ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 31

ACIM Text Reading for August 31

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

VIII. The “Hero” of the Dream

The body is the central figure in the dreaming of the world. There is no dream without it, nor does it exist without the dream in which it acts as if it were a person to be seen and be believed. It takes the central place in every dream, which tells the story of how it was made by other bodies, born into the world outside the body, lives a little while and dies, to be united in the dust with other bodies dying like itself. In the brief time allotted it to live, it seeks for other bodies as its friends and enemies. Its safety is its main concern. Its comfort is its guiding rule. It tries to look for pleasure, and avoid the things that would be hurtful. Above all, it tries to teach itself its pains and joys are different and can be told apart.

The dreaming of the world takes many forms, because the body seeks in many ways to prove it is autonomous and real. It puts things on itself that it has bought with little metal discs or paper strips the world proclaims as valuable and real. It works to get them, doing senseless things, and tosses them away for senseless things it does not need and does not even want. It hires other bodies, that they may protect it and collect more senseless things that it can call its own. It looks about for special bodies that can share its dream. Sometimes it dreams it is a conqueror of bodies weaker than itself. But in some phases of the dream, it is the slave of bodies that would hurt and torture it.

The body’s serial adventures, from the time of birth to dying are the theme of every dream the world has ever had. The “hero” of this dream will never change, nor will its purpose. Though the dream itself takes many forms, and seems to show a great variety of places and events wherein its “hero” finds itself, the dream has but one purpose, taught in many ways. This single lesson does it try to teach again, and still again, and yet once more; that it is cause and not effect. And you are its effect, and cannot be its cause.

Thus are you not the dreamer, but the dream. And so you wander idly in and out of places and events that it contrives. That this is all the body does is true, for it is but a figure in a dream. But who reacts to figures in a dream unless he sees them as if they were real? The instant that he sees them as they are they have no more effects on him, because he understands he gave them their effects by causing them and making them seem real.

How willing are you to escape effects of all the dreams the world has ever had? Is it your wish to let no dream appear to be the cause of what it is you do? Then let us merely look upon the dream’s beginning, for the part you see is but the second part, whose cause lies in the first. No one asleep and dreaming in the world remembers his attack upon himself. No one believes there really was a time when he knew nothing of a body, and could never have conceived this world as real. He would have seen at once that these ideas are one illusion, too ridiculous for anything but to be laughed away. How serious they now appear to be! And no one can remember when they would have met with laughter and with disbelief. We can remember this, if we but look directly at their cause. And we will see the grounds for laughter, not a cause for fear.

Let us return the dream he gave away unto the dreamer, who perceives the dream as separate from himself and done to him. Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time.

A timelessness in which is time made real; a part of God that can attack itself; a separate brother as an enemy; a mind within a body all are forms of circularity whose ending starts at its beginning, ending at its cause. The world you see depicts exactly what you thought you did. Except that now you think that what you did is being done to you. The guilt for what you thought is being placed outside yourself, and on a guilty world that dreams your dreams and thinks your thoughts instead of you. It brings its vengeance, not your own. It keeps you narrowly confined within a body, which it punishes because of all the sinful things the body does within its dream. You have no power to make the body stop its evil deeds because you did not make it, and cannot control its actions nor its purpose nor its fate.

The world but demonstrates an ancient truth; you will believe that others do to you exactly what you think you did to them. But once deluded into blaming them you will not see the cause of what they do, because you want the guilt to rest on them. How childish is the petulant device to keep your innocence by pushing guilt outside yourself, but never letting go! It is not easy to perceive the jest when all around you do your eyes behold its heavy consequences, but without their trifling cause. Without the cause do its effects seem serious and sad indeed. Yet they but follow. And it is their cause that follows nothing and is but a jest.

In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause, and looks not to effects. How else could He correct your error, who have overlooked the cause entirely? He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed. Perhaps you come in tears. But hear Him say, “My brother, holy Son of God, behold your idle dream, in which this could occur.” And you will leave the holy instant with your laughter and your brother’s joined with His.

The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.

This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes. The Holy Spirit will repeat this one inclusive lesson of deliverance until it has been learned, regardless of the form of suffering that brings you pain. Whatever hurt you bring to Him He will make answer with this very simple truth. For this one answer takes away the cause of every form of sorrow and of pain. The form affects His answer not at all, for He would teach you but the single cause of all of them, no matter what their form. And you will understand that miracles reflect the simple statement, “I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo.”

Bring, then, all forms of suffering to Him Who knows that every one is like the rest. He sees no differences where none exists, and He will teach you how each one is caused. None has a different cause from all the rest, and all of them are easily undone by but a single lesson truly learned. Salvation is a secret you have kept but from yourself. The universe proclaims it so. Yet to its witnesses you pay no heed at all. For they attest the thing you do not want to know. They seem to keep it secret from you. Yet you need but learn you chose but not to listen, not to see.

How differently will you perceive the world when this is recognized! When you forgive the world your guilt, you will be free of it. Its innocence does not demand your guilt, nor does your guiltlessness rest on its sins. This is the obvious; a secret kept from no one but yourself. And it is this that has maintained you separate from the world, and kept your brother separate from you. Now need you but to learn that both of you are innocent or guilty. The one thing that is impossible is that you be unlike each other; that they both be true. This is the only secret yet to learn. And it will be no secret you are healed.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 31

Lesson 243

Today I will judge nothing that occurs.

I will be honest with myself today. I will not think that I already know what must remain beyond my present grasp. I will not think I understand the whole from bits of my perception, which are all that I can see. Today I recognize that this is so. And so I am relieved of judgments that I cannot make. Thus do I free myself and what I look upon, to be in peace as God created us.

Father, today I leave creation free to be itself. I honor all its parts, in which I am included. We are one because each part contains Your memory, and truth must shine in all of us as one.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #677: Would you kindly assist me in understanding section VIII of Chapter 27, titled “The ‘Hero’ of the Dream,” in particular, the meaning of the following quote:

“Though the dream itself takes many forms, and seems to show a great variety of places and events wherein its ‘hero’ finds itself, the dream has but one purpose, taught in many ways. This single lesson does it try to teach again, and still again, and yet once more; that it is cause and not effect. And you are its effect, and cannot be its cause.”

A: This passage is saying that the ego’s purpose for the dream is to deceive us into believing that we are each a single, lonely figure in the dream of the world, each with our own separate interests and needs, rather than the dreamer of the dream of the world and all the figures in it. If we are a figure — a body — in the dream, then we are the dream’s effect and the dream is our cause. But if we are the dreamer, we are the cause and the dream/world is the effect.

To help understand this passage further, consider what is really happening in the split mind and what the ego wants us to believe, described in the sentences you quote. The “you” Jesus is addressing and is always referring to in A Course in Miracles is our mind, outside of time and space and outside the dream. It is the split mind of the Son of God, after we have seemingly fallen asleep and begun to dream of separation. Much like what we experience in our nighttime dreams, we do not remember that we are the dreamer but think instead that we are one of the figures in the dream, a body, the “hero” of the dream. So we have accepted the body as our identity and believe that all of the rest of the dream — the world — is outside of ourselves, beyond our control, exerting its influence on us against our will. And yet all along, we, as the dreaming mind, are making the whole thing up.

But this confusion about our identity is exactly what the ego wants us to believe in order to achieve its purpose — to keep us asleep and dreaming the dream of separation, without ever realizing that it is our dream. So the world we seem to be experiencing outside of our physical selves, which includes our parents and their parents, etc., seems to be the cause of the self we think we are — the body. In other words, the ego has convinced us that we, as a body which contains a brain which reacts and thinks and feels, are the effect of the world, and how we feel is a result of our interactions with that outside world and all the people in it. So we never consider the possibility that we, as a mind, are not the effect but rather the cause of the world, of the dream. And this subterfuge serves a very deliberate purpose, for now the cause of all of our unhappiness and pain and loss seems to be the world/the dream, rather than the decision we are making within our mind to see ourselves as separate from love. If we really knew our own choice is the cause, we would not remain asleep and dreaming much longer, and the ego — the thought of separation — would then simply disappear.

Think again of your dreams at night. We may have all kinds of experiences in the dream that we attribute to the other figures and the “outer world” of our dream while we are still asleep and dreaming. But upon awakening, we recognize that all those feelings were not caused by anything in the dream itself but rather by our mind that was dreaming the entire contents of the dream, including both the dream figure we thought we were and everything seemingly separate from it. The dream is one, single, unitary illusion that continues to fool us about reality while we remain asleep. So one of Jesus’ primary objectives with the Course is to help us understand the real nature of cause and effect, so we can undo our confusion and eventually remember Who we truly are, beyond even the illusory split mind.

In a lovely passage early in the text, Jesus calls to us: “Hear, then, the one answer of the Holy Spirit to all the questions the ego raises: You are a child of God, a priceless part of His Kingdom, which He created as part of Him. Nothing else exists and only this is real. You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real and God calls you to awake. There will be nothing left of your dream when you hear Him, because you will awaken. Your dreams contain many of the ego’s symbols and they have confused you. Yet that was only because you were asleep and did not know. When you wake you will see the truth around you and in you, and you will no longer believe in dreams because they will have no reality for you. Yet the Kingdom and all that you have created there will have great reality for you, because they are beautiful and true” (T.6.IV.6).

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Q #100: I wonder about the passage T.27.VIII.6:2. I know my ego is quite resourceful and finds ways to delay progress, which is why I have grown to walk over this passage. Now, with all my basic human understanding, the only way to remember not to laugh is that at one time, for some reason, prior to this event, we had also not laughed; for it is not possible for a mind to “remember” or to “re-call” what has never entered the mind. And at this section, Jesus is not talking about us reliving that instant, hence, creating our world and its constancy. If we understand oneness, perfection, Love, how can something that is not oneness, perfection, Love be remembered? How could it had been part of our existence?

A. The language of A Course in Miracles can be a stumbling block for many people, which appears to be the case here. In one sense, your analysis of the function of memory is logical; but logical analysis can often get in the way of truly understanding Jesus’ message. The Course is not written as would an academic or scholarly treatise, in which precision and consistency in language is essential. While intellectually on a high, sophisticated level—with a clearly recognizable, internally consistent metaphysics—the Course is nonetheless expressed in more of a poetic fashion, where the meanings of words and concepts are permitted to be stretched, and as a result are not always consistent. There are several other instances of seeming inconsistency, in addition to the one you point out.

Anticipating this type of question no doubt, Jesus explains in the introduction to the clarification of terms: “This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception…All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well. They must, however, be willing to overlook controversy, recognizing that it is a defense against the truth in the form of a delaying maneuver.…A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. Here alone consistency becomes possible because here alone uncertainty ends” (C.in.1:1,2; 2:1,2,3,4,5,6,7).

As these passages indicate, the Course does not lend itself to the kind of logical analysis you engaged in, as that is not its purpose. It was not meant to be approached that way, and if it is, one will not get very far with it before being tempted to dismiss it because of the looseness of its language and apparent changes in meaning. What is also helpful is to recognize that the meaning of words is often relative to the point that Jesus is making, or to the essence of what he is teaching in that particular passage, which could differ when he is making some other point. This can be frustrating to readers, without a doubt. On the other hand, though, it is purposeful, in that it forces readers to pay very careful attention to what they are reading in order not to miss the point Jesus is making.

Moreover, the Course makes it clear that the human intellect itself is often an impediment in the quest for truth: “You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is” (T.18.IV.7:5). It is a paradox that we must learn, by first using our intellectual powers, that our intellectual powers are a defense against the truth, which goes along with the Holy Spirit directing us to use the world and time as a means of learning that the world and time are illusory. We are just challenged on every single level to examine the premises and the values and expectations we bring to our study of the Course, so that we can identify exactly what we are thinking and doing that keeps love and truth out of our awareness.

