ACIM Text Reading for July 19
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
VI. Weakness and Defensiveness
How does one overcome illusions? Surely not by force or anger, nor by opposing them in any way. Merely by letting reason tell you that they contradict reality. They go against what must be true. The opposition comes from them, and not reality. Reality opposes nothing. What merely is needs no defense, and offers none. Only illusions need defense because of weakness. And how can it be difficult to walk the way of truth when only weakness interferes? You are the strong one in this seeming conflict. And you need no defense. Everything that needs defense you do not want, for anything that needs defense will weaken you.
Consider what the ego wants defenses for. Always to justify what goes against the truth, flies in the face of reason and makes no sense. Can this be justified? What can this be except an invitation to insanity, to save you from the truth? And what would you be saved from but what you fear? Belief in sin needs great defense, and at enormous cost. All that the Holy Spirit offers must be defended against and sacrificed. For sin is carved into a block out of your peace, and laid between you and its return.
Yet how can peace be so fragmented? It is still whole, and nothing has been taken from it. See how the means and the material of evil dreams are nothing. In truth you and your brother stand together, with nothing in between. God holds your hands, and what can separate whom He has joined as one with Him? It is your Father Whom you would defend against. Yet it remains impossible to keep love out. God rests with you in quiet, undefended and wholly undefending, for in this quiet state alone is strength and power. Here can no weakness enter, for here is no attack and therefore no illusions. Love rests in certainty. Only uncertainty can be defensive. And all uncertainty is doubt about yourself.
How weak is fear; how little and how meaningless. How insignificant before the quiet strength of those whom love has joined! This is your “enemy,”–a frightened mouse that would attack the universe. How likely is it that it will succeed? Can it be difficult to disregard its feeble squeaks that tell of its omnipotence, and would drown out the hymn of praise to its Creator that every heart throughout the universe forever sings as one? Which is the stronger? Is it this tiny mouse or everything that God created? You are not joined together by this mouse, but by the Will of God. And can a mouse betray whom God has joined?
If you but recognized how little stands between you and your awareness of your union! Be not deceived by the illusions it presents of size and thickness, weight, solidity and firmness of foundation. Yes, to the body’s eyes it looks like an enormous solid body, immovable as is a mountain. Yet within you is a Force that no illusions can resist. This body only seems to be immovable; this Force is irresistible in truth. What, then, must happen when they come together? Can the illusion of immovability be long defended from what is quietly passed through and gone beyond?
Forget not, when you feel the need arise to be defensive about anything, you have identified yourself with an illusion. And therefore feel that you are weak because you are alone. This is the cost of all illusions. Not one but rests on the belief that you are separate. Not one that does not seem to stand, heavy and solid and immovable, between you and your brother. And not one that truth cannot pass over lightly, and so easily that you must be convinced, in spite of what you thought it was, that it is nothing. If you forgive each other, this must happen. For it is your unwillingness to overlook what seems to stand between you that makes it look impenetrable, and defends the illusion of its immovability.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 19
There is no peace except the peace of God.
Seek you no further. You will not find peace except the peace of God. Accept this fact, and save yourself the agony of yet more bitter disappointments, bleak despair, and sense of icy hopelessness and doubt. Seek you no further. There is nothing else for you to find except the peace of God, unless you seek for misery and pain.
This is the final point to which each one must come at last, to lay aside all hope of finding happiness where there is none; of being saved by what can only hurt; of making peace of chaos, joy of pain, and Heaven out of hell. Attempt no more to win through losing, nor to die to live. You cannot but be asking for defeat.
Yet you can ask as easily for love, for happiness, and for eternal life in peace that has no ending. Ask for this, and you can only win. To ask for what you have already must succeed. To ask that what is false be true can only fail. Forgive yourself for vain imaginings, and seek no longer what you cannot find. For what could be more foolish than to seek and seek and seek again for hell, when you have but to look with open eyes to find that Heaven lies before you, through a door that opens easily to welcome you?
Come home. You have not found your happiness in foreign places and in alien forms that have no meaning to you, though you sought to make them meaningful. This world is not where you belong. You are a stranger here. But it is given you to find the means whereby the world no longer seems to be a prison house or jail for anyone.
Freedom is given you where you beheld but chains and iron doors. But you must change your mind about the purpose of the world, if you would find escape. You will be bound till all the world is seen by you as blessed, and everyone made free of your mistakes and honored as he is. You made him not; no more yourself. And as you free the one, the other is accepted as he is.
What does forgiveness do? In truth it has no function, and does nothing. For it is unknown in Heaven. It is only hell where it is needed, and where it must serve a mighty function. Is not the escape of God’s beloved Son from evil dreams that he imagines, yet believes are true, a worthy purpose? Who could hope for more, while there appears to be a choice to make between success and failure; love and fear?
