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
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.