For some further study of this issue, you might want to consult our tape album, “Duality As Metaphor in A Course in Miracles” and Chapter 2 “The Course’s Use of Language — I” in Few Choose to Listen, Volume II of The Message of A Course in Miracles.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 30

ACIM Text Reading for August 30

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

VII. The Dreamer of the Dream

Suffering is an emphasis upon all that the world has done to injure you. Here is the world’s demented version of salvation clearly shown. Like to a dream of punishment, in which the dreamer is unconscious of what brought on the attack against himself, he sees himself attacked unjustly and by something not himself. He is the victim of this “something else,” a thing outside himself, for which he has no reason to be held responsible. He must be innocent because he knows not what he does, but what is done to him. Yet is his own attack upon himself apparent still, for it is he who bears the suffering. And he cannot escape because its source is seen outside himself.

Now you are being shown you can escape. All that is needed is you look upon the problem as it is, and not the way that you have set it up. How could there be another way to solve a problem that is very simple, but has been obscured by heavy clouds of complication, which were made to keep the problem unresolved? Without the clouds the problem will emerge in all its primitive simplicity. The choice will not be difficult, because the problem is absurd when clearly seen. No one has difficulty making up his mind to let a simple problem be resolved if it is seen as hurting him, and also very easily removed.

The “reasoning” by which the world is made, on which it rests, by which it is maintained, is simply this: “You are the cause of what I do. Your presence justifies my wrath, and you exist and think apart from me. While you attack I must be innocent. And what I suffer from is your attack.” No one who looks upon this “reasoning” exactly as it is could fail to see it does not follow and it makes no sense. Yet it seems sensible, because it looks as if the world were hurting you. And so it seems as if there is no need to go beyond the obvious in terms of cause.

There is indeed a need. The world’s escape from condemnation is a need which those within the world are joined in sharing. Yet they do not recognize their common need. For each one thinks that if he does his part, the condemnation of the world will rest on him. And it is this that he perceives to be his part in its deliverance. Vengeance must have a focus. Otherwise is the avenger’s knife in his own hand, and pointed to himself. And he must see it in another’s hand, if he would be a victim of attack he did not choose. And thus he suffers from the wounds a knife he does not hold has made upon himself.

This is the purpose of the world he sees. And looked at thus, the world provides the means by which this purpose seems to be fulfilled. The means attest the purpose, but are not themselves a cause. Nor will the cause be changed by seeing it apart from its effects. The cause produces the effects, which then bear witness to the cause, and not themselves. Look, then, beyond effects. It is not here the cause of suffering and sin must lie. And dwell not on the suffering and sin, for they are but reflections of their cause.

The part you play in salvaging the world from condemnation is your own escape. Forget not that the witness to the world of evil cannot speak except for what has seen a need for evil in the world. And this is where your guilt was first beheld. In separation from your brother was the first attack upon yourself begun. And it is this the world bears witness to. Seek not another cause, nor look among the mighty legions of its witnesses for its undoing. They support its claim on your allegiance. What conceals the truth is not where you should look to find the truth.

The witnesses to sin all stand within one little space. And it is here you find the cause of your perspective on the world. Once you were unaware of what the cause of everything the world appeared to thrust upon you, uninvited and unasked, must really be. Of one thing you were sure: Of all the many causes you perceived as bringing pain and suffering to you, your guilt was not among them. Nor did you in any way request them for yourself. This is how all illusions came about. The one who makes them does not see himself as making them, and their reality does not depend on him. Whatever cause they have is something quite apart from him, and what he sees is separate from his mind. He cannot doubt his dreams’ reality, because he does not see the part he plays in making them and making them seem real.

No one can waken from a dream the world is dreaming for him. He becomes a part of someone else’s dream. He cannot choose to waken from a dream he did not make. Helpless he stands, a victim to a dream conceived and cherished by a separate mind. Careless indeed of him this mind must be, as thoughtless of his peace and happiness as is the weather or the time of day. It loves him not, but casts him as it will in any role that satisfies its dream. So little is his worth that he is but a dancing shadow, leaping up and down according to a senseless plot conceived within the idle dreaming of the world.

This is the only picture you can see; the one alternative that you can choose, the other possibility of cause, if you be not the dreamer of your dreams. And this is what you choose if you deny the cause of suffering is in your mind. Be glad indeed it is, for thus are you the one decider of your destiny in time. The choice is yours to make between a sleeping death and dreams of evil or a happy wakening and joy of life.

What could you choose between but life or death, waking or sleeping, peace or war, your dreams or your reality? There is a risk of thinking death is peace, because the world equates the body with the Self Which God created. Yet a thing can never be its opposite. And death is opposite to peace, because it is the opposite of life. And life is peace. Awaken and forget all thoughts of death, and you will find you have the peace of God. Yet if the choice is really given you, then you must see the causes of the things you choose between exactly as they are and where they are.

What choices can be made between two states, but one of which is clearly recognized? Who could be free to choose between effects, when only one is seen as up to him? An honest choice could never be perceived as one in which the choice is split between a tiny you and an enormous world, with different dreams about the truth in you. The gap between reality and dreams lies not between the dreaming of the world and what you dream in secret. They are one. The dreaming of the world is but a part of your own dream you gave away, and saw as if it were its start and ending, both. Yet was it started by your secret dream, which you do not perceive although it caused the part you see and do not doubt is real. How could you doubt it while you lie asleep, and dream in secret that its cause is real?

A brother separated from yourself, an ancient enemy, a murderer who stalks you in the night and plots your death, yet plans that it be lingering and slow; of this you dream. Yet underneath this dream is yet another, in which you become the murderer, the secret enemy, the scavenger and the destroyer of your brother and the world alike. Here is the cause of suffering, the space between your little dreams and your reality. The little gap you do not even see, the birthplace of illusions and of fear, the time of terror and of ancient hate, the instant of disaster, all are here. Here is the cause of unreality. And it is here that it will be undone.

You are the dreamer of the world of dreams. No other cause it has, nor ever will. Nothing more fearful than an idle dream has terrified God’s Son, and made him think that he has lost his innocence, denied his Father, and made war upon himself. So fearful is the dream, so seeming real, he could not waken to reality without the sweat of terror and a scream of mortal fear, unless a gentler dream preceded his awaking, and allowed his calmer mind to welcome, not to fear, the Voice That calls with love to waken him; a gentler dream, in which his suffering was healed and where his brother was his friend. God willed he waken gently and with joy, and gave him means to waken without fear.

Accept the dream He gave instead of yours. It is not difficult to change a dream when once the dreamer has been recognized. Rest in the Holy Spirit, and allow His gentle dreams to take the place of those you dreamed in terror and in fear of death. He brings forgiving dreams, in which the choice is not who is the murderer and who shall be the victim. In the dreams He brings there is no murder and there is no death. The dream of guilt is fading from your sight, although your eyes are closed. A smile has come to lighten up your sleeping face. The sleep is peaceful now, for these are happy dreams.

Dream softly of your sinless brother, who unites with you in holy innocence. And from this dream the Lord of Heaven will Himself awaken His beloved Son. Dream of your brother’s kindnesses instead of dwelling in your dreams on his mistakes. Select his thoughtfulness to dream about instead of counting up the hurts he gave. Forgive him his illusions, and give thanks to him for all the helpfulness he gave. And do not brush aside his many gifts because he is not perfect in your dreams. He represents his Father, Whom you see as offering both life and death to you.

Brother, He gives but life. Yet what you see as gifts your brother offers represent the gifts you dream your Father gives to you. Let all your brother’s gifts be seen in light of charity and kindness offered you. And let no pain disturb your dream of deep appreciation for his gifts to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 30

Lesson 242

This day is God’s. It is my gift to Him.

I will not lead my life alone today. I do not understand the world, and so to try to lead my life alone must be but foolishness. But there is One Who knows all that is best for me. And He is glad to make no choices for me but the ones that lead to God. I give this day to Him, for I would not delay my coming home, and it is He Who knows the way to God.

And so we give today to You. We come with wholly open minds. We do not ask for anything that we may think we want. Give us what You would have received by us. You know all our desires and our wants. And You will give us everything we need in helping us to find the way to You.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #119: First of all, thank you for the answers to my two former questions: the one about addiction and the one about seeing calls for love. I was glad with these answers and still read them over sometimes. My friends still tell me that I should not undertake behavioral changes, but only look at what my ego is doing. On some level, I trust that I will learn my lessons. Since I began studying A Course in Miracles, I feel like I am not truly seeking anymore. I have found, and need to practice now. My greatest barrier, or stumbling block still is worldly distractions versus God, the ego-offerings versus God. I know that the peace of God is all I want. And at the same time, apparently, I do not want the peace of God. Sometimes, when I have a glimpse of the peace of God, I have a sort of friendly sadness because then I know it is such a gift already, so much better and lovelier than all these worldly distractions.

A. Trust and gentleness are essential in the practice and application of the Course, which you seem to be learning. This means getting more and more comfortable with your inner teacher and developing more and more of a personal relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, so that in those instants in which you are beyond your ego, you would know clearly what the most loving thing for you would be — to make a behavioral change or to simply continue to watch your ego in action, fully aware of what you are doing and what it is costing you, and then not judging yourself for being so resistant.

We all have a split mind, and we all go back and forth between the ego’s offerings and Jesus’ offerings. This is normal, and we should not be surprised that we do this. This is the way we learn that we are mistaken, but not sinful: “Son of God, you have not sinned, but you have been much mistaken. Yet this can be corrected and God will help you, knowing that you could not sin against Him” (T.10.V.6:1). We are learning that the world is a projection of our own thoughts, “the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5). So the point is to welcome that learning, to welcome each opportunity to learn that you only imagine that the world has the power to take away the peace of God. Being afraid of “worldly distractions” only gives them power; and then you will never learn that it is made up. The goal is to achieve a state of inner peace that nothing can disturb, no matter what happens. If you stay isolated and secluded, you are implying that something outside you has power to take away the peace of God. That is foolish. It would be more helpful to go to Jesus after a period of indulging your ego and tell him about everything you thought and did, and that you realize you chose against him, but that you also realize that his love for you has not been affected, and that one day you will not be so afraid to have his love for you, and yours for him, be the center of your life. The pain of excluding that love from your life eventually will become too much to bear, and so the amount of time you spend indulging your ego will grow less and less. Again, though, this does not mean that you may not be guided to make a behavioral change as a way of diminishing the pain you are inflicting on yourself. The behavioral change then would not be perceived as sacrificial, but an expression of gentleness toward yourself.

guiltless mind

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 29

ACIM Text Reading for August 29

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

VI. The Witnesses to Sin

Pain demonstrates the body must be real. It is a loud, obscuring voice whose shrieks would silence what the Holy Spirit says, and keep His words from your awareness. Pain compels attention, drawing it away from Him and focusing upon itself. Its purpose is the same as pleasure, for they both are means to make the body real. What shares a common purpose is the same. This is the law of purpose, which unites all those who share in it within itself. Pleasure and pain are equally unreal, because their purpose cannot be achieved. Thus are they means for nothing, for they have a goal without a meaning. And they share the lack of meaning which their purpose has.

