ACIM Text Reading for July 13
Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception
IX. The Inner Shift
Are thoughts, then, dangerous? To bodies, yes! The thoughts that seem to kill are those that teach the thinker that he can be killed. And so he “dies” because of what he learned. He goes from life to death, the final proof he valued the inconstant more than constancy. Surely he thought he wanted happiness. Yet he did not desire it because it was the truth, and therefore must be constant.
The constancy of joy is a condition quite alien to your understanding. Yet if you could even imagine what it must be, you would desire it although you understand it not. The constancy of happiness has no exceptions; no change of any kind. It is unshakable as is the Love of God for His creation. Sure in its vision as its Creator is in what He knows, happiness looks on everything and sees it is the same. It sees not the ephemeral, for it desires everything be like itself, and sees it so. Nothing has power to confound its constancy, because its own desire cannot be shaken. It comes as surely unto those who see the final question is necessary to the rest, as peace must come to those who choose to heal and not to judge.
Reason will tell you that you cannot ask for happiness inconstantly. For if what you desire you receive, and happiness is constant, then you need ask for it but once to have it always. And if you do not have it always, being what it is, you did not ask for it. For no one fails to ask for his desire of something he believes holds out some promise of the power of giving it. He may be wrong in what he asks, where, and of what. Yet he will ask because desire is a request, an asking for, and made by one whom God Himself will never fail to answer. God has already given all that he really wants. Yet what he is uncertain of, God cannot give. For he does not desire it while he remains uncertain, and God’s giving must be incomplete unless it is received.
You who complete God’s Will and are his happiness, whose will is powerful as His, a power that is not lost in your illusions, think carefully why you have not yet decided how you would answer the final question. Your answer to the others has made it possible to help you be already partly sane. And yet it is the final one that really asks if you are willing to be wholly sane.
What is the holy instant but God’s appeal to you to recognize what He has given you? Here is the great appeal to reason; the awareness of what is always there to see, the happiness that could be always yours. Here is the constant peace you could experience forever. Here is what denial has denied revealed to you. For here the final question is already answered, and what you ask for given. Here is the future now, for time is powerless because of your desire for what will never change. For you have asked that nothing stand between the holiness of your relationship and your awareness of its holiness.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 13
I place the future in the Hands of God.
Today’s idea takes another step toward quick salvation, and a giant stride it is indeed! So great the distance is that it encompasses, it sets you down just short of Heaven, with the goal in sight and obstacles behind. Your foot has reached the lawns that welcome you to Heaven’s gate; the quiet place of peace, where you await with certainty the final step of God. How far are we progressing now from earth! How close are we approaching to our goal! How short the journey still to be pursued!
Accept today’s idea, and you have passed all anxiety, all pits of hell, all blackness of depression, thoughts of sin, and devastation brought about by guilt. Accept today’s idea, and you have released the world from all imprisonment by loosening the heavy chains that locked the door to freedom on it. You are saved, and your salvation thus becomes the gift you give the world, because you have received.
In no one instant is depression felt, or pain experienced or loss perceived. In no one instant sorrow can be set upon a throne, and worshipped faithfully. In no one instant can one even die. And so each instant given unto God in passing, with the next one given Him already, is a time of your release from sadness, pain and even death itself.
God holds your future as He holds your past and present. They are one to Him, and so they should be one to you. Yet in this world, the temporal progression still seems real. And so you are not asked to understand the lack of sequence really found in time. You are but asked to let the future go, and place it in God’s Hands. And you will see by your experience that you have laid the past and present in His Hands as well, because the past will punish you no more, and future dread will now be meaningless.
Release the future. For the past is gone, and what is present, freed from its bequest of grief and misery, of pain and loss, becomes the instant in which time escapes the bondage of illusions where it runs its pitiless, inevitable course. Then is each instant which was slave to time transformed into a holy instant, when the light that was kept hidden in God’s Son is freed to bless the world. Now is he free, and all his glory shines upon a world made free with him, to share his holiness.
If you can see the lesson for today as the deliverance it really is, you will not hesitate to give as much consistent effort as you can, to make it be a part of you. As it becomes a thought that rules your mind, a habit in your problem-solving repertoire, a way of quick reaction to temptation, you extend your learning to the world. And as you learn to see salvation in all things, so will the world perceive that it is saved.
What worry can beset the one who gives his future to the loving Hands of God? What can he suffer? What can cause him pain, or bring experience of loss to him? What can he fear? And what can he regard except with love? For he who has escaped all fear of future pain has found his way to present peace, and certainty of care the world can never threaten. He is sure that his perception may be faulty, but will never lack correction. He is free to choose again when he has been deceived; to change his mind when he has made mistakes.
Place, then, your future in the Hands of God. For thus you call the memory of Him to come again, replacing all your thoughts of sin and evil with the truth of love. Think you the world could fail to gain thereby, and every living creature not respond with healed perception? Who entrusts himself to God has also placed the world within the Hands to which he has himself appealed for comfort and security. He lays aside the sick illusions of the world along with his, and offers peace to both.
