ACIM Text Reading for June 22
Chapter 17 ~ Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship
V. The Healed Relationship
The holy relationship is the expression of the holy instant in living in this world. Like everything about salvation, the holy instant is a practical device, witnessed to by its results. The holy instant never fails. The experience of it is always felt. Yet without expression it is not remembered. The holy relationship is a constant reminder of the experience in which the relationship became what it is. And as the unholy relationship is a continuing hymn of hate in praise of its maker, so is the holy relationship a happy song of praise to the Redeemer of relationships.
The holy relationship, a major step toward the perception of the real world, is learned. It is the old, unholy relationship, transformed and seen anew. The holy relationship is a phenomenal teaching accomplishment. In all its aspects, as it begins, develops and becomes accomplished, it represents the reversal of the unholy relationship. Be comforted in this; the only difficult phase is the beginning. For here, the goal of the relationship is abruptly shifted to the exact opposite of what it was. This is the first result of offering the relationship to the Holy Spirit, to use for His purposes.
This invitation is accepted immediately, and the Holy Spirit wastes no time in introducing the practical results of asking Him to enter. At once His goal replaces yours. This is accomplished very rapidly, but it makes the relationship seem disturbed, disjunctive and even quite distressing. The reason is quite clear. For the relationship as it is, is out of line with its own goal, and clearly unsuited to the purpose that has been accepted for it. In its unholy condition, your goal was all that seemed to give it meaning. Now it seems to make no sense. Many relationships have been broken off at this point, and the pursuit of the old goal re-established in another relationship. For once the unholy relationship has accepted the goal of holiness, it can never again be what it was.
The temptation of the ego becomes extremely intense with this shift in goals. For the relationship has not as yet been changed sufficiently to make its former goal completely without attraction, and its structure is ‘threatened’ by the recognition of its inappropriateness for meeting its new purpose. The conflict between the goal and the structure of the relationship is so apparent that they cannot coexist. Yet now the goal will not be changed. Set firmly in the unholy relationship, there is no course except to change the relationship to fit the goal. Until this happy solution is seen and accepted as the only way out of the conflict, the relationship may seem to be severely strained.
It would not be kinder to shift the goal more slowly, for the contrast would be obscured, and the ego given time to reinterpret each slow step according to its liking. Only a radical shift in purpose could induce a complete change of mind about what the whole relationship is for. As this change develops and is finally accomplished, it grows increasingly beneficent and joyous. But at the beginning, the situation is experienced as very precarious. A relationship, undertaken by two individuals for their unholy purposes, suddenly has holiness for its goal. As these two contemplate their relationship from the point of view of this new purpose, they are inevitably appalled. Their perception of the relationship may even become quite disorganised. And yet, the former organisation of their perception no longer serves the purpose they have agreed to meet.
This is the time for faith. You let this goal be set for you. That was an act of faith. Do not abandon faith, now that the rewards of faith are being introduced. If you believed the Holy Spirit was there to accept the relationship, why would you now not still believe that He is there to purify what He has taken under His guidance? Have faith in your brother in what but seems to be a trying time. The goal is set. And your relationship has sanity as its purpose. For now you find yourself in an insane relationship, recognised as such in the light of its goal.
Now the ego counsels thus; substitute for this another relationship to which your former goal was quite appropriate. You can escape from your distress only by getting rid of your brother. You need not part entirely if you choose not to do so. But you must exclude major areas of fantasy from your brother, to save your sanity. Hear not this now! Have faith in Him Who answered you. He heard. Has He not been very explicit in His answer? You are not now wholly insane. Can you deny that He has given you a most explicit statement? Now He asks for faith a little longer, even in bewilderment. For this will go, and you will see the justification for your faith emerge, to bring you shining conviction. Abandon Him not now, nor your brother. This relationship has been reborn as holy.
Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame your brother for the ‘failure’ of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you, and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not breathe life into your failing ego. For your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been saved.
You are very new in the ways of salvation, and think you have lost your way. Your way is lost, but think not this is loss. In your newness, remember that you and your brother have started again, together. And take his hand, to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God, from which your true intent was never absent.
Throughout the Sonship is the song of freedom heard, in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing, and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now is your blessing, that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you and your brother together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.
You undertook, together, to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work. And He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all. Have you been similarly grateful to your brother? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts, and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes? Perhaps you are now entering upon a campaign to blame him for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourself. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude you make yourself unable to express the holy instant, and thus lose sight of it.