Sin shifts from pain to pleasure, and again to pain. For either witness is the same, and carries but one message: “You are here, within this body, and you can be hurt. You can have pleasure, too, but only at the cost of pain.” These witnesses are joined by many more. Each one seems different because it has a different name, and so it seems to answer to a different sound. Except for this, the witnesses of sin are all alike. Call pleasure pain, and it will hurt. Call pain a pleasure, and the pain behind the pleasure will be felt no more. Sin’s witnesses but shift from name to name, as one steps forward and another back. Yet which is foremost makes no difference. Sin’s witnesses hear but the call of death.

This body, purposeless within itself, holds all your memories and all your hopes. You use its eyes to see, its ears to hear, and let it tell you what it is it feels. It does not know. It tells you but the names you gave to it to use, when you call forth the witnesses to its reality. You cannot choose among them which are real, for any one you choose is like the rest. This name or that, but nothing more, you choose. You do not make a witness true because you called him by truth’s name. The truth is found in him if it is truth he represents. And otherwise he lies, if you should call him by the holy Name of God Himself.

God’s Witness sees no witnesses against the body. Neither does He harken to the witnesses by other names that speak in other ways for its reality. He knows it is not real. For nothing could contain what you believe it holds within. Nor could it tell a part of God Himself what it should feel and what its function is. Yet must He love whatever you hold dear. And for each witness to the body’s death He sends a witness to your life in Him Who knows no death. Each miracle He brings is witness that the body is not real. Its pains and pleasures does He heal alike, for all sin’s witnesses do His replace.

The miracle makes no distinctions in the names by which sin’s witnesses are called. It merely proves that what they represent has no effects. And this it proves because its own effects have come to take their place. It matters not the name by which you called your suffering. It is no longer there. The One Who brings the miracle perceives them all as one, and called by name of fear. As fear is witness unto death, so is the miracle the witness unto life. It is a witness no one can deny, for it is the effects of life it brings. The dying live, the dead arise, and pain has vanished. Yet a miracle speaks not but for itself, but what it represents.

Love, too, has symbols in a world of sin. The miracle forgives because it stands for what is past forgiveness and is true. How foolish and insane it is to think a miracle is bound by laws that it came solely to undo! The laws of sin have different witnesses with different strengths. And they attest to different sufferings. Yet to the One Who sends forth miracles to bless the world, a tiny stab of pain, a little worldly pleasure, and the throes of death itself are but a single sound; a call for healing, and a plaintive cry for help within a world of misery. It is their sameness that the miracle attests. It is their sameness that it proves. The laws that call them different are dissolved, and shown as powerless. The purpose of a miracle is to accomplish this. And God Himself has guaranteed the strength of miracles for what they witness to.

Be you then witness to the miracle, and not the laws of sin. There is no need to suffer any more. But there is need that you be healed, because the suffering and sorrow of the world have made it deaf to its salvation and deliverance.

The resurrection of the world awaits your healing and your happiness, that you may demonstrate the healing of the world. The holy instant will replace all sin if you but carry its effects with you. And no one will elect to suffer more. What better function could you serve than this? Be healed that you may heal, and suffer not the laws of sin to be applied to you. And truth will be revealed to you who chose to let love’s symbols take the place of sin.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 29

Lesson 241

Section 3. What is the World?

The world is false perception. It is born of error, and it has not left its source. It will remain no longer than the thought that gave it birth is cherished. When the thought of separation has been changed to one of true forgiveness, will the world be seen in quite another light; and one which leads to truth, where all the world must disappear and all its errors vanish. Now its source has gone, and its effects are gone as well.

The world was made as an attack on God. It symbolizes fear. And what is fear except love’s absence? Thus the world was meant to be a place where God could enter not, and where His Son could be apart from Him. Here was perception born, for knowledge could not cause such insane thoughts. But eyes deceive, and ears hear falsely. Now mistakes become quite possible, for certainty has gone.

The mechanisms of illusion have been born instead. And now they go to find what has been given them to seek. Their aim is to fulfill the purpose which the world was made to witness and make real. They see in its illusions but a solid base where truth exists, upheld apart from lies. Yet everything that they report is but illusion which is kept apart from truth.

As sight was made to lead away from truth, it can be redirected. Sounds become the call for God, and all perception can be given a new purpose by the One Whom God appointed Savior to the world. Follow His light, and see the world as He beholds it. Hear His Voice alone in all that speaks to you. And let Him give you peace and certainty, which you have thrown away, but Heaven has preserved for you in Him.

Let us not rest content until the world has joined our changed perception. Let us not be satisfied until forgiveness has been made complete. And let us not attempt to change our function. We must save the world. For we who made it must behold it through the eyes of Christ, that what was made to die can be restored to everlasting life.


Lesson 241

This holy instant is salvation come.

What joy there is today! It is a time of special celebration. For today holds out the instant to the darkened world where its release is set. The day has come when sorrows pass away and pain is gone. The glory of salvation dawns today upon a world set free. This is the time of hope for countless millions. They will be united now, as you forgive them all. For I will be forgiven by you today.

We have forgiven one another now, and so we come at last to You again. Father, Your Son, who never left, returns to Heaven and his home. How glad are we to have our sanity restored to us, and to remember that we all are one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1126You say in Question #225, “As long as we experience ourselves as bodies, then we need to respond to and respect our bodily needs, both physical and psychological.” And in Question #406, “Lack of attention or concern about those responsibilities at the level of form is almost always an expression of our authority problem …” Does this mean that we need to follow the ego fears to respect our psychological needs? For example, do we need to travel around the world to be whole, sleep with certain people to be whole, act like a “real man,” or repay people’s wrongs to get rid of guilt? I believe Jesus frees us from these things, but my ego would like me to believe I am not being appropriate if I don’t follow what it tells me I need to be a whole person. I’m trying to get to the point where I can listen to the Holy Spirit on matters like this and not give my power away to someone who will tell me the answer. But I still am not sure what Jesus or the Holy Spirit want from me.

A: What Jesus and the Holy Spirit “want” from you is that you would see that the ego is all made up, and that you therefore should not take it so seriously. You already are whole and complete as God’s Son (W.pII.14) ; but you have hidden that from your awareness and replaced it with a self that is plagued with problems and self-doubt. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are guiding you in the process of letting go of your needto keep the truth of your wholeness concealed.

The ego would help you become a whole person only according to its definition of what that is. To follow the ego’s guidance in anything would never help you get past guilt and fear. Without guilt and fear, there is no ego! The ego wants us to have physical and psychological needs so that we will always be in conflict and focused on satisfying those needs, which almost always happens at another’s expense, thus reinforcing differences and separation. It is obvious, though, that we can never fulfill these needs perfectly and permanently. That is part of the ego’s strategy to keep us glued to the world, and therefore to itself. Thus, as long as we think we are real as bodies, we are going to have needs and longings, and the frustration and satisfaction that come with them; we will also find ourselves in roles with responsibilities to fulfill in those roles: as parents, children, citizens, students, employees, supervisors, drivers, etc. This is all very normal.

Spiritual advancement is not attained through defiance or fear with regard to our needs, roles, and responsibilities. But this does not mean that you must explore and experience every conceivable means of satisfying your needs: You needn’t follow Don Juan’s example with sex, anymore than you need to indulge your appetite for food by eating at every single restaurant in the world. When there is excessive fear or guilt over one’s sexual drive, food cravings, or any other drive or inclination — for whatever reason — professional counseling is often helpful. We need to get to the point where we are comfortable with all of the normal drives and needs that we have as bodies, physical and psychological, so that we are not obsessed with indulging them, denying them, or running away from them out of fear and shame.

The approach of A Course in Miracles to this — once one is fairly mature in the sense just described — is to bring into the picture the idea of purpose , i.e., for what purpose am I using my sexuality, my intellectual attributes, my strong body, my role as parent, my role as husband, etc.? This is the shift from form to content, where the real healing begins. The ego’s purpose is to reinforce separation through individuality and conflict; the Holy Spirit’s purpose is to help us awaken from the dream that we are separate from one another and from God. This simplifies matters enormously, because focusing on purpose (content) enables one to get past the complexities of the behavior and all of the should I? or shouldn’t I? dilemmas that sometimes lead people into long-term psychoanalysis. This is what is behind this instruction of Jesus: “It is not necessary to follow fear through all the circuitous routes by which it burrows underground and hides in darkness, to emerge in forms quite different from what it is. Yet it is necessary to examine each one as long as you would retain the principle that governs all of them. When you are willing to regard them, not as separate, but as different manifestations of the same idea, and one you do not want, they go together” (T.15.X.5:1,2,3) .

As you are able to recognize more and more the same ego thread running through all the complexities of human behavior and attitudes, you will be able to work on getting in touch with your decision to uphold the ego thought system, which is dominated by the principles of one or the other and scarcity . This is the function of the miracle — to bring your attention from the world and the body back to the mind, where you can then, with Jesus, look calmly at the ego dynamics that are causing the problem, and replace them with the dynamics of forgiveness, thus restoring peace and joy to your mind.
shine it away


ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 28

ACIM Text Reading for August 28

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

V. The Healing Example

The only way to heal is to be healed. The miracle extends without your help, but you are needed that it can begin. Accept the miracle of healing, and it will go forth because of what it is. It is its nature to extend itself the instant it is born. And it is born the instant it is offered and received. No one can ask another to be healed. But he can let himself be healed, and thus offer the other what he has received. Who can bestow upon another what he does not have? And who can share what he denies himself? The Holy Spirit speaks to you. He does not speak to someone else. Yet by your listening His Voice extends, because you have accepted what He says.

Health is the witness unto health. As long as it is unattested, it remains without conviction. Only when it has been demonstrated is it proved, and must provide a witness that compels belief. No one is healed through double messages. If you wish only to be healed, you heal. Your single purpose makes this possible. But if you are afraid of healing, then it cannot come through you. The only thing that is required for a healing is a lack of fear. The fearful are not healed, and cannot heal. This does not mean the conflict must be gone forever from your mind to heal. For if it were, there were no need for healing then. But it does mean, if only for an instant, you love without attack. An instant is sufficient. Miracles wait not on time.

The holy instant is the miracle’s abiding place. From there, each one is born into this world as witness to a state of mind that has transcended conflict, and has reached to peace. It carries comfort from the place of peace into the battleground, and demonstrates that war has no effects. For all the hurt that war has sought to bring, the broken bodies and the shattered limbs, the screaming dying and the silent dead, are gently lifted up and comforted.

There is no sadness where a miracle has come to heal. And nothing more than just one instant of your love without attack is necessary that all this occur. In that one instant you are healed, and in that single instant is all healing done. What stands apart from you, when you accept the blessing that the holy instant brings? Be not afraid of blessing, for the One Who blesses you loves all the world, and leaves nothing within the world that could be feared. But if you shrink from blessing, will the world indeed seem fearful, for you have withheld its peace and comfort, leaving it to die.

Would not a world so bitterly bereft be looked on as a condemnation by the one who could have saved it, but stepped back because he was afraid of being healed? The eyes of all the dying bring reproach, and suffering whispers, “What is there to fear?” Consider well its question. It is asked of you on your behalf. A dying world asks only that you rest an instant from attack upon yourself, that it be healed.

Come to the holy instant and be healed, for nothing that is there received is left behind on your returning to the world. And being blessed you will bring blessing. Life is given you to give the dying world. And suffering eyes no longer will accuse, but shine in thanks to you who blessing gave. The holy instant’s radiance will light your eyes, and give them sight to see beyond all suffering and see Christ’s face instead. Healing replaces suffering. Who looks on one cannot perceive the other, for they cannot both be there. And what you see the world will witness, and will witness to.

