ACIM Text Reading for March 7
Chapter 6 ~ The Lessons of Love
I. The Message of the Crucifixion
For learning purposes, let us consider the crucifixion again. I did not dwell on it before because of the fearful connotations you may associate with it. The only emphasis laid upon it so far has been that it was not a form of punishment. Nothing, however, can be explained in negative terms only. There is a positive interpretation of the crucifixion that is wholly devoid of fear, and therefore wholly benign in what it teaches, if it is properly understood.
The crucifixion is nothing more than an extreme example. Its value, like the value of any teaching device, lies solely in the kind of learning it facilitates. It can be, and has been, misunderstood. This is only because the fearful are apt to perceive fearfully. I have already told you that you can always call on me to share my decision, and thus make it stronger. I have also told you that the crucifixion was the last useless journey the Sonship need take, and that it represents release from fear to anyone who understands it. While I emphasised only the resurrection before, the purpose of the crucifixion and how it actually led to the resurrection was not clarified then. Nevertheless, it has a definite contribution to make to your own life, and if you will consider it without fear, it will help you understand your own role as a teacher.
You have probably reacted for years as if you were being crucified. This is a marked tendency of the separated, who always refuse to consider what they have done to themselves. Projection means anger, anger fosters assault, and assault promotes fear. The real meaning of the crucifixion lies in the apparent intensity of the assault of some of the Sons of God upon another. This, of course, is impossible, and must be fully understood as impossible. Otherwise, I cannot serve as a model for learning.
Assault can ultimately be made only on the body. There is little doubt that one body can assault another, and can even destroy it. Yet if destruction itself is impossible, anything that is destructible cannot be real. Its destruction, therefore, does not justify anger. To the extent to which you believe that it does, you are accepting false premises and teaching them to others. The message the crucifixion was intended to teach was that it is not necessary to perceive any form of assault in persecution, because you cannot bepersecuted. If you respond with anger, you must be equating yourself with the destructible, and are therefore regarding yourself insanely.
I have made it perfectly clear that I am like you. and you are like me, but our fundamental equality can be demonstrated only through joint decision. You are free to perceive yourself as persecuted if you choose. When you do choose to react that way, however, you might remember that I was persecuted as the world judges, and did not share this evaluation for myself. And because I did not share it, I did not strengthen it. I therefore offered a different interpretation of attack, and one which I want to share with you. If you will believe it, you will help me teach it.
As I have said before, ‘As you teach so shall you learn’. If you react as if you are persecuted, you are teaching persecution, This is not a lesson a Son of God should want to teach if he is to realise his own salvation. Rather, teach your own perfect immunity, which is the truth in you, and realise that it cannot be assailed. Do not try to protect it yourself, or you are believing that it is assailable. You are not asked to be crucified, which was part of my own teaching contribution. You are merely asked to follow my example in the face of much less extreme temptations to misperceive, and not to accept them as false justifications for anger. There can be no justification for the unjustifiable. Do not believe there is, and do not teach that there is. Remember always that what you believe you will teach. Believe with me, and we will become equal as teachers.
Your resurrection is your reawakening. I am the model for rebirth, but rebirth itself is merely the dawning on your mind of what is already in it. God placed it there Himself, and so it is true forever. I believed in it, and therefore accepted it as true for me. Help me to teach it to our brothers in the name of the Kingdom of God, but first believe that it is true for you, or you will teach amiss. My brothers slept during the so-called ‘agony in the garden’, but I could not be angry with them because I knew I could not beabandoned.
I am sorry when my brothers do not share my decision to hear only one Voice, because it weakens them as teachers and as learners. Yet I know they cannot really betray themselves or me, and that it is still on them that I must build my church. There is no choice in this, because only you can be the foundation of God’s church. A church is where an altar is, and the presence of the altar is what makes the church holy. A church that does not inspire love has a hidden altar that is not serving the purpose for which God intended it. I must found His church on you, because those who accept me as a model are literally my disciples. Disciples are followers, and if the model they follow has chosen to save them pain in all respects, they are unwise not to follow him.
