ACIM Text Reading for March 27
Chapter 8 ~ The Journey Back
III. The Holy Encounter
Glory to God in the highest, and to you because He has so willed it. Ask and it shall be given you, because it has already been given. Ask for light and learn that you are light. If you want understanding and enlightenment you will learn it, because your decision to learn it is the decision to listen to the Teacher Who knows of light, and can therefore teach it to you. There is no limit on your learning because there is no limit on your mind. There is no limit on His teaching because He was created to teach. Understanding His function perfectly He fulfils it perfectly, because that is His joy and yours.
To fulfil the Will of God perfectly is the only joy and peace that can be fully known, because it is the only function that can be fully experienced. When this is accomplished, then, there is no other experience. Yet the wish for other experience will block its accomplishment, because God’s Will cannot be forced upon you, being an experience of total willingness. The Holy Spirit understands how to teach this, but you do not. That is why you need Him, and why God gave Him to you. Only His teaching will release your will to God’s, uniting it with His power and glory and establishing them as yours. You share them as God shares them, because this is the natural outcome of their being.
The Will of the Father and of the Son are one, by their extension. Their extension is the result of Their oneness, holding Their unity together by extending Their joint Will. This is perfect creation by the perfectly created, in union with the Perfect Creator. The Father must give fatherhood to His Son, because His Own Fatherhood must be extended outward. You who belong in God have the holy function of extending His Fatherhood by placing no limits upon it. Let the Holy Spirit teach you how to do this, for you can know what it means only of God Himself.
When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself. Whenever two Sons of God meet, they are given another chance at salvation. Do not leave anyone without giving salvation to him and receiving it yourself. For I am always there with you, in remembrance of you.
The goal of the curriculum, regardless of the teacher you choose, is ‘Know thyself’. There is nothing else to seek. Everyone is looking for himself and for the power and glory he thinks he has lost. Whenever you are with anyone, you have another opportunity to find them. Your power and glory are in him because they are yours. The ego tries to find them in yourself alone, because it does not know where to look. The Holy Spirit teaches you that if you look only at yourself you cannot find yourself, because that is not what you are. Whenever you are with a brother, you are learning what you are because you are teaching what you are. He will respond either with pain or with joy, depending on which teacher you are following. He will be imprisoned or released according to your decision, and so will you. Never forget your responsibility to him, because it is your responsibility to yourself. Give him his place in the Kingdom and you will have yours.
The Kingdom cannot be found alone, and you who are the Kingdom cannot find yourself alone. To achieve the goal of the curriculum, then, you cannot listen to the ego, whose purpose is to defeat its own goal. The ego does not know this, because it does not know anything. But you can know it, and you will know it if you are willing to look at what the ego would make of you. This is your responsibility, because once you have really looked at it you will accept the Atonement for yourself. What other choice could you make? Having made this choice you will understand why you once believed that, when you met someone else, you thought he was someone else. And every holy encounter in which you enter fully will teach you this is not so.
You can encounter only part of yourself because you are part of God, Who is everything. His power and glory are everywhere, and you cannot be excluded from them. The ego teaches that your strength is in you alone. The Holy Spirit teaches that all strength is in God and therefore in you. God wills no one suffer. He does not will anyone to suffer for a wrong decision, including you. That is why He has given you the means for undoing it. Through His power and glory all your wrong decisions are undone completely, releasing you and your brother from every imprisoning thought any part of the Sonship holds. Wrong decisions have no power, because they are not true. The imprisonment they seem to produce is no more true than they are.
Power and glory belong to God alone. So do you. God gives whatever belongs to Him because He gives of Himself, and everything belongs to Him. Giving of yourself is the function He gave you. Fulfilling it perfectly will let you remember what you have of Him, and by this you will remember also what you are in Him. You cannot be powerless to do this, because this is your power. Glory is God’s gift to you, because that is what He is. See this glory everywhere to remember what you are.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 27
My happiness and my function are one.
