ACIM Text Reading for July 9
Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception
V. The Fear to Look Within
The Holy Spirit will never teach you that you are sinful. Errors He will correct, but this makes no one fearful. You are indeed afraid to look within and see the sin you think is there. This you would not be fearful to admit. Fear in association with sin the ego deems quite appropriate, and smiles approvingly. It has no fear to let you feel ashamed. It doubts not your belief and faith in sin. Its temples do not shake because of this. Your faith that sin is there but witnesses to your desire that it bethere to see. This merely seems to be the source of fear.
Remember that the ego is not alone. Its rule is tempered, and its unknown “enemy,” Whom it cannot even see, it fears. Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look. Yet this is not the ego’s hidden fear, nor yours who serve it. Loudly indeed the ego claims it is; too loudly and too often. For underneath this constant shout and frantic proclamation, the ego is not certain it is so. Beneath your fear to look within because of sin is yet another fear, and one which makes the ego tremble.
What if you looked within and saw no sin? This “fearful” question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego’s whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend. Those who have joined their brothers have detached themselves from their belief that their identity lies in the ego. A holy relationship is one in which you join with what is part of you in truth. And your belief in sin has been already shaken, nor are you now entirely unwilling to look within and see it not.
Your liberation still is only partial; still limited and incomplete, yet born within you. Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognize its madness. Your faith is moving inward, past insanity and on to reason. And what your reason tells you now the ego would not hear. The Holy Spirit’s purpose was accepted by the part of your mind the ego knows not of. No more did you. And yet this part, with which you now identify, is not afraid to look upon itself. It knows no sin. How, otherwise, could it have been willing to see the Holy Spirit’s purpose as its own?
This part has seen your brother, and recognized him perfectly since time began. And it desired nothing but to join with him and to be free again, as once it was. It has been waiting for the birth of freedom; the acceptance of release to come to you. And now you recognize that it was not the ego that joined the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and so there must be something else. Think not that this is madness. For this your reason tells you, and it follows perfectly from what you have already learned.
There is no inconsistency in what the Holy Spirit teaches. This is the reasoning of the sane. You have perceived the ego’s madness, and not been made afraid because you did not choose to share in it. At times it still deceives you. Yet in your saner moments, its ranting strikes no terror in your heart. For you have realized that all the gifts it would withdraw from you, in rage at your “presumptuous” wish to look within, you do not want. A few remaining trinkets still seem to shine and catch your eye. Yet you would not “sell” Heaven to have them.
And now the ego is afraid. Yet what it hears in terror, the other part hears as the sweetest music; the song it longed to hear since first the ego came into your mind. The ego’s weakness is its strength. The song of freedom, which sings the praises of another world, brings to it hope of peace. For it remembers Heaven, and now it sees that Heaven has come to earth at last, from which the ego’s rule has kept it out so long. Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on earth. And earth can hold no longer what has been given Heaven as its own.
Look gently on your brother, and remember the ego’s weakness is revealed in both your sight. What it would keep apart has met and joined, and looks upon the ego unafraid. Little child, innocent of sin, follow in gladness the way to certainty. Be not held back by fear’s insane insistence that sureness lies in doubt. This has no meaning. What matters it to you how loudly it is proclaimed? The senseless is not made meaningful by repetition and by clamor. The quiet way is open. Follow it happily, and question not what must be so.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 9
I choose the joy of God instead of pain.
Pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. It is not a fact at all. There is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright. For pain proclaims God cruel. How could it be real in any form? It witnesses to God the Father’s hatred of His Son, the sinfulness He sees in him, and His insane desire for revenge and death.
Can such projections be attested to? Can they be anything but wholly false? Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is. It is a dream of fierce retaliation for a crime that could not be committed; for attack on what is wholly unassailable. It is a nightmare of abandonment by an Eternal Love, which could not leave the Son whom It created out of love.
Pain is a sign illusions reign in place of truth. It demonstrates God is denied, confused with fear, perceived as mad, and seen as traitor to Himself. If God is real, there is no pain. If pain is real, there is no God. For vengeance is not part of love. And fear, denying love and using pain to prove that God is dead, has shown that death is victor over life. The body is the Son of God, corruptible in death, as mortal as the Father he has slain.
Peace to such foolishness! The time has come to laugh at such insane ideas. There is no need to think of them as savage crimes, or secret sins with weighty consequence. Who but a madman could conceive of them as cause of anything? Their witness, pain, is mad as they, and no more to be feared than the insane illusions which it shields, and tries to demonstrate must still be true.