Thus is your healing everything the world requires, that it may be healed. It needs one lesson that has perfectly been learned. And then, when you forget it, will the world remind you gently of what you have taught. No reinforcement will its thanks withhold from you who let yourself be healed that it might live. It will call forth its witnesses to show the face of Christ to you who brought the sight to them, by which they witnessed it. The world of accusation is replaced by one in which all eyes look lovingly upon the Friend who brought them their release. And happily your brother will perceive the many friends he thought were enemies.

Problems are not specific but they take specific forms, and these specific shapes make up the world. And no one understands the nature of his problem. If he did, it would be there no more for him to see. Its very nature is that it is not. And thus, while he perceives it he can not perceive it as it is. But healing is apparent in specific instances, and generalizes to include them all. This is because they really are the same, despite their different forms. All learning aims at transfer, which becomes complete within two situations that are seen as one, for only common elements are there. Yet this can only be attained by One Who does not see the differences you see. The total transfer of your learning is not made by you. But that it has been made in spite of all the differences you see, convinces you that they could not be real.

Your healing will extend, and will be brought to problems that you thought were not your own. And it will also be apparent that your many different problems will be solved as any one of them has been escaped. It cannot be their differences which made this possible, for learning does not jump from situations to their opposites and bring the same results. All healing must proceed in lawful manner, in accord with laws that have been properly perceived but never violated. Fear you not the way that you perceive them. You are wrong, but there is One within you Who is right.

Leave, then, the transfer of your learning to the One Who really understands its laws, and Who will guarantee that they remain unviolated and unlimited. Your part is merely to apply what He has taught you to yourself, and He will do the rest. And it is thus the power of your learning will be proved to you by all the many different witnesses it finds. Your brother first among them will be seen, but thousands stand behind him, and beyond each one of them there are a thousand more. Each one may seem to have a problem that is different from the rest. Yet they are solved together. And their common answer shows the questions could not have been separate.

Peace be to you to whom is healing offered. And you will learn that peace is given you when you accept the healing for yourself. Its total value need not be appraised by you to let you understand that you have benefited from it. What occurred within the instant that love entered in without attack will stay with you forever. Your healing will be one of its effects, as will your brother’s. Everywhere you go, will you behold its multiplied effects. Yet all the witnesses that you behold will be far less than all there really are. Infinity cannot be understood by merely counting up its separate parts. God thanks you for your healing, for He knows it is a gift of love unto His Son, and therefore is it given unto Him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 28

Lesson 240

Fear is not justified in any form.

Fear is deception. It attests that you have seen yourself as you could never be, and therefore look upon a world which is impossible. Not one thing in this world is true. It does not matter what the form in which it may appear. It witnesses but to your own illusions of yourself. Let us not be deceived today. We are the Sons of God. There is no fear in us, for we are each a part of Love Itself.

How foolish are our fears! Would You allow Your Son to suffer? Give us faith today to recognize Your Son, and set him free. Let us forgive him in Your Name, that we may understand his holiness, and feel the love for him which is Your Own as well.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #276: I belong to a group that meets weekly to study A Course in Miracles. It is essentially a leaderless group, in that we meet at each others’ homes, and the host(ess) sets the form and tone of the meeting. Overall, there is an agreement that we will study the Course, and that to understand and practice it is our purpose. However, over the years, it has regularly happened that someone will bring up the ideas put forth elsewhere. Sometimes these thoughts are brought up, discussed, etc., and we’re back to the main theme again. Other times, the meeting gets quite sidetracked and the theme becomes decidedly un-Course-like. What to do then? Sometimes one of us will make a comment to get things back on track, and that works fine, but sometimes that comment is clumsy, and others don’t make any indication that they support it. Other times no one says anything at all. We have tried, over the years, to make a better definition of our purpose, but our egos have a field day with that, and we have really argued with each other, and at one point part of us split off and formed another group. So, the question I think is, “How can I practice the loving lessons of the Course, when I’m still in the process of learning those lessons?” I will appreciate your comments.

A: Readiness does not mean mastery, Jesus tells us (T.2.VII.7). You simply practice as best you can; then review what happened, bring your mistakes to the love of Jesus, and ask his help to forgive yourself for not being perfect. There actually is no more effective way to learn this Course. The willingness to apply whatever you have learned is all that counts in the end, not how well you applied it. The ego would be thrilled if you put the practice of the Course on hold until you thought you had learned everything. Jesus, on the other hand, just asks that we turn to him and ask his help every step of the way, without judging ourselves. The essence of the process is learning how to trust, and identify with, his loving presence in our minds. He asks us to “trust implicitly your willingness, whatever else may enter. Concentrate only on this, and be not disturbed that shadows surround it. That is why you came. If you could come without them you would not need the holy instant. Come to it not in arrogance, assuming that you must achieve the state its coming brings with it” (T.18.IV.2:3,4,5,6,7).

There is nothing in the Course about how to conduct group study, and it is not essential to be part of a group in order to learn and practice the Course. If you want to be in a group, however, it can be an excellent opportunity to practice what you have learned about special relationships and the authority problem. You can be there with the Holy Spirit or Jesus guiding you, in which case you would be learning how to perceive your interests as the same as everyone else’s, despite the differences in form and behavior. Or you can be there with the ego, in which case you would be reinforcing the ego’s view that your interests conflict with others’ interests and that the differences among you are serious and meaningful. It is no different than any other special relationship in that sense. You may choose to leave the group and form another one with the ego guiding you — which will result in condemnation, resentment, frustration, specialness, etc., or with the Holy Spirit or Jesus guiding you — which will result in your being peaceful, and without judgment of yourself or anyone else.

accept only love

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 27

ACIM Text Reading for August 27

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

IV. The Quiet Answer

In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved. In conflict there can be no answer and no resolution, for its purpose is to make no resolution possible, and to ensure no answer will be plain. A problem set in conflict has no answer, for it is seen in different ways. And what would be an answer from one point of view is not an answer in another light. You are in conflict. Thus it must be clear you cannot answer anything at all, for conflict has no limited effects. Yet if God gave an answer there must be a way in which your problems are resolved, for what He wills already has been done.

Thus it must be that time is not involved and every problem can be answered now. Yet it must also be that, in your state of mind, solution is impossible. Therefore, God must have given you a way of reaching to another state of mind in which the answer is already there. Such is the holy instant. It is here that all your problems should be brought and left. Here they belong, for here their answer is. And where its answer is, a problem must be simple and be easily resolved. It must be pointless to attempt to solve a problem where the answer cannot be. Yet just as surely it must be resolved, if it is brought to where the answer is.

Attempt to solve no problems but within the holy instant’s surety. For there the problem will be answered and resolved. Outside there will be no solution, for there is no answer there that could be found. Nowhere outside a single, simple question is ever asked. The world can only ask a double question. One with many answers can have no answers. None of them will do. It does not ask a question to be answered, but only to restate its point of view.

All questions asked within this world are but a way of looking, not a question asked. A question asked in hate cannot be answered, because it is an answer in itself. A double question asks and answers, both attesting the same thing in different form. The world asks but one question. It is this: “Of these illusions, which of them istrue? Which ones establish peace and offer joy? And which can bring escape from all the pain of which this world is made?” Whatever form the question takes, its purpose is the same. It asks but to establish sin is real, and answers in the form of preference. “Which sin do you prefer? That is the one that you should choose. The others are not true. What can the body get that you would want the most of all? It is your servant and also your friend. But tell it what you want, and it will serve you lovingly and well.” And this is not a question, for it tells you what you want and where to go for it. It leaves no room to question its beliefs, except that what it states takes question’s form.

A pseudo-question has no answer. It dictates the answer even as it asks. Thus is all questioning within the world a form of propaganda for itself. Just as the body’s witnesses are but the senses from within itself, so are the answers to the questions of the world contained within the questions that are asked. Where answers represent the questions, they add nothing new and nothing has been learned. An honest question is a learning tool that asks for something that you do not know. It does not set conditions for response, but merely asks what the response should be. But no one in a conflict state is free to ask this question, for he does not wantan honest answer where the conflict ends.

Only within the holy instant can an honest question honestly be asked. And from the meaning of the question does the meaningfulness of the answer come. Here is it possible to separate your wishes from the answer, so it can be given you and also be received. The answer is provided everywhere. Yet it is only here it can be heard. An honest answer asks no sacrifice because it answers questions truly asked. The questions of the world but ask of whom is sacrifice demanded, asking not if sacrifice is meaningful at all. And so, unless the answer tells “of whom,” it will remain unrecognized, unheard, and thus the question is preserved intact because it gave the answer to itself. The holy instant is the interval in which the mind is still enough to hear an answer that is not entailed within the question asked. It offers something new and different from the question. How could it be answered if it but repeats itself?

Therefore, attempt to solve no problems in a world from which the answer has been barred. But bring the problem to the only place that holds the answer lovingly for you. Here are the answers that will solve your problems because they stand apart from them, and see what can be answered; what the question is. Within the world the answers merely raise another question, though they leave the first unanswered. In the holy instant, you can bring the question to the answer, and receive the answer that was made for you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 27

Lesson 239

The glory of my Father is my own.

Let not the truth about ourselves today be hidden by a false humility. Let us instead be thankful for the gifts our Father gave us. Can we see in those with whom He shares His glory any trace of sin and guilt? And can it be that we are not among them, when He loves His Son forever and with perfect constancy, knowing he is as He created him?

We thank You, Father, for the light that shines forever in us. And we honor it, because You share it with us. We are one, united in this light and one with You, at peace with all creation and ourselves.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #275: I am struggling with the exact meaning of the verb “to extend” in A Course in Miracles. I learn in the Glossary-Index and on page 114 of the text that the laws of mind in the world are different from the laws of mind in the Kingdom: the mind of the world projects and perceives and cannot go beyond this, while the Mind of spirit only extends. Since I am from a non-English-speaking culture, I am struggling to understand what seems to be a very fundamental concept. I would really appreciate your help.

A: As you may have noticed in the Glossary-Index, to extend, or extension, has two levels of meaning in the Course. At the level of knowledge — the oneness and totality of Heaven or the Kingdom, which the Course says is our only reality — extension is synonymous with creation (e.g., T.11.I.3:4,5; T.14.V.3:4). But the meaning of neither of these words is comprehensible to our finite minds, since they refer to a totally abstract activity or process of Mind/spirit that has nothing to do with time or space or bodies — all illusory dimensions of the physical world made by the false ego mind. In Heaven, we are God’s extensions or creations, and like Him, we can extend or create. But even this statement cannot be taken literally, for it suggests that we and God are separate, that He has somehow brought us into being as an entity separate from Him. Because our non-dualistic reality is one, unified, perfect and eternal, extension of that reality cannot involve adding more to it or increasing it in any way that our limited minds would understand (W.pI.105.4:2,3,4,5). And so there is little more to be said about the meaning of extension at this level that would be helpful.

The Course’s other meaning of extension refers to the level of perception, the level of the illusory, dualistic, split mind. The meaning is still somewhat abstract, but a little more comprehensible than at the completely abstract level of knowledge or Heaven. Our experience in the world of time and space and separate bodies is based on the law of mind that governs all thought at this level, the inevitable dynamic that leads us to perceive outside of ourselves the content within our minds that we have chosen to see as real. And there are only two contents to choose between within the split mind: the ego’s guilt or the Holy Spirit’s forgiveness. We see outside ourselves whatever content we have chosen within. If we have chosen the Holy Spirit as the guide for our thoughts, the Course refers to the process as extension. If the ego is our guide, the process is called projection.

