ACIM Text Reading for July 20
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
VII. The Light of the Holy Relationship
Do you want freedom of the body or of the mind? For both you cannot have. Which do you value? Which is your goal? For one you see as means; the other, end. And one must serve the other and lead to its predominance, increasing its importance by diminishing its own. Means serve the end, and as the end is reached the value of the means decreases, eclipsed entirely when they are recognized as functionless. No one but yearns for freedom and tries to find it. Yet he will seek for it where he believes it is and can be found. He will believe it possible of mind or body, and he will make the other serve his choice as means to find it.
Where freedom of the body has been chosen, the mind is used as means whose value lies in its ability to contrive ways to achieve the body’s freedom. Yet freedom of the body has no meaning, and so the mind is dedicated to serve illusions. This is a situation so contradictory and so impossible that anyone who chooses this has no idea of what is valuable. Yet even in this confusion, so profound it cannot be described, the Holy Spirit waits in gentle patience, as certain of the outcome as He is sure of His Creator’s love. He knows this mad decision was made by one as dear to His Creator as love is to itself.
Be not disturbed at all to think how He can change the role of means and end so easily in what God loves, and would have free forever. But be you rather grateful that you can be the means to serve His end. This is the only service that leads to freedom. To serve this end the body must be perceived as sinless, because the goal is sinlessness. The lack of contradiction makes the soft transition from means to end as easy as is the shift from hate to gratitude before forgiving eyes. You will be sanctified by one another, using your bodies only to serve the sinless. And it will be impossible for you to hate what serves whom you would heal.
This holy relationship, lovely in its innocence, mighty in strength, and blazing with a light far brighter than the sun that lights the sky you see, is chosen of your Father as a means for His Own plan. Be thankful that it serves yours not at all. Nothing entrusted to it can be misused, and nothing given it but will be used. This holy relationship has the power to heal all pain, regardless of its form. Neither alone can serve at all. Only in your joint will does healing lie. For here your healing is, and here will you accept Atonement. And in your healing is the Sonship healed because your wills are joined.
Before a holy relationship there is no sin. The form of error is no longer seen, and reason, joined with love, looks quietly on all confusion, observing merely, “This was a mistake.” And then the same Atonement you accepted in your relationship corrects the error, and lays a part of Heaven in its place. How blessed are you who let this gift be given! Each part of Heaven that you bring is given you. And every place in Heaven that you will fill again with the Eternal Light you bring, shines now on you. The means of sinlessness can know no fear because they carry only love with them.
Child of peace, the light has come to you. The light you bring you do not recognize, and yet you will remember. Who can deny himself the vision that he brings to others? And who would fail to recognize a gift he let be laid in Heaven through himself? The gentle service that you give the Holy Spirit is service to yourself. You who are now His means must love all that He loves. And what you bring is your remembrance of everything that is eternal. No trace of anything in time can long remain in minds that serve the timeless. And no illusion can disturb the peace of a relationship that has become the means of peace.
When you have looked upon your brother with complete forgiveness, from which no error is excluded and nothing kept hidden, what mistake can there be anywhere you cannot overlook? What form of suffering could block your sight, preventing you from seeing past it? And what illusion could there be you will not recognize as a mistake; a shadow through which you walk completely undismayed? God would let nothing interfere with those whose wills are His, and serve it willingly. And could remembrance of what they are be long delayed?
You will see your value through your brother’s eyes, and each one is released as he beholds his savior in place of the attacker who he thought was there. Through this releasing is the world released. This is your part in bringing peace. For you have asked what is your function here, and have been answered. Seek not to change it, nor to substitute another goal. Accept this one and serve it willingly, for what the Holy Spirit does with gifts you give each other, to whom He offers them, and where and when, is up to Him. He will bestow them where they are received and welcomed. He will use every one of them for peace. Nor will one little smile or willingness to overlook the tiniest mistake be lost to anyone.
What can it be but universal blessing to look on what your Father loves with charity? Extension of forgiveness is the Holy Spirit’s function. Leave this to Him. Let your concern be only that you give to Him that which can be extended. Save no dark secrets that He cannot use, but offer Him the tiny gifts He can extend forever. He will take each one and make of it a potent force for peace. He will withhold no blessing from it, nor limit it in any way. He will join to it all the power that God has given Him, to make each little gift of love a source of healing for everyone. Each little gift you offer to your brother lights up the world. Be not concerned with darkness; look away from it and toward each other. And let the darkness be dispelled by Him Who knows the light, and lays it gently in each quiet smile of faith and confidence with which you bless each other.
