ACIM Text Reading for September 14
Chapter 29 ~ The Awakening
VII. Seek Not Outside Yourself
Seek not outside yourself. For it will fail, and you will weep each time an idol falls. Heaven cannot be found where it is not, and there can be no peace excepting there. Each idol that you worship when God calls will never answer in His place. There is no other answer you can substitute, and find the happiness His answer brings. Seek not outside yourself. For all your pain comes simply from a futile search for what you want, insisting where it must be found. What if it is not there? Do you prefer that you be right or happy? Be you glad that you are told where happiness abides, and seek no longer elsewhere. You will fail. But it is given you to know the truth, and not to seek for it outside yourself.
No one who comes here but must still have hope, some lingering illusion, or some dream that there is something outside of himself that will bring happiness and peace to him. If everything is in him this cannot be so. And therefore by his coming, he denies the truth about himself, and seeks for something more than everything, as if a part of it were separated off and found where all the rest of it is not. This is the purpose he bestows upon the body; that it seek for what he lacks, and give him what would make himself complete. And thus he wanders aimlessly about, in search of something that he cannot find, believing that he is what he is not.
The lingering illusion will impel him to seek out a thousand idols, and to seek beyond them for a thousand more. And each will fail him, all excepting one; for he will die, and does not understand the idol that he seeks is but his death. Its form appears to be outside himself. Yet does he seek to kill God’s Son within, and prove that he is victor over him. This is the purpose every idol has, for this the role that is assigned to it, and this the role that cannot be fulfilled.
Whenever you attempt to reach a goal in which the body’s betterment is cast as major beneficiary, you try to bring about your death. For you believe that you can suffer lack, and lack is death. To sacrifice is to give up, and thus to be without and to have suffered loss. And by this giving up is life renounced. Seek not outside yourself. The search implies you are not whole within and fear to look upon your devastation, but prefer to seek outside yourself for what you are.
Idols must fall because they have no life, and what is lifeless is a sign of death. You came to die, and what would you expect but to perceive the signs of death you seek? No sadness and no suffering proclaim a message other than an idol found that represents a parody of life which, in its lifelessness, is really death, conceived as real and given living form. Yet each must fail and crumble and decay, because a form of death cannot be life, and what is sacrificed cannot be whole.
All idols of this world were made to keep the truth within from being known to you, and to maintain allegiance to the dream that you must find what is outside yourself to be complete and happy. It is vain to worship idols in the hope of peace. God dwells within, and your completion lies in Him. No idol takes His place. Look not to idols. Do not seek outside yourself.
Let us forget the purpose of the world the past has given it. For otherwise, the future will be like the past, and but a series of depressing dreams, in which all idols fail you, one by one, and you see death and disappointment everywhere.
To change all this, and open up a road of hope and of release in what appeared to be an endless circle of despair, you need but to decide you do not know the purpose of the world. You give it goals it does not have, and thus do you decide what it is for. You try to see in it a place of idols found outside yourself, with power to make complete what is within by splitting what you are between the two. You choose your dreams, for they are what you wish, perceived as if it had been given you. Your idols do what you would have them do, and have the power you ascribe to them. And you pursue them vainly in the dream, because you want their power as your own.
Yet where are dreams but in a mind asleep? And can a dream succeed in making real the picture it projects outside itself? Save time, my brother; learn what time is for. And speed the end of idols in a world made sad and sick by seeing idols there. Your holy mind is altar unto God, and where He is no idols can abide. The fear of God is but the fear of loss of idols. It is not the fear of loss of your reality. But you have made of your reality an idol, which you must protect against the light of truth. And all the world becomes the means by which this idol can be saved. Salvation thus appears to threaten life and offer death.
It is not so. Salvation seeks to prove there is no death, and only life exists. The sacrifice of death is nothing lost. An idol cannot take the place of God. Let Him remind you of His Love for you, and do not seek to drown His Voice in chants of deep despair to idols of yourself. Seek not outside your Father for your hope. For hope of happiness is not despair.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 14
Let me remember what my purpose is.
If I forget my goal I can be but confused, unsure of what I am, and thus conflicted in my actions. No one can serve contradicting goals and serve them well. Nor can he function without deep distress and great depression. Let us therefore be determined to remember what we want today, that we may unify our thoughts and actions meaningfully, and achieve only what God would have us do this day.
Father, forgiveness is Your chosen means for our salvation. Let us not forget today that we can have no will but Yours. And thus our purpose must be Yours as well, if we would reach the peace You will for us.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #724(i): (The following answers are in response to different questions posed by the same person.) Why does Jesus say that we hate the Self that we have made (T.4.III.4)? I thought that the Self (which is one with Christ and God) would have “made” separation and thus “the ego” would have come into existence?
