ACIM Text Reading for July 3
Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness
VIII. The Vision of Sinlessness
Vision will come to you at first in glimpses, but they will be enough to show you what is given you who see your brother sinless. Truth is restored to you through your desire, as it was lost to you through your desire for something else. Open the holy place that you closed off by valuing the “something else,” and what was never lost will quietly return. It has been saved for you. Vision would not be necessary had judgment not been made. Desire now its whole undoing, and it is done for you.
Do you not want to know your own Identity? Would you not happily exchange your doubts for certainty? Would you not willingly be free of misery, and learn again of joy? Your holy relationship offers all this to you. As it was given you, so will be its effects. And as its holy purpose was not made by you, the means by which its happy end is yours is also not of you. Rejoice in what is yours but for the asking, and think not that you need make either means or end. All this is given you who would but see your brother sinless. All this is given, waiting on your desire but to receive it. Vision is freely given to those who ask to see.
Your brother’s sinlessness is given you in shining light, to look on with the Holy Spirit’s vision and to rejoice in along with Him. For peace will come to all who ask for it with real desire and sincerity of purpose, shared with the Holy Spirit and at one with Him on what salvation is. Be willing, then, to see your brother sinless, that Christ may rise before your vision and give you joy. And place no value on your brother’s body, which holds him to illusions of what he is. It is his desire to see his sinlessness, as it is yours. And bless the Son of God in your relationship, nor see in him what you have made of him.
The Holy Spirit guarantees that what God willed and gave you shall be yours. This is your purpose now, and the vision that makes it yours is ready to be given. You have the vision that enables you to see the body not. And as you look upon your brother, you will see an altar to your Father, holy as Heaven, glowing with radiant purity and sparkling with the shining lilies you laid upon it. What can you value more than this? Why do you think the body is a better home, a safer shelter for God’s Son? Why would you rather look on it than on the truth? How can the engine of destruction be preferred, and chosen to replace the holy home the Holy Spirit offers, where He will dwell with you?
The body is the sign of weakness, vulnerability and loss of power. Can such a savior help you? Would you turn in your distress and need for help unto the helpless? Is the pitifully little the perfect choice to call upon for strength? Judgment will seem to make your savior weak. Yet it is you who need his strength. There is no problem, no event or situation, no perplexity that vision will not solve. All is redeemed when looked upon with vision. For this is not your sight, and brings with it the laws beloved of Him Whose sight it is.
Everything looked upon with vision falls gently into place, according to the laws brought to it by His calm and certain sight. The end for everything He looks upon is always sure. For it will meet His purpose, seen in unadjusted form and suited perfectly to meet it. Destructiveness becomes benign, and sin is turned to blessing under His gentle gaze. What can the body’s eyes perceive, with power to correct? Its eyes adjust to sin, unable to overlook it in any form and seeing it everywhere, in everything. Look through its eyes, and everything will stand condemned before you. All that could save you, you will never see. Your holy relationship, the source of your salvation, will be deprived of meaning, and its most holy purpose bereft of means for its accomplishment.
Judgment is but a toy, a whim, the senseless means to play the idle game of death in your imagination. But vision sets all things right, bringing them gently within the kindly sway of Heaven’s laws. What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? Could you have faith in what you see, if you accepted this? And would you see it?
Hallucinations disappear when they are recognized for what they are. This is the healing and the remedy. Believe them not and they are gone. And all you need to do is recognize that you did this. Once you accept this simple fact and take unto yourself the power you gave them, you are released from them. One thing is sure; hallucinations serve a purpose, and when that purpose is no longer held they disappear. Therefore, the question never is whether you want them, but always, do you want the purpose that they serve? This world seems to hold out many purposes, each different and with different values. Yet they are all the same. Again there is no order; only a seeming hierarchy of values.
Only two purposes are possible. And one is sin, the other holiness. Nothing is in between, and which you choose determines what you see. For what you see is merely how you elect to meet your goal. Hallucinations serve to meet the goal of madness. They are the means by which the outside world, projected from within, adjusts to sin and seems to witness to its reality. It still is true that nothing is without. Yet upon nothing are all projections made. For it is the projection that gives the “nothing” all the meaning that it holds.
What has no meaning cannot be perceived. And meaning always looks within to find itself, and then looks out. All meaning that you give the world outside must thus reflect the sight you saw within; or better, if you saw at all or merely judged against. Vision is the means by which the Holy Spirit translates your nightmares into happy dreams; your wild hallucinations that show you all the fearful outcomes of imagined sin into the calm and reassuring sights with which he would replace them. These gentle sights and sounds are looked on happily, and heard with joy. They are His substitutes for all the terrifying sights and screaming sounds the ego’s purpose brought to your horrified awareness. They step away from sin, reminding you that it is not reality which frightens you, and that the errors which you made can be corrected.