Now are we saved indeed. For in God’s Hands we rest untroubled, sure that only good can come to us. If we forget, we will be gently reassured. If we accept an unforgiving thought, it will be soon replaced by love’s reflection. And if we are tempted to attack, we will appeal to Him Who guards our rest to make the choice for us that leaves temptation far behind. No longer is the world our enemy, for we have chosen that we be its friend.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #671: Ghosts? Prevalent belief in the world, indeed. Consider the parallels — the lost soul, living in a dream world, no physical presence, refusing to realize the death of the body, and not wanting to leave the world they know. It seems like there’s something to that idea of ghosts — a widely held belief made up by the ego to explain away our remembering reality and the separation?
A: One of the more common deceitful tricks of the ego is to take an aspect of its thought system and give it a more circumscribed definition within our experience so that we don’t see it as a pervasive part of our “reality” under its malevolent reign. And so it requires someone outside of this thought system, or at least not completely identified with it, to see beyond the veils of deception and confusion that have been interposed between this false “reality” and our true Identity.
So, for example, we seem to experience differentiated states of sleeping and waking, with dreaming apparently an accompaniment of the sleeping state. And so we believe we know the difference between sleeping and waking, and dreams and reality. We never question whether the various states of mind we experience in the world might not be meaningless shifts within a single continuous dream, while we sleep on and on. Because we think there is a difference between our waking state and our dreaming state, we never question our assumption that we know what it is to be awake. But Jesus does (e.g., T.10.I.2,3; T.18.II.5).
We also have definitions of insanity and mental illness that apply only to some people, but not to others, believing that we know and experience sanity within this world. And so, because we think we know what insanity is, we never even consider the possibility that all of our thinking here is insane. But Jesus knows otherwise (e.g., T.9.VII.6; T.10.V.10; T.23.II.14).
And then we believe we know the difference between life and death, which to us are obviously mutually exclusive states of the body. We know we are alive and we can identify by very objective criteria who is dead. And so we never question whether our entire existence may not be a form of death predicated on the belief that we can separate ourselves from Life. But Jesus can lead us to a different conclusion (e.g., T.23.II.19; W.167).
And of course, we think we can tell the difference between love and hate, because we believe we can recognize the forms of each so easily. And so we never question whether what we call love may not simply be a disguised form of hatred. But Jesus is not fooled (e.g., T.16.VII.5; T.23.II.17; T.23.III.1,2; T.29.I.6,7).
And so, yes, ghosts become another distraction of the ego — are they real, is there individual life after death? — hiding a deeper truth. After all, ghosts, were they to exist, we know would be something other than what we are — alive and solid and real. And so we never consider whether in fact the self we think we are is nothing but a shadowy ghost of our real Self. And again, Jesus knows otherwise, and he tries to help us see the ghastly nature of this ghostly existence we call life.
And so he notes the consequences of our choice for the ego, against our true Self:
Deny your own Identity, and you will not escape the madness which induced this weird, unnatural and ghostly thought that mocks creation and that laughs at God. Deny your own Identity, and you assail the universe alone, without a friend, a tiny particle of dust against the legions of your enemies. Deny your own Identity, and look on evil, sin and death, and watch despair snatch from your fingers every scrap of hope, leaving you nothing but the wish to die (W.191.3, italics added).
Yet Jesus does not leave us caught in that ego trap, but recognizing how like small children we are, he reassures us:
Children perceive frightening ghosts and monsters and dragons, and they are terrified. Yet if they ask someone they trust for the meaning of what they perceive, and are willing to let their own interpretations go in favor of reality, their fear goes with them. When a child is helped to translate his “ghost” into a curtain, his “monster” into a shadow, and his “dragon” into a dream he is no longer afraid, and laughs happily at his own fear.
You, my child, are afraid of your brothers and of your Father and of yourself. But you are merely deceived in them. Ask what they are of the Teacher of reality, and hearing His answer, you too will laugh at your fears and replace them with peace. For fear lies not in reality, but in the minds of children who do not understand reality. It is only their lack of understanding that frightens them, and when they learn to perceive truly they are not afraid. And because of this they will ask for truth again when they are frightened. It is not the reality of your brothers or your Father or yourself that frightens you. You do not know what they are, and so you perceive them as ghosts and monsters and dragons. Ask what their reality is from the One Who knows it, and He will tell you what they are. For you do not understand them, and because you are deceived by what you see you need reality to dispel your fears.
Would you not exchange your fears for truth, if the exchange is yours for the asking? For if God is not deceived in you, you can be deceived only in yourself. Yet you can learn the truth about yourself from the Holy Spirit, Who will teach you that, as part of God, deceit in you is impossible (T.11.VIII.13,14,15).