On your learning depends the welfare of the world. And it is only arrogance that would deny the power of your will. Think you the Will of God is powerless? Is this humility? You do not see what this belief has done. You see yourself as vulnerable, frail and easily destroyed, and at the mercy of countless attackers more powerful than you. Let us look straight at how this error came about, for here lies buried the heavy anchor that seems to keep the fear of God in place, immovable and solid as a rock. While this remains, so will it seem to be.
Who can attack the Son of God and not attack his Father? How can God’s Son be weak and frail and easily destroyed unless his Father is? You do not see that every sin and every condemnation that you perceive and justify is an attack upon your Father. And that is why it has not happened, nor could be real. You do not see that this is your attempt because you think the Father and the Son are separate. And you must think that they are separate, because of fear. For it seems safer to attack another or yourself than to attack the great Creator of the universe, Whose power you know.
If you were one with God and recognized this oneness, you would know His power is yours. But you will not remember this while you believe attack of any kind means anything. It is unjustified in any form, because it has no meaning. The only way it could be justified is if each one of you were separate from the other, and all were separate from your Creator. For only then would it be possible to attack a part of the creation without the whole, the Son without the Father; and to attack another without yourself, or hurt yourself without the other feeling pain. And this belief you want. Yet wherein lies its value, except in the desire to attack in safety? Attack is neither safe nor dangerous. It is impossible. And this is so because the universe is one. You would not choose attack on its reality if it were not essential to attack to see it separated from its maker. And thus it seems as if love could attack and become fearful.
Only the different can attack. So you conclude because you can attack, you must be different. Yet does the Holy Spirit explain this differently. Because you are not different, you cannot attack. Either position is a logical conclusion. Either could be maintained, but never both. The only question to be answered in order to decide which must be true is whether you are different. From the position of what you understand you seem to be, and therefore can attack. Of the alternatives, this seems more natural and more in line with your experience. And therefore it is necessary that you have other experiences, more in line with truth, to teach you what is natural and true.
This is the function of your holy relationship. For what one thinks, the other will experience with him. What can this mean except your minds are one? Look not with fear upon this happy fact, and think not that it lays a heavy burden on you. For when you have accepted it with gladness, you will realize that your relationship is a reflection of the union of the Creator and His Son. From loving minds there is no separation. And every thought in one brings gladness to the other because they are the same. Joy is unlimited, because each shining thought of love extends its being and creates more of itself. There is no difference anywhere in it, for every thought is like itself.
The light that joins you shines throughout the universe, and because it joins you, so it makes you one with your Creator. And in Him is all creation joined. Would you regret you cannot fear alone, when your relationship can also teach the power of love is there, which makes all fear impossible? Do not attempt to keep a little of the ego with this gift. For it was given you to be used, and not obscured. What teaches you that you cannot separate denies the ego. Let truth decide if you be different or the same, and teach you which is true.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 20
For this review we take but one idea each day, and practice it as often as is possible. Besides the time you give morning and evening, which should not be less than fifteen minutes, and the hourly remembrances you make throughout the day, use the idea as often as you can between them. Each of these ideas alone would be sufficient for salvation, if it were learned truly. Each would be enough to give release to you and to the world from every form of bondage, and invite the memory of God to come again.
With this in mind we start our practicing, in which we carefully review the thoughts the Holy Spirit has bestowed on us in our last twenty lessons. Each contains the whole curriculum if understood, practiced, accepted, and applied to all the seeming happenings throughout the day. One is enough. But from that one, there must be no exceptions made. And so we need to use them all and let them blend as one, as each contributes to the whole we learn.
These practice sessions, like our last review, are centered round a central theme with which we start and end each lesson. It is this:
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
The day begins and ends with this. And we repeat it every time the hour strikes, or we remember, in between, we have a function that transcends the world we see. Beyond this, and a repetition of the special thought we practice for the day, no form of exercise is urged, except a deep relinquishment of everything that clutters up the mind, and makes it deaf to reason, sanity and simple truth.