When you have looked on what seemed terrifying, and seen it change to sights of loveliness and peace; when you have looked on scenes of violence and death, and watched them change to quiet views of gardens under open skies, with clear, life-giving water running happily beside them in dancing brooks that never waste away; who need persuade you to accept the gift of vision? And after vision, who is there who could refuse what must come after? Think but an instant just on this; you can behold the holiness God gave His Son. And never need you think that there is something else for you to see.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 3
The Name of God is my inheritance.
You live by symbols. You have made up names for everything you see. Each one becomes a separate entity, identified by its own name. By this you carve it out of unity. By this you designate its special attributes, and set it off from other things by emphasizing space surrounding it. This space you lay between all things to which you give a different name; all happenings in terms of place and time; all bodies which are greeted by a name.
This space you see as setting off all things from one another is the means by which the world’s perception is achieved. You see something where nothing is, and see as well nothing where there is unity; a space between all things, between all things and you. Thus do you think that you have given life in separation. By this split you think you are established as a unity which functions with an independent will.
What are these names by which the world becomes a series of discrete events, of things ununified, of bodies kept apart and holding bits of mind as separate awarenesses? You gave these names to them, establishing perception as you wished to have perception be. The nameless things were given names, and thus reality was given them as well. For what is named is given meaning and will then be seen as meaningful; a cause of true effect, with consequence inherent in itself.
This is the way reality is made by partial vision, purposefully set against the given truth. Its enemy is wholeness. It conceives of little things and looks upon them. And a lack of space, a sense of unity or vision that sees differently, become the threats which it must overcome, conflict with and deny.
Yet does this other vision still remain a natural direction for the mind to channel its perception. It is hard to teach the mind a thousand alien names, and thousands more. Yet you believe this is what learning means; its one essential goal by which communication is achieved, and concepts can be meaningfully shared.
This is the sum of the inheritance the world bestows. And everyone who learns to think that it is so accepts the signs and symbols that assert the world is real. It is for this they stand. They leave no doubt that what is named is there. It can be seen, as is anticipated. What denies that it is true is but illusion, for it is the ultimate reality. To question it is madness; to accept its presence is the proof of sanity.
Such is the teaching of the world. It is a phase of learning everyone who comes must go through. But the sooner he perceives on what it rests, how questionable are its premises, how doubtful its results, the sooner does he question its effects. Learning that stops with what the world would teach stops short of meaning. In its proper place, it serves but as a starting point from which another kind of learning can begin, a new perception can be gained, and all the arbitrary names the world bestows can be withdrawn as they are raised to doubt.
Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes! But what is true in earth and Heaven is beyond your naming. When you call upon a brother, it is to his body that you make appeal. His true Identity is hidden from you by what you believe he really is. His body makes response to what you call him, for his mind consents to take the name you give him as his own. And thus his unity is twice denied, for you perceive him separate from you, and he accepts this separate name as his.
It would indeed be strange if you were asked to go beyond all symbols of the world, forgetting them forever; yet were asked to take a teaching function. You have need to use the symbols of the world a while. But be you not deceived by them as well. They do not stand for anything at all, and in your practicing it is this thought that will release you from them. They become but means by which you can communicate in ways the world can understand, but which you recognize is not the unity where true communication can be found.
Thus what you need are intervals each day in which the learning of the world becomes a transitory phase; a prison house from which you go into the sunlight and forget the darkness. Here you understand the Word, the Name which God has given you; the one Identity which all things share; the one acknowledgment of what is true. And then step back to darkness, not because you think it real, but only to proclaim its unreality in terms which still have meaning in the world that darkness rules.
Use all the little names and symbols which delineate the world of darkness. Yet accept them not as your reality. The Holy Spirit uses all of them, but He does not forget creation has one Name, one meaning, and a single Source which unifies all things within Itself. Use all the names the world bestows on them but for convenience, yet do not forget they share the Name of God along with you.
God has no name. And yet His Name becomes the final lesson that all things are one, and at this lesson does all learning end. All names are unified; all space is filled with truth’s reflection. Every gap is closed, and separation healed. The Name of God is the inheritance He gave to those who chose the teaching of the world to take the place of Heaven. In our practicing, our purpose is to let our minds accept what God has given as the answer to the pitiful inheritance you made as fitting tribute to the Son He loves.
