ACIM Text Reading for March 23
Chapter 7 ~ The Gifts of the Kingdom
X. The Confusion of Pain and Joy
The Kingdom is the result of premises, just as this world is. You may have carried the ego’s reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is total confusion about everything. If you really saw this result you could not want it. The only reason you could possibly want any part of it is because you do not see the whole of it. You are willing to look at the ego’s premises, but not at their logical outcome. Is it not possible that you have done the same thing with the premises of God? Your creations are the logical outcome of His premises. His thinking has established them for you. They are exactly where they belong. They belong in your mind as part of your identification with His, but your state of mind and your recognition of what is in it depend on what you believe about your mind. Whatever these beliefs may be, they are the premises that will determine what you accept into your mind.
It is surely clear that you can both accept into your mind what is not there, and deny what is. Yet the function God Himself gave your mind through His you may deny, but you cannot prevent. It is the logical outcome of what you are. The ability to see a logical outcome depends on the willingness to see it, but its truth has nothing to do with your willingness. Truth is God’s Will. Share His Will and you share what He knows. Deny His Will as yours, and you are denying His Kingdom and yours.
The Holy Spirit will direct you only so as to avoid pain. Surely no one would object to this goal if he recognised it. The problem is not whether what the Holy Spirit says is true, but whether you want to listen to what He says. You no more recognise what is painful than you know what is joyful, and are, in fact, very apt to confuse the two. The Holy Spirit’s main function is to teach you to tell them apart. What is joyful to you is painful to the ego, and as long as you are in doubt about what you are, you will be confused about joy and pain. This confusion is the cause of the whole idea of sacrifice. Obey the Holy Spirit, and you will be giving up the ego. But you will be sacrificing nothing. On the contrary, you will be gaining everything. If you believed this, there would be no conflict.
That is why you need to demonstrate the obvious to yourself. It is not obvious to you. You believe that doing the opposite of God’s Will can be better for you. You also believe that it is possible to do the opposite of God’s Will. Therefore, you believe that an impossible choice is open to you, and one which is both fearful and desirable. Yet God wills. He does not wish. Your will is as powerful as His because it is His. The ego’s wishes do not mean anything, because the ego wishes for the impossible. You can wish for the impossible, but you can will only with God. This is the ego’s weakness and your strength.
The Holy Spirit always sides with you and with your strength. As long as you avoid His guidance in any way, you want to be weak. Yet weakness is frightening. What else, then, can this decision mean except that you want to be fearful? The Holy Spirit never asks for sacrifice, but the ego always does. When you are confused about this distinction in motivation, it can only be due to projection. Projection is a confusion in motivation, and given this confusion, trust becomes impossible. No one gladly obeys a guide he does not trust, but this does not mean that the guide is untrustworthy. In this case, it always means that the follower is. However, this, too, is merely a matter of his own belief. Believing that he can betray, he believes that everything can betray him. Yet this is only because he has elected to follow false guidance. Unable to follow this guidance without fear, he associates fear with guidance, and refuses to follow any guidance at all. If the result of this decision is confusion, this is hardly surprising.
The Holy Spirit is perfectly trustworthy, as you are. God Himself trusts you, and therefore your trustworthiness is beyond question. It will always remain beyond question, however much you may question it. I said before that you are the Will of God. His Will is not an idle wish, and your identification with His Will is not optional, since it is what you are. Sharing His Will with me is not really open to choice, though it may seem to be. The whole separation lies in this error. The only way out of the error is to decide that you do not have to decide anything. Everything has been given you by God’s decision. That is His Will, and you cannot undo it.
Even the relinquishment of your false decision-making prerogative, which the ego guards so jealously, is not accomplished by your wish. It was accomplished for you by the Will of God, Who has not left you comfortless. His Voice will teach you how to distinguish between pain and joy, and will lead you out of the confusion you have made. There is no confusion in the mind of a Son of God, whose will must be the Will of the Father, because the Father’s Will is His Son.
