ACIM Text Reading for September 8
Chapter 29 ~ The Awakening
I. The Closing of the Gap
There is no time, no place, no state where God is absent. There is nothing to be feared. There is no way in which a gap could be conceived of in the Wholeness that is His. The compromise the least and littlest gap would represent in His eternal love is quite impossible. For it would mean His Love could harbor just a hint of hate, His gentleness turn sometimes to attack, and His eternal patience sometimes fail. All this do you believe, when you perceive a gap between your brother and yourself. How could you trust Him, then? For He must be deceptive in His Love. Be wary, then; let Him not come too close, and leave a gap between you and His Love, through which you can escape if there be need for you to flee.
Here is the fear of God most plainly seen. For love is treacherous to those who fear, since fear and hate can never be apart. No one who hates but is afraid of love, and therefore must he be afraid of God. Certain it is he knows not what love means. He fears to love and loves to hate, and so he thinks that love is fearful; hate is love. This is the consequence the little gap must bring to those who cherish it, and think that it is their salvation and their hope.
The fear of God! The greatest obstacle that peace must flow across has not yet gone. The rest are past, but this one still remains to block your path, and make the way to light seem dark and fearful, perilous and bleak. You had decided that your brother is your enemy. Sometimes a friend, perhaps, provided that your separate interests made your friendship possible a little while. But not without a gap perceived between you and him, lest he turn again into an enemy. Let him come close to you, and you jumped back; as you approached, did he but instantly withdraw. A cautious friendship, and limited in scope and carefully restricted in amount, became the treaty that you had made with him. Thus you and your brother but shared a qualified entente, in which a clause of separation was a point you both agreed to keep intact. And violating this was thought to be a breach of treaty not to be allowed.
The gap between you and your brother is not one of space between two separate bodies. And this but seems to be dividing off your separate minds. It is the symbol of a promise made to meet when you prefer, and separate till you and he elect to meet again. And then your bodies seem to get in touch, and thereby signify a meeting place to join. But always is it possible for you and him to go your separate ways. Conditional upon the “right” to separate will you and he agree to meet from time to time, and keep apart in intervals of separation, which do protect you from the “sacrifice” of love. The body saves you, for it gets away from total sacrifice and gives to you the time in which to build again your separate self, which you truly believe diminishes as you and your brother meet.
The body could not separate your mind from your brother’s unless you wanted it to be a cause of separation and of distance seen between you and him. Thus do you endow it with a power that lies not within itself. And herein lies its power over you. For now you think that it determines when your brother and you meet, and limits your ability to make communion with your brother’s mind. And now it tells you where to go and how to go there, what is feasible for you to undertake, and what you cannot do. It dictates what its health can tolerate, and what will tire it and make it sick. And its “inherent” weaknesses set up the limitations on what you would do, and keep your purpose limited and weak.
The body will accommodate to this, if you would have it so. It will allow but limited indulgences in “love,” with intervals of hatred in between. And it will take command of when to “love,” and when to shrink more safely into fear. It will be sick because you do not know what loving means. And so you must misuse each circumstance and everyone you meet, and see in them a purpose not your own.
It is not love that asks a sacrifice. But fear demands the sacrifice of love, for in love’s presence fear cannot abide. For hate to be maintained, love must be feared; and only sometimes present, sometimes gone. Thus is love seen as treacherous, because it seems to come and go uncertainly, and offer no stability to you. You do not see how limited and weak is your allegiance, and how frequently you have demanded that love go away, and leave you quietly alone in “peace.”
The body, innocent of goals, is your excuse for variable goals you hold, and force the body to maintain. You do not fear its weakness, but its lack of strength orweakness. Would you know that nothing stands between you and your brother? Would you know there is no gap behind which you can hide? There is a shock that comes to those who learn their savior is their enemy no more. There is a wariness that is aroused by learning that the body is not real. And there are overtones of seeming fear around the happy message, “God is Love.”
Yet all that happens when the gap is gone is peace eternal. Nothing more than that, and nothing less. Without the fear of God, what could induce you to abandon Him? What toys or trinkets in the gap could serve to hold you back an instant from His Love? Would you allow the body to say “no” to Heaven’s calling, were you not afraid to find a loss of self in finding God? Yet can your self be lost by being found?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 8
Section 4. What is Sin?
