ACIM Reading for October 27
Manual for Teachers
24. Is Reincarnation So?
In the ultimate sense, reincarnation is impossible. There is no past or future, and the idea of birth into a body has no meaning either once or many times. Reincarnation cannot, then, be true in any real sense. Our only question should be, “Is the concept helpful?” And that depends, of course, on what it is used for. If it is used to strengthen the recognition of the eternal nature of life, it is helpful indeed. Is any other question about it really useful in lighting up the way? Like many other beliefs, it can be bitterly misused. At least, such misuse offers preoccupation and perhaps pride in the past. At worst, it induces inertia in the present. In between, many kinds of folly are possible.
Reincarnation would not, under any circumstances, be the problem to be dealt with now. If it were responsible for some of the difficulties the individual faces now, his task would still be only to escape from them now. If he is laying the groundwork for a future life, he can still work out his salvation only now. To some, there may be comfort in the concept, and if it heartens them its value is self-evident. It is certain, however, that the way to salvation can be found by those who believe in reincarnation and by those who do not. The idea cannot, therefore, be regarded as essential to the curriculum. There is always some risk in seeing the present in terms of the past. There is always some good in any thought which strengthens the idea that life and the body are not the same.
For our purposes, it would not be helpful to take any definite stand on reincarnation. A teacher of God should be as helpful to those who believe in it as to those who do not. If a definite stand were required of him, it would merely limit his usefulness, as well as his own decision making. Our course is not concerned with any concept that is not acceptable to anyone, regardless of his formal beliefs. His ego will be enough for him to cope with, and it is not the part of wisdom to add sectarian controversies to his burdens. Nor would there be an advantage in his premature acceptance of the course merely because it advocates a long-held belief of his own.
It cannot be too strongly emphasized that this course aims at a complete reversal of thought. When this is finally accomplished, issues such as the validity of reincarnation become meaningless. Until then, they are likely to be merely controversial. The teacher of God is, therefore, wise to step away from all such questions, for he has much to teach and learn apart from them. He should both learn and teach that theoretical issues but waste time, draining it away from its appointed purpose. If there are aspects to any concept or belief that will be helpful, he will be told about it. He will also be told how to use it. What more need he know?
Does this mean that the teacher of God should not believe in reincarnation himself, or discuss it with others who do? The answer is, certainly not! If he does believe in reincarnation, it would be a mistake for him to renounce the belief unless his internal Teacher so advised. And this is most unlikely. He might be advised that he is misusing the belief in some way that is detrimental to his pupil’s advance or his own. Reinterpretation would then be recommended, because it is necessary. All that must be recognized, however, is that birth was not the beginning, and death is not the end. Yet even this much is not required of the beginner. He need merely accept the idea that what he knows is not necessarily all there is to learn. His journey has begun.
The emphasis of this course always remains the same;–it is at this moment that complete salvation is offered you, and it is at this moment that you can accept it. This is still your one responsibility. Atonement might be equated with total escape from the past and total lack of interest in the future. Heaven is here. There is nowhere else. Heaven is now. There is no other time. No teaching that does not lead to this is of concern to God’s teachers. All beliefs will point to this if properly interpreted. In this sense, it can be said that their truth lies in their usefulness. All beliefs that lead to progress should be honored. This is the sole criterion this course requires. No more than this is necessary.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 27
Only an instant does this world endure.
This is a thought which can be used to say that death and sorrow are the certain lot of all who come here, for their joys are gone before they are possessed, or even grasped. Yet this is also the idea that lets no false perception keep us in its hold, nor represent more than a passing cloud upon a sky eternally serene. And it is this serenity we seek, unclouded, obvious and sure, today.
We seek Your holy world today. For we, Your loving Sons, have lost our way a while. But we have listened to Your Voice, and learned exactly what to do to be restored to Heaven and our true Identity. And we give thanks today the world endures but for an instant. We would go beyond that tiny instant to eternity.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #242: I am confused by A Course in Miracles’ use of the word conditions. We are not to ask for help with the “release of fear,” but rather to ask “for help in the conditions that have brought the fear about.” Would you say it’s also appropriate to ask for help in bringing “proper learning conditions” about?…for help in bringing about the conditions for peace?…for help in bringing about the conditions for love?…etc. I assume it’s talking about conditions of mind.