There is no peace except the peace of God, because He has one Son who cannot make a world in opposition to God’s Will and to his own, which is the same as His. What could he hope to find in such a world? It cannot have reality, because it never was created. Is it here that he would seek for peace? Or must he see that, as he looks on it, the world can but deceive? Yet can he learn to look on it another way, and find the peace of God.
Peace is the bridge that everyone will cross, to leave this world behind. But peace begins within the world perceived as different, and leading from this fresh perception to the gate of Heaven and the way beyond. Peace is the answer to conflicting goals, to senseless journeys, frantic, vain pursuits, and meaningless endeavors. Now the way is easy, sloping gently toward the bridge where freedom lies within the peace of God.
Let us not lose our way again today. We go to Heaven, and the path is straight. Only if we attempt to wander can there be delay, and needless wasted time on thorny byways. God alone is sure, and He will guide our footsteps. He will not desert His Son in need, nor let him stray forever from his home. The Father calls; the Son will hear. And that is all there is to what appears to be a world apart from God, where bodies have reality.
Now is there silence. Seek no further. You have come to where the road is carpeted with leaves of false desires, fallen from the trees of hopelessness you sought before. Now are they underfoot. And you look up and on toward Heaven, with the body’s eyes but serving for an instant longer now. Peace is already recognized at last, and you can feel its soft embrace surround your heart and mind with comfort and with love.
Today we seek no idols. Peace can not be found in them. The peace of God is ours, and only this will we accept and want. Peace be to us today. For we have found a simple, happy way to leave the world of ambiguity, and to replace our shifting goals and solitary dreams with single purpose and companionship. For peace is union, if it be of God. We seek no further. We are close to home, and draw still nearer every time we say:
There is no peace except the peace of God,
And I am glad and thankful it is so.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #72: The Course references “God’s plan” in several places: “We will accept the way God’s plan will end, as we received the way it started.” (W.pII.in.10:6). Further in the workbook at the introduction to Section 10 it also states: “God’s Final Judgment is as merciful as every step in His appointed plan to bless His Son, and call him to return to the eternal peace He shares with him. Be not afraid of love. For it alone can heal all sorrow, wipe away all tears, and gently waken from his dream of pain the Son whom God acknowledges as His.” (W.pII.10.4:1.2.3). This seems to be in conflict with the claim that God is unaware of the physical world. So, why would God need a plan? It would appear from this that God is aware that His Son is sleeping. If not, how can it be so that God would have a plan to “call him to return” and to “gently waken from his dream of pain” if God is not aware of this need for His Son Whom according to Truth is not sleeping and therefore has no need in Truth to return to the Father? If as the Course states the physical world is an illusion and God is not aware of the illusion what is the need of a plan to awaken the Son? Do these passages not infer that God is in fact aware of that which is not real?
A: Your question is a very good one. One of the challenging but essential things to understand about the Course is how it uses language. If you can remember that the Course has come only as a correction for the thought of separation — which is very real in our experience — and so must use the symbols of separation to bring about the correction (T.25.I.7:4), everything will begin to become clearer. The ego’s myth of separation, which we at a deep unconscious level believe, spins a wild tale of attack and counterattack between the Son and the Father, with the Father in the end seeking to destroy the Son for his malicious attempt to usurp the Father’s position of superiority in the Kingdom (e.g., M.17.7). That this story is widely accepted is evident in Christianity’s foundational belief that God’s plan for our salvation requires His one and only Son to suffer and die an ignominious death in order to atone for our grievous offense against Him, a sin so heinous we ourselves are completely incapable of atoning for it. And Christianity’s basic premise is only one specific expression of the ego’s underlying myth, predicated on the reality of separation and sin. Parallels can be seen in the other formal religions of the world that emphasize the need for and value of suffering and sacrifice in approaching God.
The Course comes as a correction for the ego’s false story, but it would hardly be helpful if the correction were nothing more than a statement that none of this is real, since we are convinced otherwise and are still desperately clinging to this sinful self that we believe the separation has made real. And so the Course tells a different story, a story of a loving Father whose plan for our salvation — our happy return to Him — has not a single element of violence or revenge in it, nor exacts any sacrifice or pain from His children. This corrective story of God’s plan for our salvation uses the same dualistic symbols of separation as the ego’s story, but as a metaphorical rendering rather than a literal account. And so the symbols are infused with a completely different content that reflects the unified Love of Heaven rather than the fragmenting hatred of the ego. The purpose of the Course’s correction is to begin to undo some of the guilt and fear that we have made real in our minds so that we can begin to approach the part of our mind where the Holy Spirit — the Correction — resides (even this is metaphorical) as a reflection of the unity and wholeness of our true reality as Christ. (The tape set, Duality as Metaphor, provides a much more extended treatment of this whole issue.)