ACIM Text Reading for May 21
Chapter 14 ~ Teaching for Truth
III. The Decision for Guiltlessness
The happy learner cannot feel guilty about learning. This is so essential to learning that it should never be forgotten. The guiltless learner learns easily because his thoughts are free. Yet this entails the recognition that guilt is interference, not salvation, and serves no useful function at all.
Perhaps you are accustomed to using guiltlessness merely to offset the pain of guilt, and do not look upon it as having value in itself. You believe that guilt and guiltlessness are both of value, each representing an escape from what the other does not offer you. You do not want either alone, for without both you do not see yourself as whole and therefore happy. Yet you are whole only in your guiltlessness, and only in your guiltlessness can you be happy. There is no conflict here. To wish for guilt in any way, in any form, will lose appreciation of the value of your guiltlessness, and push it from your sight.
There is no compromise that you can make with guilt, and escape the pain that only guiltlessness allays. Learning is living here, as creating is being in Heaven. Whenever the pain of guilt seems to attract you, remember that if you yield to it, you are deciding against your happiness, and will not learn how to be happy. Say therefore, to yourself, gently, but with the conviction born of the Love of God and of His Son,
Each day, each hour and minute, even each second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection; between the ego and the Holy Spirit. The ego is the choice for guilt; the Holy Spirit the choice for guiltlessness. The power of decision is all that is yours. What you can decide between is fixed, because there are no alternatives except truth and illusion. And there is no overlap between them, because they are opposites which cannot be reconciled and cannot both be true. You are guilty or guiltless, bound or free, unhappy or happy.
The miracle teaches you that you have chosen guiltlessness, freedom and joy. It is not a cause, but an effect. It is the natural result of choosing right, attesting to your happiness that comes from choosing to be free of guilt. Everyone you offer healing to returns it. Everyone you attack keeps it and cherishes it by holding it against you. Whether he does this or does it not will make no difference; you will think he does. It is impossible to offer what you do not want without this penalty. The cost of giving is receiving. Either it is a penalty from which you suffer, or the happy purchase of a treasure to hold dear.
No penalty is ever asked of God’s Son except by himself and of himself. Every chance given him to heal is another opportunity to replace darkness with light and fear with love. If he refuses it he binds himself to darkness, because he did not choose to free his brother and enter light with him. By giving power to nothing, he throws away the joyous opportunity to learn that nothing has no power. And by not dispelling darkness, he became afraid of darkness and of light. The joy of learning that darkness has no power over the Son of God is the happy lesson the Holy Spirit teaches, and would have you teach with Him. It is His joy to teach it, as it will be yours.
The way to teach this simple lesson is merely this: Guiltlessness is invulnerability. Therefore, make your invulnerability manifest to everyone. Teach him that, whatever he may try to do to you, your perfect freedom from the belief that you can be harmed shows him that he is guiltless. He can do nothing that can hurt you, and by refusing to allow him to think he can, you teach him that the Atonement, which you have accepted for yourself, is also his. There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God. His guilt is wholly without cause, and being without cause, cannot exist.
God is the only Cause, and guilt is not of Him. Teach no one he has hurt you, for if you do, you teach yourself that what is not of God has power over you. The causeless cannot be. Do not attest to it, and do not foster belief in it in any mind. Remember always that mind is one, and cause is one. You will learn communication with this oneness only when you learn to deny the causeless, and accept the Cause of God as yours. The power that God has given to His Son is his, and nothing else can His Son see or choose to look upon without imposing on himself the penalty of guilt, in place of all the happy teaching the Holy Spirit would gladly offer him.
Whenever you choose to make decisions for yourself you are thinking destructively, and the decision will be wrong. It will hurt you because of the concept of decision that led to it. It is not true that you can make decisions by yourself or for yourself alone. No thought of God’s Son can be separate or isolated in its effects. Every decision is made for the whole Sonship, directed in and out, and influencing a constellation larger than anything you ever dreamed of.
