ACIM Text Reading for July 17
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
IV. Reason and the Forms of Error
The introduction of reason into the ego’s thought system is the beginning of its undoing, for reason and the ego are contradictory. Nor is it possible for them to coexist in your awareness. For reason’s goal is to make plain, and therefore obvious. You can see reason. This is not a play on words, for here is the beginning of a vision that has meaning. Vision is sense, quite literally. If it is not the body’s sight, it must be understood. For it is plain, and what is obvious is not ambiguous. It can be understood. And here do reason and the ego separate, to go their separate ways.
The ego’s whole continuance depends on its belief you cannot learn this course. Share this belief, and reason will be unable to see your errors and make way for their correction. For reason sees through errors, telling you what you thought was real is not. Reason can see the difference between sin and mistakes, because it wants correction. Therefore, it tells you what you thought was uncorrectable can be corrected, and thus it must have been an error. The ego’s opposition to correction leads to its fixed belief in sin and disregard of errors. It looks on nothing that can be corrected. Thus does the ego damn, and reason save.
Reason is not salvation in itself, but it makes way for peace and brings you to a state of mind in which salvation can be given you. Sin is a block, set like a heavy gate, locked and without a key, across the road to peace. No one who looks on it without the help of reason would try to pass it. The body’s eyes behold it as solid granite, so thick it would be madness to attempt to pass it. Yet reason sees through it easily, because it is an error. The form it takes cannot conceal its emptiness from reason’s eyes.
Only the form of error attracts the ego. Meaning it does not recognize, and does not see if it is there or not. Everything the body’s eyes can see is a mistake, an error in perception, a distorted fragment of the whole without the meaning that the whole would give. And yet mistakes, regardless of their form, can be corrected. Sin is but error in a special form the ego venerates. It would preserve all errors and make them sins. For here is its own stability, its heavy anchor in the shifting world it made; the rock on which its church is built, and where its worshippers are bound to bodies, believing the body’s freedom is their own.
Reason will tell you that the form of error is not what makes it a mistake. If what the form conceals is a mistake, the form cannot prevent correction. The body’s eyes see only form. They cannot see beyond what they were made to see. And they were made to look on error and not see past it. Theirs is indeed a strange perception, for they can see only illusions, unable to look beyond the granite block of sin, and stopping at the outside form of nothing. To this distorted form of vision the outside of everything, the wall that stands between you and the truth, is wholly true. Yet how can sight that stops at nothingness, as if it were a solid wall, see truly? It is held back by form, having been made to guarantee that nothing else but form will be perceived.
These eyes, made not to see, will never see. For the idea they represent left not its maker, and it is their maker that sees through them. What was its maker’s goal but not to see? For this the body’s eyes are perfect means, but not for seeing. See how the body’s eyes rest on externals and cannot go beyond. Watch how they stop at nothingness, unable to go beyond the form to meaning. Nothing so blinding as perception of form. For sight of form means understanding has been obscured.
Only mistakes have different forms, and so they can deceive. You can change form because it is not true. It could not be reality because it can be changed. Reason will tell you that if form is not reality it must be an illusion, and is not there to see. And if you see it you must be mistaken, for you are seeing what can not be real as if it were. What cannot see beyond what is not there must be distorted perception, and must perceive illusions as the truth. Could it, then, recognize the truth?
Let not the form of his mistakes keep you from him whose holiness is yours. Let not the vision of his holiness, the sight of which would show you your forgiveness, be kept from you by what the body’s eyes can see. Let your awareness of your brother not be blocked by your perception of his sins and of his body. What is there in him that you would attack except what you associate with his body, which you believe can sin? Beyond his errors is his holiness and your salvation. You gave him not his holiness, but tried to see your sins in him to save yourself. And yet, his holiness is your forgiveness. Can you be saved by making sinful the one whose holiness is your salvation?
A holy relationship, however newly born, must value holiness above all else. Unholy values will produce confusion, and in awareness. In an unholy relationship, each one is valued because he seems to justify the other’s sin. Each sees within the other what impels him to sin against his will. And thus he lays his sins upon the other, and is attracted to him to perpetuate his sins. And so it must become impossible for each to see himself as causing sin by his desire to have sin real. Yet reason sees a holy relationship as what it is; a common state of mind, where both give errors gladly to correction, that both may happily be healed as one.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 17
Only my condemnation injures me.
Injury is impossible. And yet illusion makes illusion. If you can condemn, you can be injured. For you have believed that you can injure, and the right you have established for yourself can be now used against you, till you lay it down as valueless, unwanted and unreal. Then does illusion cease to have effects, and those it seemed to have will be undone. Then are you free, for freedom is your gift, and you can now receive the gift you gave.
Condemn and you are made a prisoner. Forgive and you are freed. Such is the law that rules perception. It is not a law that knowledge understands, for freedom is a part of knowledge. To condemn is thus impossible in truth. What seems to be its influence and its effects have not occurred at all. Yet must we deal with them a while as if they had. Illusion makes illusion. Except one. Forgiveness is illusion that is answer to the rest.
Forgiveness sweeps all other dreams away, and though it is itself a dream, it breeds no others. All illusions save this one must multiply a thousandfold. But this is where illusions end. Forgiveness is the end of dreams, because it is a dream of waking. It is not itself the truth. Yet does it point to where the truth must be, and gives direction with the certainty of God Himself. It is a dream in which the Son of God awakens to his Self and to his Father, knowing They are One.