We will attempt to get beyond all words and special forms of practicing for this review. For we attempt, this time, to reach a quickened pace along a shorter path to the serenity and peace of God. We merely close our eyes, and then forget all that we thought we knew and understood. For thus is freedom given us from all we did not know and failed to understand.
There is but one exception to this lack of structuring. Permit no idle thought to go unchallenged. If you notice one, deny its hold and hasten to assure your mind that this is not what it would have. Then gently let the thought which you denied be given up, in sure and quick exchange for the idea we practice for the day.
When you are tempted, hasten to proclaim your freedom from temptation, as you say:
This thought I do not want. I choose instead _____.
And then repeat the idea for the day, and let it take the place of what you thought. Beyond such special applications of each day’s idea, we will add but a few formal expressions or specific thoughts to aid in practicing. Instead, we give these times of quiet to the Teacher Who instructs in quiet, speaks of peace, and gives our thoughts whatever meaning they may have.
To Him I offer this review for you. I place you in His charge, and let Him teach you what to do and say and think, each time you turn to Him. He will not fail to be available to you, each time you call to Him to help you. Let us offer Him the whole review we now begin, and let us also not forget to Whom it has been given, as we practice day by day, advancing toward the goal He set for us; allowing Him to teach us how to go, and trusting Him completely for the way each practice period can best become a loving gift of freedom to the world.
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
(181) I trust my brothers, who are one with me.
No one but is my brother. I am blessed with oneness with
the universe and God, my Father, one Creator of the whole
that is my Self, forever One with me.
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #116: I am somewhat at odds with the whole idea of God intervening in the world of form. I know that the Foundation’s view is that since the world of form is an illusion, it is inconceivable that He could be involved in making changes and alterations in a world of form. I also know it is all about changing our thoughts about the world to bring us closer to waking. But in lesson 71 “Only God’s plan for salvation will work” it actually has the separated mind ask God, “What would you have me do? Where would you have me go? What would you have me say, and to whom?” Isn’t this asking God what direction you should take in the world of form? I also know that when I relinquish my ego thought and ask God to direct my thoughts then my world of form DOES change. Also how does A Course in Miracles reconcile Jesus being immaculately conceived? Wouldn’t that be considered intervention into the illusion?
A: As discussed elsewhere in these Questions, it is important to recognize that much of the Course is written in metaphorical language, reaching us where we believe we are (e.g., see Question 72). And so God is described throughout the Course in ways that suggest He is concerned about us here in the world, only to provide a correction for our ego belief that God is an angry Father intent on our destruction. And so, rather than as our enemy, the Course is trying to help us view God as our Friend, Who will help us do what we need to do. In addition, it is very common in the Workbook lessons that God is used when the real meaning is God’s Voice, or the Holy Spirit.
As always, the larger context of the Course and, in this case, the lesson itself make the deeper intent of lines such as those you quote clearer. This lesson first describes the ego’s plan for salvation — holding grievances against others so that the guilt in our mind seems to rest on them rather than on ourselves — the blame game (W.pI.71.2). Clearly, this “solution” is the problem, because it in fact keeps the guilt alive in our minds rather than undoing it. And so God’s (that is, the Holy Spirit’s) plan, although not described specifically in this lesson, will have to involve being willing to release those grievances. Since our anger and judgments are triggered by our interactions with others, the direction to ask God for specific help that you refer to really means that we do not continue to act — doing, going, speaking, etc. — on our own, that is, with the ego’s guidance. If we can carry the memory of God’s Love with us as we move through our day, we can be sure that we will be just where we need to be to learn the lessons of forgiveness that will bring us the peace we seek.
Now when we release ourselves from the ego’s dictates and open ourselves up to the guidance of God’s Voice, we may experience shifts in our external world, as you mention, although this may not always be the case. These changes occur not because God or the Holy Spirit has literally intervened but rather because we have been willing to make inner choices (often unconscious), aligned with love rather than hate. External projections of our guilt may then very well change, although this is never the purpose, from the Course’s perspective, for changing our teacher. That becomes a trap, rooting our focus back in the world as we look for external changes to validate our inner shift.
Virgin births and immaculate conceptions do suggest divine interventions in the world of form, but the Jesus of the Course never makes any of these claims about himself. The Bible and traditional Christianity represent a very different spiritual path from the Course and it is best not to confuse the two or try to integrate them in any way.