ACIM Reading for November 5
Clarification of Terms
Forgiveness – The Face of Christ
Forgiveness is for God and toward God but not of Him. It is impossible to think of anything He created that could need forgiveness. Forgiveness, then, is an illusion, but because of its purpose, which is the Holy Spirit’s, it has one difference. Unlike all other illusions it leads away from error and not towards it.
Forgiveness might be called a kind of happy fiction; a way in which the unknowing can bridge the gap between their perception and the truth. They cannot go directly from perception to knowledge because they do not think it is their will to do so. This makes God appear to be an enemy instead of what He really is. And it is just this insane perception that makes them unwilling merely to rise up and to return to Him in peace.
And so they need an illusion of help because they are helpless; a Thought of peace because they are in conflict. God knows what His Son needs before he asks. He is not at all concerned with form, but having given the content it is His Will that it be understood. And that suffices. The form adapts itself to need; the content is unchanging, as eternal as its Creator.
The face of Christ has to be seen before the memory of God can return. The reason is obvious. Seeing the face of Christ involves perception. No one can look on knowledge. But the face of Christ is the great symbol of forgiveness. It is salvation. It is the symbol of the real world. Whoever looks on this no longer sees the world. He is as near to Heaven as is possible outside the gate. Yet from this gate it is no more than just a step inside. It is the final step. And this we leave to God.
Forgiveness is a symbol, too, but as the symbol of His Will alone it cannot be divided. And so the unity that it reflects becomes His Will. It is the only thing still in the world in part, and yet the bridge to Heaven.
God’s Will is all there is. We can but go from nothingness to everything; from hell to Heaven. Is this a journey? No, not in truth, for truth goes nowhere. But illusions shift from place to place; from time to time. The final step is also but a shift. As a perception it is part unreal. And yet this part will vanish. What remains is peace eternal and the Will of God.
There are no wishes now for wishes change. Even the wished-for can become unwelcome. That must be so because the ego cannot be at peace. But Will is constant, as the gift of God. And what He gives is always like Himself. This is the purpose of the face of Christ. It is the gift of God to save His Son. But look on this and you have been forgiven.
How lovely does the world become in just that single instant when you see the truth about yourself reflected there. Now you are sinless and behold your sinlessness. Now you are holy and perceive it so. And now the mind returns to its Creator; the joining of the Father and the Son, the Unity of unities that stands behind all joining but beyond them all. God is not seen but only understood. His Son is not attacked but recognized.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 5
I will not fear to look within today.
Within me is eternal innocence, because it is God’s Will that it be there forever and forever. I, His Son, whose will is limitless as is His Own, can will no change in this. For to deny my Father’s Will is to deny my own. To look within is but to find my will as God created it, and as it is. I fear to look within because I think I made another will that is not true, and made it real. Yet it has no effects. Within me is the Holiness of God. Within me is the memory of Him.
The step I take today, my Father, is my sure release from idle dreams of sin. Your altar stands serene and undefiled. It is the holy altar to my Self, and there I find my true Identity.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #89: The course says we are not our body. The Christ Self is in us and we are not in a body. The real Self the Christ is in Holiness. Where are we then? Everything is inside but not inside the body then where? Is it the place before I became a body? Where was I before I took a body form? Is that where the Christ and my real Self is? If individual consciousness does not exist there, how does one know the place when he is there? Or is (not knowing) real knowledge.
A: We are at a distinct disadvantage in trying to answer these questions, which are everyone’s questions. The reason is that we have no way of conceptualizing or understanding what does not have physical (quantifiable) dimensions. And that is precisely what the Christ Self is — beyond time and space entirely. Therefore “where” does not apply — “where” always has spatial connotations, as do the terms inside and outside. We have no concepts nor a language that can encompass non-physical reality. And to take this one step further, we are trying to understand a realm of reality which we have chosen to banish from our awareness, and/or have changed its true meaning entirely. Moreover, the body (i.e., the brain) was specifically made not to understand (T.18.IX.4,5). So we are really severely “disabled” when we start grappling with these issues, and yet they are vitally important to us.
Indeed, we can say that the Christ Self is nowhere, which is “where” we were before we took bodily form, and we will have no trouble recognizing it when we return because it is not a place, and besides, we never left. Okay, now that you are even more confused, let’s see if we can unravel this a bit:
We are told that “to be without a body is to be in our natural state” (W.pI.72.9:3), but that “what you have done to hurt your mind has made it so unnatural that it does not remember what is natural to it. And when you are told what is natural, you cannot understand it” (T.16.II.3:1,2). This is our predicament. We have hurt our minds by denying we have a mind and thinking instead that we are bodies. We continue to do this — although we are not aware that we are making these choices — so that we can keep the separation going. Thus we think physical existence is real, and our true Self is an unknown and distant reality. When we no longer have a need to deny our true Identity as spirit, as Christ, we will simply be what we always have been. We never truly “became” a body. We remain decision-making minds simply fantasizing or hallucinating that we are something other than our Christ Self. As a result, there would not be a problem recognizing “where” we are when we no longer are “in” a body, because we are never “in” a body at all. The mind just chooses to think it is a body. Our body is just an idea in the mind, and since “ideas leave not their source,” it has no reality outside the mind that thinks it. That is why Jesus concentrates so much on the need to look within our minds with him — so that we would become aware of this thought system, which we have chosen to govern all of our thinking and perception.
The following quote nicely expresses some of these points: “The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained. I can make you aware of the conditions of truth, but the experience is of God. Together we can meet its conditions, but truth will dawn upon you of itself” (T.8.VI.9:6,7,8,9,10,11).
The conditions Jesus is talking about of course pertain to forgiveness, which is why it is the central theme of his teachings. A major effect of practicing forgiveness is that our identification with the body automatically begins to weaken and is replaced by more frequent perceptions of our oneness with each other beyond the body. So as we continue to forgive ourselves and others, we gradually allow back into our awareness what we had been denying by believing we are individuals living in a physical world with separate and competing interests and goals. As we make our way back up the ladder separation led us down (T.28.III.1:2), our identity shifts slowly and the kinds of questions you raise begin to fade and ultimately disappear, because they have come from the perspective of bodily, individualized existence, and that perspective has now shifted.