ACIM Text Reading for August 9
Chapter 25 ~ The Justice of God
VII. The Special Function
The grace of God rests gently on forgiving eyes, and everything they look on speaks of Him to the beholder. He can see no evil; nothing in the world to fear, and no one who is different from himself. And as he loves them, so he looks upon himself with love and gentleness. He would no more condemn himself for his mistakes than damn another. He is not an arbiter of vengeance, nor a punisher of sin. The kindness of his sight rests on himself with all the tenderness it offers others. For he would only heal and only bless. And being in accord with what God wills, he has the power to heal and bless all those he looks on with the grace of God upon his sight.
Eyes become used to darkness, and the light of brilliant day seems painful to the eyes grown long accustomed to the dim effects perceived at twilight. And they turn away from sunlight and the clarity it brings to what they look upon. Dimness seems better; easier to see, and better recognized. Somehow the vague and more obscure seems easier to look upon; less painful to the eyes than what is wholly clear and unambiguous. Yet this is not what eyes are for, and who can say that he prefers the darkness and maintain he wants to see?
The wish to see calls down the grace of God upon your eyes, and brings the gift of light that makes sight possible. Would you behold your brother? God is glad to have you look on him. He does not will your savior be unrecognized by you. Nor does He will that he remain without the function that He gave to him. Let him no more be lonely, for the lonely ones are those who see no function in the world for them to fill; no place where they are needed, and no aim which only they can perfectly fulfill.
Such is the Holy Spirit’s kind perception of specialness; His use of what you made, to heal instead of harm. To each He gives a special function in salvation he alone can fill; a part for only him. Nor is the plan complete until he finds his special function, and fulfills the part assigned to him, to make himself complete within a world where incompletion rules.
Here, where the laws of God do not prevail in perfect form, can he yet do one perfect thing and make one perfect choice. And by this act of special faithfulness to one perceived as other than himself, he learns the gift was given to himself, and so they must be one. Forgiveness is the only function meaningful in time. It is the means the Holy Spirit uses to translate specialness from sin into salvation. Forgiveness is for all. But when it rests on all it is complete, and every function of this world completed with it. Then is time no more. Yet while in time, there is still much to do. And each must do what is allotted him, for on his part does all the plan depend. He has a special part in time for so he chose, and choosing it, he made it for himself. His wish was not denied but changed in form, to let it serve his brother and himself, and thus become a means to save instead of lose.
Salvation is no more than a reminder this world is not your home. Its laws are not imposed on you, its values are not yours. And nothing that you think you see in it is really there at all. This is seen and understood as each one takes his part in its undoing, as he did in making it. He has the means for either, as he always did. The specialness he chose to hurt himself did God appoint to be the means for his salvation, from the very instant that the choice was made. His special sin was made his special grace. His special hate became his special love.
The Holy Spirit needs your special function, that His may be fulfilled. Think not you lack a special value here. You wanted it, and it is given you. All that you made can serve salvation easily and well. The Son of God can make no choice the Holy Spirit cannot employ on his behalf, and not against himself. Only in darkness does your specialness appear to be attack. In light, you see it as your special function in the plan to save the Son of God from all attack, and let him understand that he is safe, as he has always been, and will remain in time and in eternity alike. This is the function given you for your brother. Take it gently, then, from your brother’s hand, and let salvation be perfectly fulfilled in you. Do this one thing, that everything be given you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 9
Words will mean little now. We use them but as guides on which we do not now depend. For now we seek direct experience of truth alone. The lessons that remain are merely introductions to the times in which we leave the world of pain, and go to enter peace. Now we begin to reach the goal this course has set, and find the end toward which our practicing was always geared.
Now we attempt to let the exercise be merely a beginning. For we wait in quiet expectation for our God and Father. He has promised He will take the final step Himself. And we are sure His promises are kept. We have come far along the road, and now we wait for Him. We will continue spending time with Him each morning and at night, as long as makes us happy. We will not consider time a matter of duration now. We use as much as we will need for the result that we desire. Nor will we forget our hourly remembrance in between, calling to God when we have need of Him as we are tempted to forget our goal.