The ego seeks to use the dynamic of projection to place the guilt outside of our minds and then to deny its origin in our minds. In other words, rather than seeing the guilt outside us as an extension of the same guilt in our minds — which it is — the ego wants us to believe that we can literally project the guilt outside of our minds so that it is now separate from us, thereby supposedly regaining for us the innocence we believe we lost with the thought of separation. And for this defense to work, we have to forget that we projected the guilt from our own mind. Of course, this is not how mind works, for denial does not alter the fact that the mind is indeed the source and “ideas leave not their source” (T.26.VII.4:7,8,9).

The Holy Spirit’s goal, in contrast, is to teach us to recognize the correspondence between what we perceive outside and what content we have chosen in our mind so that we can make an informed choice about what we will extend or project until our split mind is healed. The ego desperately attempts to hide this dynamic from us, for the success of its projection depends on our failing to recognize that we project or extend only our own thoughts (W.pI.30.2). And the ego’s strategy is very successful most of the time, for our anger and judgment reflect our belief that the outside world is indeed independent of us. So the Holy Spirit seeks to reinforce our awareness of the continuity between within and without as a result of extension, while the ego always seeks to deny the source in our mind and assert that what we see outside of ourselves — guilt — exists separate from and independent of us. The Course’s purpose is to help us see that the choice of what we extend or project is ours alone — each with its own consequences for our peace of mind.

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 26

ACIM Text Reading for August 26

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

III. Beyond All Symbols

Power cannot oppose. For opposition would weaken it, and weakened power is a contradiction in ideas. Weak strength is meaningless, and power used to weaken is employed to limit. And therefore it must be limited and weak, because that is its purpose. Power is unopposed, to be itself. No weakness can intrude on it without changing it into something it is not. To weaken is to limit, and impose an opposite that contradicts the concept that it attacks. And by this does it join to the idea a something it is not, and make it unintelligible. Who can understand a double concept, such as “weakened power” or “hateful love?”

You have decided that your brother is a symbol for a “hateful love,” a “weakened power,” and above all, a “living death.” And so he has no meaning to you, for he stands for what is meaningless. He represents a double thought, where half is canceled out by the remaining half. Yet even this is quickly contradicted by the half it canceled out, and so they both are gone. And now he stands for nothing. Symbols which but represent ideas that cannot be must stand for empty space and nothingness. Yet nothingness and empty space can not be interference. What can interfere with the awareness of reality is the belief that there is something there.

The picture of your brother that you see means nothing. There is nothing to attack or to deny; to love or hate, or to endow with power or to see as weak. The picture has been wholly cancelled out, because it symbolized a contradiction that canceled out the thought it represents. And thus the picture has no cause at all. Who can perceive effect without a cause? What can the causeless be but nothingness? The picture of your brother that you see is wholly absent and has never been. Let, then, the empty space it occupies be recognized as vacant, and the time devoted to its seeing be perceived as idly spent, a time unoccupied.

An empty space that is not seen as filled, an unused interval of time not seen as spent and fully occupied, become a silent invitation to the truth to enter, and to make itself at home. No preparation can be made that would enhance the invitation’s real appeal. For what you leave as vacant God will fill, and where He is there must the truth abide. Unweakened power, with no opposite, is what creation is. For this there are no symbols. Nothing points beyond the truth, for what can stand for more than everything? Yet true undoing must be kind. And so the first replacement for your picture is another picture of another kind.

As nothingness cannot be pictured, so there is no symbol for totality. Reality is ultimately known without a form, unpictured and unseen. Forgiveness is not yet a power known as wholly free of limits. Yet it sets no limits you have chosen to impose. Forgiveness is the means by which the truth is represented temporarily. It lets the Holy Spirit make exchange of pictures possible, until the time when aids are meaningless and learning done. No learning aid has use that can extend beyond the goal of learning. When its aim has been accomplished it is functionless. Yet in the learning interval it has a use that now you fear, but yet will love.

The picture of your brother given you to occupy the space so lately left unoccupied and vacant will not need defense of any kind. For you will give it overwhelming preference. Nor delay an instant in deciding that it is the only one you want. It does not stand for double concepts. Though it is but half the picture and is incomplete, within itself it is the same. The other half of what it represents remains unknown, but is not cancelled out. And thus is God left free to take the final step Himself. For this you need no pictures and no learning aids. And what will ultimately take the place of every learning aid will merely be.

Forgiveness vanishes and symbols fade, and nothing that the eyes have ever seen or ears have heard remains to be perceived. A power wholly limitless has come, not to destroy, but to receive its own. There is no choice of function anywhere. The choice you fear to lose you never had. Yet only this appears to interfere with power unlimited and single thoughts, complete and happy, without opposite. You do not know the peace of power that opposes nothing. Yet no other kind can be at all. Give welcome to the power beyond forgiveness, and beyond the world of symbols and of limitations. He would merely be, and so He merely is.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 26

Lesson 238

On my decision all salvation rests.

Father, Your trust in me has been so great, I must be worthy. You created me, and know me as I am. And yet You placed Your Son’s salvation in my hands, and let it rest on my decision. I must be beloved of You indeed. And I must be steadfast in holiness as well, that You would give Your Son to me in certainty that he is safe Who still is part of You, and yet is mine, because He is my Self.

And so, again today, we pause to think how much our Father loves us. And how dear His Son, created by His Love, remains to Him Whose Love is made complete in him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #62I have been A Course in Miracles Student for many years, and I am now passing (or so I feel) from the “beginner stage.” My question is: Can it be helpful to a student to reflect on positive thoughts rather than entertain the negative thoughts of the ego mind? I realize situations that trouble us should be looked at with Jesus or the Holy Spirit or even God, but it seems to me that the time our minds aren’t in the holy instant have to be spent somewhere. I am not talking about affirmations here, but thoughts that have deeply moved us. I will appreciate guidance in this regard.

A: Our minds are either in the holy instant or with the ego. There are no other options; there is no in between. Our thoughts reflect the choice we have made either to think as the ego thinks, or as the Holy Spirit thinks. The Course would not define these thoughts as positive or negative, it tells us rather that the ego’s thoughts reinforce illusion, while the Holy Spirit’s thoughts reflect the truth. When we have experiences that deeply move us, they reflect a choice made on the level of the mind to turn away from the ego toward the Holy Spirit, Who is the symbol of God’s love in the dream. A beautiful musical work or a sunset can be symbols of the love and peace in our mind when we have chosen the Holy Spirit instead of the ego. What is truly helpful, however, is to be vigilant for the thoughts we think with the ego, to become aware of them, and to recognize their purpose. Since many of the ego’s thoughts appear to be “positive,” we can easily be fooled. Seemingly positive feelings can be insidious forms of spiritual specialness. The ego also comes up with many ingenious excuses for indulging its thought system and holding on to grievances. This may be what you refer to as “[entertaining] the negative thoughts of the ego mind.” It takes a great deal of honesty and patience with ourselves to practice looking carefully at our thoughts without indulging them and without judging them. We do well to stay close to the guidelines the Course offers; “Your task is not to seek for love, (what we may call “positive” thoughts) but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false” (T.16.IV.6:1,2). If we are honest in our search we will recognize the thoughts we are holding that interfere with our ability to be in the holy instant. It is then our choice to either hold on to these thoughts or let them go in exchange for the Holy Spirit’s perception. When we try to be the judge of our thoughts — deciding which ones are positive or which ones are negative — attempting to fill our minds with what we have determined to be “positive” thoughts, we will be putting ourselves in charge of the Atonement, leaving little or no room for the Holy Spirit. It is His thoughts we seek, His perception, His judgment. Doing our part faithfully will allow Him to take us to the holy instant. The Course is clear in this regard and very specific; “The Holy Spirit asks of you but this; bring to Him every secret you have locked away from Him. Open every door to Him, and bid Him enter the darkness and lighten it away. At your request He enters gladly. He brings the light to darkness if you make the darkness open to Him. But what you hide He cannot look upon. He sees for you, and unless you look with Him He cannot see. The vision of Christ is not for Him alone, but for Him with you. Bring, therefore, all your dark and secret thoughts to Him, and look upon them with Him. He holds the light, and you the darkness. They cannot coexist when both of You together look on them. His judgment must prevail, and He will give it to you as you join your perception to His” (T.14.VII.6). In another passage the Course gives us a very encouraging follow up: “And if I need a word to help me, He will give it to me. If I need a thought, that will He also give. And if I need but stillness and a tranquil, open mind, these are the gifts I will receive of Him. He is in charge by my request. And He will hear and answer me, because He speaks for God my Father and His holy Son” (W.pII.361.5:1,2,3,4,5). Our hope lies in our dedication to searching our minds carefully, inviting the Holy Spirit to be our guide, our “judge” and our teacher. His perception will then lead us to the holy instant.

kingdom of god


 

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 25

ACIM Text Reading for August 25

The Healing of the Dream

II. The Fear of Healing

Is healing frightening? To many, yes. For accusation is a bar to love, and damaged bodies are accusers. They stand firmly in the way of trust and peace, proclaiming that the frail can have no trust and that the damaged have no grounds for peace. Who has been injured by his brother, and could love and trust him still? He has attacked and will attack again. Protect him not, because your damaged body shows that you must be protected from him. To forgive may be an act of charity, but not his due. He may be pitied for his guilt, but not exonerated. And if you forgive him his transgressions, you but add to all the guilt that he has really earned.

The unhealed cannot pardon. For they are the witnesses that pardon is unfair. They would retain the consequences of the guilt they overlook. Yet no one can forgive a sin that he believes is real. And what has consequences must be real, because what it has done is there to see. Forgiveness is not pity, which but seeks to pardon what it thinks to be the truth. Good cannot be returned for evil, for forgiveness does not first establish sin and then forgive it. Who can say and mean, “My brother, you have injured me, and yet, because I am the better of the two, I pardon you my hurt.” His pardon and your hurt cannot exist together. One denies the other and must make it false.

To witness sin and yet forgive it is a paradox that reason cannot see. For it maintains what has been done to you deserves no pardon. And by giving it, you grant your brother mercy but retain the proof he is not really innocent. The sick remain accusers. They cannot forgive their brothers and themselves as well. For no one in whom true forgiveness rests can suffer. He holds not the proof of sin before his brother’s eyes. And thus he must have overlooked it and removed it from his own. Forgiveness cannot be for one and not the other. Who forgives is healed. And in his healing lies the proof that he has truly pardoned, and retains no trace of condemnation that he still would hold against himself or any living thing.

Forgiveness is not real unless it brings a healing to your brother and yourself. You must attest his sins have no effect on you to demonstrate they are not real. How else could he be guiltless? And how could his innocence be justified unless his sins have no effect to warrant guilt? Sins are beyond forgiveness just because they would entail effects that cannot be undone and overlooked entirely. In their undoing lies the proof that they are merely errors. Let yourself be healed that you may be forgiving, offering salvation to your brother and yourself.

A broken body shows the mind has not been healed. A miracle of healing proves that separation is without effect. What you would prove to him you will believe. The power of witness comes from your belief. And everything you say or do or think but testifies to what you teach to him. Your body can be means to teach that it has never suffered pain because of him. And in its healing can it offer him mute testimony of his innocence. It is this testimony that can speak with power greater than a thousand tongues. For here is his forgiveness proved to him.

A miracle can offer nothing less to him than it has given unto you. So does your healing show your mind is healed, and has forgiven what he did not do. And so is he convinced his innocence was never lost, and healed along with you. Thus does the miracle undo all things the world attests can never be undone. And hopelessness and death must disappear before the ancient clarion call of life. This call has power far beyond the weak and miserable cry of death and guilt. The ancient calling of the Father to His Son, and of the Son unto His Own, will yet be the last trumpet that the world will ever hear. Brother, there is no death. And this you learn when you but wish to show your brother that you had no hurt of him. He thinks your blood is on his hands, and so he stands condemned. Yet it is given you to show him, by your healing, that his guilt is but the fabric of a senseless dream.

