ACIM Text Reading for March 31
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
VII. The Body as a Means of Communication
Attack is always physical. When attack in any form enters your mind you are equating yourself with a body, since this is the ego’s interpretation of the body. You do not have to attack physically to accept this interpretation. You are accepting it simply by the belief that attack can get you something you want. If you did not believe this, the idea of attack would have no appeal for you. When you equate yourself with a body you will always experience depression. When a child of God thinks of himself in this way he is belittling himself, and seeing his brothers as similarly belittled. Since he can find himself only in them, he has cut himself off from salvation.
Remember that the Holy Spirit interprets the body only as a means of communication. Being the communication link between God and His separated Sons, the Holy Spirit interprets everything you have made in the light of what He is. The ego separates through the body. The Holy Spirit reaches through it to others. You do not perceive your brothers as the Holy Spirit does, because you do not regard bodies solely as a means of joining minds and uniting them with yours and mine. This interpretation of the body will change your mind entirely about its value. Of itself it has none.
If you use the body for attack, it is harmful to you. If you use it only to reach the minds of those who believe they are bodies, and teach them through the body that this is not so, you will understand the power of the mind that is in you. If you use the body for this and only for this, you cannot use it for attack. In the service of uniting it becomes a beautiful lesson in communion, which has value until communion is. This is God’s way of making unlimited what you have limited. The Holy Spirit does not see the body as you do, because He knows the only reality of anything is the service it renders God on behalf of the function He gives it.
Communication ends separation. Attack promotes it. The body is beautiful or ugly, peaceful or savage, helpful or harmful, according to the use to which it is put. And in the body of another you will see the use to which you have put yours. If the body becomes a means you give to the Holy Spirit to use on behalf of union of the Sonship, you will not see anything physical except as what it is. Use it for truth and you will see it truly. Misuse it and you will misunderstand it, because you have already done so by misusing it. Interpret anything a art from the Holy Spirit and you will mistrust it. This will lead you to hatred and attack and loss of peace.
Yet all loss comes only from your own misunderstanding. Loss of any kind is impossible. But when you look upon a brother as a physical entity, his power and glory are ‘lost’ to you and so are yours. You have attacked him, but you must have attacked yourself first. Do not see him this way for your own salvation, which must bring him his. Do not allow him to belittle himself in your mind, but give him freedom from his belief in littleness, and thus escape from yours. As part of you, he is holy. As part of me, you are. To communicate with part of God Himself is to reach beyond the Kingdom to its Creator, through His Voice Which He has established as part of you.
Rejoice, then, that of yourself you can do nothing. You are not of yourself. He of Whom you are has willed your power and glory for you, with which you can perfectly accomplish His holy Will for you when you accept it for yourself. He has not withdrawn His gifts from you, but you believe you have withdrawn them from Him. Let no Son of God remain hidden for His Name’s sake, because His Name is yours.
The Bible says, ‘The word (or thought) was made flesh’. Strictly speaking this is impossible, since it seems to involve the translation of one order of reality into another. Different orders of reality merely appear to exist, just as different orders of miracles do. Thought cannot be made into flesh except by belief, since thought is not physical. Yet thought is communication, for which the body can be used. This is the only natural use to which it can be put. To use the body unnaturally is to lose sight of the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and thus to confuse the goal of His curriculum.
There is nothing so frustrating to a learner as a curriculum he cannot learn. His sense of adequacy suffers, and he must become depressed. Being faced with an impossible learning situation is the most depressing thing in the world. In fact, it is ultimately why the world itself is depressing. The Holy Spirit’s curriculum is never depressing, because it is a curriculum of joy. Whenever the reaction to learning is depression, it is because the true goal of the curriculum has been lost sight of.
