ACIM Reading for November 23
The Song of Prayer
1.- III. Praying for Others
1. We said that prayer is always for yourself, and this is so. Why, then, should you pray for others at all? And if you should, how should you do it? Praying for others, if rightly understood, becomes a means for lifting your projections of guilt from your brother, and enabling you to recognize it is not he who is hurting you. The poisonous thought that he is your enemy, your evil counterpart, your nemesis, must be relinquished before you can be saved from guilt. For this the means is prayer, of rising power and with ascending goals, until it reaches even up to God.
2. The earlier forms of prayer, at the bottom of the ladder, will not be free from envy and malice. They call for vengeance, not for love. Nor do they come from one who understands that they are calls for death, made out of fear by those who cherish guilt. They call upon a vengeful god, and it is he who seems to answer them. Hell cannot be asked for another, and then escaped by him who asks for it. Only those who are in hell can ask for hell. Those who have been forgiven, and who accepted their forgiveness, could never make a prayer like that.
3. At these levels, then, the learning goal must be to recognize that prayer will bring an answer only in the form in which the prayer was made. This is enough. From here it will be an easy step to the next levels. The next ascent begins with this:
What I have asked for for my brother is not what I would have.
Thus have I made of him my enemy.
It is apparent that this step cannot be reached by anyone who sees no value or advantage to himself in setting others free. This may be long delayed, because it may seem to be dangerous instead of merciful. To the guilty there seems indeed to be a real advantage in having enemies, and this imagined gain must go, if enemies are to be set free.
4. Guilt must be given up, and not concealed. Nor can this be done without some pain, and a glimpse of the merciful nature of this step may for some time be followed by a deep retreat into fear. For fear’s defenses are fearful in themselves, and when they are recognized they bring their fear with them. Yet what advantage has an illusion of escape ever brought a prisoner? His real escape from guilt can lie only in the recognition that the guilt has gone. And how can this be recognized as long as he hides it in another, and does not see it as his own? Fear of escape makes it difficult to welcome freedom, and to make a jailer of an enemy seems to be safety. How, then, can he be released without an insane fear for yourself? You have made of him your salvation and your escape from guilt. Your investment in this escape is heavy, and your fear of letting it go is strong.
5. Stand still an instant, now, and think what you have done. Do not forget that it is you who did it, and who can therefore let it go. Hold out your hand. This enemy has come to bless you. Take his blessing, and feel how your heart is lifted and your fear released. Do not hold on to it, nor onto him. He is a Son of God, along with you. He is no jailer, but a messenger of Christ. Be this to him, that you may see him thus.
6. It is not easy to realize that prayers for things, for status, for human love, for external “gifts” of any kind, are always made to set up jailers and to hide from guilt. These things are used for goals that substitute for God, and therefore distort the purpose of prayer. The desire for them is the prayer. One need not ask explicitly. The goal of God is lost in the quest for lesser goals of any kind, and prayer becomes requests for enemies. The power of prayer can be quite clearly recognized even in this. No one who wants an enemy will fail to find one. But just as surely will he lose the only true goal that is given him. Think of the cost, and understand it well. All other goals are at the cost of God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 23
I follow in the way appointed me.
I have a special place to fill; a role for me alone. Salvation waits until I take this part as what I choose to do. Until I make this choice, I am the slave of time and human destiny. But when I willingly and gladly go the way my Father’s plan appointed me to go, then will I recognize salvation is already here, already given all my brothers and already mine as well.
Father, Your way is what I choose today. Where it would lead me do I choose to go; what it would have me do I choose to do. Your way is certain, and the end secure. The memory of You awaits me there. And all my sorrows end in Your embrace, which You have promised to Your Son, who thought mistakenly that he had wandered from the sure protection of Your loving Arms.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #97: Why did Jesus use Helen’s body as the scribe for A Course in Miracles? Why didn’t he come back into the world as a body himself? Once someone is in the real world and lays his body aside, would/could he come back into this world as another body? Would he then remember who he is, and his past lifetimes?
A: Although your questions make sense from the perspective of the world and the bodily selves we think we are, that is not the perspective from which the Course is coming and these are not the selves the Course is addressing. If you can shift your perspective from the world to the mind and recognize that we are the dreamer of the dream and not the figures in the dream, things may become a little clearer.
Jesus is a symbol in our mind of the Atonement — the correction for our delusional thought system of separation, sin and attack. That symbol of love can take many different specific forms in the world, but the various forms, such as the man we call Jesus, “a separate being, walking by himself, within a body that appeared to hold his self from Self” (C.5.2:3) are all illusory. The love that Jesus represents takes whatever form can be most helpful to us, caught in believing in a dream of our own making that we’ve forgotten we have made. There really is no more definite answer as to why the message comes in whatever form it does.
We can still speculate — perhaps, because of the specialness that has become associated with the physical being of Jesus in Christianity, obscuring his central message of forgiveness, it is more helpful for us to have the message come to us in the form of a book, so that we do not become so easily distracted by the specific form of the teacher. And Helen was always very clear that she was the scribe and not the source of the material, so that any confusion of her form with the Course’s content could be minimized.
As to your questions about being in the real world, this is a permanent shift in perspective from the world to the mind, from the dream figure to the dreamer — it has nothing to do with laying the body aside. Once you are in the real world, you know you are not a body, no matter what other minds still identified with the dream may think about you. And so it is not a matter of deciding to come or to go — there is no coming or going but only a different kind of seeing. You may then become a symbol of love in the dream for others who still believe in separation, but you will not be identified with any dream figure and so will be unaffected by anything that happens in the world. You will know that none of it is real. Memory for past lives will have no value for you as you recognize their illusory nature. But if reference to any of those specific forms may be helpful to others in their own process of awakening, then your mind may share the correction using those symbols.