ACIM Text Reading for July 8
Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception
IV. Faith, Belief and Vision
All special relationships have sin as their goal. For they are bargains with reality, toward which the seeming union is adjusted. Forget not this; to bargain is to set a limit, and any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate. You may attempt to keep the bargain in the name of “fairness,” sometimes demanding payment of yourself, perhaps more often of the other. Thus in the “fairness” you attempt to ease the guilt that comes from the accepted purpose of the relationship. And that is why the Holy Spirit must change its purpose to make it useful to Him and harmless to you.
If you accept this change, you have accepted the idea of making room for truth. The source of sin is gone. You may imagine that you still experience its effects, but it is not your purpose and you no longer want it. No one allows a purpose to be replaced while he desires it, for nothing is so cherished and protected as is a goal the mind accepts. This it will follow, grimly or happily, but always with faith and with the persistence that faith inevitably brings. The power of faith is never recognized if it is placed in sin. But it is always recognized if it is placed in love.
Why is it strange to you that faith can move mountains? This is indeed a little feat for such a power. For faith can keep the Son of God in chains as long as he believes he is in chains. And when he is released from them it will be simply because he no longer believes in them, withdrawing faith that they can hold him, and placing it in his freedom instead. It is impossible to place equal faith in opposite directions. What faith you give to sin you take away from holiness. And what you offer holiness has been removed from sin.
Faith and belief and vision are the means by which the goal of holiness is reached. Through them the Holy Spirit leads you to the real world, and away from all illusions where your faith was laid. This is His direction; the only one He ever sees. And when you wander, He reminds you there is but one. His faith and His belief and vision are all for you. And when you have accepted them completely instead of yours, you will have need of them no longer. For faith and vision and belief are meaningful only before the state of certainty is reached. In Heaven they are unknown. Yet Heaven is reached through them.
It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be. Faithlessness is not a lack of faith, but faith in nothing. Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless. Thus is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. For faith, perception and belief you made, as means for losing certainty and finding sin. This mad direction was your choice, and by your faith in what you chose, you made what you desired.
The Holy Spirit has a use for all the means for sin by which you sought to find it. But as He uses them they lead away from sin, because His purpose lies in the opposite direction. He sees the means you use, but not the purpose for which you made them. He would not take them from you, for He sees their value as a means for what He wills for you. You made perception that you might choose among your brothers, and seek for sin with them. The Holy Spirit sees perception as a means to teach you that the vision of a holy relationship is all you want to see. Then will you give your faith to holiness, desiring and believing in it because of your desire.
Faith and belief become attached to vision, as all the means that once served sin are redirected now toward holiness. For what you think is sin is limitation, and whom you try to limit to the body you hate because you fear. In your refusal to forgive him, you would condemn him to the body because the means for sin are dear to you. And so the body has your faith and your belief. But holiness would set your brother free, removing hatred by removing fear, not as a symptom, but at its source.
Those who would free their brothers from the body can have no fear. They have renounced the means for sin by choosing to let all limitations be removed. As they desire to look upon their brothers in holiness, the power of belief and faith goes far beyond the body, supporting vision, not obstructing it. But first they chose to recognize how much their faith had limited their understanding of the world, desiring to place its power elsewhere should another point of view be given them. The miracles that follow this decision are also born of faith. For all who choose to look away from sin are given vision, and are led to holiness.
Those who believe in sin must think the Holy Spirit asks for sacrifice, for this is how they think their purpose is accomplished. Brother, the Holy Spirit knows that sacrifice brings nothing. He makes no bargains. And if you seek to limit Him, you will hate Him because you are afraid. The gift that He has given you is more than anything that stands this side of Heaven. The instant for its recognition is at hand. Join your awareness to what has been already joined. The faith you give your brother can accomplish this. For He Who loves the world is seeing it for you, without one spot of sin upon it, and in the innocence that makes the sight of it as beautiful as Heaven.
Your faith in sacrifice has given it great power in your sight; except you do not realize you cannot see because of it. For sacrifice must be exacted of a body, and by another body. The mind could neither ask it nor receive it of itself. And no more could the body. The intention is in the mind, which tries to use the body to carry out the means for sin in which the mind believes. Thus is the joining of mind and body an inescapable belief of those who value sin. And so is sacrifice invariably a means for limitation, and thus for hate.
Think you the Holy Spirit is concerned with this? He gives not what it is His purpose to lead you from. You think He would deprive you for your good. But “good” and “deprivation” are opposites, and cannot meaningfully join in any way. It is like saying that the moon and sun are one because they come with night and day, and so they must be joined. Yet sight of one is but the sign the other has disappeared from sight. Nor is it possible that what gives light be one with what depends on darkness to be seen. Neither demands the sacrifice of the other. Yet on the absence of the other does each depend.
The body was made to be a sacrifice to sin, and in the darkness so it still is seen. Yet in the light of vision it is looked upon quite differently. You can have faith in it to serve the Holy Spirit’s goal, and give it power to serve as means to help the blind to see. But in their seeing they look past it, as do you. The faith and the belief you gave it belongs beyond. You gave perception and belief and faith from mind to body. Let them now be given back to what produced them, and can use them still to save itself from what it made.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 8
I feel the Love of God within me now.
There is a light in you the world can not perceive. And with its eyes you will not see this light, for you are blinded by the world. Yet you have eyes to see it. It is there for you to look upon. It was not placed in you to be kept hidden from your sight. This light is a reflection of the thought we practice now. To feel the Love of God within you is to see the world anew, shining in innocence, alive with hope, and blessed with perfect charity and love.
