ACIM Text Reading for July 15
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
II. The Message of the Holy Relationship
Let reason take another step. If you attack whom God would heal and hate the one He loves, then you and your Creator have a different will. Yet if you are His Will, what you must then believe is that you are not yourself. You can indeed believe this, and you do. And you have faith in this and see much evidence on its behalf. And where, you wonder, does your strange uneasiness, your sense of being disconnected, and your haunting fear of lack of meaning in yourself arise? It is as though you wandered in without a plan of any kind except to wander off, for only that seems certain.
Yet we have heard a very similar description earlier, but it was not of you. But still this strange idea which it does accurately describe, you think is you. Reason would tell you that the world you see through eyes that are not yours must make no sense to you. To whom would seeing such as this send back its messages? Surely not you, whose sight is wholly independent of the eyes that look upon the world. If this is not your vision, what can it show to you? The brain cannot interpret what your vision sees. This you would understand. The brain interprets to the body, of which it is a part. But what it says you cannot understand. Yet you have listened to it. And long and hard you tried to understand its messages.
You have not realized it is impossible to understand what fails entirely to reach you. You have received no messages at all you understand. For you have listened to what can never communicate at all. Think, then, what happens. Denying what you are, and firm in faith that you are something else, this “something else” that you have made to be yourself becomes your sight. Yet it must be the “something else” that sees, and as not you, explains its sight to you. Your vision would, of course, render this quite unnecessary. Yet if your eyes are closed and you have called upon this thing to lead you, asking it to explain to you the world it sees, you have no reason not to listen, nor to suspect that what it tells you is not true. Reason would tell you it cannot be true because you do not understand it. God has no secrets. He does not lead you through a world of misery, waiting to tell you, at the journey’s end, why He did this to you.
What could be secret from God’s Will? Yet you believe that you have secrets. What could your secrets be except another “will” that is your own, apart from His? Reason would tell you that this is no secret that need be hidden as a sin. But a mistake indeed! Let not your fear of sin protect it from correction, for the attraction of guilt is only fear. Here is the one emotion that you made, whatever it may seem to be. This is the emotion of secrecy, of private thoughts and of the body. This is the one emotion that opposes love, and always leads to sight of differences and loss of sameness. Here is the one emotion that keeps you blind, dependent on the self you think you made to lead you through the world it made for you.
Your sight was given you, along with everything that you can understand. You will perceive no difficulty in understanding what this vision tells you, for everyone sees only what he thinks he is. And what your sight would show you, you will understand because it is the truth. Only your vision can convey to you what you can see. It reaches you directly, without a need to be interpreted to you. What needs interpretation must be alien. Nor will it ever be made understandable by an interpreter you cannot understand.
Of all the messages you have received and failed to understand, this course alone is open to your understanding and can be understood. This is your language. You do not understand it yet only because your whole communication is like a baby’s. The sounds a baby makes and what he hears are highly unreliable, meaning different things to him at different times. Neither the sounds he hears nor sights he sees are stable yet. But what he hears and does not understand will be his native tongue, through which he will communicate with those around him, and they with him. And the strange, shifting ones he sees about him will become to him his comforters, and he will recognize his home and see them there with him.
So in each holy relationship is the ability to communicate instead of separate reborn. Yet a holy relationship, so recently reborn itself from an unholy relationship, and yet more ancient than the old illusion it has replaced, is like a baby now in its rebirth. Still in this infant is your vision returned to you, and he will speak the language you can understand. He is not nurtured by the “something else” you thought was you. He was not given there, nor was received by anything except yourself. For no two brothers can unite except through Christ, Whose vision sees them one.
Think what is given you, my holy brother. This child will teach you what you do not understand, and make it plain. For his will be no alien tongue. He will need no interpreter to you, for it was you who taught him what he knows because you knew it. He could not come to anyone but you, never to “something else.” Where Christ has entered no one is alone, for never could He find a home in separate ones. Yet must He be reborn into His ancient home, so seeming new and yet as old as He, a tiny newcomer, dependent on the holiness of your relationship to let Him live.
Be certain God did not entrust His Son to the unworthy. Nothing but what is part of him is worthy of being joined. Nor is it possible that anything not part of Him canjoin. Communication must have been restored to those who join, for this they could not do through bodies. What, then, has joined them? Reason will tell you that they must have seen each other through a vision not of the body, and communicated in a language the body does not speak. Nor could it be a fearful sight or sound that drew them gently into one. Rather, in each the other saw a perfect shelter where his Self could be reborn in safety and in peace. Such did his reason tell him; such he believed because it was the truth.