I elected, for your sake and mine, to demonstrate that the most outrageous assault, as judged by the ego, does not matter. As the world judges these things, but not as God knows them, I was betrayed, abandoned, beaten, torn, and finally killed. It was clear that this was only because of the projection of others onto me, since I had not harmed anyone and had healed many.
We are still equal as learners, although we do not need to have equal experiences. The Holy Spirit is glad when you can learn from mine, and be reawakened by them. That is their only purpose, and that is the only way in which I can be perceived as the way, the truth and the life. When you hear only one Voice you are never called on to sacrifice. On the contrary, by being able to hear the Holy Spirit in others you can learn from their experiences, and can gain from them without experiencing them directly yourself. That is because the Holy Spirit is one, and anyone who listens is inevitably led to demonstrate His way for all.
You are not persecuted, nor was I. You are not asked to repeat my experiences because the Holy Spirit, Whom we share, makes this unnecessary. To use my experiences constructively, however, you must still follow my example in how to perceive them. My brothers and yours are constantly engaged in justifying the unjustifiable. My one lesson, which I must teach as I learned it, is that no perception that is out of accord with the judgement of the Holy Spirit can be justified. I undertook to show this was true in an extreme case, merely because it would serve as a good teaching aid to those whose temptation to give in to anger and assault would not be so extreme. I will with God that none of His Sons should suffer.
The crucifixion cannot be shared because it is the symbol of projection, but the resurrection is the symbol of sharing because the reawakening of every Son of God is necessary to enable the Sonship to know its wholeness. Only this is knowledge.
The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear:
If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the ‘wrath of God’ as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt had made them angry.
These are some of the examples of upside-down thinking in the New Testament, although its gospel is really only the message of love. If the Apostles had not felt guilty, they never could have quoted me as saying, ‘I come not to bring peace but a sword’. This is clearly the opposite of everything I taught. Nor could they have described my reactions to Judas as they did, if they had really understood me. I could not have said, ‘Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?’ unless I believed in betrayal. The whole message of the crucifixion was simply that I did not. The ‘punishment’ I was said to have called forth upon Judas was a similar mistake. Judas was my brother and a Son of God, as much a part of the Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I would condemn him when I was ready to demonstrate that condemnation is impossible?
As you read the teachings of the Apostles, remember that I told them myself that there was much they would understand later, because they were not wholly ready to follow me at the time. I do not want you to allow any fear to enter into the thought system toward which I am guiding you. I do not call for martyrs but for teachers. No one is punished for sins, and the Sons of God are not sinners. Any concept of punishment involves the projection of blame, and reinforces the idea that blame is justified. The result is a lesson in blame, for all behaviour teaches the beliefs that motivate it. The crucifixion was the result of clearly opposed thought systems; the perfect symbol of the ‘conflict’ between the ego and the Son of God. This conflict seems just as real now, and its lessons must be learned now as well as then.
I do not need gratitude, but you need to develop your weakened ability to be grateful, or you cannot appreciate God. He does not need your appreciation, but you do. You cannot love what you do not appreciate, for fear makes appreciation impossible. When you are afraid of what you are you do not appreciate it, and will therefore reject it. As a result, you will teach rejection.
The power of the Sons of God is present all the time, because they were created as creators. Their influence on each other is without limit, and must be used for their joint salvation. Each one must learn to teach that all forms of rejection are meaningless. The separation is the notion of rejection. As long as you teach this you will believe it. This is not as God thinks, and you must think as He thinks if you are to know Him again.
Remember that the Holy Spirit is the communication link between God the Father and His separated Sons. If you will listen to His Voice you will know that you cannot either hurt or be hurt, and that many need your blessing to help them hear this for themselves. When you perceive only this need in them, and do not respond to any other, you will have learned of me and will be as eager to share your learning as I am.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 7
God is the Love in which I forgive.
