ACIM Text Reading for May 23
Chapter 14 ~ Teaching for Truth
V. The Circle of Atonement
The only part of your mind that has reality is the part that links you still with God. Would you have all of it transformed into a radiant message of God’s Love, to share with all the lonely ones who have denied Him? God makes this possible. Would you deny His yearning to be known? You yearn for Him, as He for you. This is forever changeless. Accept, then, the immutable. Leave the world of death behind, and return quietly to Heaven. There is nothing of value here, and everything of value there. Listen to the Holy Spirit, and to God through Him. He speaks of you to you. There is no guilt in you, for God is blessed in His Son as the Son is blessed in Him.
Everyone has a special part to play in the Atonement, but the message given to each one is always the same; God’s Son is guiltless. Each one teaches the message differently, and learns it differently. Yet until he teaches it and learns it, he will suffer the pain of dim awareness that his true function remains unfulfilled in him. The burden of guilt is heavy, but God would not have you bound by it. His plan for your awaking is as perfect as yours is fallible. You know not what you do, but He Who knows is with you. His gentleness is yours, and all the love you share with God He holds in trust for you. He would teach you nothing except how to be happy.
Blessed Son of a wholly blessing Father, joy was created for you. Who can condemn whom God has blessed? There is nothing in the Mind of God that does not share His shining innocence. Creation is the natural extension of perfect purity. Your only calling here is to devote yourself, with active willingness, to the denial of guilt in all its forms. To accuse is not to understand. The happy learners of the Atonement become the teachers of the innocence that is the right of all that God created. Deny them not what is their due, for you will not withhold it from them alone.
The inheritance of the Kingdom is the right of God’s Son, given him in his creation. Do not try to steal it from him, or you will ask for guilt and will experience it. Protect his purity from every thought that would steal it away and keep it from his sight. Bring innocence to light, in answer to the call of the Atonement. Never allow purity to remain hidden, but shine away the heavy veils of guilt within which the Son of God has hidden himself from his own sight.
We are all joined in the Atonement here, and nothing else can unite us in this world. So will the world of separation slip away, and full communication be restored between the Father and the Son. The miracle acknowledges the guiltlessness that must have been denied to produce the need of healing. Do not withhold this glad acknowledgement, for hope of happiness and release from suffering of every kind lie in it. Who is there but wishes to be free of pain? He may not yet have learned how to exchange guilt for innocence, nor realise that only in this exchange can freedom from pain be his. Yet those who have failed to learn need teaching, not attack. To attack those who have need of teaching is to fail to learn from them.
Teachers of innocence, each in his own way, have joined together, taking their part in the unified curriculum of the Atonement. There is no unity of learning goals apart from this. There is no conflict in this curriculum, which has one aim however it is taught. Each effort made on its behalf is offered for the single purpose of release from guilt, to the eternal glory of God and His creation. And every teaching that points to this points straight to Heaven, and the peace of God. There is no pain, no trial, no fear that teaching this can fail to overcome. The power of God Himself supports this teaching, and guarantees its limitless results.
Join your own efforts to the power that cannot fail and must result in peace. No one can be untouched by teaching such as this. You will not see yourself beyond the power of God if you teach only this. You will not be exempt from the effects of this most holy lesson, which seeks but to restore what is the right of God’s creation. From everyone whom you accord release from guilt you will inevitably learn your innocence. The circle of Atonement has no end. And you will find ever-increasing confidence in your safe inclusion in the circle with everyone you bring within its safety and its perfect peace.
Peace, then, be unto everyone who becomes a teacher of peace. For peace is the acknowledgement of perfect purity, from which no one is excluded. Within its holy circle is everyone whom God created as His Son. Joy is its unifying attribute, with no one left outside to suffer guilt alone. The power of God draws everyone to its safe embrace of love and union. Stand quietly within this circle, and attract all tortured minds to join with you in the safety of its peace and holiness. Abide with me within it, as teachers of Atonement, not of guilt.
Blessed are you who teach with me. Our power comes not of us, but of our Father. In guiltlessness we know Him, as He knows us guiltless. I stand within the circle, calling you to peace. Teach peace with me, and stand with me on holy ground. Remember for everyone your Father’s power that He has given him. Believe not that you cannot teach His perfect peace. Stand not outside, but join with me within. Fail not the only purpose to which my teaching calls you. Restore to God His Son as He created him, by teaching him his innocence.
