ACIM Text Reading for September 26
Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision
I. The Simplicity of Salvation
How simple is salvation! All it says is what was never true is not true now, and never will be. The impossible has not occurred, and can have no effects. And that is all. Can this be hard to learn by anyone who wants it to be true? Only unwillingness to learn it could make such an easy lesson difficult. How hard is it to see that what is false can not be true, and what is true can not be false? You can no longer say that you perceive no differences in false and true. You have been told exactly how to tell one from the other, and just what to do if you become confused. Why, then, do you persist in learning not such simple things?
There is a reason. But confuse it not with difficulty in the simple things salvation asks you learn. It teaches but the very obvious. It merely goes from one apparent lesson to the next, in easy steps that lead you gently from one to another, with no strain at all. This cannot be confusing, yet you are confused. For somehow you believe that what is totally confused is easier to learn and understand. What you have taught yourself is such a giant learning feat it is indeed incredible. But you accomplished it because you wanted to, and did not pause in diligence to judge it hard to learn or too complex to grasp.
No one who understands what you have learned, how carefully you learned it, and the pains to which you went to practice and repeat the lessons endlessly, in every form you could conceive of them, could ever doubt the power of your learning skill. There is no greater power in the world. The world was made by it, and even now depends on nothing else. The lessons you have taught yourself have been so overlearned and fixed they rise like heavy curtains to obscure the simple and the obvious. Say not you cannot learn them. For your power to learn is strong enough to teach you that your will is not your own, your thoughts do not belong to you, and even you are someone else.
Who could maintain that lessons such as these are easy? Yet you have learned more than this. You have continued, taking every step, however difficult, without complaint, until a world was built that suited you. And every lesson that makes up the world arises from the first accomplishment of learning; an enormity so great the Holy Spirit’s Voice seems small and still before its magnitude. The world began with one strange lesson, powerful enough to render God forgotten, and His Son an alien to himself, in exile from the home where God Himself established him. You who have taught yourself the Son of God is guilty, say not that you cannot learn the simple things salvation teaches you!
Learning is an ability you made and gave yourself. It was not made to do the Will of God, but to uphold a wish that it could be opposed, and that a will apart from it was yet more real than it. And this has learning sought to demonstrate, and you have learned what it was made to teach. Now does your ancient overlearning stand implacable before the Voice of truth, and teach you that Its lessons are not true; too hard to learn, too difficult to see, and too opposed to what is really true. Yet you will learn them, for their learning is the only purpose for your learning skill the Holy Spirit sees in all the world. His simple lessons in forgiveness have a power mightier than yours, because they call from God and from your Self to you.
Is this a little Voice, so small and still It cannot rise above the senseless noise of sounds that have no meaning? God willed not His Son forget Him. And the power of His Will is in the Voice That speaks for Him. Which lesson will you learn? What outcome is inevitable, sure as God, and far beyond all doubt and question? Can it be your little learning, strange in outcome and incredible in difficulty will withstand the simple lessons being taught to you in every moment of each day, since time began and learning had been made?
The lessons to be learned are only two. Each has its outcome in a different world. And each world follows surely from its source. The certain outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guilty is the world you see. It is a world of terror and despair. Nor is there hope of happiness in it. There is no plan for safety you can make that ever will succeed. There is no joy that you can seek for here and hope to find. Yet this is not the only outcome which your learning can produce. However much you may have overlearned your chosen task, the lesson that reflects the Love of God is stronger still. And you will learn God’s Son is innocent, and see another world.
The outcome of the lesson that God’s Son is guiltless is a world in which there is no fear, and everything is lit with hope and sparkles with a gentle friendliness. Nothing but calls to you in soft appeal to be your friend, and let it join with you. And never does a call remain unheard, misunderstood, nor left unanswered in the selfsame tongue in which the call was made. And you will understand it was this call that everyone and everything within the world has always made, but you had not perceived it as it was. And now you see you were mistaken. You had been deceived by forms the call was hidden in. And so you did not hear it, and had lost a friend who always wanted to be part of you. The soft eternal calling of each part of God’s creation to the whole is heard throughout the world this second lesson brings.
There is no living thing that does not share the universal Will that it be whole, and that you do not leave its call unheard. Without your answer is it left to die, as it is saved from death when you have heard its calling as the ancient call to life, and understood that it is but your own. The Christ in you remembers God with all the certainty with which He knows His Love. But only if His Son is innocent can He be Love. For God were fear indeed if he whom He created innocent could be a slave to guilt. God’s perfect Son remembers his creation. But in guilt he has forgotten what he really is.