Forgiveness is the only road that leads out of disaster, past all suffering, and finally away from death. How could there be another way, when this one is the plan of God Himself? And why would you oppose it, quarrel with it, seek to find a thousand ways in which it must be wrong; a thousand other possibilities?
Is it not wiser to be glad you hold the answer to your problems in your hand? Is it not more intelligent to thank the One Who gives salvation, and accept His gift with gratitude? And is it not a kindness to yourself to hear His Voice and learn the simple lessons He would teach, instead of trying to dismiss His words, and substitute your own in place of His?
His words will work. His words will save. His words contain all hope, all blessing and all joy that ever can be found upon this earth. His words are born in God, and come to you with Heaven’s love upon them. Those who hear His words have heard the song of Heaven. For these are the words in which all merge as one at last. And as this one will fade away, the Word of God will come to take its place, for it will be remembered then and loved.
This world has many seeming separate haunts where mercy has no meaning, and attack appears as justified. Yet all are one; a place where death is offered to God’s Son and to his Father. You may think They have accepted. But if you will look again upon the place where you beheld Their blood, you will perceive a miracle instead. How foolish to believe that They could die! How foolish to believe you can attack! How mad to think that you could be condemned, and that the holy Son of God can die!
The stillness of your Self remains unmoved, untouched by thoughts like these, and unaware of any condemnation which could need forgiveness. Dreams of any kind are strange and alien to the truth. And what but truth could have a Thought which builds a bridge to it that brings illusions to the other side?
Today we practice letting freedom come to make its home with you. The truth bestows these words upon your mind, that you may find the key to light and let the darkness end:
Only my condemnation injures me.
Only my own forgiveness sets me free.
Do not forget today that there can be no form of suffering that fails to hide an unforgiving thought. Nor can there be a form of pain forgiveness cannot heal.
Accept the one illusion which proclaims there is no condemnation in God’s Son, and Heaven is remembered instantly; the world forgotten, all its weird beliefs forgotten with it, as the face of Christ appears unveiled at last in this one dream. This is the gift the Holy Spirit holds for you from God your Father. Let today be celebrated both on earth and in your holy home as well. Be kind to Both, as you forgive the trespasses you thought Them guilty of, and see your innocence shining upon you from the face of Christ.
Now is there silence all around the world. Now is there stillness where before there was a frantic rush of thoughts that made no sense. Now is there tranquil light across the face of earth, made quiet in a dreamless sleep. And now the Word of God alone remains upon it. Only that can be perceived an instant longer. Then are symbols done, and everything you ever thought you made completely vanished from the mind that God forever knows to be His only Son.
There is no condemnation in him. He is perfect in his holiness. He needs no thoughts of mercy. Who could give him gifts when everything is his? And who could dream of offering forgiveness to the Son of Sinlessness Itself, so like to Him Whose Son he is, that to behold the Son is to perceive no more, and only know the Father? In this vision of the Son, so brief that not an instant stands between this single sight and timelessness itself, you see the vision of yourself, and then you disappear forever into God.
Today we come still nearer to the end of everything that yet would stand between this vision and our sight. And we are glad that we have come this far, and recognize that He Who brought us here will not forsake us now. For He would give to us the gift that God has given us through Him today. Now is the time for your deliverance. The time has come. The time has come today.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #32: I have read that Freud said the point of psychoanalysis is to make the unconscious conscious. I know that the Course is based in some ways on concepts of Freudian theory, but doesn’t the Course say that all consciousness is inherently illusory? Doesn’t this clash, then, with the main objective of psychoanalysis? Or am I having a case of level confusion?
A: The Course does indeed identify consciousness with what is illusory, describing it early in the text as“the level of perception, the first split introduced into the mind after the separation, making the mind a perceiver rather than a creator. Consciousness is correctly identified as the domain of the ego” (T.3.IV.2:1,2). But like all things the ego has made to support and maintain the belief in separation, the Holy Spirit can give it a different purpose. And so later, Jesus observes that “consciousness has levels and awareness can shift quite dramatically, but it cannot transcend the perceptual realm. At its highest level it becomes aware of the real world, and can be trained to do so increasingly” (C.1.7:4,5).
So yes, although consciousness metaphysically speaking is part of the illusion and so is not real, since we believe in its reality and experience it as an inherent part of ourselves, the Course provides us a way to use our consciousness in order ultimately to transcend it. The process of being trained to attain the real world is really a matter of making conscious what our ego has made unconscious through fear, so that the false perceptions of the ego can be healed and replaced by the true perception of the Holy Spirit, preparing us for our return to knowledge (the Course’s term for Heaven), beyond all consciousness and perception.
We have made the split mind — where consciousness resides — unconscious, and instead believe that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of the body or, more specifically, of the brain. We have also made unconscious all the guilt in the mind that we have concocted as a defense of consciousness, projecting the guilt out into a world of form where we would never suspect its origin. So all of the ego’s defenses must be made conscious — or as the Course more eloquently describes it, we must “be willing to bring the darkness to light” (T.18.III.6:2) — so that their unreality can be recognized. And so we use the consciousness of the split mind to do this until, in the end, all of our false perceptions have been made conscious and healed, and consciousness is no longer needed. At that point, we are ready to leave the realm of consciousness and perception and “disappear into the Presence beyond the veil…not to be seen [perceived] but known” (T.19.IV.D.19:1).