We will continue with a central thought for all the days to come, and we will use that thought to introduce our times of rest, and calm our minds at need. Yet we will not content ourselves with simple practicing in the remaining holy instants which conclude the year that we have given God. We say some simple words of welcome, and expect our Father to reveal Himself, as He has promised. We have called on Him, and He has promised that His Son will not remain unanswered when he calls His Name.
Now do we come to Him with but His Word upon our minds and hearts, and wait for Him to take the step to us that He has told us, through His Voice, He would not fail to take when we invited Him. He has not left His Son in all his madness, nor betrayed his trust in Him. Has not His faithfulness earned Him the invitation that He seeks to make us happy? We will offer it, and it will be accepted. So our times with Him will now be spent. We say the words of invitation that His Voice suggests, and then we wait for Him to come to us.
Now is the time of prophecy fulfilled. Now are all ancient promises upheld and fully kept. No step remains for time to separate from its accomplishment. For now we cannot fail. Sit silently and wait upon your Father. He has willed to come to you when you have recognized it is your will He do so. And you could have never come this far unless you saw, however dimly, that it is your will.
I am so close to you we cannot fail. Father, we give these holy times to You, in gratitude to Him Who taught us how to leave the world of sorrow in exchange for its replacement, given us by You. We look not backward now. We look ahead, and fix our eyes upon the journey’s end. Accept these little gifts of thanks from us, as through Christ’s vision we behold a world beyond the one we made, and take that world to be the full replacement of our own.
And now we wait in silence, unafraid and certain of Your coming. We have sought to find our way by following the Guide You sent to us. We did not know the way, but You did not forget us. And we know that You will not forget us now. We ask but that Your ancient promises be kept which are Your Will to keep. We will with You in asking this. The Father and the Son, Whose holy Will created all that is, can fail in nothing. In this certainty, we undertake these last few steps to You, and rest in confidence upon Your Love, which will not fail the Son who calls to You.
And so we start upon the final part of this one holy year, which we have spent together in the search for truth and God, Who is its one Creator. We have found the way He chose for us, and made the choice to follow it as He would have us go. His Hand has held us up. His Thoughts have lit the darkness of our minds. His Love has called to us unceasingly since time began.
We had a wish that God would fail to have the Son whom He created for Himself. We wanted God to change Himself, and be what we would make of Him. And we believed that our insane desires were the truth. Now we are glad that this is all undone, and we no longer think illusions true. The memory of God is shimmering across the wide horizons of our minds. A moment more, and it will rise again. A moment more, and we who are God’s Sons are safely home, where He would have us be.
Now is the need for practice almost done. For in this final section, we will come to understand that we need only call to God, and all temptations disappear. Instead of words, we need but feel His Love. Instead of prayers, we need but call His Name. Instead of judging, we need but be still and let all things be healed. We will accept the way God’s plan will end, as we received the way it started. Now it is complete. This year has brought us to eternity.
One further use for words we still retain. From time to time, instructions on a theme of special relevance will intersperse our daily lessons and the periods of wordless, deep experience which should come afterwards. These special thoughts should be reviewed each day, each one of them to be continued till the next is given you. They should be slowly read and thought about a little while, preceding one of the holy and blessed instants in the day. We give the first of these instructions now.
1. What is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred. It does not pardon sins and make them real. It sees there was no sin. And in that view are all your sins forgiven. What is sin, except a false idea about God’s Son? Forgiveness merely sees its falsity, and therefore lets it go. What then is free to take its place is now the Will of God.
An unforgiving thought is one which makes a judgment that it will not raise to doubt, although it is not true. The mind is closed, and will not be released. The thought protects projection, tightening its chains, so that distortions are more veiled and more obscure; less easily accessible to doubt, and further kept from reason. What can come between a fixed projection and the aim that it has chosen as its wanted goal?
