ACIM Text Reading for August 17
Chapter 26 ~ The Transition
IV. Where Sin Has Left
Forgiveness is this world’s equivalent of Heaven’s justice. It translates the world of sin into a simple world, where justice can be reflected from beyond the gate behind which total lack of limits lies. Nothing in boundless love could need forgiveness. And what is charity within the world gives way to simple justice past the gate that opens into Heaven. No one forgives unless he has believed in sin, and still believes that he has much to be forgiven. Forgiveness thus becomes the means by which he learns he has done nothing to forgive. Forgiveness always rests upon the one who offers it, until he sees himself as needing it no more. And thus is he returned to his real function of creating, which his forgiveness offers him again.
Forgiveness turns the world of sin into a world of glory, wonderful to see. Each flower shines in light, and every bird sings of the joy of Heaven. There is no sadness and there is no parting here, for everything is totally forgiven. And what has been forgiven must join, for nothing stands between to keep them separate and apart. The sinless must perceive that they are one, for nothing stands between to push the other off. And in the space that sin left vacant do they join as one, in gladness recognizing what is part of them has not been kept apart and separate.
The holy place on which you stand is but the space that sin has left. And here you see the face of Christ, arising in its place. Who could behold the face of Christ and not recall His Father as He really is? Who could fear love, and stand upon the ground where sin has left a place for Heaven’s altar to rise and tower far above the world, and reach beyond the universe to touch the Heart of all creation? What is Heaven but a song of gratitude and love and praise by everything created to the Source of its creation? The holiest of altars is set where once sin was believed to be. And here does every light of Heaven come, to be rekindled and increased in joy. For here is what was lost restored to them, and all their radiance made whole again.
Forgiveness brings no little miracles to lay before the gate of Heaven. Here the Son of God Himself comes to receive each gift that brings him nearer to his home. Not one is lost, and none is cherished more than any other. Each reminds him of his Father’s Love as surely as the rest. And each one teaches him that what he feared he loves the most. What but a miracle could change his mind, so that he understands that love cannot be feared? What other miracle is there but this? And what else need there be to make the space between you disappear?
Where sin once was perceived will rise a world that will become an altar to the truth, and you will join the lights of Heaven there, and sing their song of gratitude and praise. And as they come to you to be complete, so will you go with them. For no one hears the song of Heaven and remains without a voice that adds its power to the song, and makes it sweeter still. And each one joins the singing at the altar that was raised within the tiny spot that sin proclaimed to be its own. And what was tiny then has soared into a magnitude of song in which the universe has joined with but a single voice.
This tiny spot of sin that stands between you and your brother still is holding back the happy opening of Heaven’s gate. How little is the hindrance that withholds the wealth of Heaven from you. And how great will be the joy in Heaven when you join the mighty chorus to the Love of God!
ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 17
Love, which created me, is what I am.
I seek my own Identity, and find It in these words: “Love, which created me, is what I am.” Now need I seek no more. Love has prevailed. So still It waited for my coming home, that I will turn away no longer from the holy face of Christ. And what I look upon attests the truth of the Identity I sought to lose, but which my Father has kept safe for me.
Father, my thanks to You for what I am; for keeping my Identity untouched and sinless, in the midst of all the thoughts of sin my foolish mind made up. And thanks to You for saving me from them. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q # 967: My high school reunion is coming up and the thought of going to it is causing me intense anxiety. I really don’t want to go, but feel like the Holy Spirit is making me because circumstances are aligning themselves so that I almost have no choice. I guess I kind of feel coerced by the Holy Spirit. Why can’t He teach me without sending me into a situation where I am going to be uncomfortable? Why can’t He say, “Okay, since you do not want to go, let’s learn the lesson that you have to learn in another, more comfortable way”?
A: Your anger over feeling pushed to do something that you would rather not do is very understandable. But feeling coerced by the Holy Spirit comes from a basic misunderstanding of what the Holy Spirit is. A Course in Miracles talks about the Holy Spirit and the ego as if they were separate entities that control our thoughts. But in reality, they are merely two exclusive thought systems, each of which can be boiled down to one core thought.
The ego is a thought system born of the belief that our separation from God really happened and is very serious. As a result, our ego thoughts always reflect the premise that we destroyed Heaven, are very guilty, and deserve punishment. For most of us, the ego directs 99.9% of our thinking since we almost always think we are really here in a body, within a world.
The Holy Spirit meanwhile, is the memory of God that we brought into this dream that reminds us of our true Identity as God’s one Son. More specifically, the Holy Spirit is the knowledge (completely forgotten by most of us on a conscious level) that we never separated from God and are therefore still at home in Heaven and merely “dreaming of exile” (T.10.I.2) . All thoughts that follow this one core thought reflect the love, forgiveness, and compassion that an awareness of our own innocence inspires.
In the Course, Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as if He were a teacher who will do things for us. But Jesus is simply using metaphorical language to help make the Holy Spirit something we can relate to. Because we believe we are individuals living in a world of form, it is nearly impossible for us to relate to abstract ideas. So Jesus personalizes the Holy Spirit for us. He knows we need this in order to conceptualize a source for the right-minded thoughts we’ve forgotten we can choose.
The Holy Spirit can’t do things in this world because there is no world. Ultimately, choosing the Holy Spirit as our Teacher will awaken us to that reality. But before that happens, the Holy Spirit (in other words, our choosing the thought system of the memory of God’s Love) will reinterpret everything we do here, giving it a loving purpose. That is why the Course says the Holy Spirit “uses everything for good, but He does not believe in what is not true” (T.6.II.10:2).
As Course students, when we begin to feel victimized by the Holy Spirit, Jesus, or his course, we can be certain that the ego has taken charge of our studies (again speaking metaphorically of the ego as an entity). Remember that the ego’s mission is always to prove that we are victims, but that it is somebody else’s fault. For example, if we work, the ego will turn our job into an opportunity to resent our boss. If we are married, the ego will turn our marriage into an opportunity to resent our spouse. So why would studying the Course be any different? We should expect the ego to be even louder if it senses we’ve come upon something that might cause us to question its authority. So the ego sees us working with this Course and says, “Okay, fine, I can turn this into a win for me. I can turn the Holy Spirit into just one more enemy trying to tell me what to do.”
But in truth, the Holy Spirit doesn’t care what we do . He doesn’t care whether you go to your reunion or not. He only cares about the love in your mind, whatever choice you make. Similarly, the ego doesn’t care whether you go, either. It just wants you to be miserable and guilty, whether you go or stay home.
So before deciding whether to go or not, ask the Holy Spirit to help you determine what is the kindest, most loving thing you could do in this situation. If not going to your reunion would be the gentler, more loving choice, you can be sure that the Holy Spirit will help you “learn the lesson that you have to learn in another, more comfortable way.”
In the end, all we can do is attempt to listen to the Holy Spirit as best we can and not take it too seriously when we return to the ego. We know we’re listening to the ego when we think the issues in our lives are serious, and to the Holy Spirit when we realize they are just silly. And the Holy Spirit can help you change your thinking about yourself and the world equally well, whether you’re at your high school reunion or at home watching television.