God does not forgive because He has never condemned. And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.
Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.
Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.
If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. Mention each one by name, and say:
God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].
The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:
God is the Love in which I forgive myself.
Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:
God is the Love with which I love myself God is the Love in which I am blessed.
The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. You might say, for example:
I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
I have already been forgiven.
No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.
The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.
The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. In that event, tell him silently:
God is the Love in which I forgive you.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1230: In A Course in Miracles, Workbook Lesson 20 says: “Yet you will not see if you regard yourself as being coerced, and if you give in to resentment and opposition” (W.pI.20.1:6). But the thing is, most of the time I regard myself as being coerced by any person I interact with, so I’m used to living like this and it is giving me trouble to do the lessons without this feeling. Is it all right to continue doing the lessons even if I do them uncomfortably?
A: It might help you to go back over each lesson with the intention of noticing how much Jesus emphasizes gentleness and patience. Focus on his loving nature as a teacher and guide who wants more than anything to help you let go of everything that is causing you pain. Try to sense his loving intention, totally free of judgment and coercion, even though you may not be used to feeling it in another person or in yourself. Then know that your feelings of coercion and discomfort are coming from your own guilt projected onto other people. That is exactly what Jesus wants to help you get past. So just look at those feelings as they come up; don’t deny them and don’t judge yourself for having them. You don’t have to let go of them. It is important that you not force yourself to do anything — you never want to fight against yourself. But simply learning how to look at or observe your feelings is a big step in the process of releasing them to Jesus’ love.
Issues similar to yours have come up for other students. You might find it helpful to look at our discussions of these in Questions #71, 146, 184, 315, 934.
Q #1231: If God did not create the world and our collective mind did, how is possible that it made such a complex universe from beginning to end? It would seem only God could do this. And this universe seems to be made of all the same stuff. What is it made of? I thought it was all made of God.
A: The complexity of the universe is deliberate, but it is not of divine origin. From the perspective of A Course in Miracles , the world is the result of a series of steps in the ego’s strategy to obliterate from our awareness any sense of the oneness of reality and of the Sonship. “The Substitute Reality” in Chapter 18 explains this process of fragmentation and its result, along with the Course’s approach to the reversal of fragmentation (T.18.I.4,5,6) .
When you think of it, inherent in complexity is separation, whether you are talking about the microscosmic or macrocosmic level. In addition, this complexity produces what seems like an infinite number of problems demanding our attention, just so that we can survive as individuals, as nations, as a planet, etc. This is also important to the ego’s strategy, for as long as we, as physical-psychological individuals, are preoccupied with what is going on in the world (including our bodies), we will never go back into our minds and discover that all of our perceptions are chosen and deliver to us the experiences we want. “Projection makes perception. . . . [the world] is the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:1, 5) ; “ [Perception] is the outward picture of a wish; an image that you wanted to be true” (T.24.VII.8:10). The world, thus, is not at all what it appears to be. It is the projection of a guilty mind seeking escape from its guilt and fear. As Jesus explains in a rather striking passage, “The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt” (T.13.in.2:2; see also W.pII.3.2:1).
Safely mindless in the world, we are oblivious to our own mind and its power to choose the Holy Spirit’s thought system instead of the ego’s. Keeping this realization out of our awareness is the ultimate goal of the ego, and our continual involvement in an impossibly complex world is among its most effective ways of achieving this end. This is the direct opposite of Heaven, which is “an awareness of perfect Oneness, and the knowledge that there is nothing else; nothing outside this Oneness, and nothing else within” (T.18.VI.1:6). Our primary goal as students of this course, thus, is to learn to reflect this Oneness in our daily interactions by recognizing that we all share the same interests and the same split mind with the power to choose between the ego and the Holy Spirit.
For further discussion of the relationship between God and the world, see Questions #764 and #904.