How just are miracles! For they bestow an equal gift of full deliverance from guilt upon your brother and yourself. Your healing saves him pain as well as you, and you are healed because you wished him well. This is the law the miracle obeys; that healing sees no specialness at all. It does not come from pity but from love. And love would prove all suffering is but a vain imagining, a foolish wish with no effects. Your health is a result of your desire to see your brother with no blood upon his hands, nor guilt upon his heart made heavy with the proof of sin. And what you wish is given you to see.

The “cost” of your serenity is his. This is the “price” the Holy Spirit and the world interpret differently. The world perceives it as a statement of the “fact” that your salvation sacrifices his. The Holy Spirit knows your healing is the witness unto his, and cannot be apart from his at all. As long as he consents to suffer, you will be unhealed. Yet you can show him that his suffering is purposeless and wholly without cause. Show him your healing, and he will consent no more to suffer. For his innocence has been established in your sight and his. And laughter will replace your sighs, because God’s Son remembered that he is God’s Son.

Who, then, fears healing? Only those to whom their brother’s sacrifice and pain are seen to represent their own serenity. Their helplessness and weakness represent the grounds on which they justify his pain. The constant sting of guilt he suffers serves to prove that he is slave, but they are free. The constant pain they suffer demonstrates that they are free because they hold him bound. And sickness is desired to prevent a shift of balance in the sacrifice. How could the Holy Spirit be deterred an instant, even less, to reason with an argument for sickness such as this? And need your healing be delayed because you pause to listen to insanity?

Consider how this self-perception must extend, and do not overlook the fact that every thought extends because that is its purpose, being what it really is. From an idea of self as two, there comes a necessary view of function split between the two. And what you would correct is only half the error, which you think is all of it. Your brother’s sins become the central target for correction, lest your errors and his own be seen as one. Yours are mistakes, but his are sins and not the same as yours. His merit punishment, while yours, in fairness, should be overlooked.

In this interpretation of correction, your own mistakes you will not even see. The focus of correction has been placed outside yourself, on one who cannot be a part of you while this perception lasts. What is condemned can never be returned to its accuser, who had hated it, and hates it still as symbol of his fear. This is your brother, focus of your hate, unworthy to be part of you and thus outside yourself; the other half, which is denied. And only what is left without his presence is perceived as all of you. To this remaining half the Holy Spirit must represent the other half until you recognize it is the other half. And this He does by giving you and him a function that is one, not different.

Correction is the function given both, but neither one alone. And when it is fulfilled as shared, it must correct mistakes in you and him. It cannot leave mistakes in one unhealed and set the other free. That is divided purpose, which can not be shared, and so it cannot be the goal in which the Holy Spirit sees His Own. And you can rest assured that He will not fulfill a function that He does not see and recognize as His. For only thus can He keep yours preserved intact, despite Your separate views of what your function is. If He upheld divided function, you were lost indeed. His inability to see His goal divided and distinct for you and him, preserves yourself from the awareness of a function not your own. And thus is healing given you and him.

Correction must be left to One Who knows correction and forgiveness are the same. With half a mind this is not understood. Leave, then, correction to the Mind that is united, functioning as one because it is not split in purpose, and conceives a single function as its only one. Here is the function given it conceived to be its Own, and not apart from that its Giver keeps because it has been shared. In His acceptance of this function lies the means whereby your mind is unified. His single purpose unifies the halves of you that you perceive as separate. And each forgives the other, that he may accept his other half as part of him.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 25

Lesson 237

Now would I be as God created me.

Today I will accept the truth about myself. I will arise in glory, and allow the light in me to shine upon the world throughout the day. I bring the world the tidings of salvation which I hear as God my Father speaks to me. And I behold the world that Christ would have me see, aware it ends the bitter dream of death; aware it is my Father’s Call to me.

Christ is my eyes today, and He the ears that listen to the Voice for God today. Father, I come to You through Him Who is Your Son, and my true Self as well. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #246: I’ve been studying and practicing A Course in Miracles for almost six years, usually on a daily basis. It has helped me a lot, but I still need help to understand and deal with addictions. According to my ego, I am addicted to alcohol and cigarettes. According to God, I am His beloved daughter. How to deal with this? Don’t tell me to stop hearing my ego, it sounds like a green light to addictions. I feel there’s a deeper ground to think about. Professional advice seems to reinforce sickness, guilt and sacrifice. The Course tells me I don’t have to do anything, to put it in the Holy Spirit’s hand. But I need further help in letting it be, in opening myself to a lesson I don’t quite understand, in not paying so much attention to the world’s point of view. Please, let me know if there is something in A Course in Miracles, or elsewhere, I am overlooking.

A: First, it is difficult for us to understand the nature of the specific lessons we have in our lives. We cannot see the whole picture in our minds, because we are still so fearful of regaining that part of our identity that we have split off and concealed from ourselves. In one sense, though, we don’t have to know why we chose the conditions we did, because the remedy the Course provides is so clear. Whatever the condition, the only relevant issue is whether we choose to have Jesus or the ego guide us through it. If we choose Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we will wind up feeling more peaceful, regardless of whether the condition changes or not; and we will be more inclined to be gentle and kind with ourselves and others. If we choose the ego, we will wind up feeling more guilty or hopeless; we will continue to have thoughts of self-blame and self-pity, and to hold others responsible for our plight. We will remain preoccupied with the body and will be anything but peaceful.

Putting yourself in the Holy Spirit’s hands, as the Course views this, involves accepting responsibility for whatever state you are in, and letting go of any thoughts of blame — either self-blame or blaming others — and then adopting a kind and gentle attitude towards yourself. The lesson the Holy Spirit or Jesus would help you with is learning that peace of mind is not conditional on physical/psychological health, or on anything external to your mind and Their loving presence in your mind. As you concentrate on learning that lesson, the thoughts that oppose it would come to the surface, and you would then bring those ego thoughts to the loving presence in your mind, where you could choose either to hold on to them or let them go. The patience and gentleness would be manifest in your assurance that when you are ready to let go of the addictions, you will, and that holding on to them is not something sinful, nor something you need to be ashamed of. Nothing we do with or to our bodies can have any affect on the love that is held for us in our right minds.

Thus, putting yourself in the hands of the Holy Spirit does not mean that it is then up to Him to do something about your addictions. Rather, it means that you have made a decision to use the Holy Spirit’s way of looking at what is going on instead of the ego’s way of looking, which will always leave you believing that you are a vulnerable, victimized body.

Finally, the choice to seek professional help many times can be a loving response to the call for help that is behind the self-hatred and guilt; it can be an expression of kindness toward oneself as a way of undoing that self-hatred. You seem to imply, however, that you have tried traditional methods of treatment, and that they have not been helpful to you. We have addressed this in previous questions asked of us: #30, #57, and #119.

In case it might be of help, we are summarizing the explanations the Course gives us that can be applied to conditions such as addictions. Although the term is never used in the Course, an addiction is nothing more than a special relationship, and there is a great deal in the Course about special relationships.

Addictions frequently are the result of overwhelming feelings of self-hatred and guilt. The pain is so great that it must be neutralized in some way. Overindulgence in alcohol and cigarettes (or any number of other forms — food, sex, wealth, luxury, etc.) is often chosen as a means of dulling this pain.

Abusing your body through addictions can also be a way of punishing yourself for being such a “bad” person, a belief that your self-hatred and guilt testifies to. It could also be a means of punishing someone else: you could be pointing an accusing finger at someone and saying, “It’s your fault that I am an addict. You made me this way.” Paraphrasing a line from the text: Behold me brother, at your hands I am an addict (T.27.I.5:6); also, “I am the thing you made of me, and as you look on me, you stand condemned because of what I am” (T.31.V.5:3). We all have a need to get rid of the pain of our self-hatred and guilt, and so we would even be willing to suffer intensely just so that we could blame it on someone else. The payoff is that we would feel like the innocent victim of what someone else did to us.

As with any form of sickness — physical or psychological — being addicted reinforces the belief that the body is real, and can be victimized. When we are preoccupied with the body in any or all of these ways, we more than likely have made a prior decision to keep from our awareness our true identity as spirit. Any form of preoccupation with the body is a defense against the truth. The truth about ourselves can be so frightening to us — when we allow it into awareness even for a split second — that we then do whatever would most effectively banish that truth from our awareness. So we make ourselves mindless in the sense of being at the mercy of some force not under our control. Our real beauty and strength as God’s Son can be so frightening to us that we substitute an identity of weakness and dependency, and then repress the real origin of it and attribute it to some factor in our own body, another’s, or some condition in the world.

To sum up then, the real issue is: Now that the addiction is there, what do I do about it? And as Jesus reminds us, we need only think in terms of purpose, or “What is it for?” (T.17.IV.2:2). We know that to the ego, the purpose of addictions is to reinforce guilt; and to the Holy Spirit the purpose is changed to a means of undoing guilt. “The Son of God can make no choice the Holy Spirit cannot employ on his behalf, and not against himself” (T.25.VI.7:5). So it comes down to discerning whether you are choosing the ego or the Holy Spirit as your teacher.

forgiveness is still

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 24

ACIM Text Reading for August 24

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

I. The Picture of Crucifixion

The wish to be unfairly treated is a compromise attempt that would combine attack and innocence. Who can combine the wholly incompatible, and make a unity of what can never join? Walk you the gentle way, and you will fear no evil and no shadows in the night. But place no terror symbols on your path, or you will weave a crown of thorns from which your brother and yourself will not escape. You cannot crucify yourself alone. And if you are unfairly treated, he must suffer the unfairness that you see. You cannot sacrifice yourself alone. For sacrifice is total. If it could occur at all it would entail the whole of God’s creation, and the Father with the sacrifice of His beloved Son.

In your release from sacrifice is his made manifest, and shown to be his own. But every pain you suffer do you see as proof that he is guilty of attack. Thus would you make yourself to be the sign that he has lost his innocence, and need but look on you to realize that he has been condemned. And what to you has been unfair will come to him in righteousness. The unjust vengeance that you suffer now belongs to him, and when it rests on him are you set free. Wish not to make yourself a living symbol of his guilt, for you will not escape the death you made for him. But in his innocence you find your own.

Whenever you consent to suffer pain, to be deprived, unfairly treated or in need of anything, you but accuse your brother of attack upon God’s Son. You hold a picture of your crucifixion before his eyes, that he may see his sins are writ in Heaven in your blood and death, and go before him, closing off the gate and damning him to hell. Yet this is writ in hell and not in Heaven, where you are beyond attack and prove his innocence. The picture of yourself you offer him you show yourself, and give it all your faith. The Holy Spirit offers you, to give to him, a picture of yourself in which there is no pain and no reproach at all. And what was martyred to his guilt becomes the perfect witness to his innocence.

The power of witness is beyond belief because it brings conviction in its wake. The witness is believed because he points beyond himself to what he represents. A sick and suffering you but represents your brother’s guilt; the witness that you send lest he forget the injuries he gave, from which you swear he never will escape. This sick and sorry picture you accept, if only it can serve to punish him. The sick are merciless to everyone, and in contagion do they seek to kill. Death seems an easy price, if they can say, “Behold me, brother, at your hand I die.” For sickness is the witness to his guilt, and death would prove his errors must be sins. Sickness is but a “little” death; a form of vengeance not yet total. Yet it speaks with certainty for what it represents. The bleak and bitter picture you have sent your brother youhave looked upon in grief. And everything that it has shown to him have you believed, because it witnessed to the guilt in him which you perceived and loved.

