ACIM Reading for October 23
Manual for Teachers
20. What Is the Peace of God?
It has been said that there is a kind of peace that is not of this world. How is it recognized? How is it found? And being found, how can it be retained? Let us consider each of these questions separately, for each reflects a different step along the way.
First, how can the peace of God be recognized? God’s peace is recognized at first by just one thing; in every way it is totally unlike all previous experiences. It calls to mind nothing that went before. It brings with it no past associations. It is a new thing entirely. There is a contrast, yes, between this thing and all the past. But strangely, it is not a contrast of true differences. The past just slips away, and in its place is everlasting quiet. Only that. The contrast first perceived has merely gone. Quiet has reached to cover everything.
How is this quiet found? No one can fail to find it who but seeks out its conditions. God’s peace can never come where anger is, for anger must deny that peace exists. Who sees anger as justified in any way or any circumstance proclaims that peace is meaningless, and must believe that it cannot exist. In this condition, peace cannot be found. Therefore, forgiveness is the necessary condition for finding the peace of God. More than this, given forgiveness there must be peace. For what except attack will lead to war? And what but peace is opposite to war? Here the initial contrast stands out clear and apparent. Yet when peace is found, the war is meaningless. And it is conflict now that is perceived as nonexistent and unreal.
How is the peace of God retained, once it is found? Returning anger, in whatever form, will drop the heavy curtain once again, and the belief that peace cannot exist will certainly return. War is again accepted as the one reality. Now must you once again lay down your sword, although you do not recognize that you have picked it up again. But you will learn, as you remember even faintly now what happiness was yours without it, that you must have taken it again as your defense. Stop for a moment now and think of this: Is conflict what you want, or is God’s peace the better choice? Which gives you more? A tranquil mind is not a little gift. Would you not rather live than choose to die?
Living is joy, but death can only weep. You see in death escape from what you made. But this you do not see; that you made death, and it is but illusion of an end. Death cannot be escape, because it is not life in which the problem lies. Life has no opposite, for it is God. Life and death seem to be opposites because you have decided death ends life. Forgive the world, and you will understand that everything that God created cannot have an end, and nothing He did not create is real. In this one sentence is our course explained. In this one sentence is our practicing given its one direction. And in this one sentence is the Holy Spirit’s whole curriculum specified exactly as it is.
What is the peace of God? No more than this; the simple understanding that His Will is wholly without opposite. There is no thought that contradicts His Will, yet can be true. The contrast between His Will and yours but seemed to be reality. In truth there was no conflict, for His Will is yours. Now is the mighty Will of God Himself His gift to you. He does not seek to keep it for Himself. Why would you seek to keep your tiny frail imaginings apart from Him? The Will of God is One and all there is. This is your heritage. The universe beyond the sun and stars, and all the thoughts of which you can conceive, belong to you. God’s peace is the condition for His Will. Attain His peace, and you remember Him.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 23
The Holy Spirit speaks through me today.
The Holy Spirit needs my voice today, that all the world may listen to Your Voice, and hear Your Word through me. I am resolved to let You speak through me, for I would use no words but Yours, and have no thoughts which are apart from Yours, for only Yours are true. I would be savior to the world I made. For having damned it I would set it free, that I may find escape, and hear the Word Your holy Voice will speak to me today.
We teach today what we would learn, and that alone. And so our learning goal becomes an unconflicted one, and possible of easy reach and quick accomplishment. How gladly does the Holy Spirit come to rescue us from hell, when we allow His teaching to persuade the world, through us, to seek and find the easy path to God.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #620: A web search on A Course in Miracles produces many anti-Course articles — everything ranging from the view that the Course is Satan-inspired, to opinions that those who are involved with it are anti-Christian, anti-Biblical cultists. As one who came to the Course after having validated its principles of forgiveness and peace in real life before ever reading a word of them in print, I perpetually wrestle with the fact that I believe in my heart the Course is valid but that its Jesus does contradict the Bible. This is starting to cause me much anguish, as the Bible itself says there will be many false prophets in the end times and to test their words against the Scriptures. I can certainly understand differences in interpretation, but all of the direct contradictions are causing me to have serious doubts.
