ACIM Text Reading for October 2
Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision
VII. The Savior’s Vision
Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful, nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognize. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation’s task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world’s concepts are the guilty “bad”; the “good” are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the “good” to pardon him the “bad.” Nor does he trust the “good” in anyone, believing that the “bad” must lurk behind. This concept emphasizes treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the “bad” in you.
You could not recognize your “evil” thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another “crime.” You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But should one brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed. Your “evil” thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer do you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you give your trust to what is good in him, you give it to the good in you.
In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the “baser” part of you, and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid that God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.
You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself, which can be interchanged but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself, because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.
Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your “evil” thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself that now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand, that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one that brings the peace of God.
The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed, unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace, that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world, instead of as salvation’s enemy?
The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them.
Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a savior to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself, and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon, to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ, and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this one. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.
The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him. The sword of judgment is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is, and thus what you must be.
What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable, and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a savior to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial savior would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet; the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.
Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the savior of the Son of God? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within, and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon, that he may be what they expect of him. This is the savior’s vision; that he see his innocence in all he looks upon, and see his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.
Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not. And from that wish a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For seeing can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see, or keep yourself apart and separate.
The savior’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgment made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognizing this, it merely asks, “What is the meaning of what I behold?” Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.
Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.
Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the savior’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their savior stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, “Release My Son!” be tempted not to listen, when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 2
God’s healing Voice protects all things today.
Let us today attend the Voice for God, which speaks an ancient lesson, no more true today than any other day. Yet has this day been chosen as the time when we will seek and hear and learn and understand. Join me in hearing. For the Voice for God tells us of things we cannot understand alone, nor learn apart. It is in this that all things are protected. And in this the healing of the Voice for God is found.
Your healing Voice protects all things today, and so I leave all things to You. I need be anxious over nothing. For Your Voice will tell me what to do and where to go; to whom to speak and what to say to him, what thoughts to think, what words to give the world. The safety that I bring is given me. Father, Your Voice protects all things through me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #177: Is it necessary to comprehend the mythology in order to begin study of A Course in Miracles, and to use the principles of the Course properly? I have great trouble with the metaphysics of the Course surrounding the origin of guilt yet the practical applications of the Course (i.e., choosing the ego or Jesus as your teacher) seem logical and helpful. Can I truly practice forgiveness as the Course defines it if I don’t really accept the Course’s mythology surrounding the origin of the world?
A: The benefit of practicing forgiveness is that we will feel better, because we will be letting go of the pain of self-deception involved in blaming others for our problems. It is practical in that sense. And it is very comforting to know that there is a loving, wise teacher within, of whom we can always ask help. We can go along nicely with that for quite some time, and even stay on that level indefinitely if we so choose. The Course can be used that way, and be of tremendous personal benefit and comfort. The metaphysical principles of the Course are not needed to experience the gentle guidance of Jesus, and to withdraw our projections of guilt onto others. If staying on that level brings one closer to God, what could be wrong with it?
But since you specifically mentioned “forgiveness as the Course defines it,” it is necessary to go further. And so we will. The beginning and the end of the Introduction to the workbook shed some further light on this. Jesus begins by talking about the relationship between the text and the workbook: “A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in the workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of the workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth” (W.in.1).
At the end of the Introduction to the workbook (W.in.8,9), Jesus acknowledges the problems of credulity and resistance we probably will run into regarding the ideas and concepts presented in the lessons. And his advice to us is to concentrate only on using and applying the ideas exactly as he directs us to do, without judging them or evaluating them, because their meaning and their truth will be manifested to us through our using them.
The implication would seem to be that somewhere along the line, the student is going to come face-to-face with the theoretical principles of the Course. For example, as it becomes clear that forgiveness means forgiving the other person for what he did not do — a truly startling, deeply challenging statement — we are led ultimately to question the reality of guilt itself. That would take us directly to the metaphysical dimension of the Course. Indeed, the Course’s view of forgiveness cannot be fully appreciated without being aware of its metaphysical underpinnings. It would be too easy to slide into the traditional view of forgiving what truly happened if the illusory nature of sin and guilt were not an integral part of one’s thinking and approach to grievances.
The answer to your question, therefore, is both yes and no. One can benefit from practicing forgiveness and turning to Jesus for guidance; but the process of forgiveness as presented in the Course would be short-circuited and not fully appreciated if the Course’s theory of the origin of guilt were ignored. If this theory were explicitly not accepted, it would make the practice of the Course’s version of forgiveness impossible.