Those who accept the Atonement are invulnerable. But those who believe they are guilty will respond to guilt, because they think it is salvation, and will not refuse to see it and side with it. They believe that increasing guilt is self-protection. And they will fail to understand the simple fact that what they do not want must hurt them. All this arises because they do not believe that what they want is good. Yet will was given them because it is holy, and will bring to them all that they need, coming as naturally as peace that knows no limits. There is nothing their will fails to provide that offers them anything of value. Yet because they do not understand their will, the Holy Spirit quietly understands it for them, and gives them what they want without effort, strain, or the impossible burden of deciding what they want and need alone.
It will never happen that you must make decisions for yourself. You are not bereft of help, and Help that knows the answer. Would you be content with little, which is all that you alone can offer yourself, when He Who gives you everything will simply offer it to you? He will never ask what you have done to make you worthy of the gift of God. Ask it not therefore of yourself. Instead, accept His answer, for He knows that you are worthy of everything God wills for you. Do not try to escape the gift of God He so freely and so gladly offers you. He offers you but what God gave Him for you. You need not decide whether or not you are deserving of it. God knows you are.
Would you deny the truth of God’s decision, and place your pitiful appraisal of yourself in place of His calm and unswerving value of His Son? Nothing can shake God’s conviction of the perfect purity of everything that He created, for it is wholly pure. Do not decide against it, for being of Him it must be true. Peace abides in every mind that quietly accepts the plan God set for its Atonement, relinquishing its own. You know not of salvation, for you do not understand it. Make no decisions about what it is or where it lies, but ask the Holy Spirit everything, and leave all decisions to His gentle counsel.
The One Who knows the plan of God that God would have you follow can teach you what it is. Only His wisdom is capable of guiding you to follow it. Every decision you undertake alone but signifies that you would define what salvation is, and what you would be saved from. The Holy Spirit knows that all salvation is escape from guilt. You have no other ‘enemy’, and against this strange distortion of the purity of the Son of God the Holy Spirit is your only Friend. He is the strong protector of the innocence that sets you free. And it is His decision to undo everything that would obscure your innocence from your unclouded mind.
Let Him, therefore, be the only Guide that you would follow to salvation. He knows the way, and leads you gladly on it. With Him you will not fail to learn that what God wills for you is your will. Without His guidance you will think you know alone, and will decide against your peace as surely as you decided that salvation lay in you alone. Salvation is of Him to Whom God gave it for you. He has not forgotten it. Forget Him not and He will make every decision for you, for your salvation and the peace of God in you.
Seek not to appraise the worth of God’s Son whom He created holy, for to do so is to evaluate his Father and judge against Him. And you will feel guilty for this imagined crime, which no one in this world or Heaven could possibly commit. The Holy Spirit teaches only that the ‘sin’ of self-replacement on the throne of God is not a source of guilt. What cannot happen can have no effects to fear. Be quiet in your faith in Him Who loves you, and would lead you out of insanity. Madness may be your choice, but not your reality. Never forget the Love of God, Who has remembered you. For it is quite impossible that He could ever let His Son drop from the loving Mind wherein he was created, and where his abode was fixed in perfect peace forever.
Say to the Holy Spirit only, ‘Decide for me’, and it is done. For His decisions are reflections of what God knows about you, and in this light, error of any kind becomes impossible. Why would you struggle so frantically to anticipate all you cannot know, when all knowledge lies behind every decision the Holy Spirit makes for you? Learn of His wisdom and His Love, and teach His answer to everyone who struggles in the dark. For you decide for them and for yourself.
How gracious it is to decide all things through Him Whose equal Love is given equally to all alike! He leaves you no one outside you. And so He gives you what is yours, because your Father would have you share it with Him. In everything be led by Him, and do not reconsider. Trust Him to answer quickly, surely, and with Love for everyone who will be touched in any way by the decision. And everyone will be. Would you take unto yourself the sole responsibility for deciding what can bring only good to everyone? Would you know this?
You taught yourself the most unnatural habit of not communicating with your Creator. Yet you remain in close communication with Him, and with everything that is within Him, as it is within yourself. Unlearn isolation through His loving guidance, and learn of all the happy communication that you have thrown away but could not lose.
