ACIM Reading for November 17
The Song of Prayer
2.- I. Forgiveness of Yourself
1. No gift of Heaven has been more misunderstood than has forgiveness. It has, in fact, become a scourge; a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God. Yet those who have not yet chosen to begin the steps of prayer cannot but use it thus. Forgiveness’ kindness is obscure at first, because salvation is not understood, nor truly sought for. What was meant to heal is used to hurt because forgiveness is not wanted. Guilt becomes salvation, and the remedy appears to be a terrible alternative to life.
2. Forgiveness-to-destroy will therefore suit the purpose of the world far better than its true objective, and the honest means by which this goal is reached. Forgiveness-to-destroy will overlook no sin, no crime, no guilt that it can seek and find and “love.” Dear to its heart is error, and mistakes loom large and grow and swell within its sight. It carefully picks out all evil things, and overlooks the loving as a plague; a hateful thing of danger and of death. Forgiveness-to-destroy is death, and this it sees in all it looks upon and hates. God’s mercy has become a twisted knife that would destroy the holy Son He loves.
3. Would you forgive yourself for doing this? Then learn that God has given you the means by which you can return to Him in peace. Do not see error. Do not make it real. Select the loving and forgive the sin by choosing in its place the face of Christ. How otherwise can prayer return to God? He loves His Son. Can you remember Him and hate what He created? You will hate his Father if you hate the Son He loves. For as you see the Son you see yourself, and as you see yourself is God to you.
4. As prayer is always for yourself, so is forgiveness always given you. It is impossible to forgive another, for it is only your sins you see in him. You want to see them there, and not in you. That is why forgiveness of another is an illusion. Yet it is the only happy dream in all the world; the only one that does not lead to death. Only in someone else can you forgive yourself, for you have called him guilty of your sins, and in him must your innocence now be found. Who but the sinful need to be forgiven? And do not ever think you can see sin in anyone except yourself.
5. This is the great deception of the world, and you the great deceiver of yourself. It always seems to be another who is evil, and in his sin you are the injured one. How could freedom be possible if this were so? You would be slave to everyone, for what he does entails your fate, your feelings, your despair or hope, your misery or joy. You have no freedom unless he gives it to you. And being evil, he can only give of what he is. You cannot see his sins and not your own. But you can free him and yourself as well.
6. Forgiveness, truly given, is the way in which your only hope of freedom lies. Others will make mistakes and so will you, as long as this illusion of a world appears to be your home. Yet God Himself has given all His Sons a remedy for all illusions that they think they see. Christ’s vision does not use your eyes, but you can look through His and learn to see like Him. Mistakes are tiny shadows, quickly gone, that for an instant only seem to hide the face of Christ, which still remains unchanged behind them all. His constancy remains in tranquil silence and in perfect peace. He does not know of shadows. His the eyes that look past error to the Christ in you.
7. Ask, then, His help, and ask Him how to learn forgiveness as His vision lets it be. You are in need of what He gives, and your salvation rests on learning this of Him. Prayer cannot be released to Heaven while forgiveness-to-destroy remains with you. God’s mercy would remove this withering and poisoned thinking from your holy mind. Christ has forgiven you, and in His sight the world becomes as holy as Himself. Who sees no evil in it sees like Him. For what He has forgiven has not sinned, and guilt can be no more. Salvation’s plan is made complete, and sanity has come.
8. Forgiveness is the call to sanity, for who but the insane would look on sin when he could see the face of Christ instead? This is the choice you make; the simplest one, and yet the only one that you can make. God calls on you to save His Son from death by offering Christ’s Love to him. This is your need, and God holds out this gift to you. As He would give, so must you give as well. And thus is prayer restored to formlessness, beyond all limits into timelessness, with nothing of the past to hold it back from reuniting with the ceaseless song that all creation sings unto its God.
9. But to achieve this end you first must learn, before you reach where learning cannot go. Forgiveness is the key, but who can use a key when he has lost the door for which the key was made, and where alone it fits? Therefore we make distinctions, so that prayer can be released from darkness into light. Forgiveness’ role must be reversed, and cleansed from evil usages and hateful goals. Forgiveness-to-destroy must be unveiled in all its treachery, and then let go forever and forever. There can be no trace of it remaining, if the plan that God established for returning be achieved at last, and learning be complete.
10. This is the world of opposites. And you must choose between them every instant while this world retains reality for you. Yet you must learn alternatives for choice, or you will not be able to attain your freedom. Let it then be clear to you exactly what forgiveness means to you, and learn what it should be to set you free. The level of your prayer depends on this, for here it waits its freedom to ascend above the world of chaos into peace.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 17
Section 11. What is Creation?
