ACIM Text Reading for September 28
Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision
III. The Self-Accused
Only the self-accused condemn. As you prepare to make a choice that will result in different outcomes, there is first one thing that must be overlearned. It must become a habit of response so typical of everything you do that it becomes your first response to all temptation, and to every situation that occurs. Learn this, and learn it well, for it is here delay of happiness is shortened by a span of time you cannot realize. You never hate your brother for his sins, but only for your own. Whatever form his sins appear to take, it but obscures the fact that you believe them to be yours, and therefore meriting a “just” attack.
Why should his sins be sins, if you did not believe they could not be forgiven in you? Why are they real in him, if you did not believe that they are your reality? And why do you attack them everywhere except you hate yourself? Are you a sin? You answer “yes” whenever you attack, for by attack do you assert that you are guilty, and must give as you deserve. And what can you deserve but what you are? If you did not believe that you deserved attack, it never would occur to you to give attack to anyone at all. Why should you? What would be the gain to you? What could the outcome be that you would want? And how could murder bring you benefit?
Sins are in bodies. They are not perceived in minds. They are not seen as purposes, but actions. Bodies act, and minds do not. And therefore must the body be at fault for what it does. It is not seen to be a passive thing, obeying your commands, and doing nothing of itself at all. If you are sin you are a body, for the mind acts not. And purpose must be in the body, not the mind. The body must act on its own, and motivate itself. If you are sin you lock the mind within the body, and you give its purpose to its prison house, which acts instead of it. A jailer does not follow orders, but enforces orders on the prisoner.
Yet is the body prisoner, and not the mind. The body thinks no thoughts. It has no power to learn, to pardon, nor enslave. It gives no orders that the mind need serve, nor sets conditions that it must obey. It holds in prison but the willing mind that would abide in it. It sickens at the bidding of the mind that would become its prisoner. And it grows old and dies, because that mind is sick within itself. Learning is all that causes change. And so the body, where no learning can occur, could never change unless the mind preferred the body change in its appearances, to suit the purpose given by the mind. For mind can learn, and there is all change made.
The mind that thinks it is a sin has but one purpose; that the body be the source of sin, to keep it in the prison house it chose and guards and holds itself at bay, a sleeping prisoner to the snarling dogs of hate and evil, sickness and attack; of pain and age, of grief and suffering. Here are the thoughts of sacrifice preserved, for here guilt rules, and orders that the world be like itself; a place where nothing can find mercy, nor survive the ravages of fear except in murder and in death. For here are you made sin, and sin cannot abide the joyous and the free, for they are enemies which sin must kill. In death is sin preserved, and those who think that they are sin must die for what they think they are.
Let us be glad that you will see what you believe, and that it has been given you to change what you believe. The body will but follow. It can never lead you where you would not be. It does not guard your sleep, nor interfere with your awakening. Release your body from imprisonment, and you will see no one as prisoner to what you have escaped. You will not want to hold in guilt your chosen enemies, nor keep in chains, to the illusion of a changing love, the ones you think are friends.
The innocent release in gratitude for their release. And what they see upholds their freedom from imprisonment and death. Open your mind to change, and there will be no ancient penalty exacted from your brother or yourself. For God has said there is no sacrifice that can be asked; there is no sacrifice that can be made.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 28
How can illusions satisfy God’s Son?
Father, the truth belongs to me. My home is set in Heaven by Your Will and mine. Can dreams content me? Can illusions bring me happiness? What but Your memory can satisfy Your Son? I will accept no less than You have given me. I am surrounded by Your Love, forever still, forever gentle and forever safe. God’s Son must be as You created him.
Today we pass illusions by. And if we hear temptation call to us to stay and linger in a dream, we turn aside and ask ourselves if we, the Sons of God, could be content with dreams, when Heaven can be chosen just as easily as hell, and love will happily replace all fear.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #42: Does A Course in Miracles refer to “God” as an interactive god who makes changes and alterations to our physical and worldly existence in relation to our daily actions? The Course initially states that we are changeless but later refers to all the various changes which we make as we progress. I do not understand if we are capable of making any changes or not? If we are changeless, why bother doing anything at all because we are what we are anyway.
A: Although much of the Course refers to God in personal terms, as if He were a concerned Father, distinct from His children, who is watching over us, when we understand the basic metaphysical teachings of the Course on God, it becomes apparent that these kinds of personal, human references to God can not be meant literally. They represent the Course’s attempt to “use the language that this [finite] mind can understand, in the condition [of separation] in which it thinks it is” (T.25.I.7:4) and to correct the misperceptions we hold of God from our ego interpretation of God as an angry, vengeful Father who seeks to punish us for our attacks on Him.
The Course spends very little time on the impossible task of describing to our limited, finite minds the true nature of God, His creations, and reality — “there is no symbol for totality” (T.27.III.5:1) — but there are a few attempts. For example, from the workbook, “What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.12:4). And acknowledging the impossibility of capturing in words That Which is beyond all concepts and symbols: “Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say ‘God is,’ and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is” (W.p.I.169.5).
So God, Who is “All in all” (T.7.IV.7:4), can not act on a part of Himself, as if it were separate from Him. And even to refer to Him as “Him” is to attribute a personal nature to the Source of all that in reality is totally abstract. The Course therefore does not describe God as interacting with his children in the world. That role is given to the Holy Spirit as the Voice for God, providing the Holy Spirit a symbolic function, unlike the Father and the Son (T.5.I.4:1). But since the world is all a projection of the basic ego illusion, which has no reality, there really is no world in which the Holy Spirit intervenes, only a mind that believes there is a world. And even then the Voice for God has no active function in the mind — “It merely reminds” (T.5.II.7:4) us of the truth about ourselves and God, which has never changed.
The Course also refers to God as “the Changeless,” (W.pI.112.2:2) and “Formlessness” (W.pI.186.14:1), Who creates “only the changeless” (T.6.IV.12:4). Consequently, it is inconceivable that He could be involved in making changes and alterations in a world of form.
And that brings us to the second question you raise about our changelessness. In our reality as spirit, nothing has changed and we remain sinless, perfect and at one with our Source — this is the principle of the Atonement, repeated numerous times throughout the Course. It is in this sense that we are truly changeless. But clearly this is not what we believe or experience about ourselves. And so the Course does not simply assert what is real and true and leave it at that. That would not be of any help to us, trapped as we seem to be in the morass of our mistaken beliefs. So the Course accepts us where we think we are, acknowledging that we believe that we are each a separate physical being, living as a body in a world of time and space, struggling against forces that seem to be beyond our control. And it offers us the means — forgiveness, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit — to find the way out of this meaningless, senseless maze of beliefs in which we have imprisoned ourselves (T.26.V.4:1). Not because any of it is real, but only because we believe it is. And so long as we believe we have changed ourselves from our true reality as Christ, we will need to move through a seeming process of change that undoes all the changes we believe we have introduced into our identity, until we at last realize that in reality nothing has changed at all and we are back at home in the Heaven we never left, where we have always been. So this is a process of undoing, and not really doing at all. And any change we may seem to experience in the process of undoing our mistaken beliefs is as illusory as the initial thought of change that seemed to expel us from Heaven. But while we hold on to the belief that change is both possible and real, then change will be our experience. And our only choice will be whether to seek for change that reinforces guilt and separation and seems to take us even farther from our true home, or change that results from the practice of forgiveness in the context of our worldly relationships, allowing us to return.