In this world, not even the body is perceived as whole. Its purpose is seen as fragmented into many functions with little or no relationship to each other, so that it appears to be ruled by chaos. Guided by the ego, it is. Guided by the Holy Spirit, it is not. It becomes a means by which the part of the mind you tried to separatefrom spirit can reach beyond its distortions and return to spirit. The ego’s temple thus becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit, where devotion to Him replaces devotion to the ego. In this sense the body does become a temple to God; His Voice abides in it by directing the use to which it is put.
Healing is the result of using the body solely for communication. Since this is natural it heals by making whole, which is also natural. All mind is whole, and the belief that part of it is physical, or not mind, is a fragmented or sick interpretation. Mind cannot be made physical, but it can be made manifest through the physical if it uses the body to go beyond itself. By reaching out, the mind extends itself. It does not stop at the body, for if it does it is blocked in its purpose. A mind that has been blocked has allowed itself to be vulnerable to attack, because it has turned against itself.
The removal of blocks, then, is the only way to guarantee help and healing. Help and healing are the normal expressions of a mind that is working through the body, but not in it. If the mind believes the body is its goal it will distort its perception of the body, and by blocking its own extension beyond it, will induce illness by fostering separation. Perceiving the body as a separate entity cannot but foster illness, because it is not true. A medium of communication loses its usefulness if it is used for anything else. To use a medium of communication as a medium of attack is an obvious confusion in purpose.
To communicate is to join and to attack is to separate. How can you do both simultaneously with the same thing and not suffer? Perception of the body can be unified only by one purpose. This releases the mind from the temptation to see the body in many lights, and gives it over entirely to the One Light in Which it can be really understood. To confuse a learning device with a curriculum goal is a fundamental confusion that blocks the understanding of both. Learning must lead beyond the body to the re-establishment of the power of the mind in it. This can be accomplished only if the mind extends to other minds, and does not arrest itself in its extension. This arrest is the cause of all illness, because only extension is the mind’s function.
The opposite of joy is depression. When your learning promotes depression instead of joy, you cannot be listening to God’s joyous Teacher and learning His lessons. To see a body as anything except a means of communication is to limit your mind and to hurt yourself. Health is therefore nothing more than united purpose. If the body is brought under the purpose of the mind, it becomes whole because the mind’s purpose is one. Attack can only be an assumed purpose of the body, because apart from the mind the body has no purpose at all.
You are not limited by the body, and thought cannot be made flesh. Yet mind can be manifested through the body if it goes beyond it and does not interpret it as limitation. Whenever you see another as limited to or by the body, you are imposing this limit on yourself. Are you willing to accept this, when your whole purpose for learning should be to escape from limitations? To conceive of the body as a means of attack and to believe that joy could possibly result, is a clear-cut indication of a poor learner. He has accepted a learning goal in obvious contradiction to the unified purpose of the curriculum, and one that is interfering with his ability to accept its purpose as his own.
Joy is unified purpose, and unified purpose is only God’s. When yours is unified it is His. Believe you can interfere with His purpose, and you need salvation. You have condemned yourself, but condemnation is not of God. Therefore it is not true. No more are any of its seeming results. When you see a brother as a body, you are condemning him because you have condemned yourself. Yet if all condemnation is unreal, and it must be unreal since it is a form of attack, then it can have no results.
Do not allow yourself to suffer from imagined results of what is not true. Free your mind from the belief that this is possible. In its complete impossibility lies your only hope for release. But what other hope would you want? Freedom from illusions lies only in not believing them. There is no attack, but there is unlimited communication and therefore unlimited power and wholeness. The power of wholeness is extension. Do not arrest your thought in this world, and you will open your mind to creation in God.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 31
My salvation comes from me.
All temptation is nothing more than some form of the basic temptation not to believe the idea for today. Salvation seems to come from anywhere except from you. So, too, does the source of guilt. You see neither guilt nor salvation as in your own mind and nowhere else. When you realize that all guilt is solely an invention of your mind, you also realize that guilt and salvation must be in the same place. In understanding this you are saved.
