ACIM Text Reading for July 16
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
III. Your Brother’s Sinlessness
The opposite of illusions is not disillusionment but truth. Only to the ego, to which truth is meaningless, do they appear to be the only alternatives, and different from each other. In truth they are the same. Both bring the same amount of misery, though each one seems to be the way to lose the misery the other brings. Every illusion carries pain and suffering in the dark folds of the heavy garments in which it hides its nothingness. Yet by these dark and heavy garments are those who seek illusions covered, and hidden from the joy of truth.
Truth is the opposite of illusions because it offers joy. What else but joy could be the opposite of misery? To leave one kind of misery and seek another is hardly an escape. To change illusions is to make no change. The search for joy in misery is senseless, for how could joy be found in misery? All that is possible in the dark world of misery is to select some aspects out of it, see them as different, and define the difference as joy. Yet to perceive a difference where none exists will surely fail to make a difference.
Illusions carry only guilt and suffering, sickness and death, to their believers. The form in which they are accepted is irrelevant. No form of misery in reason’s eyes can be confused with joy. Joy is eternal. You can be sure indeed that any seeming happiness that does not last is really fear. Joy does not turn to sorrow, for the eternal cannot change. But sorrow can be turned to joy, for time gives way to the eternal. Only the timeless must remain unchanged, but everything in time can change with time. Yet if the change be real and not imagined, illusions must give way to truth, and not to other dreams that are but equally unreal. This is no difference.
Reason will tell you that the only way to escape from misery is to recognize it and go the other way. Truth is the same and misery the same, but they are different from each other in every way, in every instance and without exception. To believe that one exception can exist is to confuse what is the same with what is different. One illusion cherished and defended against the truth makes all truth meaningless, and all illusions real. Such is the power of belief. It cannot compromise. And faith in innocence is faith in sin, if the belief excludes one living thing and holds it out, apart from its forgiveness.
Both reason and the ego will tell you this, but what they make of it is not the same. The ego will assure you now that it is impossible for you to see no guilt in anyone. And if this seeing is the only means by which escape from guilt can be attained, then the belief in sin must be eternal. Yet reason looks on this another way, for reason sees the source of an idea as what will make it either true or false. This must be so, if the idea is like its source. Therefore, says reason, if escape from guilt was given to the Holy Spirit as his purpose, and by One to Whom nothing He wills can be impossible, the means for its attainment are more than possible. They must be there, and you must have them.
This is a crucial period in this course, for here the separation of you and the ego must be made complete. For if you have the means to let the Holy Spirit’s purpose be accomplished, they can be used. And through their use will you gain faith in them. Yet to the ego this must be impossible, and no one undertakes to do what holds no hope of ever being done. You know what your Creator wills is possible, but what you made believes it is not so. Now must you choose between yourself and an illusion of yourself. Not both, but one. There is no point in trying to avoid this one decision. It must be made. Faith and belief can fall to either side, but reason tells you misery lies only on one side and joy upon the other.
Forsake not now your brother. For you who are the same will not decide alone nor differently. Either you give each other life or death; either you are each other’s savior or his judge, offering him sanctuary or condemnation. This course will be believed entirely or not at all. For it is wholly true or wholly false, and cannot be but partially believed. And you will either escape from misery entirely or not at all. Reason will tell you that there is no middle ground where you can pause uncertainly, waiting to choose between the joy of Heaven and the misery of hell. Until you choose Heaven, you are in hell and misery.
There is no part of Heaven you can take and weave into illusions. Nor is there one illusion you can enter Heaven with. A savior cannot be a judge, nor mercy condemnation. And vision cannot damn, but only bless. Whose function is to save, will save. How He will do it is beyond your understanding, but when must be your choice. For time you made, and time you can command. You are no more a slave to time than to the world you made.
Let us look closer at the whole illusion that what you made has power to enslave its maker. This is the same belief that caused the separation. It is the meaningless idea that thoughts can leave the thinker’s mind, be different from it and in opposition to it. If this were true, thoughts would not be the mind’s extensions, but its enemies. And here we see again another form of the same fundamental illusion we have seen many times before. Only if it were possible the Son of God could leave his Father’s Mind, make himself different and oppose His Will, would it be possible that the self he made, and all it made, should be his master.
Behold the great projection, but look on it with the decision that it must be healed, and not with fear. Nothing you made has any power over you unless you still would be apart from your Creator, and with a will opposed to His. For only if you would believe His Son could be His enemy does it seem possible that what you made is yours. You would condemn His joy to misery, and make Him different. And all the misery you made has been your own. Are you not glad to learn it is not true? Is it not welcome news to hear not one of the illusions that you made replaced the truth?
Only your thoughts have been impossible. Salvation cannot be. It is impossible to look upon your savior as your enemy and recognize him. Yet it is possible to recognize him for what he is, if God would have it so. What God has given to your holy relationship is there. For what He gave the Holy Spirit to give to you He gave.Would you not look upon the savior that has been given you? And would you not exchange, in gratitude, the function of an executioner you gave him for the one he has in truth? Receive of him what God has given him for you, not what you tried to give yourself.