You have surely noticed an emphasis throughout our recent lessons on the connection between fulfilling your function and achieving happiness. This is because you do not really see the connection. Yet there is more than just a connection between them; they are the same. Their forms are different, but their content is completely one.
The ego does constant battle with the Holy Spirit on the fundamental question of what your function is. So does it do constant battle with the Holy Spirit about what your happiness is. It is not a two-way battle. The ego attacks and the Holy Spirit does not respond. He knows what your function is. He knows that it is your happiness.
Today we will try to go past this wholly meaningless battle and arrive at the truth about your function. We will not engage in senseless arguments about what it is. We will not become hopelessly involved in defining happiness and determining the means for achieving it. We will not indulge the ego by listening to its attacks on truth. We will merely be glad that we can find out what truth is.
Our longer practice period today has as its purpose your acceptance of the fact that not only is there a very real connection between the function God gave you and your happiness, but that they are actually identical. God gives you only happiness. Therefore, the function He gave you must be happiness, even if it appears to be different. Today’s exercises are an attempt to go beyond these differences in appearance, and recognize a common content where it exists in truth.
Begin the ten-to-fifteen-minute practice period by reviewing these thoughts:
God gives me only happiness.
He has given my function to me.
Therefore my function must be happiness.
Try to see the logic in this sequence, even if you do not yet accept the conclusion. It is only if the first two thoughts are wrong that the conclusion could be false. Let us, then, think about the premises for a while, as we are practicing.
The first premise is that God gives you only happiness. This could be false, of course, but in order to be false it is necessary to define God as something He is not. Love cannot give evil, and what is not happiness is evil. God cannot give what He does not have, and He cannot have what He is not. Unless God gives you only happiness, He must be evil. And it is this definition of Him you are believing if you do not accept the first premise.
The second premise is that God has given you your function. We have seen that there are only two parts of your mind. One is ruled by the ego, and is made up of illusions. The other is the home of the Holy Spirit, where truth abides. There are no other guides but these to choose between, and no other outcomes possible as a result of your choice but the fear that the ego always engenders, and the love that the Holy Spirit always offers to replace it.
Thus, it must be that your function is established by God through His Voice, or is made by the ego which you have made to replace Him. Which is true? Unless God gave your function to you, it must be the gift of the ego. Does the ego really have gifts to give, being itself an illusion and offering only the illusion of gifts?
Think about this during the longer practice period today. Think also about the many forms the illusion of your function has taken in your mind, and the many ways in which you tried to find salvation under the ego’s guidance. Did you find it? Were you happy? Did they bring you peace? We need great honesty today. Remember the outcomes fairly, and consider also whether it was ever reasonable to expect happiness from anything the ego ever proposed. Yet the ego is the only alternative to the Holy Spirit’s Voice.
You will listen to madness or hear the truth. Try to make this choice as you think about the premises on which our conclusion rests. We can share in this conclusion, but in no other. For God Himself shares it with us. Today’s idea is another giant stride in the perception of the same as the same, and the different as different. On one side stand all illusions. All truth stands on the other. Let us try today to realize that only the truth is true.
In the shorter practice periods, which would be most helpful today if undertaken twice an hour, this form of the application is suggested:
My happiness and function are one, because God has
given me both.
It will not take more than a minute, and probably less, to repeat these words slowly and think about them a little while as you say them.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1334: I have a question about the idea of a “self-concept” and its relationship to guilt. My understanding of the self-concept is this: I look in the mirror and assess the things I like and do not like about my body; whom I think about; who I am in the world financially; how I believe that I look compared to others; where I am in the world compared to others; etc. I see that there are things that I “like” and “dislike” about “myself.” Is it correct to say that according to A Course in Miracles , the things that I don’t like about myself are really projections of unhealed guilt that I am projecting onto my made up and false “self” in the world and onto my body; is that correct?