No one can fail who seeks the meaning of the Name of God. Experience must come to supplement the Word. But first you must accept the Name for all reality, and realize the many names you gave its aspects have distorted what you see, but have not interfered with truth at all. One Name we bring into our practicing. One Name we use to unify our sight.
And though we use a different name for each awareness of an aspect of God’s Son, we understand that they have but one Name, which He has given them. It is this Name we use in practicing. And through Its use, all foolish separations disappear which kept us blind. And we are given strength to see beyond them. Now our sight is blessed with blessings we can give as we receive.
Father, our Name is Yours. In It we are united with all living things, and You Who are their one Creator. What we made and call by many different names is but a shadow we have tried to cast across Your Own reality. And we are glad and thankful we were wrong. All our mistakes we give to You, that we may be absolved from all effects our errors seemed to have. And we accept the truth You give, in place of every one of them. Your Name is our salvation and escape from what we made. Your Name unites us in the oneness which is our inheritance and peace. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #316: Lesson 184 paragraph 8 begins with: “Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes!” I have been studying A Course in Miracles for sometime and was under the understanding that God did not create the world, but we did as the ego. We, the ego, made (miscreated) the world in which to express our separateness. Paragraph 8 seems to say that we did not make the world, but we make the illusions we see that are not like God (the pain, suffering, lack, even love, etc.). What is the Course referring to as the world and what did God create and what did the ego create?
A: God creates only like Himself. Therefore His creations are the extension of His infinite Love and eternal Life. They are in Heaven, which is the state of perfect Oneness, and they have nothing to do with this finite world, nor can they be understood in terms of anything in this world, because this world was generated by the thought that God has been destroyed (an impossibility, of course).
The world we did not make is the real world. The Holy Spirit is the maker of the real world, which is the summation of His teaching us that the world is a classroom in which we learn that all this is an illusion. In the section called “Perception and Choice” in the text, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as the “Maker of the world,” with a capital M (T.25.III.4,5,8). In those passages, it is unmistakably clear that the “Maker of the world” is the Maker of the real world. And the Holy Spirit is called Maker, not creator, because He makes an illusion. The real world is an illusion, but it is a helpful illusion. Thus when Jesus says, “Think not you made the world. Illusions, yes!” he is not talking about the illusion that forgiveness is. The point he is making is that we would recognize that the shift in perception that allows us to see the world as a classroom does not come from us. The source of that shift is the Holy Spirit.
A: Because all authentic spiritual teachings are leading in the same direction — towards an experience of oneness which transcends the false self, the finite ego — it is very likely that similarities and parallels in content can often be identified between paths. Certainly that can be said for the teachings of Joel S. Goldsmith and A Course in Miracles . Both, for example speak of our real existence as spirit, that the material world is an illusion and the body is merely an idea that expresses what is in the mind, that error or sickness is in the mind and not in the body, and that healing is the result of correcting a false belief in the mind.
And yet there are differences. For example, Joel Goldsmith speaks of God as Consciousness expressing itself. The Course, in contrast, speaks of consciousness as “the first split introduced into the mind after the separation” (T.3.IV.2:1) . The Holy Spirit, the Voice for God in the dream according to the Course, is more nearly equivalent to the concept of Consciousness that Goldsmith refers to in his teachings. In addition, Goldsmith speaks of God as the life, mind, body, and substance of individual being, and of the body as existing as the idea of God. And therefore, we will never be without conscious awareness of the body, nor without the body. The Course, in contrast, views the body as the embodiment of the ego’s wish that the separation be real (W.pI.72.2:1,2,3) , and teaches that the body nevertheless can be give a different purpose, that of healing and forgiveness, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The body then will simply disappear from the mind once its usefulness to the Holy Spirit for healing is complete. And the emphasis of the Course, therefore, on looking at the ego and its thoughts of hatred and attack and guilt, is simply not reflected in Goldsmith’s approach.
This is not to say that one is right and the other is wrong — they are merely different. For as Jesus reminds us near the end of the Course, “A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed” (C.in.2:5,6) . To the extent that both teachings lead us to release all of our preconceptions about how things should be, what our physical and emotional lives should be like, and any effort to control the external to achieve our personal goals, they are both fostering a nonjudgmental acceptance, which is what the Course means by forgiveness. And so both would be leading us toward the same universal experience.
Although addressed to the issue of different teachings on the Course itself, Question #48 provides a helpful perspective on thinking about the relationship of the Course to other spiritual paths, such as Goldsmith’s.