A: Yes, the term conditions always refers to a choice made in our minds, which accounts for our lack of peace, for our not being aware of love’s presence, etc. The point of the passage you are referring to (T.2.VI.4) is that Jesus was helping Helen and all of us to learn to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, so that we can get back in touch with the power of our minds to choose. We essentially chose to repress this power and become mindless instead when we gave our allegiance to the ego. So Jesus is saying that it really would not be helpful to us in the long run, if he simply took our fear away from us, without our having learned that it is there only because of our ongoing choice to prefer separation to oneness (the conditions that led to the fear). He tells us several paragraphs later: “You may still complain about fear, but you nevertheless persist in making yourself fearful. I have already indicated that you cannot ask me to release you from fear. I know it does not exist, but you do not. If I intervened between your thoughts and their results, I would be tampering with a basic law of cause and effect; the most fundamental law there is. I would hardly help you if I depreciated the power of your own thinking. This would be in direct opposition to the purpose of this course. It is much more helpful to remind you that you do not guard your thoughts carefully enough” (T.2.VII.1:2,3,4,5,6,7).
So Jesus is emphasizing the importance of guarding our thoughts very carefully, just as the entire workbook comes back over and over again to the importance of our being vigilant about our thoughts. That is what he wants to help us with: looking at how willing we are to keep ourselves separate and special, how willing we are to see others as the sinners and ourselves as innocent victims. These are the conditions that result in our fear and our lack of peace, etc.
Thus is it very appropriate to ask for help in bringing about the conditions that would facilitate our learning, and that would bring about the conditions for peace and love, etc. If we were to look with him at all of our ego thoughts, and then let them go, fear and guilt would vanish forever, and then the love that had been blocked by the fear would be our only reality. All fear and guilt rest on our willingness to choose against the love of Jesus and for the ego, which ensures our survival as separate individuals.
Finally, if we ask him to help us look at our choice to keep him away, then we have already begun the process of correcting that choice. That is the kind of help that would benefit us most.
Q #157: In his teaching, Ken Wapnick says that God doesn’t even know that we exist; that we are here in the world. Where in A Course in Miracles does it say that, or what passage implies that? I don’t have a problem with the statement, because I understand that in the Course “existence” refers to our belief in the ego, the belief that we are bodies, and “being” refers to our state of oneness in Heaven. So it would make sense that God does not “know” us in our ego state. But can you clarify where it comes from? Also, where in the Course does Jesus make reference to the “decision maker” that Ken refers to so often?
A: The statement that God does not even know that we exist, as you suggest, follows from an understanding of the Course’s metaphysics. The self we believe we are, here in the world, is an illusory projection of an illusory thought in an illusory split mind. It has no reality. God, Who is total Oneness, can not know anything that is not a part of that total Oneness, and His knowing cannot involve a separate observer and an observed. If God knew of our existence in this world, the separation would be real. But the Course asserts over and over again that the separation never happened in reality — the principle of the Atonement (e.g., T.2.I.4:4; T.2.VII.6:7,8,9).
Although the specific wording you ask about is never used in the Course, there are a number of passages that clearly imply that God does not know of our existence here. Among them are the following: “God and His creations remain in surety, and therefore know that no miscreations exist” (T.3.IV.7:1). “God did create spirit in His Own Thought and of a quality like to His Own. There is nothing else” (T.3.V.7:3,4). A little later, speaking of our self and God’s Self, Jesus observes, “They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive and the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication” (T.4.I.2:11,12). And in the next section:“The ego’s ceaseless attempts to gain the spirit’s acknowledgement and thus establish its own existence are useless. Spirit in its knowledge is unaware of the ego. It does not attack it; it merely cannot conceive of it at all” (T.4.II.8:5,6,7).
The word decision maker as Ken has used it in his teaching is not found in the Course itself. The Course’s one use of that phrase speaks of our resistance to recognizing the power of decision that resides in the mind, preferring instead to see “the body… [as] the decision maker” (M.5.II.1:7). Although that one instance is not describing the mind, the point being made is that the mind and not the body is the decision maker. The word decision maker thus is a convenient shorthand for referring to the part of the split mind that the Course is addressing throughout. It clearly can not be addressing the self that we believe we are, for the Course repeatedly reminds us that that self is not real and that the brain that we believe makes choices has no power at all. For example, in the workbook Jesus, with some amusement, observes, “You also believe the body’s brain can think. If you but understood the nature of thought, you could but laugh at this insane idea.” W.pI.92.2:1,2).
That the focus should be on the decision making power of our mind is most appropriate when we consider that Jesus emphasizes that “the power of decision is your one remaining freedom as a prisoner of this world. You can decide to see it [the world] right” (T.12.VII.9:1,2). And later, “Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours” (T.14.III.4:1,2,3; italics added). The centrality of the concept of choice or decision to Course teachings is evident when we consider that variations on the words choose and decide are used well over a thousand times across the three volumes of the Course. And the concluding section of the text, “Choose Once Again” (T.31.VIII), is a beautiful paean to choice.