The seeming cost of accepting today’s idea is this: It means that nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace. But it also means that nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way. Today’s idea places you in charge of the universe, where you belong because of what you are. This is not a role that can be partially accepted. And you must surely begin to see that accepting it is salvation.
It may not, however, be clear to you why the recognition that guilt is in your own mind entails the realization that salvation is there as well. God would not have put the remedy for the sickness where it cannot help. That is the way your mind has worked, but hardly His. He wants you to be healed, so He has kept the Source of healing where the need for healing lies.
You have tried to do just the opposite, making every attempt, however distorted and fantastic it might be, to separate healing from the sickness for which it was intended, and thus keep the sickness. Your purpose was to ensure that healing did not occur. God’s purpose was to ensure that it did.
Today we practice realizing that God’s Will and ours are really the same in this. God wants us to be healed, and we do not really want to be sick, because it makes us unhappy. Therefore, in accepting the idea for today, we are really in agreement with God. He does not want us to be sick. Neither do we. He wants us to be healed. So do we.
We are ready for two longer practice periods today, each of which should last some ten to fifteen minutes. We will, however, still let you decide when to undertake them. We will follow this practice for a number of lessons, and it would again be well to decide in advance when would be a good time to lay aside for each of them, and then adhering to your own decisions as closely as possible.
Begin these practice periods by repeating the idea for today, adding a statement signifying your recognition that salvation comes from nothing outside of you. You might put it this way:
My salvation comes from me. It cannot come from
Then devote a few minutes, with your eyes closed, to reviewing some of the external places where you have looked for salvation in the past;–in other people, in possessions, in various situations and events, and in self-concepts that you sought to make real. Recognize that it is not there, and tell yourself:
My salvation cannot come from any of these things.
My salvation comes from me and only from me.
Now we will try again to reach the light in you, which is where your salvation is. You cannot find it in the clouds that surround the light, and it is in them you have been looking for it. It is not there. It is past the clouds and in the light beyond. Remember that you will have to go through the clouds before you can reach the light. But remember also that you have never found anything in the cloud patterns you imagined that endured, or that you wanted.
Since all illusions of salvation have failed you, surely you do not want to remain in the clouds, looking vainly for idols there, when you could so easily walk on into the light of real salvation. Try to pass the clouds by whatever means appeals to you. If it helps you, think of me holding your hand and leading you. And I assure you this will be no idle fantasy.
For the short and frequent practice periods today, remind yourself that your salvation comes from you, and nothing but your own thoughts can hamper your progress. You are free from all external interference. You are in charge of your salvation. You are in charge of the salvation of the world. Say, then:
My salvation comes from me. Nothing outside of me can hold
me back. Within me is the world’s salvation and my own.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #147: How can I approach Jesus to bring peace to someone else’s troubled, fearful, restless mind while not being able to practically communicate with this other person (either verbally or otherwise)? Is it at all possible, because it is often (to put it mildly) hard enough to bring peace to one’s own mind?
A: Since A Course in Miracles tells us that peace is the result of choosing to identify with the Holy Spirit or Jesus in our minds, it is not really possible to ask Jesus to bring peace to someone’s mind (M.5.III.1:1,2,3,3:6). Moreover, Jesus does not bring peace to our own minds. The Course teaches that a lack of peace is the result of having made a choice in the mind to identify with the ego thought system in some way. This results in a feeling of guilt, which replaces peace in our awareness. This person’s fearful, restless mind is calling for help. To be helpful to them, we must first recognize that this is the choice they have made, and acknowledge the ability of their mind to choose differently. We then review our own mind for any judgments we are holding against this person, and any disquiet we may be experiencing, thus recognizing our own need for healing. Our “prayer” for someone else begins with our asking the Holy Spirit or Jesus for help in letting go of our judgments and misperceptions about ourselves and the other person. This is because if we perceive another person as in need, or lacking peace, we have first perceived this lack in ourselves, as you point out. If we do let go of our misperceptions and accept the Holy Spirit’s correction, we will experience peace. The peace in our mind is then extended throughout the Sonship; it joins with the peace that is present in everyone’s mind, whether or not they choose to be aware of it. This is the process by which we “offer” peace to a brother. The real action is always in our own mind. There is no need to communicate externally with the other person. By choosing peace ourselves, we are a reminder of the peace that is theirs, but neither we nor Jesus can choose for someone else, as He tells us: “I cannot choose for you, [or someone else] but I can help you make your own right choice” (T.3.IV.7:11). Once we have allowed the Holy Spirit’s thoughts to replace ours, he will guide us to act in a way that would be loving toward this person, or not to act at all. This will be the under the guidance of the Holy Spirit if we have in fact done our own “homework,” as outlined above. This is how we can live the following prayer from the Text, which holds the answer to your quest for peace as well as your friend’s: “I desire this holy instant for myself, that I may share it with my brother, whom I love. It is not possible that I can have it without him, or he without me. Yet it is wholly possible for us to share it now. And so I choose this instant as the one to offer to the Holy Spirit, that His blessing may descend on us, and keep us both in peace” (T.18.7:3,4,5,6).