Miracles are in accord with the Will of God, Whose Will you do not know because you are confused about what you will. This means that you are confused about what you are. If you are God’s Will and do not accept His Will, you are denying joy. The miracle is therefore a lesson in what joy is. Being a lesson in sharing it is a lesson in love, which is joy. Every miracle is thus a lesson in truth, and by offering truth you are learning the difference between pain and joy.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 23
Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world.
It is your forgiveness that will bring the world of darkness to the light. It is your forgiveness that lets you recognize the light in which you see. Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about yourself return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.
Illusions about yourself and the world are one. That is why all forgiveness is a gift to yourself. Your goal is to find out who you are, having denied your Identity by attacking creation and its Creator. Now you are learning how to remember the truth. For this attack must be replaced by forgiveness, so that thoughts of life may replace thoughts of death.
Remember that in every attack you call upon your own weakness, while each time you forgive you call upon the strength of Christ in you. Do you not then begin to understand what forgiveness will do for you? It will remove all sense of weakness, strain and fatigue from your mind. It will take away all fear and guilt and pain. It will restore the invulnerability and power God gave His Son to your awareness.
Let us be glad to begin and end this day by practicing today’s idea, and to use it as frequently as possible throughout the day. It will help to make the day as happy for you as God wants you to be. And it will help those around you, as well as those who seem to be far away in space and time, to share this happiness with you.
As often as you can, closing your eyes if possible, say to yourself today:
Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world.
I would fulfill my function that I may be happy.
Then devote a minute or two to considering your function and the happiness and release it will bring you. Let related thoughts come freely, for your heart will recognize these words, and in your mind is the awareness they are true. Should your attention wander, repeat the idea and add:
I would remember this because I want to be happy.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #594: I realize that content is more important than form, yet in this dream of form, I have to have some form in which I appear; thus since duality is meaningless — sickness/health, abundance/poverty, happiness/unhappiness, etc. — is it wrong to desire one over the other while I’m on the road to awakening? While five years ago I was at the bottom of the barrel grovelling around with emotional sickness and also serious financial lack, the last thing I had time for was spiritual contemplation, but in the last three years I’ve found myself in a relationship where I didn’t have to work, and consequently found A Course in Miracles and could spend five or six hours a day devoted to learning it. So choosing abundance and health has helped to speed me up the Atonement ladder. But now I’m wondering if I should stop consciously desiring these conditions and just focus on content of mind and not even concern myself with my body, my lifestyle, etc., and just know that as I heal my mind more and more, everything for my highest good will manifest anyway. Are we supposed to get to the point where not one thought we have is about anything concerning who we think we are in this body?
A: At the very top of the ladder, you know you are not a body, and you know the body is nothing; therefore, as nothing, the body would have no appeal to you at all. As you make your way up to that level, though, you never want to deny the physical and psychological needs you experience as real. On these intervening levels, duality is not experienced as meaningless, though intellectually you believe that it is. Therefore it is important to be honest about that, accept where you are in that respect, and not fight it. It would not be spiritually helpful to simply stop yourself from wanting your life in the world to be a certain way. That would lead you into sacrifice, which Jesus helps us realize is never loving. The concealed guilt in your mind is the problem, not your body or your lifestyle. That guilt would not go away just because you give up the desire to have a healthy body and financial security. It would not be reinforced either by your continuing to desire them, as long as you are willing to learn that they cannot give you the peace of God. You might also think of the abundance and health that came into your life as a reflection of a decision you made not to attack yourself any further. That would help you get in touch with the content in your mind and you would be less inclined then to regard health and abundance as something meaningful in themselves. As you make your way towards the top of the ladder, you would experience peace as who you are as God’s creation, and that that inner state has nothing to do with external conditions. But in the meantime it’s okay to still desire them. Judging yourself for desiring a healthy body and financial security is the only mistake you can make; and you can avoid that ego temptation by learning to smile at yourself and not making your Atonement path into something so serious. Gentleness and kindness towards yourself is always the best approach to take.