Sin is insanity. It is the means by which the mind is driven mad, and seeks to let illusions take the place of truth. And being mad, it sees illusions where the truth should be, and where it really is. Sin gave the body eyes, for what is there the sinless would behold? What need have they of sights or sounds or touch? What would they hear or reach to grasp? What would they sense at all? To sense is not to know. And truth can be but filled with knowledge, and with nothing else.
The body is the instrument the mind made in its efforts to deceive itself. Its purpose is to strive. Yet can the goal of striving change. And now the body serves a different aim for striving. What it seeks for now is chosen by the aim the mind has taken as replacement for the goal of self-deception. Truth can be its aim as well as lies. The senses then will seek instead for witnesses to what is true.
Sin is the home of all illusions, which but stand for things imagined, issuing from thoughts that are untrue. They are the “proof” that what has no reality is real. Sin “proves” God’s Son is evil; timelessness must have an end; eternal life must die. And God Himself has lost the Son He loves, with but corruption to complete Himself, His Will forever overcome by death, love slain by hate, and peace to be no more.
A madman’s dreams are frightening, and sin appears indeed to terrify. And yet what sin perceives is but a childish game. The Son of God may play he has become a body, prey to evil and to guilt, with but a little life that ends in death. But all the while his Father shines on him, and loves him with an everlasting Love which his pretenses cannot change at all.
How long, O Son of God, will you maintain the game of sin? Shall we not put away these sharp-edged children’s toys? How soon will you be ready to come home? Perhaps today? There is no sin. Creation is unchanged. Would you still hold return to Heaven back? How long, O holy Son of God, how long?
I am in need of nothing but the truth.
I sought for many things, and found despair. Now do I seek but one, for in that one is all I need, and only what I need. All that I sought before I needed not, and did not even want. My only need I did not recognize. But now I see that I need only truth. In that all needs are satisfied, all cravings end, all hopes are finally fulfilled and dreams are gone. Now have I everything that I could need. Now have I everything that I could want. And now at last I find myself at peace.
And for that peace, our Father, we give thanks. What we denied ourselves You have restored, and only that is what we really want.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1353: I wonder about gratitude and its usefulness in practicing A Course in Miracles . Other Course friends frequently bring up the practice of gratitude as being very helpful to them and how they feel. I’m not really sure what I’m to be grateful for as a Course student. I do feel grateful when I experience relief from fear or pain, joy in relationship to another, the experience of peace. But, can this be a tool? Or is it an effect? I am bothered when I hear people say that the practice of gratitude has changed their whole perception of a situation.
A: Gratitude is integral to the practice of the Course. This is particularly evident from a study of the workbook lesson “Love is the way I walk in gratitude” (W.pI.195). There Jesus contrasts the world’s view of gratitude, which reflects the ego’s strategy to keep us separate, with the Course’s view, which reflects “the Love that is the Source of all creation” (W.pI.195.10:3).
On our Web site, under Teaching Materials/Excerpts, we have posted the edited transcript of a workshop Ken presented called “Our Gratitude to God.” We refer you to that series for an in- depth discussion of this important dimension of the healing of our minds. As with most of the concepts addressed in the Course, gratitude is approached first from the ego’s point of view and then from the corrected perspective in our right minds. Our resistance to being grateful is also considered.
Briefly stated, our gratitude is threefold: 1) to God for sharing everything of Himself with us in our creation; 2) to Jesus who is present to us as a brother helping us to remember God; 3) for all the circumstances and people in our lives, for they form the classroom in which we learn to awaken from our dream of fear.
If we are honest with ourselves we would recognize within us some rather strenuous resistance to these levels of gratitude. This would have to be the case considering the thought system from which our individualized existence emanates: The ego basically said to God, “Who needs You? I can make it on my own. Watch me!” This underlying attitude is present in the minds of everyone, and therefore to the extent that we value our independence and autonomy we would find very little justification for being grateful to God for creating us. This would also have to be true of our relationship with Jesus, as he symbolizes the Love of God for us. Being grateful would conflict with our unconscious need to prove that we can make something of our lives on our own. We might need some help from others now and then, but the ideal held out to us, especially in this country, is self-reliance and independence. “I did it my way,” as the popular song proclaims. What all of this means is that before we can experience true gratitude, we must look at the ingratitude we feel and what it represents, which is basically valuing separation. As we recognize the pain associated with that, we can turn to the loving, gentle teacher within, who will look at it with us. Choosing against all else but that love, “our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than [we] could ever dream of” (W.pI.195.10:1).