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
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 #62: I 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.