Q #148: If we were all in a state of Oneness with God how could we have had the thought of separation in that “tiny, mad moment”? What would have possessed us to leave that oneness which was peace and bliss? And how could it have happened? What was the scenario do you think?
A: This is the “famous” question. It is famous because it is the most frequently asked question of students of A Course in Miracles (please see Question #10). The “famous” answer is that it is not really a question, but a statement that the separation did in fact occur (C.in.4; see also The Most Commonly Asked Questions About A Course in Miracles, Kenneth Wapnick, pp.17-22)—that is the assumption behind the question. The Course teaches us that the separation never did occur. In fact, it is impossible for the Son to separate from the Father. With this as the starting point, the Course goes on, at great length, to explain how we “got here,” since we believe we are here. The explanation it gives us is a kind of myth, explaining something that could never happen. It tells us that the Son of God fell asleep, and dreamed a dream of separation: “You are at home in God, dreaming of exile but perfectly capable of awakening to reality” (T.10.I.2:1). Our experience as bodies in the world is a dream. Nothing has happened, and we are in truth still at Home in God.
What A Course in Miracles tells us “happened” in the mind of the sleeping Son is a wish for more than everything: “No one who comes here but must still have hope, some lingering illusion, or some dream that there is something outside of himself that will bring happiness and peace to him. If everything is in him this cannot be so. And therefore by his coming, he denies the truth about himself, and seeks for something more than everything, as if a part of it were separated off and found where all the rest of it is not” (T.29.VII.2:1, 2,3). Enticed by the “rush” of being autonomous individuals, thinking this will bring a happiness beyond the “peace and bliss” you mention, the Son chooses this thought of being separated from his Source. Although this seems to have occurred millions of years ago in some distant forgotten past, it is actually occurring instant by instant each time the choice is made to believe the separation is real. This is the only “explanation” for how we seem to be here, so real, so “alive,” so identified with bodies. It is a choice, and the Course tells us this choice is purposeful. It establishes our separate identities, which we have learned to prefer to the truth of who we are. We prefer this made up identity because we very mistakenly believe this will give us happiness. We have convinced ourselves that the ego is right and God is wrong about who we are. Clinging to this belief keeps the separation “alive and well” in our minds. This is what makes it happen, over and over in our minds. Again, the thought that drives us is that autonomy is better that unity, God is not enough, and the ego will give us the “more” that we seek.
In summary, the foundation of the Course’s teaching rests on this very important recognition of the power of the mind to choose. We are told that we chose wrongly by choosing to believe the separation occurred, and we are urged to “choose once again” (T.31.VIII.). In every situation where we find ourselves in conflict, pain or uneasiness we find the opportunity to question our experience in the light of this teaching and choose again: “The images you make cannot prevail against what God Himself would have you be. Be never fearful of temptation, then, but see it as it is; another chance to choose again” (T.31.VIII.4:1,2).