Beyond the bodies that you interposed between you, and shining in the golden light that reaches it from the bright, endless circle that extends forever, is your holy relationship, beloved of God Himself. How still it rests, in time and yet beyond, immortal yet on earth. How great the power that lies in it. Time waits upon its will, and earth will be as it would have it be. Here is no separate will, nor the desire that anything be separate. Its will has no exceptions, and what it wills is true. Every illusion brought to its forgiveness is gently overlooked and disappears. For at its center Christ has been reborn, to light His home with vision that overlooks the world. Would you not have this holy home be yours as well? No misery is here, but only joy.
All you need do to dwell in quiet here with Christ is share His vision. Quickly and gladly is His vision given anyone who is but willing to see his brother sinless. And no one can remain beyond this willingness, if you would be released entirely from all effects of sin. Would you have partial forgiveness for yourself? Can you reach Heaven while a single sin still tempts you to remain in misery? Heaven is the home of perfect purity, and God created it for you. Look on your holy brother, sinless as yourself, and let him lead you there.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 16
It can be but my gratitude I earn.
Here is the second step we take to free your mind from the belief in outside force pitted against your own. You make attempts at kindness and forgiveness. Yet you turn them to attack again, unless you find external gratitude and lavish thanks. Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn. And so you think God’s gifts are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill.
How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do. Deny your strength, and weakness must become salvation to you. See yourself as bound, and bars become your home. Nor will you leave the prison house, or claim your strength, until guilt and salvation are not seen as one, and freedom and salvation are perceived as joined, with strength beside them, to be sought and claimed, and found and fully recognized.
The world must thank you when you offer it release from your illusions. Yet your thanks belong to you as well, for its release can only mirror yours. Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. Is it this you would undo by taking back your gifts, because they were not honored? It is you who honor them and give them fitting thanks, for it is you who have received the gifts.
It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you. It does not matter if your gifts seem lost and ineffectual. They are received where they are given. In your gratitude are they accepted universally, and thankfully acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. And would you take them back, when He has gratefully accepted them?
God blesses every gift you give to Him, and every gift is given Him, because it can be given only to yourself. And what belongs to God must be His Own. Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again.
Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while, before He snatches them away again in death. For death will have no meaning for you then.
And with the end of this belief is fear forever over. Thank your Self for this, for He is grateful only unto God, and He gives thanks for you unto Himself. To everyone who lives will Christ yet come, for everyone must live and move in Him. His Being in His Father is secure, because Their Will is One. Their gratitude to all They have created has no end, for gratitude remains a part of love.
Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. For as you were created, you contain all things within your Self. And you are still as God created you. Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. In your heart the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear, because you are Himself. All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are.
Give thanks as you receive it. Be you free of all ingratitude to anyone who makes your Self complete. And from this Self is no one left outside. Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self. All that you do is given unto Him. All that you think can only be His Thoughts, sharing with Him the holy Thoughts of God. Earn now the gratitude you have denied yourself when you forgot the function God has given you. But never think that He has ever ceased to offer thanks to you.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: The meaning is that when we see our interests as separate from another person’s (an example of “unholy values”), we will become confused, and we will be aware of that confusion: “and in awareness”was a common psychological term at the time of the scribing of the Course.
Q #250: In Kenneth Wapnick’s book Forgiveness & Jesus, he says on page xv in the Preface: “Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not operate in the world, and certainly do not send people as if they were operating a giant chess board, moving us around according to the evolution of the plan of salvation.” However, the manual for teachers of A Course in Miracles says: “There are no accidents in salvation. Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship” (M.3.1:6,7); and then later it says, “Remember that no one is where he is by accident, and chance plays no part in God’s plan” (M.9.1:3). This indicates that meeting certain people is part of God’s plan, and as I have understood the Course, the Holy Spirit is operating in the illusion to help us, just as the Course is made within the framework of the illusion. Meetings are part of God’s plan — there are no accidents — so how can this be interpreted?
A: There are no accidents because everything has already happened, and we are simply reviewing mentally what has already gone by: “The script is written.…we but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:3,5). In “The Little Hindrance” Jesus tells us: “To you who still believe you live in time and know not it is gone, the Holy Spirit still guides you through the infinitely small and senseless maze you still perceive in time, though it has long since gone. You think you live in what is past” (T.26.V.4:1,2). So people are in our lives only because that is what our scripts involve. We have no recollection of our having written these scripts (a metaphor, of course), which is part of the ego’s strategy to keep us from remembering that we are decision-making minds. You might wish to consult Kenneth’s A Vast Illusion: Time According to “A Course in Miracles,” which is an in-depth study of this intriguing part of the Course’s theory.
We are inclined to view what the Course says from our perspective, which is that the world and linear time are real. And that is why we would think that the Holy Spirit and Jesus actually do things, such as direct us to specific people so that we can learn our lessons of forgiveness. But that could not be, since there is no world, and time is not real, either. It is helpful to review the levels of language in the Course, and why Jesus speaks to us as if our experience in the world and linear time were real. Earlier answers to questions have developed these topics, and we refer you to them for further study: Questions #72 and #116.