ACIM Text Reading for September 3
Chapter 28 ~ The Undoing of Fear
III. The Agreement to Join
What waits in perfect certainty beyond salvation is not our concern. For you have barely started to allow your first, uncertain steps to be directed up the ladder separation led you down. The miracle alone is your concern at present. Here is where we must begin. And having started, will the way be made serene and simple in the rising up to waking and the ending of the dream. When you accept a miracle, you do not add your dream of fear to one that is already being dreamed. Without support, the dream will fade away without effects. For it is your support that strengthens it.
No mind is sick until another mind agrees that they are separate. And thus it is their joint decision to be sick. If you withhold agreement and accept the part you play in making sickness real, the other mind cannot project its guilt without your aid in letting it perceive itself as separate and apart from you. Thus is the body not perceived as sick by both your minds from separate points of view. Uniting with a brother’s mind prevents the cause of sickness and perceived effects. Healing is the effect of minds that join, as sickness comes from minds that separate.
The miracle does nothing just because the minds are joined, and cannot separate. Yet in the dreaming has this been reversed, and separate minds are seen as bodies, which are separated and which cannot join. Do not allow your brother to be sick, for if he is, have you abandoned him to his own dream by sharing it with him. He has not seen the cause of sickness where it is, and you have overlooked the gap between you, where the sickness has been bred. Thus are you joined in sickness, to preserve the little gap unhealed, where sickness is kept carefully protected, cherished, and upheld by firm belief, lest God should come to bridge the little gap that leads to Him. Fight not His coming with illusions, for it is His coming that you want above all things that seem to glisten in the dream.
The end of dreaming is the end of fear, and love was never in the world of dreams. The gap is little. Yet it holds the seeds of pestilence and every form of ill, because it is a wish to keep apart and not to join. And thus it seems to give a cause to sickness which is not its cause. The purpose of the gap is all the cause that sickness has. For it was made to keep you separated, in a body which you see as if it were the cause of pain.
The cause of pain is separation, not the body, which is only its effect. Yet separation is but empty space, enclosing nothing, doing nothing, and as unsubstantial as the empty place between the ripples that a ship has made in passing by. And covered just as fast, as water rushes in to close the gap, and as the waves in joining cover it. Where is the gap between the waves when they have joined, and covered up the space which seemed to keep them separate for a little while? Where are the grounds for sickness when the minds have joined to close the little gap between them, where the seeds of sickness seemed to grow?
God builds the bridge, but only in the space left clean and vacant by the miracle. The seeds of sickness and the shame of guilt He cannot bridge, for He can not destroy the alien will that He created not. Let its effects be gone and clutch them not with eager hands, to keep them for yourself. The miracle will brush them all aside, and thus make room for Him Who wills to come and bridge His Son’s returning to Himself.
Count, then, the silver miracles and golden dreams of happiness as all the treasures you would keep within the storehouse of the world. The door is open, not to thieves, but to your starving brothers, who mistook for gold the shining of a pebble, and who stored a heap of snow that shone like silver. They have nothing left behind the open door. What is the world except a little gap perceived to tear eternity apart, and break it into days and months and years? And what are you who live within the world except a picture of the Son of God in broken pieces, each concealed within a separate and uncertain bit of clay?
Be not afraid, my child, but let your world be gently lit by miracles. And where the little gap was seen to stand between you and your brother, join him there. And so sickness will now be seen without a cause. The dream of healing in forgiveness lies, and gently shows you that you never sinned. The miracle would leave no proof of guilt to bring you witness to what never was. And in your storehouse it will make a place of welcome for your Father and your Self. The door is open, that all those may come who would no longer starve, and would enjoy the feast of plenty set before them there. And they will meet with your invited Guests the miracle has asked to come to you.
This is a feast unlike indeed to those the dreaming of the world has shown. For here, the more that anyone receives, the more is left for all the rest to share. The Guests have brought unlimited supply with Them. And no one is deprived or can deprive. Here is a feast the Father lays before His Son, and shares it equally with him. And in Their sharing there can be no gap in which abundance falters and grows thin. Here can the lean years enter not, for time waits not upon this feast, which has no end. For love has set its table in the space that seemed to keep your Guests apart from you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 3
To love my Father is to love His Son.
