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
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.