The crucifixion had no part in the Atonement. Only the resurrection became my part in it. That is the symbol of the release from guilt by guiltlessness. Whom you perceive as guilty you would crucify. Yet you restore guiltlessness to whomever you see as guiltless. Crucifixion is always the ego’s aim. It sees everyone as guilty, and by its condemnation it would kill. The Holy Spirit sees only guiltlessness, and in His gentleness He would release from fear and re-establish the reign of love. The power of love is in His gentleness, which is of God and therefore cannot crucify nor suffer crucifixion. The temple you restore becomes your altar, for it was rebuilt through you. And everything you give to God is yours. Thus He creates, and thus must you restore.
Each one you see you place within the holy circle of Atonement or leave outside, judging him fit for crucifixion or for redemption. If you bring him into the circle of purity, you will rest there with him. If you leave him without, you join him there. Judge not except in quietness which is not of you. Refuse to accept anyone as without the blessing of Atonement, and bring him into it by blessing him. Holiness must be shared, for therein lies everything that makes it holy. Come gladly to the holy circle, and look out in peace on all who think they are outside. Cast no one out, for here is what he seeks along with you. Come, let us join him in the holy place of peace which is for all of us, united as one within the Cause of peace.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 23
I thank my Father for His gifts to me.
Today let us be thankful. We have come to gentler pathways and to smoother roads. There is no thought of turning back, and no implacable resistance to the truth. A bit of wavering remains, some small objections and a little hesitance, but you can well be grateful for your gains, which are far greater than you realize.
A day devoted now to gratitude will add the benefit of some insight into the real extent of all the gains which you have made; the gifts you have received. Be glad today, in loving thankfulness, your Father has not left you to yourself, nor let you wander in the dark alone. Be grateful He has saved you from the self you thought you made to take the place of Him and His creation. Give Him thanks today.
Give thanks that He has not abandoned you, and that His Love forever will remain shining on you, forever without change. Give thanks as well that you are changeless, for the Son He loves is changeless as Himself. Be grateful you are saved. Be glad you have a function in salvation to fulfill. Be thankful that your value far transcends your meager gifts and petty judgments of the one whom God established as His Son.
Today in gratitude we lift our hearts above despair, and raise our thankful eyes, no longer looking downward to the dust. We sing the song of thankfulness today, in honor of the Self that God has willed to be our true Identity in Him. Today we smile on everyone we see, and walk with lightened footsteps as we go to do what is appointed us to do.
We do not go alone. And we give thanks that in our solitude a Friend has come to speak the saving Word of God to us. And thanks to you for listening to Him. His Word is soundless if it be not heard. In thanking Him the thanks are yours as well. An unheard message will not save the world, however mighty be the Voice that speaks, however loving may the message be.
Thanks be to you who heard, for you become the messenger who brings His Voice with you, and lets It echo round and round the world. Receive the thanks of God today, as you give thanks to Him. For He would offer you the thanks you give, since He receives your gifts in loving gratitude, and gives them back a thousand and a hundred thousand more than they were given. He will bless your gifts by sharing them with you. And so they grow in power and in strength, until they fill the world with gladness and with gratitude.
Receive His thanks and offer yours to Him for fifteen minutes twice today. And you will realize to Whom you offer thanks, and Whom He thanks as you are thanking Him. This holy half an hour given Him will be returned to you in terms of years for every second; power to save the world eons more quickly for your thanks to Him.
Receive His thanks, and you will understand how lovingly He holds you in His Mind, how deep and limitless His care for you, how perfect is His gratitude to you. Remember hourly to think of Him, and give Him thanks for everything He gave His Son, that he might rise above the world, remembering his Father and his Self.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #525: Recently a friend of mine did something that really hurt my feelings. I’ve been trying to forgive him but I can’t seem to get the incident out of my mind. So I went to the workbook section that begins with “What is Forgiveness” for a remedy. I didn’t get beyond the first sentence: “Forgiveness recognizes what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred.” Would you please try to clarify what is meant by “never occurred” or “what didn’t happen”?
