ACIM Text Reading for April 6
Chapter 9 ~ The Acceptance of the Atonement
IV. The Holy Spirit’s Plan of Forgiveness
Atonement is for all, because it is the way to undo the belief that anything is for you alone. To forgive is to overlook. Look, then, beyond error and do not let your perception rest upon it, for you will believe what your perception holds. Accept as true only what your brother is, if you would know yourself. Perceive what he is not and you cannot know what you are, because you see him falsely. Remember always that your Identity is shared, and that Its sharing is Its reality.
You have a part to play in the Atonement, but the plan of the Atonement is beyond you. You do not understand how to overlook errors, or you would not make them. It would merely be further error to believe either that you do not make them, or that you can correct them without a Guide to correction. And if you do not follow this Guide, your errors will not be corrected. The plan is not yours because of your limited ideas about what you are. This sense of limitation is where all errors arise. The way to undo them, therefore, is not of you but for you.
The Atonement is a lesson in sharing, which is given you because you have forgotten how to do it. The Holy Spirit merely reminds you of the natural use of your abilities. By reinterpreting the ability to attack into the ability to share, He translates what you have made into what God created. If you would accomplish this through Him you cannot look on your abilities through the eyes of the ego, or you will judge them as it does. All their harmfulness lies in the ego’s judgement. All their helpfulness lies in the judgement of the Holy Spirit.
The ego, too, has a plan of forgiveness because you are asking for one, though not of the right teacher. The ego’s plan, of course, makes no sense and will not work. By following its plan you will merely place yourself in an impossible situation, to which the ego always leads you. The ego’s plan is to have you see error clearly first, and then overlook it. Yet how can you overlook what you have made real? By seeing it clearly, you have made it real and cannot overlook it. This is where the ego is forced to appeal to ‘mysteries’, insisting that you must accept the meaningless to save yourself. Many have tried to do this in my name, forgetting that my words make perfect sense because they come from God. They are as sensible now as they ever were, because they speak of ideas that are eternal.
Forgiveness that is learned of me does not use fear to undo fear. Nor does it make real the unreal and then destroy it. Forgiveness through the Holy Spirit lies simply in looking beyond error from the beginning, and thus keeping it unreal for you. Do not let any belief in its realness enter your mind, or you will also believe that you must undo what you have made in order to be forgiven. What has no effect does not exist, and to the Holy Spirit the effects of error are non existent. By steadily and consistently cancelling out all its effects, everywhere and in all respects, He teaches that the ego does not exist and proves it.
Follow the Holy Spirit’s teaching in forgiveness, then, because forgiveness is His function and He knows how to fulfil it perfectly. That is what I meant when I said that miracles are natural, and when they do not occur something has gone wrong. Miracles are merely the sign of your willingness to follow the Holy Spirit’s plan of salvation, recognising that you do not understand what it is. His work is not your function, and unless you accept this you cannot learn what your function is.
The confusion of functions is so typical of the ego that you should be quite familiar with it by now. The ego believes that all functions belong to it, even though it has no idea what they are. This is more than mere confusion. It is a particularly dangerous combination of grandiosity and confusion that makes the ego likely to attack anyone and anything for no reason at all. This is exactly what the ego does. It is unpredictable in its responses, because it has no idea of what it perceives.
If you have no idea what is happening, how appropriately can you expect to react? You might ask yourself, regardless of how you may account for the reaction, whether its unpredictability places the ego in a sound position as your guide. Let me repeat that the ego’s qualifications as a guide are singularly unfortunate, and that it is a remarkably poor choice as a teacher of salvation. Anyone who elects a totally insane guide must be totally insane himself. Nor is it true that you do not realise the guide is insane. You realise it because I realise it, and you have judged it by the same standard I have.
The ego literally lives on borrowed time, and its days are numbered. Do not fear the Last Judgement, but welcome it and do not wait, for the ego’s time is ‘borrowed’ from your eternity. This is the Second Coming that was made for you as the First was created. The Second Coming is merely the return of sense. Can this possibly be fearful?