The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time, but not concealed within it. The instant remains: But where are you? To give thanks to your brother is to appreciate the holy instant, and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack your brother is not to lose the instant, but to make it powerless in its effects.
You have received the holy instant, but you may have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realise that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack your brother, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself, and to recognise what has been given and received by you.
You and your brother stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes Heaven glad. If Heaven, were outside you, you could not share in its gladness. Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You are joined in purpose, but remain still separate and divided on the means. Yet the goal is fixed, firm and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so.
As you begin to recognise and accept the gifts you have so freely given to your brother, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship, and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 22
I will step back and let Him lead the way.
There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet. And the ones who walk the world as you do recognize their own. Yet those who have not yet perceived the way will recognize you also, and believe that you are like them, as you were before.
The world is an illusion. Those who choose to come to it are seeking for a place where they can be illusions, and avoid their own reality. Yet when they find their own reality is even here, then they step back and let it lead the way. What other choice is really theirs to make? To let illusions walk ahead of truth is madness. But to let illusion sink behind the truth and let the truth stand forth as what it is, is merely sanity.
This is the simple choice we make today. The mad illusion will remain awhile in evidence, for those to look upon who chose to come, and have not yet rejoiced to find they were mistaken in their choice. They cannot learn directly from the truth, because they have denied that it is so. And so they need a Teacher Who perceives their madness, but Who still can look beyond illusion to the simple truth in them.
If truth demanded they give up the world, it would appear to them as if it asked the sacrifice of something that is real. Many have chosen to renounce the world while still believing its reality. And they have suffered from a sense of loss, and have not been released accordingly. Others have chosen nothing but the world, and they have suffered from a sense of loss still deeper, which they did not understand.
Between these paths there is another road that leads away from loss of every kind, for sacrifice and deprivation both are quickly left behind. This is the way appointed for you now. You walk this path as others walk, nor do you seem to be distinct from them, although you are indeed. Thus can you serve them while you serve yourself, and set their footsteps on the way that God has opened up to you, and them through you.
Illusion still appears to cling to you, that you may reach them. Yet it has stepped back. And it is not illusion that they hear you speak of, nor illusion that you bring their eyes to look on and their minds to grasp. Nor can the truth, which walks ahead of you, speak to them through illusions, for the road leads past illusion now, while on the way you call to them, that they may follow you.
All roads will lead to this one in the end. For sacrifice and deprivation are paths that lead nowhere, choices for defeat, and aims that will remain impossible. All this steps back as truth comes forth in you, to lead your brothers from the ways of death, and set them on the way to happiness. Their suffering is but illusion. Yet they need a guide to lead them out of it, for they mistake illusion for the truth.
Such is salvation’s call, and nothing more. It asks that you accept the truth, and let it go before you, lighting up the path of ransom from illusion. It is not a ransom with a price. There is no cost, but only gain. Illusion can but seem to hold in chains the holy Son of God. It is but from illusions he is saved. As they step back, he finds himself again.
Walk safely now, yet carefully, because this path is new to you. And you may find that you are tempted still to walk ahead of truth, and let illusions be your guide. Your holy brothers have been given you, to follow in your footsteps as you walk with certainty of purpose to the truth. It goes before you now, that they may see something with which they can identify; something they understand to lead the way.
Yet at the journey’s ending there will be no gap, no distance between truth and you. And all illusions walking in the way you travelled will be gone from you as well, with nothing left to keep the truth apart from God’s completion, holy as Himself. Step back in faith and let truth lead the way. You know not where you go. But One Who knows goes with you. Let Him lead you with the rest.
When dreams are over, time has closed the door on all the things that pass and miracles are purposeless, the holy Son of God will make no journeys. There will be no wish to be illusion rather than the truth. And we step forth toward this, as we progress along the way that truth points out to us. This is our final journey, which we make for everyone. We must not lose our way. For as truth goes before us, so it goes before our brothers who will follow us.
We walk to God. Pause and reflect on this. Could any way be holier, or more deserving of your effort, of your love and of your full intent? What way could give you more than everything, or offer less and still content the holy Son of God? We walk to God. The truth that walks before us now is one with Him, and leads us to where He has always been. What way but this could be a path that you would choose instead?
Your feet are safely set upon the road that leads the world to God. Look not to ways that seem to lead you elsewhere. Dreams are not a worthy guide for you who are God’s Son. Forget not He has placed His Hand in yours, and given you your brothers in His trust that you are worthy of His trust in you. He cannot be deceived. His trust has made your pathway certain and your goal secure. You will not fail your brothers nor your Self.