Whenever you are in doubt what you should do, think of His Presence in you, and tell yourself this, and only this:
Then let Him teach you quietly how to perceive your guiltlessness, which is already there.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 21
Forgiveness is the key to happiness.
Here is the answer to your search for peace. Here is the key to meaning in a world that seems to make no sense. Here is the way to safety in apparent dangers that appear to threaten you at every turn, and bring uncertainty to all your hopes of ever finding quietness and peace. Here are all questions answered; here the end of all uncertainty ensured at last.
The unforgiving mind is full of fear, and offers love no room to be itself; no place where it can spread its wings in peace and soar above the turmoil of the world. The unforgiving mind is sad, without the hope of respite and release from pain. It suffers and abides in misery, peering about in darkness, seeing not, yet certain of the danger lurking there.
The unforgiving mind is torn with doubt, confused about itself and all it sees; afraid and angry, weak and blustering, afraid to go ahead, afraid to stay, afraid to waken or to go to sleep, afraid of every sound, yet more afraid of stillness; terrified of darkness, yet more terrified at the approach of light. What can the unforgiving mind perceive but its damnation? What can it behold except the proof that all its sins are real?
The unforgiving mind sees no mistakes, but only sins. It looks upon the world with sightless eyes, and shrieks as it beholds its own projections rising to attack its miserable parody of life. It wants to live, yet wishes it were dead. It wants forgiveness, yet it sees no hope. It wants escape, yet can conceive of none because it sees the sinful everywhere.
The unforgiving mind is in despair, without the prospect of a future which can offer anything but more despair. Yet it regards its judgment of the world as irreversible, and does not see it has condemned itself to this despair. It thinks it cannot change, for what it sees bears witness that its judgment is correct. It does not ask, because it thinks it knows. It does not question, certain it is right.
Forgiveness is acquired. It is not inherent in the mind, which cannot sin. As sin is an idea you taught yourself, forgiveness must be learned by you as well, but from a Teacher other than yourself, Who represents the other Self in you. Through Him you learn how to forgive the self you think you made, and let it disappear. Thus you return your mind as one to Him Who is your Self, and Who can never sin.
Each unforgiving mind presents you with an opportunity to teach your own how to forgive itself. Each one awaits release from hell through you, and turns to you imploringly for Heaven here and now. It has no hope, but you become its hope. And as its hope, do you become your own. The unforgiving mind must learn through your forgiveness that it has been saved from hell. And as you teach salvation, you will learn. Yet all your teaching and your learning will be not of you, but of the Teacher Who was given you to show the way to you.
Today we practice learning to forgive. If you are willing, you can learn today to take the key to happiness, and use it on your own behalf. We will devote ten minutes in the morning, and at night another ten, to learning how to give forgiveness and receive forgiveness, too.
The unforgiving mind does not believe that giving and receiving are the same. Yet we will try to learn today that they are one through practicing forgiveness toward one whom you think of as an enemy, and one whom you consider as a friend. And as you learn to see them both as one, we will extend the lesson to yourself, and see that their escape included yours.
Begin the longer practice periods by thinking of someone you do not like, who seems to irritate you, or to cause regret in you if you should meet him; one you actively despise, or merely try to overlook. It does not matter what the form your anger takes. You probably have chosen him already. He will do.
Now close your eyes and see him in your mind, and look at him a while. Try to perceive some light in him somewhere; a little gleam which you had never noticed. Try to find some little spark of brightness shining through the ugly picture that you hold of him. Look at this picture till you see a light somewhere within it, and then try to let this light extend until it covers him, and makes the picture beautiful and good.
Look at this changed perception for a while, and turn your mind to one you call a friend. Try to transfer the light you learned to see around your former “enemy” to him. Perceive him now as more than friend to you, for in that light his holiness shows you your savior, saved and saving, healed and whole.
