ACIM Reading for October 30
Manual for Teachers
27. What Is Death?
Death is the central dream from which all illusions stem. Is it not madness to think of life as being born, aging, losing vitality, and dying in the end? We have asked this question before, but now we need to consider it more carefully. It is the one fixed, unchangeable belief of the world that all things in it are born only to die. This is regarded as “the way of nature,” not to be raised to question, but to be accepted as the “natural” law of life. The cyclical, the changing and unsure; the undependable and the unsteady, waxing and waning in a certain way upon a certain path,–all this is taken as the Will of God. And no one asks if a benign Creator could will this.
In this perception of the universe as God created it, it would be impossible to think of Him as loving. For who has decreed that all things pass away, ending in dust and disappointment and despair, can but be feared. He holds your little life in his hand but by a thread, ready to break it off without regret or care, perhaps today. Or if he waits, yet is the ending certain. Who loves such a god knows not of love, because he has denied that life is real. Death has become life’s symbol. His world is now a battleground, where contradiction reigns and opposites make endless war. Where there is death is peace impossible.
Death is the symbol of the fear of God. His Love is blotted out in the idea, which holds it from awareness like a shield held up to obscure the sun. The grimness of the symbol is enough to show it cannot coexist with God. It holds an image of the Son of God in which he is “laid to rest” in devastation’s arms, where worms wait to greet him and to last a little while by his destruction. Yet the worms as well are doomed to be destroyed as certainly. And so do all things live because of death. Devouring is nature’s “law of life.” God is insane, and fear alone is real.
The curious belief that there is part of dying things that may go on apart from what will die, does not proclaim a loving God nor re-establish any grounds for trust. If death is real for anything, there is no life. Death denies life. But if there is reality in life, death is denied. No compromise in this is possible. There is either a god of fear or One of Love. The world attempts a thousand compromises, and will attempt a thousand more. Not one can be acceptable to God’s teachers, because not one could be acceptable to God. He did not make death because He did not make fear. Both are equally meaningless to Him.
The “reality” of death is firmly rooted in the belief that God’s Son is a body. And if God created bodies, death would indeed be real. But God would not be loving. There is no point at which the contrast between the perception of the real world and that of the world of illusions becomes more sharply evident. Death is indeed the death of God, if He is Love. And now His Own creation must stand in fear of Him. He is not Father, but destroyer. He is not Creator, but avenger. Terrible His Thoughts and fearful His image. To look on His creations is to die.
“And the last to be overcome will be death.” Of course! Without the idea of death there is no world. All dreams will end with this one. This is salvation’s final goal; the end of all illusions. And in death are all illusions born. What can be born of death and still have life? But what is born of God and still can die? The inconsistencies, the compromises and the rituals the world fosters in its vain attempts to cling to death and yet to think love real are mindless magic, ineffectual and meaningless. God is, and in Him all created things must be eternal. Do you not see that otherwise He has an opposite, and fear would be as real as love?
Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which death plays a part. Do not believe in cruelty, nor let attack conceal the truth from you. What seems to die has but been misperceived and carried to illusion. Now it becomes your task to let the illusion be carried to the truth. Be steadfast but in this; be not deceived by the “reality” of any changing form. Truth neither moves nor wavers nor sinks down to death and dissolution. And what is the end of death? Nothing but this; the realization that the Son of God is guiltless now and forever. Nothing but this. But do not let yourself forget it is not less than this.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 30
The holy Christ is born in me today.
Watch with me, angels, watch with me today. Let all God’s holy Thoughts surround me, and be still with me while Heaven’s Son is born. Let earthly sounds be quiet, and the sights to which I am accustomed disappear. Let Christ be welcomed where He is at home. And let Him hear the sounds He understands, and see but sights that show His Father’s Love. Let Him no longer be a stranger here, for He is born again in me today.