What can be fearful but fantasy, and who turns to fantasy unless he despairs of finding satisfaction in reality? Yet it is certain that you will never find satisfaction in fantasy, so that your only hope is to change your mind about reality. Only if the decision that reality is fearful is wrong can God be right. And I assure you that God isright. Be glad, then, that you have been wrong, but this was only because you did not know who you were. Had you known, you could no more have been wrong than God can.
The impossible can happen only in fantasy. When you search for reality in fantasies you will not find it. The symbols of fantasy are of the ego, and of these you will find many. But do not look for meaning in them. They have no more meaning than the fantasies into which they are woven. Fairy tales can be pleasant or fearful, but no one calls them true. Children may believe them, and so, for a while, the tales are true for them. Yet when reality dawns, the fantasies are gone. Reality has not gone in the meanwhile. The Second Coming is the awareness of reality, not its return.
Behold, my child, reality is here. It belongs to you and me and God, and is perfectly satisfying to all of us. Only this awareness heals, because it is the awareness of truth.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for April 6
I am under no laws but God’s.
We have observed before how many senseless things have seemed to you to be salvation. Each has imprisoned you with laws as senseless as itself. You are not bound by them. Yet to understand that this is so, you must first realize salvation lies not there. While you would seek for it in things that have no meaning, you bind yourself to laws that make no sense. Thus do you seek to prove salvation is where it is not.
Today we will be glad you cannot prove it. For if you could, you would forever seek salvation where it is not, and never find it. The idea for today tells you once again how simple is salvation. Look for it where it waits for you, and there it will be found. Look nowhere else, for it is nowhere else.
Think of the freedom in the recognition that you are not bound by all the strange and twisted laws you have set up to save you. You really think that you would starve unless you have stacks of green paper strips and piles of metal discs. You really think a small round pellet or some fluid pushed into your veins through a sharpened needle will ward off disease and death. You really think you are alone unless another body is with you.
It is insanity that thinks these things. You call them laws, and put them under different names in a long catalogue of rituals that have no use and serve no purpose. You think you must obey the “laws” of medicine, of economics and of health. Protect the body, and you will be saved.
These are not laws, but madness. The body is endangered by the mind that hurts itself. The body suffers just in order that the mind will fail to see it is the victim of itself. The body’s suffering is a mask the mind holds up to hide what really suffers. It would not understand it is its own enemy; that it attacks itself and wants to die. It is from this your “laws” would save the body. It is for this you think you are a body.
There are no laws except the laws of God. This needs repeating, over and over, until you realize it applies to everything that you have made in opposition to God’s Will. Your magic has no meaning. What it is meant to save does not exist. Only what it is meant to hide will save you.
The laws of God can never be replaced. We will devote today to rejoicing that this is so. It is no longer a truth that we would hide. We realize instead it is a truth that keeps us free forever. Magic imprisons, but the laws of God make free. The light has come because there are no laws but His.
We will begin the longer practice periods today with a short review of the different kinds of “laws” we have believed we must obey. These would include, for example, the “laws” of nutrition, of immunization, of medication, and of the body’s protection in innumerable ways. Think further; you believe in the “laws” of friendship, of “good” relationships and reciprocity. Perhaps you even think that there are laws which set forth what is God’s and what is yours. Many “religions” have been based on this. They would not save but damn in Heaven’s name. Yet they are no more strange than other “laws” you hold must be obeyed to make you safe.
There are no laws but God’s. Dismiss all foolish magical beliefs today, and hold your mind in silent readiness to hear the Voice that speaks the truth to you. You will be listening to One Who says there is no loss under the laws of God. Payment is neither given nor received. Exchange cannot be made; there are no substitutes; and nothing is replaced by something else. God’s laws forever give and never take.
Hear Him Who tells you this, and realize how foolish are the “laws” you thought upheld the world you thought you saw. Then listen further. He will tell you more. About the Love your Father has for you. About the endless joy He offers you. About His yearning for His only Son, created as His channel for creation; denied to Him by his belief in hell.