Then let him offer you the light you see in him, and let your “enemy” and friend unite in blessing you with what you gave. Now are you one with them, and they with you. Now have you been forgiven by yourself. Do not forget, throughout the day, the role forgiveness plays in bringing happiness to every unforgiving mind, with yours among them. Every hour tell yourself:
Forgiveness is the key to happiness. I will awaken from the
dream that I am mortal, fallible and full of sin, and know
I am the perfect Son of God.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #521: Are we one mind with many spirits? Or are we just one mind that has gone mad and believes it is many? If the second part is true then I am really asking myself this question and would get the answer back from myself. This can make one feel nuts, you do know that, don’t you? Or, again, am I a spirit, which God created and infused part of His Mind into me? If that be the case then I can understand the word Sonship — it is many personalities that are actually ONE together which would mean that yes we are our own expressions of God individually but we can not be that without each other. Or have I totally lost track of the whole thing? Please help.
A: There is no really satisfactory way to answer your question because it is like trying to understand what sanity is from within the insane asylum. Everything we see is a good demonstration of what is not reality, but none of it can give us even a glimpse of what the truth in fact is. We can speak in symbols and metaphors, but the truth of Who we are is beyond all such feeble-minded attempts to portray what is beyond portrayal. There is no relationship between our experience here within the split mind and our reality as God’s one Son, complete and whole and undifferentiated, in Heaven. There is a memory of oneness, which at best allows us to recognize that something is not right here and that there is Something else to which we yearn to return. But even the notion of return is an illusion, since we have never in reality left (T.6.II.11:1,2). How then can we possibly understand reality when our experience so clearly seems to contradict the truth?
The one Mind has not gone mad — It remains unchanged. What seems to be many is only illusion, a dreamlike state that creates a cacophony of discordant notes that seem to have replaced the harmonious single note of Heaven’s pure melody but have only covered it over, or seem to have covered it over. There is no path that will allow us to trace our experience here as seemingly separate fragments back to the oneness that is our reality because they are totally discontinuous states, one real and one false. Reality has not changed and the separation bears absolutely no relationship to it. In the end, we will simply release all of our thoughts and questions and concepts, and truth will for a fleeting moment seem to fill the void. And our one Life will continue on, uninterrupted and uninterruptible, as it always has.
Q #522: Many things in this world are pleasurable yet clearly at odds with what A Course in Miracles teaches. I like calculus and physics and find myself working on problems for the joy of the exercise. It is one of the pleasures of the illusion and, yes, it keeps me rooted very much in this world. Yet there is the promise of oneness but it does not motivate me enough to practice the silence on a regular basis.
A: It sounds as if you may be confusing the Course with other spiritual paths. There would be nothing within the disciplines of calculus or physics that in themselves would be at odds with the teachings of the Course. All the forms of the world, once we find ourselves within the illusion, are neutral. The only question the Course encourages us to ask is what purpose will we give them (T.4.V.6:4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11). And there are only two alternatives: the ego’s purpose of separation (T.11.V.7) and the Holy Spirit’s purpose of forgiveness (T.25.III.5:1,2,3).
So, for example, if you use working on calculus or physics problems as a way of avoiding someone with whom you are having difficulty, escaping into the mental activity to push away uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings, your purpose would be to maintain the separation. In contrast, if you saw the simple elegance of the solution to a particular calculus or physics problem as a reminder of the simplicity that we all share as God’s one Son, your purpose would be forgiveness or healing.
The primary practice of the Course is not meditation or contemplation, but forgiveness (T.18.VII.4,5,6). The Course more clearly than most other spiritual paths not only acknowledges but explains our resistance to the oneness, and does not judge us for it. It is not that God has chosen to keep Himself hidden from us but that we have chosen to hide from Him, out of fear of His retribution for our perceived sinfulness. And so, rather than a direct approach to the truth and oneness that many other paths embrace, represented by meditative and contemplative practices, the Course offers an indirect approach that focuses on undoing — forgiveness — rather than doing (T.14.I.4,5). So simply recognizing your resistance to the oneness and not judging yourself for it would be putting the Course’s principles into practice. And becoming more aware of the purpose you have chosen for everything in your life, including but not limited to your favorite pursuits, will allow you to make a different choice when you recognize you have given them the ego’s purpose.