Your Son is welcome, Father. He has come to save me from the evil self I made. He is the Self that You have given me. He is but what I really am in truth. He is the Son You love above all things. He is my Self as You created me. It is not Christ that can be crucified. Safe in Your Arms let me receive Your Son.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #153: In “To Be Or Not To Be,” Ken stated that we all attempt to cheat death in various ways, only to preserve our individuality. Within the illusion doesn’t reincarnation do the same thing? We “live,” we “die,” only to “live” again, just to keep the ego alive and well. At some point we must choose the right-minded tape….Could you please comment on this.
A. Yes, reincarnation preserves our individuality, as well as the illusion of time. However, the purpose of multiple reincarnations — as traditionally defined in the different systems — is to have as many opportunities as are needed to complete one’s learning, so that the cycle of birth and death may be ended permanently. In A Course in Miracles, as you probably know, Jesus states that “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?’” (M.24.1:1,2,3,4). And in the discussion that follows, he concludes that any belief that leads to progress in accepting the Atonement for ourselves should be honored (M.24.6). Thus it comes down to form and content.
Q #91-a: I have been watching a TV show called “Crossing Over” by John Edward. This fellow appears sincere and loving and able to communicate with the “dead.” How does this reconcile with the Course, or in other words how does the Course look at this. Just another illusion?
Q #91-b: Jesus talks about all Life as being part of God, and I can get a sense of that in humans, but what about dogs and cats for instance? They seem to have a soul and if you listen to people like Jonathan Edward he says that the people he contacts have old pets with them. Dogs and cats seem to be part of the Son of God. What about “lower” animals like a rat? I know that this is probably silly, but I’m curious about your thoughts.
A: These questions deal with both metaphysical and worldly (dream) levels. From a metaphysical standpoint, Jesus makes the Course’s view of communication with the dead perfectly clear in the Laws of Chaos section: “There is no life outside of Heaven. Where God created life, there life must be. In any state apart from Heaven life is illusion….Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere” (T.23.II.19:1,2,3,6). So there is only the illusion of life in this world.
Yet we who experience “life” in this world grapple daily with the “hierarchy of illusions” (T.23.II.2:3); life, death, animate, inanimate, human, animal, etc. There are people who communicate with the “dead,” with the “living” (from great distances), foresee the future, see the distant past, etc. These experiences, as well as innumerable others, are possible on this worldly level, or level of the dream, because they reflect the workings of the mind. And since we know the mind is one, then it should not be surprising that people can “connect” with each other. Just because we believe that we are separate and independent from everything else in this world does not mean that it is true. And having “forgotten” our origin, communicating in a way like Jonathan Edward does seems incredible to us. This type of communication however, reflects the property of the mind being one, and is our natural form of communication. So as you can see, there is no difference in communication between “live” bodies, “dead” bodies, or “live and dead” bodies. There are no bodies; only mind.
And questions about “higher” and “lower” are not silly, since we all want to know how the hierarchy of our world fits into the hierarchy of God’s world. And that word, “hierarchy,” should give us a clue as to the answer. The Course teaches that all forms of life here are the same; i.e., all are our projections of the ego thought of separation from God, and it also teaches that God’s world has no hierarchy, no levels, no differences. God, and His One Son, Christ, are totally unified, which is a concept we are unable to understand with a brain that has been made to only understand duality. But we can at least intellectually understand that the thought of separation in the mind is one of content, not form. And so the form that this thought of separation takes, — animate or inanimate, protozoan or mammal — is irrelevant.
And finally, remembering that this world is a “dream,” you undoubtedly know from your own experience that anything can happen in a dream. “Does not a world that seems quite real arise in dreams? Yet think what this world is. It is clearly not the world you saw before you slept….Dreams…are the best example you could have of how perception can be utilized to substitute illusions for truth. You do not take them seriously on awaking because the fact that reality is so outrageously violated in them becomes apparent. Yet they are a way of looking at the world, and changing it to suit the ego better”(T.18.II.1:1,2,3.2:1,2,3,4).