The fear of God results as surely from the lesson that His Son is guilty as God’s Love must be remembered when he learns his innocence. For hate must father fear, and look upon its father as itself. How wrong are you who fail to hear the call that echoes past each seeming call to death, that sings behind each murderous attack and pleads that love restore the dying world. You do not understand Who calls to you beyond each form of hate; each call to war. Yet you will recognize Him as you give Him answer in the language that He calls. He will appear when you have answered Him, and you will know in Him that God is Love.
What is temptation but a wish to make the wrong decision on what you would learn, and have an outcome that you do not want? It is the recognition that it is a state of mind unwanted that becomes the means whereby the choice is reassessed; another outcome seen to be preferred. You are deceived if you believe you want disaster and disunity and pain. Hear not the call for this within yourself. But listen, rather, to the deeper call beyond it that appeals for peace and joy. And all the world will give you joy and peace. For as you hear, you answer. And behold! Your answer is the proof of what you learned. Its outcome is the world you look upon.
Let us be still an instant, and forget all things we ever learned, all thoughts we had, and every preconception that we hold of what things mean and what their purpose is. Let us remember not our own ideas of what the world is for. We do not know. Let every image held of everyone be loosened from our minds and swept away.
Be innocent of judgment, unaware of any thoughts of evil or of good that ever crossed your mind of anyone. Now do you know him not. But you are free to learn of him, and learn of him anew. Now is he born again to you, and you are born again to him, without the past that sentenced him to die, and you with him. Now is he free to live as you are free, because an ancient learning passed away, and left a place for truth to be reborn.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 26
I will not use the body’s eyes today.
Father, Christ’s vision is Your gift to me, and it has power to translate all that the body’s eyes behold into the sight of a forgiven world. How glorious and gracious is this world! Yet how much more will I perceive in it than sight can give. The world forgiven signifies Your Son acknowledges his Father, lets his dreams be brought to truth, and waits expectantly the one remaining instant more of time which ends forever, as Your memory returns to him. And now his will is one with Yours. His function now is but Your Own, and every thought except Your Own is gone.
The quiet of today will bless our hearts, and through them peace will come to everyone. Christ is our eyes today. And through His sight we offer healing to the world through Him, the holy Son whom God created whole; the holy Son whom God created One.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1116: In the answer to Question #771, you say, “Jesus did not need to forgive those who crucified his body because he was not identified with his body.” In bodies we need to learn to forgive others. The Jesus who appears in the Bible makes the most important quote of his entire career by saying, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” If he had no need to extend forgiveness to those who attacked his body, then why did he ask for those who had attacked his body to be forgiven? If one claims that this Jesus in his petition for forgiveness in the Bible has nothing to do with the Jesus in A Course in Miracles, then we have completely thrown out the baby with the bath water.
While it is easy to recognize the insanity of this world, one can but wonder at the lack of consistency in conflicting statements made throughout the entire texts. If they were in error or mere figures of speech, the distinction is not usually or clearly drawn for the reader. How can inconsistency be consistent with truth? If a thing is true it must always be true.
A: Ah yes, it can all become so very confusing when we try to understand who really said what when, or when we aren’t clear how to differentiate between what is meant literally and what is meant metaphorically in a writing such as the Course, which is much more like a poem than a scientific treatise.
Perhaps the simplest way to respond to your query would be this. The content of the message of the figure we call Jesus who lived two thousand years ago is the same as the content of the message of the Jesus who speaks to us now from outside time and space through the Course. The forms no doubt are different, for a variety of reasons, including differences in the psychological sophistication of the times then and now. However, it is a completely separate question as to whether Jesus’ followers, especially those who attempted to put his good news down in writing two thousand years ago, truly understood his message of love and forgiveness. From the Course’s perspective, if we accept its words as coming from the same source as the Jesus who appeared two thousand years ago in Palestine, the accuracy of the New Testament and its gospels as reports on Jesus’ words and teachings is debatable. Jesus’ followers’ recollections of his message, or what they heard second and third hand from others (ever played the game of “telephone’?), were no doubt distorted by the projections of their own egos.
Jesus comments very explicitly on these distortions in the text:
“The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear: Teach only love, for that is what you are .
“If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the “wrath of God” as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt had made them angry.
“These are some of the examples of upside-down thinking in the New Testament, although its gospel is really only the message of love. If the Apostles had not felt guilty, they never could have quoted me as saying, ‘I come not to bring peace but a sword.’ This is clearly the opposite of everything I taught. Nor could they have described my reactions to Judas as they did, if they had really understood me. I could not have said, ‘Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?’ unless I believed in betrayal. The whole message of the crucifixion was simply that I did not. The ‘punishment’ I was said to have called forth upon Judas was a similar mistake. Judas was my brother and a Son of God, as much a part of the Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I would condemn him when I was ready to demonstrate that condemnation is impossible?