Let me not think that I can find the way to God, if I have hatred in my heart. Let me not try to hurt God’s Son, and think that I can know his Father or my Self. Let me not fail to recognize myself, and still believe that my awareness can contain my Father, or my mind conceive of all the love my Father has for me, and all the love which I return to Him.
lessI will accept the way You choose for me to come to You, my Father. For in that will I succeed, because it is Your Will. And I would recognize that what You will is what I will as well, and only that. And so I choose to love Your Son. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1299: The sections of A Course in Miracles titled The Agreement to Join (T.28.III.2:5) and The Greater Joining (T.28.IV.4) seem very important with respect to practically dealing with ‘others’ and our perceptions of them, and therefore our perceptions of ourselves. However, I am unclear as to the practical application of their meaning. Take, for example, the statement, “Uniting with a brother’s mind prevents the cause of sickness and perceived effects” (T.28.III.2:5). If I see a brother who is sick (in whatever form that may take), I know that I have joined him in that illusion. But what is it that I am to see, look for, become aware of, etc. in order to prove him and myself wrong in this perception?
A: Discussing practical applications of Course principles is always tricky. On one hand, the Course is very practical because it tells us exactly how to follow its teachings. On the other hand, when most of us think of practical applications, we envision something we can do behaviorally. But the Course is never about behavior. Thus, to answer your question, there is nothing you are supposed to see, look for, or become aware of externally . How could there be when the Course’s overarching message is that there is nothing external to your own mind? And the Course certainly does not ask you to prove your perceptions or those of your brother wrong.
What, then, is it telling us to do? We can begin to answer this by carefully reading the very sentence you referred to. “Uniting with a brother’s mind prevents the cause of sickness and perceived effects” (T.28.III.2:5 italics ours ). In other words, we are asked to join on the level of mind. Jesus says nothing about joining as bodies or doing anything on the level of form. Obviously, a body cannot join with a mind. Clearly, this has to mean that the place in which we join our brother is in our thoughts. This prevents the cause of sickness. It does this because the cause of sickness is our belief in guilt and separation. Therefore, by recognizing in our own mind that guilt and separation are illusory and that we are united with our brother — both in our sense of guilt within this dream and as God’s beloved Son in reality — we disarm the guilt and fear that caused the need for sickness as a potent defense against the truth within this dream.
This does not mean that our internal shift will heal either our brother’s body or our own. However, it does mean that if we fully made this shift, we could have a body filled with cancer and still be at peace. Likewise, we could be with a brother who is dying of cancer and know that the disease has no effect on the reality of who he is. From that place, we would see that while his body appears to be sick, he is not a body and therefore he is not sick. Behaviorally, we would probably still do all the loving things one normally does for another who is experiencing pain. We would not try to make the sickness go away or tell the person that it was illusory. If the person were ready to accept that, he would not be sick. For this reason, we would instead comfort the person in whatever way would be most helpful to him in the moment.
Another key to grasping what the Course is getting at in the sections you mentioned is the realization that when Jesus talks about sickness, he does not mean a physical ailment in the body. To Jesus, simply thinking that we are here is sick. Believing that we need to breathe, eat, sleep, and so forth is an illness — not because these things are bad, but because they represent our clearly insane choice to believe that we could be limited by this “wall of flesh around the mind, keeping it prisoner in a tiny spot of space and time, beholden unto death, and given but an instant in which to sigh and grieve and die” (T.20.IV.11:2). From Jesus’ healed perspective then, your need to breathe is no more or less a sickness than your brother’s cancer. This is why “Accepting the Atonement for yourself means not to give support to someone’s dream of sickness and of death” (T.28.IV.1:1). Accepting the Atonement means recognizing that the entirety of our experience is but a bad dream of sickness and of death, and this is true whether the body currently appears to be what the world would label as healthy or ill.
Fortunately, Jesus does not ask us to make this dramatic shift in our thinking on our own. He lets us know that the Holy Spirit is already in our mind, ready to help us change our thoughts whenever we ask Him to. Again, you do not have to try to look for or prove anything. “Your willingness to let illusions go is all the Healer of God’s Son requires” (T.28.IV.10:9) .