Now in the hands made gentle by His touch, the Holy Spirit lays a picture of a different you. It is a picture of a body still, for what you really are cannot be seen nor pictured. Yet this one has not been used for purpose of attack, and therefore never suffered pain at all. It witnesses to the eternal truth that you cannot be hurt, and points beyond itself to both your innocence and his. Show this unto your brother, who will see that every scar is healed, and every tear is wiped away in laughter and in love. And he will look on his forgiveness there, and with healed eyes will look beyond it to the innocence that he beholds in you. Here is the proof that he has never sinned; that nothing which his madness bid him do was ever done, or ever had effects of any kind. That no reproach he laid upon his heart was ever justified, and no attack can ever touch him with the poisoned and relentless sting of fear.

Attest his innocence and not his guilt. Your healing is his comfort and his health because it proves illusions are not true. It is not will for life but wish for death that is the motivation for this world. Its only purpose is to prove guilt real. No worldly thought or act or feeling has a motivation other than this one. These are the witnesses that are called forth to be believed, and lend conviction to the system they speak for and represent. And each has many voices, speaking to your brother and yourself in different tongues. And yet to both the message is the same. Adornment of the body seeks to show how lovely are the witnesses for guilt. Concerns about the body demonstrate how frail and vulnerable is your life; how easily destroyed is what you love. Depression speaks of death, and vanity of real concern with anything at all.

The strongest witness to futility, that bolsters all the rest and helps them paint the picture in which sin is justified, is sickness in whatever form it takes. The sick have reason for each one of their unnatural desires and strange needs. For who could live a life so soon cut short and not esteem the worth of passing joys? What pleasures could there be that will endure? Are not the frail entitled to believe that every stolen scrap of pleasure is their righteous payment for their little lives? Their death will pay the price for all of them, if they enjoy their benefits or not. The end of life must come, whatever way that life be spent. And so take pleasure in the quickly passing and ephemeral.

These are not sins, but witnesses unto the strange belief that sin and death are real, and innocence and sin will end alike within the termination of the grave. If this were true, there would be reason to remain content to seek for passing joys and cherish little pleasures where you can. Yet in this picture is the body not perceived as neutral and without a goal inherent in itself. For it becomes the symbol of reproach, the sign of guilt whose consequences still are there to see, so that the cause can never be denied.

Your function is to show your brother sin can have no cause. How futile must it be to see yourself a picture of the proof that what your function is can never be! The Holy Spirit’s picture changes not the body into something it is not. It only takes away from it all signs of accusation and of blamefulness. Pictured without a purpose, it is seen as neither sick nor well, nor bad nor good. No grounds are offered that it may be judged in any way at all. It has no life, but neither is it dead. It stands apart from all experience of love or fear. For now it witnesses to nothing yet, its purpose being open, and the mind made free again to choose what it is for. Now is it not condemned, but waiting for a purpose to be given, that it may fulfill the function that it will receive.

Into this empty space, from which the goal of sin has been removed, is Heaven free to be remembered. Here its peace can come, and perfect healing take the place of death. The body can become a sign of life, a promise of redemption, and a breath of immortality to those grown sick of breathing in the fetid scent of death. Let it have healing as its purpose. Then will it send forth the message it received, and by its health and loveliness proclaim the truth and value that it represents. Let it receive the power to represent an endless life, forever unattacked. And to your brother let its message be, “Behold me, brother, at your hand I live.”

The simple way to let this be achieved is merely this; to let the body have no purpose from the past, when you were sure you knew its purpose was to foster guilt. For this insists your crippled picture is a lasting sign of what it represents. This leaves no space in which a different view, another purpose, can be given it. You do not know its purpose. You but gave illusions of a purpose to a thing you made to hide your function from yourself. This thing without a purpose cannot hide the function that the Holy Spirit gave. Let, then, its purpose and your function both be reconciled at last and seen as one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 24

Lesson 236

I rule my mind, which I alone must rule.

I have a kingdom I must rule. At times, it does not seem I am its king at all. It seems to triumph over me, and tell me what to think, and what to do and feel. And yet it has been given me to serve whatever purpose I perceive in it. My mind can only serve. Today I give its service to the Holy Spirit to employ as He sees fit. I thus direct my mind, which I alone can rule. And thus I set it free to do the Will of God.

Father, my mind is open to Your Thoughts, and closed today to every thought but Yours. I rule my mind, and offer it to You. Accept my gift, for it is Yours to me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #817I have read your response to Question #317, which relates to physical disease, and understand that A Course in Miracles teaches that I need to question the idea that anything outside myself can disturb my peace, including illness. Can you please explain to me why the Course uses the following phrase when dealing with physical illness: “Behold me brother, at your hand I die” (T.27.I.4:6). Is the word “brother” being used figuratively? Is the Course suggesting that we address a virus thus?

A: Although you could read this line you quote from “The Picture of Crucifixion” to refer to viruses, in most passages, including this section, when Jesus speaks of our brothers, he is speaking of our relationships with others whom we perceive to be human beings like ourselves. And behind every illness and disease — in fact, behind all our pain and suffering, no matter what the perceived immediate cause in the world — can be found an accusation that one of our brothers or sisters is somehow to blame.

Sometimes the accusation is explicit: e.g., “You gave me your cold.” Or “If you hadn’t made me work so hard, I wouldn’t have gotten so stressed and worn out and caught this flu bug.” Sometimes the accusation is less direct: e.g., “Both my mother and my grandmother died of breast cancer, so I guess it was only a matter of time before I was going to be diagnosed with it myself.” Or “I’m just sure my lung disease is the result of all that secondary smoke I was exposed to all those years I worked in that small, crowded office.” And sometimes the accusation can be very subtle: e.g., “I know I just didn’t have all the opportunities for advancement that my friends had, with my parents not financially well off. And so I ended up with less education and a lower paying job. As a result, I just could not afford the kind of preventative medical care that could have helped me maintain better health.”

The point of the answer to Question #317 you refer to is that, at the level of content in the mind, it does not matter what form the victimizer seems to take in the world, whether it’s another person, a virus, an accident, a catastrophic meteorological or geological event, or anything else. The purpose is always to find someone or something outside myself that I can point a finger at and hold responsible for my suffering and pain, rather than to look within my own mind at the real cause — my decision for separation and attack. The purpose, in other words, is always, whatever the seeming expression of suffering in my body, to demonstrate my innocence by accusing my brother of the sin and attack I secretly accuse myself of.

By the way, when Jesus speaks in ‘The Picture of Crucifixion” of our use of our brother to prove our innocence, he is not addressing us as human beings, nor is he referring to our brothers as the bodies we perceive. Perceiving ourselves and our brothers as bodies is central to the ego’s plan to demonstrate our victimhood e.g., T.21.VIII.1:1,2) . Jesus is always addressing us as minds, albeit minds who happen to believe we are the bodies we seem to inhabit. That he is also regarding our brother as a mind and not a body is apparent from his observation later in the text: “Like you, your brother thinks he is a dream. Share not in his illusion of himself, for your Identity depends on his reality. Think, rather, of him as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, “hero” of the dream, your brother. It is his reality that is your brother, as is yours to him. Your mind and his are joined in brotherhood. His body and his dreams but seem to make a little gap, where yours have joined with his” (T.28.IV.3 ; italics added . And so, in the end, we will come to realize that sickness is really a condition of guilt in the mind — only its nonsubstantial shadow seems to be expressed in the body (T.28.II.11:7) . From this realization, it follows that we are never the victim of anyone else’s actions, but only of our own thoughts.

Holy Encounter copy

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 23

ACIM Text Reading for August 23

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

X. The End of Injustice

What, then, remains to be undone for you to realize Their Presence? Only this; you have a differential view of when attack is justified, and when you think it is unfair and not to be allowed. When you perceive it as unfair, you think that a response of anger now is just. And thus you see what is the same as different. Confusion is not limited. If it occurs at all it will be total. And its presence, in whatever form, will hide Their Presence. They are known with clarity or not at all. Confused perception will block knowledge. It is not a question of the size of the confusion, or how much it interferes. Its simple presence shuts the door to Theirs, and keeps Them there unknown.

What does it mean if you perceive attack in certain forms to be unfair to you? It means that there must be some forms in which you think it fair. For otherwise, how could some be evaluated as unfair? Some, then, are given meaning and perceived as sensible. And only some are seen as meaningless. And this denies the fact that all are senseless, equally without a cause or consequence, and cannot have effects of any kind. Their Presence is obscured by any veil that stands between Their shining innocence, and your awareness that it is your own and equally belongs to every living thing along with you. God limits not. And what is limited cannot be Heaven. So it must be hell.

Unfairness and attack are one mistake, so firmly joined that where one is perceived the other must be seen. You cannot be unfairly treated. The belief you are is but another form of the idea you are deprived by someone not yourself. Projection of the cause of sacrifice is at the root of everything perceived to be unfair and not your just deserts. Yet it is you who ask this of yourself, in deep injustice to the Son of God. You have no enemy except yourself, and you are enemy indeed to him because you do not know him as yourself. What could be more unjust than that he be deprived of what he is, denied the right to be himself, and asked to sacrifice his Father’s Love and yours as not his due?

Beware of the temptation to perceive yourself unfairly treated. In this view, you seek to find an innocence that is not Theirs but yours alone, and at the cost of someone else’s guilt. Can innocence be purchased by the giving of your guilt to someone else? And is it innocence that your attack on him attempts to get? Is it not retribution for your own attack upon the Son of God you seek? Is it not safer to believe that you are innocent of this, and victimized despite your innocence? Whatever way the game of guilt is played, there must be loss. Someone must lose his innocence that someone else can take it from him, making it his own.

You think your brother is unfair to you because you think that one must be unfair to make the other innocent. And in this game do you perceive one purpose for your whole relationship. And this you seek to add unto the purpose given it. The Holy Spirit’s purpose is to let the Presence of your holy Guests be known to you. And to this purpose nothing can be added, for the world is purposeless except for this. To add or take away from this one goal is but to take away all purpose from the world and from yourself. And each unfairness that the world appears to lay upon you, you have laid on it by rendering it purposeless, without the function that the Holy Spirit sees. And simple justice has been thus denied to every living thing upon the earth.

What this injustice does to you who judge unfairly, and who see as you have judged, you cannot calculate. The world grows dim and threatening, not a trace of all the happy sparkle that salvation brings can you perceive to lighten up your way. And so you see yourself deprived of light, abandoned to the dark, unfairly left without a purpose in a futile world. The world is fair because the Holy Spirit has brought injustice to the light within, and there has all unfairness been resolved and been replaced with justice and with love. If you perceive injustice anywhere, you need but say:

“By this do I deny the Presence of the Father and the Son.
And I would rather know of Them than see injustice, which Their Presence shines away.”

***
ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 23

Lesson 235

God in His mercy wills that I be saved.

I need but look upon all things that seem to hurt me, and with perfect certainty assure myself, “God wills that I be saved from this,” and merely watch them disappear. I need but keep in mind my Father’s Will for me is only happiness, to find that only happiness has come to me. And I need but remember that God’s Love surrounds His Son and keeps his sinlessness forever perfect, to be sure that I am saved and safe forever in His Arms. I am the Son He loves. And I am saved because God in His mercy wills it so.

Father, Your Holiness is mine. Your Love created me, and made my sinlessness forever part of You. I have no guilt nor sin in me, for there is none in You.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #126: Did Jesus heal by simply seeing the “Christ” in another?