Who could feel fear in such a world as this? It welcomes you, rejoices that you came, and sings your praises as it keeps you safe from every form of danger and of pain. It offers you a warm and gentle home in which to stay a while. It blesses you throughout the day, and watches through the night as silent guardian of your holy sleep. It sees salvation in you, and protects the light in you, in which it sees its own. It offers you its flowers and its snow, in thankfulness for your benevolence.
This is the world the Love of God reveals. It is so different from the world you see through darkened eyes of malice and of fear, that one belies the other. Only one can be perceived at all. The other one is wholly meaningless. A world in which forgiveness shines on everything, and peace offers its gentle light to everyone, is inconceivable to those who see a world of hatred rising from attack, poised to avenge, to murder and destroy.
Yet is the world of hatred equally unseen and inconceivable to those who feel God’s Love in them. Their world reflects the quietness and peace that shines in them; the gentleness and innocence they see surrounding them; the joy with which they look out from the endless wells of joy within. What they have felt in them they look upon, and see its sure reflection everywhere.
What would you see? The choice is given you. But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: You will look upon that which you feel within. If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world, held cruelly in death’s sharp-pointed, bony fingers. If you feel the Love of God within you, you will look out on a world of mercy and of love.
Today we pass illusions, as we seek to reach to what is true in us, and feel its all-embracing tenderness, its Love which knows us perfect as itself, its sight which is the gift its Love bestows on us. We learn the way today. It is as sure as Love itself, to which it carries us. For its simplicity avoids the snares the foolish convolutions of the world’s apparent reasoning but serve to hide.
Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.
Is it not He Who knows the way to you? You need not know the way to Him. Your part is simply to allow all obstacles that you have interposed between the Son and God the Father to be quietly removed forever. God will do His part in joyful and immediate response. Ask and receive. But do not make demands, nor point the road to God by which He should appear to you. The way to reach Him is merely to let Him be. For in that way is your reality proclaimed as well.
And so today we do not choose the way in which we go to Him. But we do choose to let Him come. And with this choice we rest. And in our quiet hearts and open minds, His Love will blaze its pathway of itself. What has not been denied is surely there, if it be true and can be surely reached. God knows His Son, and knows the way to him. He does not need His Son to show Him how to find His way. Through every opened door His Love shines outward from its home within, and lightens up the world in innocence.
Father, we do not know the way to You. But we have called, and You have answered us. We will not interfere. Salvation’s ways are not our own, for they belong to You. And it is unto You we look for them. Our hands are open to receive Your gifts. We have no thoughts we think apart from You, and cherish no beliefs of what we are, or Who created us. Yours is the way that we would find and follow. And we ask but that Your Will, which is our own as well, be done in us and in the world, that it become a part of Heaven now. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #292: What does A Course in Miracles say about loneliness? I have been feeling lonely very often in my life. Even in love relationships. I felt lonely as a child in my family and still do feel lonely very often in other family-like systems. How could I change my mind about feeling lonely?
A: The Course describes loneliness as an inevitable outcome of the thought of separation (T.13.III.12:1; M.10:6:1,2,6). Jesus adds emphasis to this causal relationship by describing God, as well as His Son, as lonely as a result of the separation — in four different passages (T.2.III.5:11,12; T.4.VII.6:7; T.7.VII.10:5,6,7; T.15.VIII.3:2). Obviously, Jesus is using poetic license — his purpose being to provide an alternative view of God’s reaction to the thought of separation, in contrast to the ego’s fearful assertion that God is angry because we left Him (see Question #136 for more on this point). For God is unchanged by our insane thoughts and remains forever One and undivided.
If we are honest with ourselves, all of us who truly believe we exist in the separated state of individuality, limited by and contained within our bodies, and isolated from everyone else, must feel lonely. For who could not feel he is apart from love and not experience loneliness? In the words of the Course, “As long as you perceive the body as your reality, so long will you perceive yourself as lonely and deprived” (T.15.XI.5:1).
The ego insists that we can overcome our loneliness through the companionship of other bodies. But the joining we seek through physical proximity and intimacy in our special relationships can at best only dispel the painful feelings of isolation temporarily, for bodies can not really join, and the ego’s real but hidden agenda is always to reinforce our belief in our guilt (T.15.VII.12). For seeking to be with others to take away our loneliness only gives support to the ego’s lie that the separation is indeed real and that the body is our reality. For most of us, most of the time, the resulting loneliness is too excruciating, and so we seek to cover it over through denial, employing various distractions to keep us mindless. But we never question its premise — the reality of the separation.
It is only through raising that question that the only solution to our loneliness can be found (W.pI.41.1,2; W.pII.223.1). And the answer is found through experiencing the joining of minds, not bodies. Then we learn that we are not really separate, for that joining is always available to us. Jesus, in the following very comforting passage, reminds us that he is always with us, and so loneliness cannot be real: “I am come as a light into a world that does deny itself everything. It does this simply by dissociating [separating] itself from everything. It is therefore an illusion of isolation, maintained by fear of the same loneliness that is its illusion. I said that I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. That is why I am the light of the world. If I am with you in the loneliness of the world, the loneliness is gone. You cannot maintain the illusion of loneliness if you are not alone” (T.8.IV.2:1,2,3,4,5,6,7).
Now we may doubt that the solution could be so simple, but Jesus assures us that it is. However. that does not mean that it is easy. Yet as we become more willing to see that our interests are not separate from our brothers and to release each of our judgments against both ourselves and others, Jesus and the love that he represents will become more real in our minds, and we will come to experience the truth of his words.