An unforgiving thought does many things. In frantic action it pursues its goal, twisting and overturning what it sees as interfering with its chosen path. Distortion is its purpose, and the means by which it would accomplish it as well. It sets about its furious attempts to smash reality, without concern for anything that would appear to pose a contradiction to its point of view.
Forgiveness, on the other hand, is still, and quietly does nothing. It offends no aspect of reality, nor seeks to twist it to appearances it likes. It merely looks, and waits, and judges not. He who would not forgive must judge, for he must justify his failure to forgive. But he who would forgive himself must learn to welcome truth exactly as it is.
Do nothing, then, and let forgiveness show you what to do, through Him Who is your Guide, your Savior and Protector, strong in hope, and certain of your ultimate success. He has forgiven you already, for such is His function, given Him by God. Now must you share His function, and forgive whom He has saved, whose sinlessness He sees, and whom He honors as the Son of God.
Peace to my mind. Let all my thoughts be still.
Father, I come to You today to seek the peace that You alone can give. I come in silence. In the quiet of my heart, the deep recesses of my mind, I wait and listen for Your Voice. My Father, speak to me today. I come to hear Your Voice in silence and in certainty and love, sure You will hear my call and answer me.
Now do we wait in quiet. God is here, because we wait together. I am sure that He will speak to you, and you will hear. Accept my confidence, for it is yours. Our minds are joined. We wait with one intent; to hear our Father’s answer to our call, to let our thoughts be still and find His peace, to hear Him speak to us of what we are, and to reveal Himself unto His Son.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #106: Over the past five years I have been studying A Course in Miracles in unison with my study of the ethics of Nonviolence as taught by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Cesar Chavez. I had at one time considered the two philosophies — A Course in Miracles and Nonviolence — to be almost identical in aim (this appraisal of mine was aided by the fact that even some authors have mentioned the similarities of the philosophies). Both paths teach that everyone is connected, that we are not victims, and that we should be gentle with one another. But lately I am considering that the two paths may be quite different in emphasis.
A: If we focus on the religious or spiritual foundation of Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas on nonviolence, based on some of the highest teachings of Hinduism, there are many striking parallels with the teachings of A Course in Miracles. Ideas shared in common, for example, include viewing the world as an illusion or a dream, seeing the nature of reality as one so that separation and separate interests are not real, and focusing on internal decision-making about one’s intention rather than on external outcome.
But these religious underpinnings of Gandhi’s ideas on nonviolence are generally not the focus of most studies of his contributions to the field. And Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez grounded their philosophy and practice of nonviolence in a more traditional Christian perspective that views the world and its inhabitants as created by God, a significantly different assumption from the Course’s basic premise that “the world was made as an attack on God” (W.pII.3.2:1). With this premise, we see the Course departing significantly as well from the Hindu teachings guiding Gandhi.
The study and practice of nonviolence, as a philosophy for action and for political and economic change, often then becomes concerned with outcome in the world. The Course, in contrast, encourages us to choose to change our mind about the world rather than seeking to change the world itself (T.21.in.1:7). If we look at gentleness and defenselessness, two of what the Course identifies in the manual as characteristics of an advanced teacher of God, they certainly share something in common with what is meant by nonviolence. But a careful reading of the Course’s discussion of both traits (M.4.IV,VI) makes it apparent that the emphasis is on thought or state of mind and not behavior, and the only outcome of concern is in the mind — there is no investment in the outcome in the world. Changes may or may not follow in the world, but they are irrelevant to the goal of inner peace, which can be attained irrespective of external circumstances.
So, as you remark in your question, there is simply a different emphasis with the Course and with nonviolence. That is not to say that one is any better than the other, for in fact the spirituality from which they both spring is quite similar. But the Course is not concerned with how we act in the world. Nevertheless, when we act in the world, guided by the principles of A Course in Miracles, our actions may be very similar to the actions of those guided by nonviolent principles. It is the emphasis that is different.