A: Many students have anguished over this issue, some returning to their prior religious affiliation, and others remaining with the Course. There is no doubt that the theology of the Course and that of the Bible are mutually exclusive. No one can make this decision for you. You should follow whatever path brings you closer to God, and leaves you feeling peaceful, and with love for all people. To make your decision based on fear, though, would seem to be counter- productive, as it would be hard to feel love for a God Who binds you to Himself and His Word out of fear. Fear and love cannot coexist. And there would also continue to be conflict if part of you still believed the Course to be a valid spiritual path.
Some people have said to themselves as they continued with the Course still with lingering doubts and fear that they could be making the wrong decision: What is the worst that can happen? I can always go back — the Course will always be there for me. And what’s wrong with becoming more compassionate, more kind, less judgmental, and less guilty? Suppose I spend the rest of my life undoing my guilt, my hateful thoughts, my fear of love, the obstacles to peace? Would God be upset with me because I got the theology wrong? What do you think???
What might interest you is our book, co-authored by Kenneth Wapnick and Norris Clarke, a Catholic priest/philosopher, A Course in Miracles and Christianity: A Dialogue.
Q #621: My wife and I are both in the army. We got married last July and haven’t been able to spend more than a month total together since, because I just spent a few months in Korea. I returned in November, we were stationed far away from each other during the time before she got sent to Iraq in January, a day before her birthday. I tried really hard to get sent there to be with her, but it’s just not going to happen. I did receive word, however, that I’m going to Afghanistan in a couple months… it’s a lot more dangerous there and my safety isn’t guaranteed. My father, who introduced me to A Course in Miracles, tells me to just smile because everything is as it should be. I am so frustrated and angry at the current situation and I’m not really sure whom I’m supposed to forgive. My wife and I are both students of the teachings of Jesus, but can’t really seem to figure out why our love is constantly being tested. It’s been a long time now since we have seen each other, and this is a constant burden on the both of us. It has been a constant battle with the military since we got married. Why do I feel like we are being attacked? What is your advice for us?
A: Although the Course reminds us that there is no hierarchy among illusions (T.26.VII.6:5), that does not mean that we will not experience some of the times and circumstances of our lives as much more difficult, frustrating and painful than others. Your father meant well, but his advice is not strictly in line with the Course’s teachings. Only through forgiveness can we be certain that we are where we are supposed to be — in our right mind — learning the lessons of forgiveness that we have, on a level we are rarely in touch with, given to ourselves. And we can’t force a smile on ourselves over situations where we still feel unfairly treated and victimized.
So being honest with yourselves, as you are doing, about how you are feeling — not denying what feels like the injustice of it all — is an important first step. But of course you don’t want to stop there. The answer to your question that you’re not sure whom you are supposed to forgive in fact holds the key. For the Course is telling us that we really only ever need to forgive ourselves. We need to forgive ourselves for believing that we can be bereft of love. And our lives, sometimes in subtle and other times in more blatant ways, are set up, by our unconscious choice, to prove to us that we will never have the love we need and deserve. Your repeated forced separations from each other certainly must reinforce that belief that all of us who find ourselves here in the world share.
Many times, we are in situations where we are simply not in control of what happens to us. The army would be a prime example. But the one choice we always have, no matter the external circumstances, is which teacher we will choose to be our guide in interpreting what happens to us. If we choose the ego, we will believe that we are the victim of other people’s choices, which are robbing us of our happiness. If we choose Jesus as our teacher, we will be expressing a willingness to learn that the love and peace we want is always available to us within our own minds, regardless of external circumstances. This is not an easy lesson to learn, and our lives have been set up to prove just the opposite, but the willingness to consider that possibility opens the door at least a crack to a different experience. It is only natural to want to be together, but because you are not together physically does not mean that you’re not still together in the thoughts in your mind. And the Course tells us the mind is where the only genuine experience of joining can be found (T.18.VI.11,12,13,14). In those moments when you can allow yourself this different experience that transcends time and space and the body, you will know that you can never be deprived of what you truly want, regardless of where you find yourself. And over time, with practice, this awareness can grow in your experience until you will want nothing else (W.pI.231.1).