A: Whatever occurred in form between you and your friend did take place. The workbook is not advocating denial of our experience in the dream. What your friend did not do is take your peace away, nor cause the feelings you may have. That can happen only as the result of a choice in the mind to choose against peace, by choosing to believe the separation is real. This means choosing the ego as teacher, accepting the ego’s interpretation of what occurs in the dream of separation. Basic to the ego thought system is the belief that external circumstances are the cause of internal conflict. A Course in Miracles calls this magic and upside-down thinking. The miracle, on the other hand, is recognizing that nothing external has any effect on our peace.
One of the most important goals of the Course, if not the most important goal, is to teach us that we have a mind with the power to choose. It is this power to choose that is the foundation of the cause and effect principle. The line you quote from the workbook is one of the many ways the Course teaches this principle. You thought your brother caused you to be upset, by hurting you. That is not what happened. What did happen is that prior to any external event with your friend, you made a choice in your mind to identify with the ego by believing you are a separate individual in a body, rather than an innocent Son of God who is spirit, as God created you. That is where you really were. Guilt at having made this choice is projected outside of the mind in the form of reactions to all the upsetting situations encountered in relationships and the world.
When we attack our true Identity as the Son of God by identifying with the ego, we cannot but be hurt by everyone and everything in the dream. We are literally “under attack,” but it is our own attack, as Jesus tells us in the text: “All attack is Self attack. It cannot be anything else. Arising from your own decision not to be what you are, it is an attack on your identification. Attack is thus the way in which your identification is lost, because when you attack, you must have forgotten what you are” (T.10.II.5:1,2,3,4). If a choice in the mind is the cause of how we feel, then we cannot be the victim of people or circumstances outside of the mind (W.pI.31); we cannot be hurt by anything external.Therefore: “There is nothing to forgive. No one can hurt the Son of God”(T.14.III.7:5, 6). Forgiveness begins with the willingness to recognize this process and see the mind as the true cause of your hurt, not your brother. Accepting that you cannot be hurt is the kindness of forgiveness offered to yourself, as well as to your friend.
Q #526: I recently read a book in which the author, a revered yogi, says that God told him that He (God) is projecting the world for His own purposes. Yet in A Course in Miracles Jesus says that we are projecting the world. With so many people, past and present, claiming to “hear God” or “channel Jesus” how can we know who to believe, especially when, in spite of their apparent sincerity and good will, they say diametrically opposite things, as cited above?
A: It is always a mistake to look for consistency at the level of form or symbol across various spiritualities. Only content can be consistent, and that has nothing to do with theology or metaphysics. Even Jesus is inconsistent through his Course in the things that he says about forgiveness, healing and the miracle, and about the body and the mind. But his content is unwaveringly pure. And he acknowledges that those seeking controversy within the Course’s teachings will find it (C.in.2,3).
So a spiritual teacher, coming from a tradition and a set of symbols and myths very different from the Course’s, inevitably will assert things inconsistent with or even contradictory to the Course’s teachings. And what are we to do about these seemingly paradoxical assertions? The answer lies not within an analysis of the various forms of the teachings but rather with an honest assessment of your own response to the teachings, recognizing that not everyone will have the same response. The ego thought system is one of fragmentation and differentiation. Since the Holy Spirit uses for healing what the ego has made for separation, we will each work within the set of differentiated symbols that are personally most meaningful to us. Jesus recognizes this at the beginning of the manual when he observes that “this is a manual for a special curriculum, intended for teachers of a special form of the universal course. There are many thousands of other forms, all with the same outcome” (M.1.4:1,2)
For the key in one’s search for a spiritual path is not to find the truth out there — it’s not out there (with apologies to X-files aficionados) — but to be open to finding and following the path to which you personally resonate, that speaks to you in the symbols and metaphors that make sense to you. None of them is real, so all that matters is that you recognize the path that will serve you as a means ultimately to move beyond all form and symbols, even if you do not recognize that purpose when you first come to the teaching. For this reason, it makes no sense to try to persuade anyone else of the truth or falsity of any spiritual teaching. In the end, the only thing that can be true is that which transcends all symbols, all theologies, all metaphysical systems. Many paths lead to the same experience of oneness, but that does not mean that they are interchangeable for the individual. So respect rather than judge other paths, but don’t forget that your goal is to find what will serve you best and then follow it. Anything else, including debating different theologies, is “a defense against the truth in the form of a delaying maneuver” (C.in.2:3).