And now He asks but that you think of Him a while each day, that He may speak to you and tell you of His Love, reminding you how great His trust; how limitless His Love. In your Name and His Own, which are the same, we practice gladly with this thought today:
I will step back and let Him lead the way,
For I would walk along the road to Him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1322: There appears to be a contradiction in A Course in Miracles , or perhaps in my understanding of it. It is saying that the suffering in our dream is a reflection of the suffering caused by guilt in our minds, and the benefits of a healed mind is a happy dream. On the other hand, it says that our bad times in the dream are reflecting and bringing into our awareness our unconscious guilt and making it conscious so that we can forgive it and release. When we are able to do that, our innocent mind brings the benefits of reflecting that outward while we still believe we are here. Then why should we question these good times as just a cover over unconscious guilt? In other words, how do we determine if the blessings in our dream are covering up the guilt, or they are just the benefits of right thinking and a healed mind? And do most people believe that their suffering is bringing them closer to God, rather than a dream of health, abundance, and joy?
A: Good question! Many students have experienced confusion over this. What helps is to sort out form and content. A happy dream in A Course in Miraclesis a state of mind (content) in which the Holy Spirit has been chosen as your Teacher, and only His purpose for everything is valued. Though still within the illusion, it is called a happy dream because instead of being the ego’s dream of condemnation, judgment, and self-centeredness, it is the right-minded dream of forgiveness, compassion, and shared purpose. This is all within the mind — its content.
Once this state has been reached, you are always at peace: all sense of lack is gone; there is no guilt or self-hatred; and no need for projection or other defenses. And most important for the context of your question, there is no concern over anything external, no investment in having things go a certain way in the world, or in having what the world defines as good fortune or blessings. Your peace and happiness are not dependent on anything external. Further, nothing is taken personally — either so-called good times or bad times, because nothing is perceived in those terms. Jesus says this in many ways in the Course, one coming in the section “Above the Battleground”: “Think what is given those who share their Father’s purpose, and who know it is theirs. They want for nothing. Sorrow of any kind is inconceivable. . . . They know it is impossible their happiness could ever suffer change of any kind. . . . No one who knows that he has everything could seek for limitation, nor could he value the body’s offerings” (T.23.IV.8:1,2,3,6; 9:4).
Now, it is true that if there is no guilt in your mind, you would not seek to punish yourself in any way. But how that would appear in form is not knowable. It cannot be evaluated using the categories of the world. For instance, in the world’s judgment, some pretty awful things happened to Jesus’ body; yet, he did not suffer because he knew he was not his body, and he never perceived himself as persecuted or betrayed ( see T.6.I.5,9,11). We thus need to be cautious about drawing conclusions simply from the condition of one’s body or life circumstances (form). And we also need to keep in mind the Course’s central teaching that perception is always interpretation .
As another example: the projection of my guilt onto my body may be the source of my illness; but then I could let go of that guilt and choose to learn further lessons in that same bodily condition. In other words, my illness is now my classroom, and so I would perceive the illness in a completely different way. The illness may be ravaging my body, but if in the process I am learning that I am not my body and that no one else is theirs, I would not be experiencing the illness as anything negative, even as I continue with medical treatment. The content in my mind would have shifted. What brings me closer to God, thus, is not the suffering, but the purpose I have chosen to give it in my mind. However, I can choose that same purpose of undoing my belief in separation with a healthy body, too; and I can choose it whether I am financially secure or struggling financially. One more example: a healed mind could choose the appearance of a diseased or defective body as a means of teaching others they can be peaceful no matter what is going on externally. That mind would be totally at peace at all times (content), in the face of what the world might call misfortune (form).
That abiding state of peace is the “benefit” of having a healed mind. In that state, you would know that nothing else is real, and that nothing can affect that peace in any way. Moreover, aside from your smiling more frequently, your life would probably be indistinguishable from anyone else’s (W.pI.155:1). On the other hand, if your state of mind is linked to external conditions, then you should suspect some ego dynamics at work. If you are happy and content only under certain conditions, and your happiness and contentment are threatened or disappear when those conditions change, that should tell you that the happiness is not authentic. The joy and peace that God intended us to have as His creation are eternal; they are not conditional and they do not fluctuate or change — they are our very Identity unified with His. In Lesson 133, Jesus gives us some criteria to use in determining whether what we are choosing is of value or not (W.pI.133). The only true blessings are those that restore to our awareness the all-inclusiveness of love, the all-inclusiveness of the Sonship.