“As you read the teachings of the Apostles, remember that I told them myself that there was much they would understand later, because they were not wholly ready to follow me at the time ” (T.6.I.13;14;15;16:1) .
So you’re going to make yourself crazy if you attempt to reconcile the teachings of the Course with what Jesus’ followers two thousand years ago wrote about what they thought he had said and taught and done. The statement you repeat above as attributed to Jesus by the gospel writers at his crucifixion, if taken literally, would undermine the whole foundation upon which the Course’s teachings on forgiveness rest. If Jesus had believed there was anything to forgive, he would have been making sin real and his request to the Father would be what Jesus in “The Song of Prayer” pamphlet refers to as forgiveness-to-destroy (S.2.I,II) . Jesus in the Course does provide an alternative interpretation of this gospel statement that clearly provides a correction for its original intent: “Miracle-minded forgiveness is onlycorrection. It has no element of judgment at all. The statement ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ in no way evaluates what they do. It is an appeal to God to heal their minds. There is no reference to the outcome of the error. That does not matter” (T.2.V.A.16) .
Now if you feel more drawn to the stories and quotations attributed to Jesus in the New Testament than to his words in the Course, then perhaps the Course is not your path. You are the only one who can decide that. But if the Course is your path, you’ll want to stay focused on its content and not get lost in the ego’s hairsplitting over discrepancies and contradictions. Jesus emphasizes this near the end of the Course:
“This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception….
“All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well. They must, however, be willing to overlook controversy, recognizing that it is a defense against truth in the form of a delaying maneuver…. A universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. Here alone consistency becomes possible because here alone uncertainty ends.
“This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed…. Therefore it uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies beyond symbols. … The course is simple . It has one function [ forgiveness ]and one goal [ peace ]. Only in that does it remain wholly consistent because only that can be consistent” ( C.in.1:1,2; 2:1,2,3,5,6,7; 3:1,3,8,9,10 ).
Finally, in response to your concluding comment: A thing, including the Course, as well as the Bible, can never be true. The content underlying the words can reflect the truth, but the words themselves are not the truth. Teachings can only point to the truth, which is beyond all words and symbols.
For further discussion on the nature of the Course’s use of symbols, The Message of A Course in Miracles, Part II: Few Choose to Listen,as well as the audiotape and CD set, Duality as Metaphor , can be especially helpful.
Q #1117: You mentioned in an earlier answer that recalling the past was a defense against the truth. I know from reading A Course in Miracles that sickness is also one of these defenses. Can you give a list of other common defenses?
A: Since the guilt that arises as the result of the mind’s choice for separation is projected on to the body, everything pertaining to the body is a defense against the truth because it was made as a substitute for the oneness that was abandoned when separation was chosen. A list of defenses contains everything we choose to use to defend and protect belief in separation. It is a long list indeed. Anything that proves the world “real” in our experience defends the mind’s belief in it, thereby denying the truth of oneness. This is the mind’s way of dissociating from itself in its attempt to remain separate from its Source. The truth, however, is that there is no defense against the truth; it can be denied, forgotten, blocked from awareness, but it cannot be changed or extinguished. We read on the first page of the text: “Nothing real (truth) can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists” (T.in.2.3) . It follows that the illusory existence of what is not real (ego/ world) requires constant defense in order for the mind to sustain belief in it by its choice. Thus, the entire made-up physical universe is a defense. Obviously we cannot undo the belief in separation by crossing defenses off our list.
However, we learn in the Course that everything made as a defense against the truth can be used by the Holy Spirit to lead to the truth. Through the process of forgiveness, the entire defense strategy of the ego is transformed into a classroom for learning to accept the truth. The body and the world lose their power to defend against the truth when they are seen as projections of the mind. Willingness to apply this important principle in any situation strengthens belief in the power of the mind and weakens the ego’s defense arsenal. There is no need to fight against the defenses. They need only be recognized as a smokescreen used by the ego to keep truth from awareness. They reflect the mind’s choice to identify with the ego and to forget that it ever made a choice. One of the important goals of the Course is to uncover the ego’s deceptive scheme and expose its defenses so the mind can choose to correct the error of believing in separation and accept its true identity as mind. Anything outside of the mind that is perceived as having any positive or negative effect on the mind’s perfect peace is a defense against it and therefore against the truth. It constitutes a denial of the part of the mind that holds the memory of God’s Love and abides in perfect peace. Being willing to see the ego’s defense strategy at work in every relationship is the beginning of its undoing by the mere fact that it has been exposed. Not justifying the mind’s projections lessens their effectiveness as defenses; not defending the defenses weakens them. Through this gentle practice, the ego’s grip is loosened and eventually undone. The defense list fades and is erased.