A: Since you use the past tense “did” in your question, we should first clarify that the teachings of A Course in Miracles on healing are not based on, nor related to, the Gospel accounts of healing by the historical Jesus. This is an important clarification, because the Course interpretation of “healing,” “Christ,” and “Jesus” differs from the traditional Christian interpretation. With that in mind, we begin by recalling that the Course tells us healing is always of the mind: “Since only the mind can be sick, only the mind can be healed. Only the mind is in need of healing” (P.in.1:2,3). Therefore, no one, including Jesus, actually heals another: “Healing does not come from anyone else. You must accept guidance from within”(T.8.IV.4:5,6). By the same token, anyone whose mind is healed, including Jesus, serves as a reminder to someone who perceives himself as unhealed; that he too can make the choice for healing by accepting the truth about himself. A “healed healer,” one of whom is Jesus, thus serves as a reflection of the truth for anyone who is truly willing to be healed. This may be what you refer to as “seeing the Christ in another.” It means looking without judgment, without difference, and seeing the other as sinless. This is what heals the mind.

Accepting the truth about ourselves, which is healing, inherently means accepting ourselves as joined with the entire Sonship. Thus when we accept healing for ourselves, we accept it for the entire Sonship. This is what the Course means when it tells us we are not healed alone — the truth of who we are is the same truth for everyone, and includes everyone. “That is why it makes no difference to what part or by what part of the Sonship the healing is offered. Every part benefits, and benefits equally” (T.5.in.2:6,7). We are not separate individuals seeking individual healing. There is no “individual” to be healed. Therefore, when Jesus accepted the Atonement for himself we were all with him, and were healed along with him. Only our acceptance is required for us to bring this healing to our awareness. Since all sickness is separation, all healing is joining: “Healing is the effect of minds that join, as sickness comes from minds that separate” (T.28.III.2:6). We are healed when we choose to join with Jesus in accepting our healing. This is how the Course tells us healing is accomplished.


Q #127: Can you help me reconcile the fact that there is only One Self or One Mind and that I perceive myself as a unique consciousness? Is my perception of having a unique consciousness an illusion?

A: As real as it seems to us, our unique individual consciousness is in fact part of the ego’s bag of illusions. In fact, consciousness is the first trick the ego pulled out of that illusory bag. A Course in Miracles tells us early in the text that “consciousness, the level of perception” is in fact within the illusory ego realm, and that it is “the first split introduced into the mind after the separation.” If you think of the fact that perception necessarily involves a self that is perceiving and an other that is perceived, you may be able to understand why the Course says that consciousness necessarily involves a separated mind and so can’t be real. In Heaven, the realm of knowledge or One-mindedness, on the other hand, there is no separation and so there can be no perception, that is, no self to perceive an other (T.3.IV.1,2,3).

Near the end of the book, the Course refers to the illusory nature of individual consciousness, observing that “in this world, because the mind is split, the Sons of God appear to be separate. Nor do their minds seem to be joined. In this illusory state, the concept of an ‘individual mind’ seems to be meaningful” (C.1.2:1,2,3). And in case we have still not gotten the point, it adds that “consciousness has levels and awareness can shift quite dramatically, but it cannot transcend the perceptual realm. At its highest it becomes aware of the real world [totally healed perception], and can be trained to do so increasingly. Yet the very fact that it has levels and can be trained demonstrates that it cannot reach knowledge” (C.1.7:4,5,6).

So consciousness will be left behind, or transcended, when our mind is completely healed of the mistaken thought of separation and returns to the realm of knowledge or One-mindedness. It is this seeming loss of individual, unique consciousness that is at the root of all the fear we ultimately associate with the practice of forgiveness. Yet we will never be called upon to relinquish this false self and will let it go only when it no longer has any value or meaning for us. So the ego’s fear of annihilation is just one further trick it pulls from its illusory bag to keep us rooted in its thought system.

For further discussions of mind and consciousness, you may wish to review Questions #27, 32, and 65.

be of good cheer

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 22

ACIM Text Reading for August 22

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

IX. For They Have Come

Think but how holy you must be from whom the Voice for God calls lovingly unto your brother, that you may awake in him the Voice that answers to your call! And think how holy he must be when in him sleeps your own salvation, with his freedom joined! However much you wish he be condemned, God is in him. And never will you know He is in you as well while you attack His chosen home, and battle with His host. Regard him gently. Look with loving eyes on him who carries Christ within him, that you may behold his glory and rejoice that Heaven is not separate from you.

Is it too much to ask a little trust for him who carries Christ to you, that you may be forgiven all your sins, and left without a single one you cherish still? Forget not that a shadow held between your brother and yourself obscures the face of Christ and memory of God. And would you trade Them for an ancient hate? The ground whereon you stand is holy ground because of Them Who, standing there with you, have blessed it with Their innocence and peace.

The blood of hatred fades to let the grass grow green again, and let the flowers be all white and sparkling in the summer sun. What was a place of death has now become a living temple in a world of light. Because of Them. It is Their Presence which has lifted holiness again to take its ancient place upon an ancient throne. Because of Them have miracles sprung up as grass and flowers on the barren ground that hate had scorched and rendered desolate. What hate has wrought have They undone. And now you stand on ground so holy Heaven leans to join with it, and make it like itself. The shadow of an ancient hate has gone, and all the blight and withering have passed forever from the land where They have come.

What is a hundred or a thousand years to Them, or tens of thousands? When They come, time’s purpose is fulfilled. What never was passes to nothingness when They have come. What hatred claimed is given up to love, and freedom lights up every living thing and lifts it into Heaven, where the lights grow ever brighter as each one comes home. The incomplete is made complete again, and Heaven’s joy has been increased because what is its own has been restored to it. The bloodied earth is cleansed, and the insane have shed their garments of insanity to join Them on the ground whereon you stand.

Heaven is grateful for this gift of what has been withheld so long. For They have come to gather in Their Own. What has been locked is opened; what was held apart from light is given up, that light may shine on it and leave no space nor distance lingering between the light of Heaven and the world.

The holiest of all the spots on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love. And They come quickly to the living temple, where a home for Them has been set up. There is no place in Heaven holier. And They have come to dwell within the temple offered Them, to be Their resting place as well as yours. What hatred has released to love becomes the brightest light in Heaven’s radiance. And all the lights in Heaven brighter grow, in gratitude for what has been restored.

Around you angels hover lovingly, to keep away all darkened thoughts of sin, and keep the light where it has entered in. Your footprints lighten up the world, for where you walk forgiveness gladly goes with you. No one on earth but offers thanks to one who has restored his home, and sheltered him from bitter winter and the freezing cold. And shall the Lord of Heaven and His Son give less in gratitude for so much more?

Now is the temple of the living God rebuilt as host again to Him by Whom it was created. Where He dwells, His Son dwells with Him, never separate. And They give thanks that They are welcome made at last. Where stood a cross stands now the risen Christ, and ancient scars are healed within His sight. An ancient miracle has come to bless and to replace an ancient enmity that came to kill. In gentle gratitude do God the Father and the Son return to what is Theirs, and will forever be. Now is the Holy Spirit’s purpose done. For They have come! For They have come at last!

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 22

Lesson 234

Father, today I am Your Son again.

Today we will anticipate the time when dreams of sin and guilt are gone, and we have reached the holy peace we never left. Merely a tiny instant has elapsed between eternity and timelessness. So brief the interval there was no lapse in continuity, nor break in thoughts which are forever unified as one. Nothing has ever happened to disturb the peace of God the Father and the Son. This we accept as wholly true today.

We thank You, Father, that we cannot lose the memory of You and of Your Love. We recognize our safety, and give thanks for all the gifts You have bestowed on us, for all the loving help we have received, for Your eternal patience, and the Word which You have given us that we are saved.

 

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1064There is a lot of media coverage about alleviating world poverty. Also many people seem to be on a mission to change this world. Dr. Wapnick often points out in his tapes and text that this is a mistake, as we can’t change the world. Whilst I know that this is true on the level of truth, when I pray about it and ask Jesus what to make of it, I find myself reading parts of the text like “For They Have Come” and I get the impression that Jesus is ecstatic about it (collaboration). Jesus didn’t not heal the sick or raise the dead just because sickness and death are part of the illusion (and I like to think he did do these things). On a practical level, I’d like to think if I were starving to death, someone was desperate to help me. Has this got something to do with true empathy? I almost feel guilty writing this, as I know people die of poverty as we speak.

A: Let’s begin by clarifying what you think you heard Dr. Wapnick say, and what the Course is saying, about changing the world. It’s not that we can’t change the world — at this level people do it all the time. The point is, the world is not the real problem and to focus on it is to attempt to change effects rather than getting to the root cause of our unhappiness, which is in the mind (T.21.in.1) . The world, from the perspective of the Course, is nothing more than a projection of the thought of separation in the mind and, in the end, we will come to realize that neither of them is real. To seek to change the world outside is to avoid solving the real problem within.

This kind of admonition is directed to students of the Course and has meaning only from the perspective of the Course’s metaphysical principles. For someone who resonates to a different spiritual path, it most likely will make little or no sense. And so it would certainly be a mistake to use the Course’s teachings to judge others who are seeking to bring about what they perceive as meaningful change in the world, such as alleviating suffering. We simply have no way of knowing what will be most helpful for others on their Atonement paths.

It’s important to understand that the Course is never speaking about behavior, but only about the thoughts in the mind and, in particular, what purpose those thoughts are giving to whatever we seem to find ourselves doing in the world. The Course would never say don’t help others in need, or don’t try to eliminate world hunger, for example. But it would say pay attention to whatever thoughts are behind your actions. And if, for example, you are seeing the poor and the helpless at the mercy of unscrupulous governments and corporations or impersonal forces of nature, you are reinforcing your belief in victims and victimizers, as well as in differences, separation and loss. And that kind of false empathy, which makes distinctions between the innocent and the guilty, truly helps no one for it denies the power of each mind to have chosen its external circumstances as a way to protect its decision for individuality and specialness, and therefore to make a different choice for healing and wholeness (T.16.I.1,2) . And this is what we all continue to do until we are at last willing to ask for another way, which has nothing to do with changing the world and everything to do with changing our own mind.

Following up on this third point, it is a misunderstanding of Jesus’ meaning in “For They Have Come” (T.26.IX) to interpret it as if he were speaking about what bodies do with each other. He is referring to a change in perception, which happens in the mind, which may or may not then be expressed in actions. Yes, he does speak of how “no one on earth but offers thanks to one who has restored his home, and sheltered him from bitter winter and the freezing cold” (T.26.IX.7:3) , but only to make the point of how much more grateful we will be to have our true Home restored to us.

As for whether Jesus performed the miracles reported in the gospels, it is important to remember that the gospel writers, whom many biblical scholars believe were not eyewitnesses to his life, were writing their accounts to demonstrate that Jesus was special, different from everyone else, divine. If persons experienced healings in the presence of Jesus’ love, it seems very unlikely that it would have happened in the magical ways described in the gospel stories. Rather, being reminded of the love that was within them, they would have released the guilt in their minds and no longer have needed to maintain its projection in the form of their symptoms (M.5.II.2) .

Jesus’ compassion was not for the suffering and crippled bodies the eyes see, but for the suffering and crippled minds that were choosing to believe that illness and pain were somehow necessary for salvation. That those who witnessed his compassion two thousands years ago misunderstood his message and interpreted it in terms of expressing care and concern for those less fortunate than oneself — reinforcing a belief in real differences and separation — is not surprising. For just look at how Jesus’ students today continue to misunderstand his message in the Course, even though it is presented in much more direct and unambiguous language.

not his will you be crucified