Q #595: As I get more and more into A Course in Miracles I find so many things meaning less and less: like being popular, being noticed for some achievement, being appreciated, or just being in other people’s company. I truly enjoy being by myself, studying the Course, working on healing my relationships in my mind rather than actually being with these people physically, with whom I need to work on forgiveness. Is this wrong and is it also wrong to want to be around certain people in the flesh, with whom I have more of a spiritual mind set, while at the same time knowing that I am one with everyone whether I connect with them on the physical level or not? I sometimes feel guilty, since I’m wanting to exclude certain people and situations from my physical space, and then I try to feel innocent again when I know that I’m one with everyone and everything in my mind space.
A: The key word in your question is exclude, and the key principle in solving your dilemma is the distinction between form and content. The defining characteristic of authentic love as Jesus presents it in the Course is that it is “all-inclusive.” This is in sharp contrast to the special love of the ego that singles out certain people or groups as deserving of our love and forgiveness, as opposed to others who are not. But Jesus is always talking about the content in our minds, our attitude. He is not talking about form: what our bodies do, our behavior. You cannot be with everyone all the time; but you can be clear within your mind whether or not you are withholding love from specific people or groups, or are judging that spiritual people are better than those who are completely focused on things of the world. If you are judging some as better than others, then you no longer believe that the Sonship is one and are furthering the ego’s cause of making separation reality. You would also be caught in the trap of believing there is a hierarchy of illusions: that there is a meaningful difference between spiritually advanced people and non- spiritual people. A person on the top rungs of the ladder is just as illusory as a person on the lower rungs, because the ladder itself is illusory.
From another perspective, we all have preferences and limitations. That is normal within the dream of separation. It is not wrong or unspiritual to have preferences. Preferring to spend time with certain people is no different from having food preferences, music preferences, decorating preferences, and so on. As long as these preferences do not become a big deal, that is! If you have not made your preference into a big deal, you would not feel guilty. The key factor is what is going on in your mind: whether you are judging against certain people because they do not meet your criterion of “spiritual.” If you are kind in your mind toward everyone, you would never experience conflict about whom you are spending time with.
There are many comforting passages in which Jesus reassures us that he is always available to us, awaiting only our invitation (e.g., T.19.IV.A.16:3,4,5,6; T.31.VIII.7,8,9,10,11; M.23). We leave you with passages from chapter 12 of the text and the epilogue from the manual for teachers:
Remember what was said about the frightening perceptions of little children, which terrify them because they do not understand them. If they ask for enlightenment and accept it, their fears vanish. But if they hide their nightmares they will keep them. It is easy to help an uncertain child, for he recognizes that he does not understand what his perceptions mean. Yet you believe that you do understand yours. Little child, you are hiding your head under the cover of the heavy blankets you have laid upon yourself. You are hiding your nightmares in the darkness of your own false certainty, and refusing to open your eyes and look at them.
Let us not save nightmares, for they are not fitting offerings for Christ, and so they are not fit gifts for you. Take off the covers and look at what you are afraid of. Only the anticipation will frighten you, for the reality of nothingness cannot be frightening. Let us not delay this, for your dream of hatred will not leave you without help, and Help is here. Learn to be quiet in the midst of turmoil, for quietness is the end of strife and this is the journey to peace. Look straight at every image that rises to delay you, for the goal is inevitable because it is eternal. The goal of love is but your right, and it belongs to you despite your dreams…
A little while and you will see me, for I am not hidden because you are hiding. I will awaken you as surely as I awakened myself, for I awoke for you. In my resurrection is your release. Our mission is to escape from crucifixion, not from redemption. Trust in my help, for I did not walk alone, and I will walk with you as our Father walked with me. Do you not know that I walked with Him in peace? And does not that mean that peace goes with us on the journey?…You do not walk alone. God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless (T.12.II.4,5,7; W.ep.6:6,7,8).