Here is the first direct perception that you can make. You make it through awareness older than perception, and yet reborn in just an instant. For what is time to what was always so? Think what that instant brought; the recognition that the “something else” you thought was you is an illusion. And truth came instantly, to show you where your Self must be. It is denial of illusions that calls on truth, for to deny illusions is to recognize that fear is meaningless. Into the holy home where fear is powerless love enters thankfully, grateful that it is one with you who joined to let it enter.
Christ comes to what is like Himself; the same, not different. For he is always drawn unto Himself. What is as like Him as a holy relationship? And what draws you together draws Him to you. Here are His sweetness and His gentle innocence protected from attack. And here can He return in confidence, for faith in one another is always faith in Him. You are indeed correct in looking on each other as His chosen home, for here you will with Him and with His Father. This is your Father’s Will for you, and yours with His. And who is drawn to Christ is drawn to God as surely as both are drawn to every holy relationship, the home prepared for them as earth is turned to Heaven.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 15
It can be but myself I crucify.
When this is firmly understood and kept in full awareness, you will not attempt to harm yourself, nor make your body slave to vengeance. You will not attack yourself, and you will realize that to attack another is but to attack yourself. You will be free of the insane belief that to attack a brother saves yourself. And you will understand his safety is your own, and in his healing you are healed.
Perhaps at first you will not understand how mercy, limitless and with all things held in its sure protection, can be found in the idea we practice for today. It may, in fact, appear to be a sign that punishment can never be escaped because the ego, under what it sees as threat, is quick to cite the truth to save its lies. Yet must it fail to understand the truth it uses thus. But you can learn to see these foolish applications, and deny the meaning they appear to have.
Thus do you also teach your mind that you are not an ego. For the ways in which the ego would distort the truth will not deceive you longer. You will not believe you are a body to be crucified. And you will see within today’s idea the light of resurrection, looking past all thoughts of crucifixion and of death, to thoughts of liberation and of life.
Today’s idea is one step we take in leading us from bondage to the state of perfect freedom. Let us take this step today, that we may quickly go the way salvation shows us, taking every step in its appointed sequence, as the mind relinquishes its burdens one by one. It is not time we need for this. It is but willingness. For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God.
The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross. Perhaps it seemed to be salvation. Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real. And what is that but hell? Who could believe his Father is his deadly enemy, separate from him, and waiting to destroy his life and blot him from the universe, without the fear of hell upon his heart?
Such is the form of madness you believe, if you accept the fearful thought you can attack another and be free yourself. Until this form is changed, there is no hope. Until you see that this, at least, must be entirely impossible, how could there be escape? The fear of God is real to anyone who thinks this thought is true. And he will not perceive its foolishness, or even see that it is there, so that it would be possible to question it.
To question it at all, its form must first be changed at least as much as will permit fear of retaliation to abate, and the responsibility returned to some extent to you. From there you can at least consider if you want to go along this painful path. Until this shift has been accomplished, you can not perceive that it is but your thoughts that bring you fear, and your deliverance depends on you.
Our next steps will be easy, if you take this one today. From there we go ahead quite rapidly. For once you understand it is impossible that you be hurt except by your own thoughts, the fear of God must disappear. You cannot then believe that fear is caused without. And God, Whom you had thought to banish, can be welcomed back within the holy mind He never left.
Salvation’s song can certainly be heard in the idea we practice for today. If it can but be you you crucify, you did not hurt the world, and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind. The thing you dread the most is your salvation. You are strong, and it is strength you want. And you are free, and glad of freedom. You have sought to be both weak and bound, because you feared your strength and freedom. Yet salvation lies in them.
There is an instant in which terror seems to grip your mind so wholly that escape appears quite hopeless. When you realize, once and for all, that it is you you fear, the mind perceives itself as split. And this had been concealed while you believed attack could be directed outward, and returned from outside to within. It seemed to be an enemy outside you had to fear. And thus a god outside yourself became your mortal enemy; the source of fear.
Now, for an instant, is a murderer perceived within you, eager for your death, intent on plotting punishment for you until the time when it can kill at last. Yet in this instant is the time as well in which salvation comes. For fear of God has disappeared. And you can call on Him to save you from illusions by His Love, calling Him Father and yourself His Son. Pray that the instant may be soon,–today. Step back from fear, and make advance to love.