Creation is the sum of all God’s Thoughts, in number infinite, and everywhere without all limit. Only love creates, and only like itself. There was no time when all that it created was not there. Nor will there be a time when anything that it created suffers any loss. Forever and forever are God’s Thoughts exactly as they were and as they are, unchanged through time and after time is done.
God’s Thoughts are given all the power that their own Creator has. For He would add to love by its extension. Thus His Son shares in creation, and must therefore share in power to create. What God has willed to be forever One will still be One when time is over; and will not be changed throughout the course of time, remaining as it was before the thought of time began.
Creation is the opposite of all illusions, for creation is the truth. Creation is the holy Son of God, for in creation is His Will complete in every aspect, making every part container of the whole. Its oneness is forever guaranteed inviolate; forever held within His holy Will, beyond all possibility of harm, of separation, imperfection and of any spot upon its sinlessness.
We are creation; we the Sons of God. We seem to be discrete, and unaware of our eternal unity with Him. Yet back of all our doubts, past all our fears, there still is certainty. For love remains with all its Thoughts, its sureness being theirs. God’s memory is in our holy minds, which know their oneness and their unity with their Creator. Let our function be only to let this memory return, only to let God’s Will be done on earth, only to be restored to sanity, and to be but as God created us.
Our Father calls to us. We hear His Voice, and we forgive creation in the Name of its Creator, Holiness Itself, Whose Holiness His Own creation shares; Whose Holiness is still a part of us.
Father, my freedom is in You alone.
I did not understand what made me free, nor what my freedom is, nor where to look to find it. Father, I have searched in vain until I heard Your Voice directing me. Now I would guide myself no more. For I have neither made nor understood the way to find my freedom. But I trust in You. You Who endowed me with my freedom as Your holy Son will not be lost to me. Your Voice directs me, and the way to You is opening and clear to me at last. Father, my freedom is in You alone. Father, it is my will that I return.
Today we answer for the world, which will be freed along with us. How glad are we to find our freedom through the certain way our Father has established. And how sure is all the world’s salvation, when we learn our freedom can be found in God alone.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #592: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles since the age of sixteen, but I am still having trouble releasing myself from the fear of hell that my over-zealous Baptist relatives imposed upon me when I was younger. I was taught to “pray” before I would eat a meal, and I find myself doing this every so often when I am stressed out, as if I was “sucking up” to God. Sometimes I find it easier to revert back to the rituals and idol worship when it seems my awakening is unattainable. My wife was recently deployed to Iraq, and even though I can contain the fear early in the day, later I start to feel overwhelmed and powerless, often performing the Baptist rituals out of desperation. It seems as if I am trying to communicate with two very conflicting ideas of God. What is the most effective method of prayer?
A: You express an experience common to many students who were raised with strong religious beliefs. You also have a lot of company in practicing rituals and idol worship, since that is the sum and substance of life in a body once the separation is taken seriously: “The world believes in idols. No one comes unless he worshipped them, and still attempts to seek for one that yet might offer him a gift reality does not contain” (T.29.VIII.8:4,5). Identifying with the body necessarily entails a vast array of rituals and idol worship in the form of physical, emotional and psychological care. Though not religious in nature, they are no different from religious beliefs in that they are used as substitutes for God and to defend the ego thought system based on the belief in separation. The underlying belief in our pursuit of comfort in rituals and idols, whatever form they may take, is that something external to the mind has caused our pain, and therefore something external can bring healing. It does not matter whether it be a prayer to a made-up notion of God, a favorite food, or a day at the beach. Having sided with the ego’s belief that the separation is real, we seek escape from the terrible pain of our guilt by hiding in the body and the world. Because we have made them our “friends,” we think they will shelter us from pain and bring us peace. We are mistaken; they won’t. But we are not completely convinced, because our strong attachment to our beliefs makes it difficult for us to reverse them. That is why the Course is a gentle learning process.
It is no more a sin to say a little prayer to a god that doesn’t exist, than it is to relax with enjoyable music: “You do but dream, and idols are the toys you dream you play with” (T.29.IX.4:4).
The important thing is to be aware of the fear, that causes the stress, that results in the ritualistic behavior. It can be very helpful to see this dynamic in operation and to acknowledge to Jesus or the Holy Spirit that you are afraid, concerned for your wife’s safety, and unsure of what to do to feel better. That would be an effective prayer. If then you sincerely invite him to be with you as you say your “Baptist” words, or do whatever you find comforting, they will not make you feel guilty. More importantly, the part of your mind that knows they are not the real answer, and are not what you truly believe, will be strengthened.
You may find it helpful to read “The Song of Prayer,” which is one of the Course supplements. It offers a very beautiful and comprehensive view of prayer in accord with the teaching of the Course.