A: Without more specific information about what you dislike about yourself it is difficult to determine whether or not it is a projection of unhealed guilt. No one likes to hear this, but even things you like about yourself can come from unhealed guilt. It all depends on the goal you have chosen to pursue in your mind. If you (the decision-making part of your mind) are intent on validating your existence as an individual, then being kind and generous (seemingly positive traits) can be a way of having people notice you as someone very special. This would be the ego’s way of dealing with unhealed guilt — cover it over with a self-concept that makes it appear that you are really a good, innocent person. But you can also use those same traits in the service of forgiveness, which would have the effect of lessening your investment in being special and different from others, a very effective way of dealing with guilt. Similarly, any form of success in the world can be an expression of your ego, but it can also be given the purpose of helping you learn that your interests are not separate from anyone else’s. This is why Jesus tells us that “Love makes no comparisons” (W.pI.195.4:2) and that “the ego literally lives by comparisons (T.4.II.7:1) . Comparing yourself with others ultimately makes differences real, which is essential for the ego’s survival.
What is helpful to remember is that on one level (Level One), all self-concepts, whether judged as positive or negative, are of the ego, because they are substitutes for our true Self as Christ, which we have denied. This is a major theme in “Self-Concept versus Self” (T.31.V). But on another level (Level Two), our self-concepts can be a means of helping us get in touch with the content in our minds and our power to choose to identify either with the ego or the Holy Spirit. This points out the importance of learning to focus on purpose . Thus, Jesus stresses: “This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose?” (T.4.V.6:8,9). If you shift to this focus, then your work with self-concepts can be more helpful in healing your mind of the guilt that the ego has convinced us is real, but which Jesus is helping us learn is made up and never justified.
Q #1335: Please comment on our relationship with Jesus, and the importance of this in A Course in Miracles . My struggle is that I have difficulty connecting with Jesus, and I would like to drop this resistance. I have felt “spiritually void” for most of my life, after negatively experiencing my Christian (Catholic) upbringing. I understand that forgiveness is the answer, and I feel I have forgiven; however, I don’t feel within my relationship with Jesus. It was not something that was deeply cultivated in my childhood, and I have no real basis for the feeling of a “return.”
A: Yes, forgiveness is the answer, as it is in any relationship. Try to bring to the surface the negative images you have of Jesus, any anger or resentment. He reminds us that “some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world” (C.5.5:7) , and therefore we all need to become aware of what we are projecting onto Jesus, as these images and grievances prevent us from experiencing the positive elements in the relationship that are always present. Practically all formal religions of the world teach in some way that we are not worthy of God’s Love, and that we must sacrifice to purify ourselves of our sinfulness. The centerpiece of Christianity in particular has always been that Jesus, wholly pure and innocent, had to die because of our sins, and that his sacrificial death was part of God’s plan. And all of that has been presented as a supreme act of love. How could we not be mired in guilt and shame and highly conflicted in our relationship with Jesus?
Jesus comes to us through A Course in Miracles to tell us that sacrifice can never be part of love, and that it is only we (identified with the ego in our minds) who have convinced ourselves that we are sinful and guilty. The theologies that teach of sin and sacrifice are simply expressing the core principles of the ego thought system. Jesus is helping us to see the perversion of truth in that system, and he is asking us to allow him to help us undo our belief in it. This is what he means in saying of himself, “Forgive him your illusions, and behold how dear a brother he would be to you” (C.5.5:8). This is the basis for any relationship with Jesus, also well expressed in this passage: “We are ready to look more closely at the ego’s thought system because together we have the lamp that will dispel it, and since you realize you do not want it, you must be ready. . . . We will undo this error quietly together, and then look beyond it to the truth” (T.11.V.1:3,6). This is a process of gradually developing trust in the non-judgmental presence in your mind that wants only to help you look within at all the ways in which you are keeping love away. He assures us, “You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me instead of to your ego for guidance. . . . My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way” (T.4.VI.3:1; 6:1). The love is always there. In looking without judgment at all of our unkind, unloving, judgmental thoughts, we are turning to Jesus for guidance and letting go of the interferences to our awareness of that ever-present love.