There is no Thought of God that does not go with you to help you reach that instant, and to go beyond it quickly, surely and forever. When the fear of God is gone, there are no obstacles that still remain between you and the holy peace of God. How kind and merciful is the idea we practice! Give it welcome, as you should, for it is your release. It is indeed but you your mind can try to crucify. Yet your redemption, too, will come from you.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #258: I have been trying to forgive a major person in my life for some time now, both prior to starting A Course in Miracles and, with more focus, since beginning it. As a result, there have been times when I seem to have let go of much of my grievance, but then something triggers the hurt, and it all comes raging back again. Sometimes it feels like I’m just lopping off the top of this poisonous weed of grievance, rather than pulling it out by the roots. What advice would you have in such a situation? Should I see forgiveness as a process, or is it an either/or, once and for all decision? And if the latter, how do I finally make it?
A: Your metaphor for how you are pulling weeds is an apt one. You’re not yet getting to the root of the problem so long as you keep your focus on the other person, for that is playing into what Jesus refers to in the Song of Prayer pamphlet as “forgiveness-to-destroy” (S.2.II). The ego’s version of forgiveness is to make sin real in someone else and then attempt to “forgive” it. As you’re finding, this just does not work. But that of course is always the ego’s goal — “Seek, but do not find” (T.16.V.6:5).
The Course, in contrast, is attempting to lead you towards an experience of true forgiveness in which you recognize that “what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred” (W.pII.1:1). In the metaphysical sense, this is true at the level of the actual behavior you are holding against this other person, since we are the dreamer of our dream and we assign the roles to the figures in our dream. But the more practical level to understand Jesus’ meaning is to recognize that it is your interpretation of what this other person has done that is the cause of your anger and your grievance, and not what the person actually has done (M.17.4). You are blaming this person at some level for robbing you of your peace, love, joy, security, etc. But no one can deprive us of any of these experiences unless we have first chosen to give them away (T4.IV.3:3). So the good news is that we don’t have to change what the other person has done, which, of course, we can’t do anyway. We only need help with changing our interpretation of what has happened. How do we do that?
What most of us are not in touch with is that we carry within our minds a huge burden of unacknowledged guilt that unconsciously controls our interpretations of all our interactions by dictating that we seek and find guilt in everyone but ourselves (T.19.IV.B.i.12). The source of our guilt is the mistaken belief, which we cling to, that we have established a separate individual existence apart from God, at His expense. And the cost to Him has been His total annihilation. Guilt at such a horrendous offense is unimaginable, and so our defense is to project it outside of our minds. Our anger at someone else then is always our attempt to justify seeing the guilt of separation outside of us, thus obscuring the projection we are making (T.6.in.1:2).
All of us are trying to do exactly the same thing. We are all walking around with intense guilt, covered over with a seething rage that is our attempt to deny the guilt within and see it outside. We may try to put a nice, socially appropriate face of innocence on all of this (T.31.V.2), but the anger, and the guilt fueling it, are always bubbling just below the surface. And there they will remain, affecting all our interactions, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, until we are willing to do the challenging and difficult work of looking within, past the anger to the guilt buried beneath it. So forgiveness then really has nothing to do with the other person, which explains in part our resistance to practicing it. For, rather than justifying our anger, if we really want to heal, Jesus is asking us to recognize that our grievances are nothing more than a cover for our guilt. Anger then becomes a signal that there is a dark place within our mind. And Jesus helps us see that our guilt, like our anger, is not what it appears to be. It only seems real and heavy and serious while it remains shrouded in darkness. Its unreality becomes apparent when we allow the light of true forgiveness to shine upon it. This is the release we seek and yet, while we remain identified still with our ego, it is also a cause for fear.
We resist looking within, preferring to hold on to our anger and to continue to project our guilt, because these are the layers of defense that we unconsciously see as protecting our individual self (T.21.IV.1,2,3).And so beneath the anger and the guilt is fear — fear that if we forgive we will disappear, that God will seize back the life we stole from Him. For all these reasons, forgiveness will be a process for us, as you suggest, and not simply a once-and-for-all decision — until the very end of the process, when we are ready to let go completely of our ego identity.
The more we are willing to uncover our own guilt and allow it to be healed, the more we will come to recognize that those against whom we have been holding our grievances are only in need of the same release that we have been seeking. And their guilt is no more real than our own. With that recognition, we can experience real forgiveness, for the interpretation of what has happened between us is now the Holy Spirit’s and no longer our own.