ACIM Text Reading for July 27
Chapter 24 ~ The Goal of Specialness
II. Specialness as a Substitute for Love
Love is extension. To withhold the smallest gift is not to know love’s purpose. Love offers everything forever. Hold back but one belief, one offering, and love is gone, because you asked a substitute to take its place. And now must war, the substitute for peace, come with the one alternative that you can choose for love. Your choosing it has given it all the reality it seems to have.
Beliefs will never openly attack each other because conflicting outcomes are impossible. But an unrecognized belief is a decision to war in secret, where the results of conflict are kept unknown and never brought to reason, to be considered sensible or not. And many senseless outcomes have been reached, and meaningless decisions have been made and kept hidden, to become beliefs now given power to direct all subsequent decisions. Mistake you not the power of these hidden warriors to disrupt your peace. For it is at their mercy while you decide to leave it there. The secret enemies of peace, your least decision to choose attack instead of love, unrecognized and swift to challenge you to combat and to violence far more inclusive than you think, are there by your election. Do not deny their presence nor their terrible results. All that can be denied is their reality, but not their outcome.
All that is ever cherished as a hidden belief, to be defended though unrecognized, is faith in specialness. This takes many forms, but always clashes with the reality of God’s creation and with the grandeur that He gave His Son. What else could justify attack? For who could hate someone whose Self is his, and Whom he knows? Only the special could have enemies, for they are different and not the same. And difference of any kind imposes orders of reality, and a need to judge that cannot be escaped.
What God created cannot be attacked, for there is nothing in the universe unlike itself. But what is different calls for judgment, and this must come from someone “better,” someone incapable of being like what he condemns, “above” it, sinless by comparison with it. And thus does specialness become a means and end at once. For specialness not only sets apart, but serves as grounds from which attack on those who seem “beneath” the special one is “natural” and “just.” The special ones feel weak and frail because of differences, for what would make them special is their enemy. Yet they protect its enmity and call it “friend.” On its behalf they fight against the universe, for nothing in the world they value more.
Specialness is the great dictator of the wrong decisions. Here is the grand illusion of what you are and what your brother is. And here is what must make the body dear and worth preserving. Specialness must be defended. Illusions can attack it, and they do. For what your brother must become to keep your specialness is an illusion. He who is “worse” than you must be attacked, so that your specialness can live on his defeat. For specialness is triumph, and its victory is his defeat and shame. How can he live, with all your sins upon him? And who must be his conqueror but you?
Would it be possible for you to hate your brother if you were like him? Could you attack him if you realized you journey with him, to a goal that is the same? Would you not help him reach it in every way you could, if his attainment of it were perceived as yours? You are his enemy in specialness; his friend in a shared purpose. Specialness can never share, for it depends on goals that you alone can reach. And he must never reach them, or your goal is jeopardized. Can love have meaning where the goal is triumph? And what decision can be made for this that will not hurt you?
Your brother is your friend because his Father created him like you. There is no difference. You have been given to your brother that love might be extended, not cut off from him. What you keep is lost to you. God gave you and your brother Himself, and to remember this is now the only purpose that you share. And so it is the only one you have. Could you attack your brother if you chose to see no specialness of any kind between you and him? Look fairly at whatever makes you give your brother only partial welcome, or would let you think that you are better off apart. Is it not always your belief your specialness is limited by your relationship? And is not this the “enemy” that makes you and your brother illusions to each other?
The fear of God and of your brother comes from each unrecognized belief in specialness. For you demand your brother bow to it against his will. And God Himself must honor it or suffer vengeance. Every twinge of malice, or stab of hate or wish to separate arises here. For here the purpose that you and your brother share becomes obscured from both of you. You would oppose this course because it teaches you you and your brother are alike. You have no purpose that is not the same, and none your Father does not share with you. For your relationship has been made clean of special goals. And would you now defeat the goal of holiness that Heaven gave it? What perspective can the special have that does not change with every seeming blow, each slight, or fancied judgment on itself? Those who are special must defend illusions against the truth. For what is specialness but an attack upon the Will of God? You love your brother not while it is this you would defend against him. This is what he attacks, and you protect. Here is the ground of battle which you wage against him. Here must he be your enemy and not your friend. Never can there be peace among the different. He is your friend because you are the same.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 27
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
(188) The peace of God is shining in me now.
I will be still, and let the earth be still along with me. And
in that stillness we will find the peace of God. It is within
my heart, which witnesses to God Himself.
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #44: How do I act in the world of form before I have been able to forgive a situation? If I act lovingly without really feeling it I will feel resentment. If I act according to my true feelings I will feel guilty. Either way I lose!!!
A: The key is always to be aware of your motivation in a conflict with someone else — the underlying purpose it serves, as you seem to struggle over how to act. “What you do comes from what you think”(T.2.VI.2:7), as Jesus points out. “It is only at this level that you can exercise choice…It is pointless to believe that controlling the outcome of misthought can result in healing….You must change your mind, not your behavior, and this is a matter of willingness….Change does not mean anything at the symptom level, where it cannot work” (2:6; 3:1,4,7).
We are stubborn creatures, not prone to forgiveness, although it is the most natural thing we can do in this world. But the world is an unnatural place. And so we resist what really would be kindest and most helpful to ourselves. So long as I think that acting lovingly towards others is a charitable whim I bestow on an undeserving someone outside of myself (W.pI.126.4:1), I will resent not getting in my “justified” licks against you if I feel you have treated me unfairly. But if I can honestly look at how a retaliatory attack on you will really make me feel, I may be more open to a right-minded solution. If I can begin to recognize that my reaction to you has nothing to do with what you have done and everything to do with the guilt in my own mind, which is the cause of all my pain and for which I am always seeking a target on which to project it, I may think twice about reinforcing that guilt in my own mind by a further overt attack on you. Forgiveness is not a gift bestowed on someone else, unmerited and unjustified. It is a gift I offer first and foremost to myself. When I accept that gift for myself, then I will automatically know how to respond to you who had seemed to offend me, offering you the same gift I have just accepted for myself, in the form in which you will most likely be able to accept it. And I will have no sense of resentment or loss associated with it.
Okay, but what if I’m still too stubborn to believe and accept what is truly in my own best interest for a particular situation — I am not ready to forgive because I still want to hold on to my grievance against you so that I can believe the guilt is in you and not in me? Then I would want at least to be able to acknowledge that I am still identified with my ego, where my “choices” seem to be limited to either overtly attacking you in retaliation or sacrificing my right to retaliation in a feigned “loving” show of “forgiveness” (still an attack). Either option will reinforce my guilt if I act without awareness of my underlying motivation. And so these are not really different choices at all, at the level of content. So now it will be important that I at least be honest with myself, and recognize that it is neither kindness nor righteousness nor any evil within me that is guiding me to act in whatever way I finally choose with my ego, since I have already decided against choosing at the only level that can really help. It is my own fear of love and of the quiet, gentle peace that accompanies the release of grievances that is behind my resistance to asking for help from a different Teacher. If I can recognize that and not judge myself for it, then I have at least minimized the guilt that I am reinforcing in my own mind for continuing to identify with my ego. And that is always a goal of the Course.