A: In the paragraph you cite, self is spelled with a lowercase s, not uppercase. The self Jesus is referring to was “made out of denial of the Father” (T.4.III.4:3), as distinguished from Self with an uppercase S, Christ, created by God as an extension of Himself. Christ always remains Christ in Heaven. Once the “tiny, mad idea” of separation was taken seriously and became a reality in the Son’s mind (not the Mind of Christ), the ego was “born,” and the dream of separation from God began. At that point, God’s Son, became a decision-making mind that could choose either to remember his true Identity, or choose to deny that and instead be a separate, individualized, limited, vulnerable self. How could we love a self that we made to replace our invulnerable, innocent Self that exists eternally one with infinite Love? How could we truly love something we produced through the rejection of infinite Love, and which we equate with sin? That is why there can never be love in this world. We can reflect the love of Heaven through forgiveness, but love is only in Heaven, which is the “awareness of perfect Oneness” (T.18.VI.1:6).
Q #724(ii). Isn’t it a paradox that we should live in a world that is “not-God”? Isn’t that the prime illusion of separation? How can we think something that God would not have thought?
A: We cannot “think something that God would not have thought.” That is the point of the Atonement principle: the separation from God never happened because it could not happen. Only when the mind dissociates itself from reality and therefore thinks insanely can there be a sense of being alive “in a world that is ‘not-God’.” And that clearly would be an illusion, because it is impossible to be what you are not (W.pI.191.4). All of this is very baffling to us because we feel so sure we actually exist as individuals outside Heaven and God. Jesus does not demand that we stop believing this; rather, he teaches us that we can use our lives to carry out the ego’s purpose in the world, or to identify with the Holy Spirit’s purpose, which will gradually and gently put us back in touch with the sanity in our minds (W.pI.199), where, in a moment of readiness to relinquish what is false and accept only what is true, we will awaken in Christ and return to our Identity as God created us.
Q #724(iii). I am puzzled by the fact that a Jesus Christ would come channeling through but a Buddha wouldn’t. “Hi, I’m Buddha, and I’m going to channel through now!” Is this the basic difference between Jesus and figures like Buddha, Zarathustra etc. that he is still “around there” somewhere, thus showing he cares? Why is Jesus doing this “now,” and could this be compared to the “coming of the stillness”? In the “original” New Testament Jesus speaks in parables very often, why does he not use this “technique” in A Course in Miracles?
A: This could easily turn into a book-length answer, which of course we are unable to do here — so we will answer briefly and then direct you to some readings. Of utmost importance is your starting point: your understanding of channeling, perception, time, the New Testament, and above all, Jesus. In many ways throughout A Course in Miracles Jesus informs us that we basically do not understand anything. Thus he uses terms like thought-reversal, upside-down thinking, and insane, among others. There are layers and layers and layers of defenses in our minds blocking our access to the truth — and it is our choice that it be this way. So Jesus starts with what we perceive reality to be and then gradually helps us — respectful of our fear and resistance — to dismantle the whole edifice we have built as a substitute for the truth so that we will once again be as God created us. One of the foundation stones of this edifice is that perception tells us what is really “out there” — external reality impinges on us and then we have various internal experiences that make us who we are and our lives the way they are. Jesus explains that we have it all wrong, however: “It is essential it be kept in mind that all perception still is upside down until its purpose has been understood. Perception does not seem to be a means. And it is this that makes it hard to grasp the whole extent to which it must depend on what you see it for. Perception seems to teach you what you see. Yet it but witnesses to what you taught. It is the outward picture of a wish; an image that you wanted to be true” (T.24.VII.8:5,6,7,8,9,10; see also Section 8 in the manual, M.8). What could be more radical or disturbing!
Jumping from this introductory phase of the book we are not writing to its closing chapters — meaning our perception has been corrected and we have experienced the unreality of the separation, of time and all things physical (limited/quantitative) — we realize Jesus and his course represent in form the abstract, formless truth and love that have always been present our minds, but that we erroneously convinced ourselves were lethal to our existence. As separate, individualized existence has become meaningless and without value to us in this advanced state, we realize there is only one Identity, the Son Who is perfectly one with His Father. Perception had simply been a means of convincing ourselves that something else was true as well as this ultimate truth. We had believed that Jesus was an individual, highly evolved being who spoke to and through other individual beings to help them reach his state. That was not wrong, but it was only the bottom rungs of the ladder of spirituality. Making our way up the ladder involves learning to relate to everything in terms of symbols. Anything of form symbolizes a thought or dynamic in the mind, and those thoughts and dynamics are what we increasingly learn to focus on — not the symbol, but what it symbolizes.
Thus, any enlightened, historical figure can be thought of as a symbol of the love and truth that are beyond form. That love and truth come in whatever form we can accept and understand, and in the Western world, Jesus is that symbol. Because of our fear of love without limit, we will allow ourselves to experience it only in forms that are acceptable to us; and so the mistake we typically make is to mistake symbol for source. A Course in Miracles is here to help us recognize these mistakes and accept the correction for them so that lasting, unconditional peace may be restored to our awareness.
For further study: Absence from Felicity, chapter 17; The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course in Miracles, #50 (Buddha); 52, 56 (Jesus and the Bible); and on this Question & Answer Service numbers: 97, and 473ii.