates all things that are, and cannot give them attributes it lacks, nor change its own eternal, mindful state. It cannot make the physical. What seems to die is but the sign of mind asleep.
The opposite of life can only be another form of life. As such, it can be reconciled with what created it, because it is not opposite in truth. Its form may change; it may appear to be what it is not. Yet mind is mind, awake or sleeping. It is not its opposite in anything created, nor in what it seems to make when it believes it sleeps.
God creates only mind awake. He does not sleep, and His creations cannot share what He gives not, nor make conditions which He does not share with them. The thought of death is not the opposite to thoughts of life. Forever unopposed by opposites of any kind, the Thoughts of God remain forever changeless, with the power to extend forever changelessly, but yet within themselves, for they are everywhere.
What seems to be the opposite of life is merely sleeping. When the mind elects to be what it is not, and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while. It dreams of time; an interval in which what seems to happen never has occurred, the changes wrought are substanceless, and all events are nowhere. When the mind awakes, it but continues as it always was.
Let us today be children of the truth, and not deny our holy heritage. Our life is not as we imagine it. Who changes life because he shuts his eyes, or makes himself what he is not because he sleeps, and sees in dreams an opposite to what he is? We will not ask for death in any form today. Nor will we let imagined opposites to life abide even an instant where the Thought of life eternal has been set by God Himself.
His holy home we strive to keep today as He established it, and wills it be forever and forever. He is Lord of what we think today. And in His Thoughts, which have no opposite, we understand there is one life, and that we share with Him, with all creation, with their thoughts as well, whom He created in a unity of life that cannot separate in death and leave the Source of life from where it came.
We share one life because we have one Source, a Source from which perfection comes to us, remaining always in the holy minds which He created perfect. As we were, so are we now and will forever be. A sleeping mind must waken, as it sees its own perfection mirroring the Lord of life so perfectly it fades into what is reflected there. And now it is no more a mere reflection. It becomes the thing reflected, and the light which makes reflection possible. No vision now is needed. For the wakened mind is one that knows its Source, its Self, its Holiness.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #30: I play computer games, which I really like to do. I believe I have to quit playing these games one day, because I want the Holy Spirit’s alternative. There is another distraction I cherish, which is even an addiction. The addiction pulls me completely out of right-mindedness; it is a kick, a thrill, but with many side effects, disadvantages, the burden of anticipation etc. When I really look at it with Jesus, I do not want it anymore. And this is still not what I choose (up until now). There is an unwillingness to let go of these things. That they conflict with the Course…[Jesus] went shoe shopping with Helen for awhile, but then also advised her to let it go.
A: Keep in mind that this is a process, and that it takes a long time for most of us. Patience and gentleness with ourselves are key parts of this process; otherwise, we fall into the ego’s trap of making the error real. An important piece of advice Jesus gives us at the beginning of the “Rules for Decision” is: “Do not fight yourself” (T-30.I.1:7). Therefore, the most helpful approach would be to simply look at your reluctance to accept the Holy Spirit’s alternative, and your feeling that Jesus’ love is not enough for you, and then not condemn yourself for feeling that way. Just continue to be honest with yourself and with Jesus about how much you do notwant to believe and accept what this Course is teaching you, and then don’t judge yourself for it. You will be practicing the Course in a very effective way if you can do this. That is what forgiveness is all about. You will be learning that the “sin” you have accused yourself of has had no effect, and that it was only a “tiny, mad idea” that has not changed love in any way.
Jesus is always and only interested in purpose. Thus, Helen was ready to change the purposeof her shopping sprees. She no longer needed to “protect” herself from Jesus’ love; therefore, she did not need to go shopping anymore. When our fear of accepting Jesus’ love lessens, our involvement in our defenses against accepting that love will lessen as well. While the specific activities may still be a part of our lives, their purpose will have changed entirely. It is always content, not form. The experience of peace or conflict has nothing to do with the activity or object itself. Peace and conflict are the result of our having chosen our ego or Jesus as our teacher.
Finally, speaking in general with regard to addictions: It often is necessary to deal with the behavior first — to take whatever steps can be taken to curtail or stop the destructive behavior. This would reflect the mind’s decision to be more loving towards oneself and others. Then, when the behavior is more under control, the person can begin to deal with the cause of the addiction in the mind. Addictions most often are rooted in overwhelming self-hatred and guilt, which then gets projected onto one’s own and/or another’s body.
A: If you were to ask the ego to interpret sin, it’s meaning would be death (T.19.IV.A.17:3), while the Holy Spirit’s meaning would be a mistake to be corrected (e.g., T.19.II, III). The Course teaches us that to the ego sin is the death of God, or better yet the murder of God, and we are the murderers. Therefore, separation is a symbol of God’s death. We are reminded of our sin daily, whenever we see ourselves and others as separate, which is the only way we can see because the ego made the body to “see” this way. However, our attitude can yet be one of unity, even though our bodies’ eyes still see separation. This is one way the Holy Spirit can use what the ego made to serve another purpose (T.28.I.2:8).
Practically speaking, if we are identified with the ego, we interpret sin to be whatever takes away our peace, and the sinners we perceive outside ourselves are those who take it. No matter how big or small the situation, anything which “robs” us of our peace is called sin. It may even be ourselves who take away our own peace, but inevitably someone else made us this way, so we are once again made sinless.
As to whether sin exists or not, the Course teaches us that the separation never happened (M.2.2:6,8). And since separation is the entire foundation of the ego’s meaning of sin, then indeed it does not exist.
Finally, substituting “lack of love” will not necessarily have the same impact on a student as “sin.” We all have conscious and unconscious beliefs around the word “sin,” and by substituting other words for it, we deny ourselves the opportunity of forgiving all the associations we have made. “Lack of love” as a substitute makes it sound as if we are “lacking in love,” something which, of course, would not be our fault. Words such as “withholding,” or “selfish,” would be more in tune with what we really believe sin means.