It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. No one but yourself affects you. There is nothing in the world that has the power to make you ill or sad, or weak or frail. But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are. As you perceive the harmlessness in them, they will accept your holy will as theirs. And what was seen as fearful now becomes a source of innocence and holiness.
My holy brother, think of this awhile: The world you see does nothing. It has no effects at all. It merely represents your thoughts. And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want. Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. And would you deny a little corner of your mind its own inheritance, and keep it as a hospital for pain; a sickly place where living things must come at last to die?
The world may seem to cause you pain. And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. As an effect, it cannot make effects. As an illusion, it is what you wish. Your idle wishes represent its pains. Your strange desires bring it evil dreams. Your thoughts of death envelop it in fear, while in your kind forgiveness does it live.
Pain is the thought of evil taking form, and working havoc in your holy mind. Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free. In pain is God denied the Son He loves. In pain does fear appear to triumph over love, and time replace eternity and Heaven. And the world becomes a cruel and a bitter place, where sorrow rules and little joys give way before the onslaught of the savage pain that waits to end all joy in misery.
Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness.
Here will you understand there is no pain. Here does the joy of God belong to you. This is the day when it is given you to realize the lesson that contains all of salvation’s power. It is this: Pain is illusion; joy, reality. Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening. Pain is deception; joy alone is truth.
And so again we make the only choice that ever can be made; we choose between illusions and the truth, or pain and joy, or hell and Heaven. Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #811: How would A Course in Miracles explain a negative intuitive/gut feeling I get when I meet a certain person? A new neighbor recently moved in and I get a strong negative feeling about this person — that he may be socially deviant and someone I need to be worried about. Clearly there are misperceptions here in that I am not seeing this person as a perfect child of God and that I am seeing myself as vulnerable. How would Jesus have me deal with this situation? What is this intuitive feeling? Is it just an extension of my ego?
A: In A Course in Miracles , Jesus teaches that the fundamental attack thought is the mind’s decision to proclaim: “I am a body.” Identity with the body is thus established, along with guilt for the “sin” of having taken the thought of separation seriously. In order to preserve body identity and escape responsibility for the attack, the mind erases the memory of making the choice. It does so by projecting guilt and seeing attack outside itself. This is the true source of everyone’s attack and fear of attack in the world, including your intuitive feeling: “Because your attack thoughts will be projected, you will fear attack. And if you fear attack, you must believe that you are not invulnerable. Attack thoughts therefore make you vulnerable in your own mind, which is where the attack thoughts are” (W.pI.26.2:3). The deep feeling of vulnerability is a reflection of the guilt for having chosen the ego. Fear thus becomes the force at work in the world, which is why it is filled with attacks ranging from the seemingly innocuous to the vicious. From fear comes the ego’s vast arsenal of defenses spurred by guilt’s battle cry “killed or be killed” (M.17.7:11). Therefore, like the rest of the animal kingdom, humans are trained to sense danger (sometimes with “gut feelings”), defend against it, and attack the perceived enemy. The important thing to remember, from the perspective of the Course’s teaching, is that the source of all fear and vulnerability is guilt in the mind for choosing to believe the separation is real. The guilt is projected in many different forms of attack, some of which the world judges to be more deleterious than others. However, the attacker and the victim’s fear have the same source in the mind. In content, they are both equally insane. Recognition of this sameness is a good place to start in dealing with those whose insanity sparks fear in us in a more obvious way. In the Course, Jesus teaches that the source of fear is not the potential harm of someone else’s attack on the body, but the mind’s choice for separation.
However, although he tells us the “ mind cannot attack or be attacked” (T.7.VIII.4:3) , he also tells us thoughts are dangerous to bodies. (T.21.VIII.1). Therefore, it is wise to be careful in dealing with the world, and especially with those whose fear is expressed in physical attack upon others. Neither their fear, nor the harmful form it takes, diminishes their true Identity as a perfect sons of God, but it can make them dangerous bodies to be around: “frightened people can be vicious” (T.3.I.4:2). As long as any belief in the body is held, there is nothing wrong with being cautious when the threat of physical harm is perceived. This is no different from seeking medical help when the body is sick. We are not asked to deny our belief in the body, our fear, nor the potential for actual attack. What Jesus does ask us to do, is observe the feelings of vulnerability, fear, or defensiveness that arise, recognizing in them the mind’s forgotten choice to identify with the thought of separation and the body, thereby denying the true Identity of God’s Son; ours and the neighbor’s. Recognition of fear’s true source is an expression of the “little willingness” (26.VII.10:1) that is required. It takes the blame off our neighbors for the source of our fear, and returns our attention to our own mind’s need of healing. At least, then, we are at the root of the problem and can ask the Holy Spirit’s help to make another choice. That is all that is required.