Let us today open God’s channels to Him, and let His Will extend through us to Him. Thus is creation endlessly increased. His Voice will speak of this to us, as well as of the joys of Heaven which His laws keep limitless forever. We will repeat today’s idea until we have listened and understood there are no laws but God’s. Then we will tell ourselves, as a dedication with which the practice period concludes:
I am under no laws but God’s.
We will repeat this dedication as often as possible today; at least four or five times an hour, as well as in response to any temptation to experience ourselves as subject to other laws throughout the day. It is our statement of freedom from all danger and all tyranny. It is our acknowledgment that God is our Father, and that His Son is saved.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: There is no simple or easily understood definition for mind in the Course, because its meaning depends on the context in which it is used. Also, its true nature is abstract and it exists outside of time and space in all of its meanings, so we will not be fully satisfied with any explanation of it. For we will be attempting to understand mind with a limited (and illusory) part of it — the split mind. And time and space are, in fact, miscreations of the split mind itself, rather than dimensions in which it operates.
It may be helpful to point out first that the Course’s use of mind is different from the meaning given to mind in almost all other systems of thought, such as Eastern religions, for which mind is only the false ego self, caught in illusions; and various scientific disciplines, such as psychology and neurology, which take a reductionistic view of mind, reducing it to an epiphenomenon, or manifestation, of the physical/chemical/electrical activities of the brain. Even Freud, whose powerful insights into the mind are integrated into the Course’s exposition of the ego, accepted its organic origins without question.
The most extensive discussion in the Course of the term is found in the first section of the Clarification of Terms, “Mind-Spirit” (C.1). There mind is initially defined as “the activating agent of spirit, supplying its creative energy…Spirit is the Thought of God which He created like Himself” (C.1.1:1,3). But since we cannot conceive of the nature of spirit or God, and creation has nothing to do with form, the definition sheds little light on the meaning of the term. Usually, when the Course refers to mind at this level — our true reality as spirit — the term is capitalized and it refers to either God or Christ, His perfect and wholly unified Son (C.1.1:2). There is little more to be said about mind at this level. Its experience is only of perfect oneness, with no awareness of differences or distinctions of any kind, because they are not real.
More can be said, although still not easily understood, when we move to the level of the split or “individual mind” (C.1.2:3), which seemed to arise when the Son of God seemed to fall asleep and dream that he could be separate from his Father. This “part of the mind is entirely illusory and makes only illusions” (C.1.4:1). At this level, mind experiences “consciousness, the receptive mechanism” (C.1.7:3,4), which necessarily implies a separation between perceiver and perceived, part of the illusion. It is only at this level that choice seems to exist, for there can be no choice in our reality as spirit, where, again, no differences or distinctions exist. It is within this illusory split mind that everything we believe is solid and external and real is experienced. The Course distinguishes between two parts of this mind, or two ways of thinking within this mind: Wrong-mindedness represents the choice to listen to the voice of the ego, or false self. Right- mindedness represents the choice to listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, the reflection of our true Self or Mind (C.1.5:1,2).
Although the Course attempts to make us aware that our true reality is Mind, its teaching is addressed only to the split mind. The Course’s purpose is to train our split mind to remember that it contains a choice (C.1.7:1), for it has accepted the ego as its only reality and has forgotten that the ego is only a choice. So the Course helps us to recognize the consequences of a choice for the ego — sin, guilt, fear, pain, loss, and death — and reminds us that there is a different choice — the Holy Spirit — that opens the door to a completely different kind of experience, based on forgiveness — peace, joy and love. Over time, the Course will lead our split minds back to the initial decision point where we made a seemingly irreversible choice for the ego. And now we can make a different choice, removing us from time and space as we become aware of the real world, the totally forgiven world. From here, it is only one final step, “taken” by God Himself, which returns us to the wholeness of spirit and the oneness of Mind that we never in reality left (C.1.5:2,3,4).