A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 31

ACIM Text Reading for July 31

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

VIII. The Inner Shift

Are thoughts, then, dangerous? To bodies, yes! The thoughts that seem to kill are those that teach the thinker that he can be killed. And so he ‘dies’ because of what he learned. He goes from life to death, the final proof he valued the inconstant more than constancy. Surely he thought he wanted happiness. Yet he did not desire it because it was the truth, and therefore must be constant.

The constancy of joy is a condition quite alien to your understanding. Yet if you could even imagine what it must be, you would desire it although you understand it not. The constancy of happiness has no exceptions; no change of any kind. It is unshakeable as is the Love of God for His creation. Sure in its vision as its Creator is in what He knows, happiness looks on everything and sees it is the same. It sees not the ephemeral, for it desires everything be like itself, and sees it so. Nothing has power to confound its constancy, because its own desire cannot be shaken. It comes as surely unto those who see the final question is necessary to the rest, as peace must come to those who choose to heal and not to judge.

Reason will tell you that you cannot ask for happiness inconstantly. For if what you desire you receive, and happiness is constant, then you need ask for it but once to have it always. And if you do not have it always, being what it is, you did not ask for it. For no one fails to ask for his desire of something he believes holds out some promise of the power of giving it. He may be wrong in what he asks, where, and of what. Yet he will ask because desire is a request, an asking for, and made by one whom God Himself will never fail to answer. God has already given all that he really wants. Yet what he is uncertain of, God cannot give. For he does not desire it while he remains uncertain, and God’s giving must be incomplete unless it is received.

You who complete God’s Will and are His happiness, whose will is powerful as His, a power that is not lost in your illusions, think carefully why you have not yet decided how you would answer the final question. Your answer to the others has made it possible to help you be already partly sane. And yet it is the final one that really asks if you are willing to be wholly sane.

What is the holy instant but God’s appeal to you to recognise what He has given you? Here is the great appeal to reason; the awareness of what is always there to see, the happiness that could be always yours. Here is the constant peace you could experience forever. Here is what denial has denied revealed to you. For here the final question is already answered, and what you ask for given. Here is the future now, for time is powerless because of your desire for what will never change. For you have asked that nothing stand between the holiness of your relationship and your awareness of its holiness.


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ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 31

Lesson 196

It can be but myself I crucify.

When this is firmly understood and kept in full awareness, you will not attempt to harm yourself, nor make your body slave to vengeance. You will not attack yourself, and you will realize that to attack another is but to attack yourself. You will be free of the insane belief that to attack a brother saves yourself. And you will understand his safety is your own, and in his healing you are healed.

Perhaps at first you will not understand how mercy, limitless and with all things held in its sure protection, can be found in the idea we practice for today. It may, in fact, appear to be a sign that punishment can never be escaped because the ego, under what it sees as threat, is quick to cite the truth to save its lies. Yet must it fail to understand the truth it uses thus. But you can learn to see these foolish applications, and deny the meaning they appear to have.

Thus do you also teach your mind that you are not an ego. For the ways in which the ego would distort the truth will not deceive you longer. You will not believe you are a body to be crucified. And you will see within today’s idea the light of resurrection, looking past all thoughts of crucifixion and of death, to thoughts of liberation and of life.

Today’s idea is one step we take in leading us from bondage to the state of perfect freedom. Let us take this step today, that we may quickly go the way salvation shows us, taking every step in its appointed sequence, as the mind relinquishes its burdens one by one. It is not time we need for this. It is but willingness. For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God.

The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on others and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross. Perhaps it seemed to be salvation. Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real. And what is that but hell? Who could believe his Father is his deadly enemy, separate from him, and waiting to destroy his life and blot him from the universe, without the fear of hell upon his heart?

Such is the form of madness you believe, if you accept the fearful thought you can attack another and be free yourself. Until this form is changed, there is no hope. Until you see that this, at least, must be entirely impossible, how could there be escape? The fear of God is real to anyone who thinks this thought is true. And he will not perceive its foolishness, or even see that it is there, so that it would be possible to question it.

To question it at all, its form must first be changed at least as much as will permit fear of retaliation to abate, and the responsibility returned to some extent to you. From there you can at least consider if you want to go along this painful path. Until this shift has been accomplished, you can not perceive that it is but your thoughts that bring you fear, and your deliverance depends on you.

Our next steps will be easy, if you take this one today. From there we go ahead quite rapidly. For once you understand it is impossible that you be hurt except by your own thoughts, the fear of God must disappear. You cannot then believe that fear is caused without. And God, Whom you had thought to banish, can be welcomed back within the holy mind He never left.

Salvation’s song can certainly be heard in the idea we practice for today. If it can but be you you crucify, you did not hurt the world, and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind. The thing you dread the most is your salvation. You are strong, and it is strength you want. And you are free, and glad of freedom. You have sought to be both weak and bound, because you feared your strength and freedom. Yet salvation lies in them.

There is an instant in which terror seems to grip your mind so wholly that escape appears quite hopeless. When you realize, once and for all, that it is you you fear, the mind perceives itself as split. And this had been concealed while you believed attack could be directed outward, and returned from outside to within. It seemed to be an enemy outside you had to fear. And thus a god outside yourself became your mortal enemy; the source of fear.

Now, for an instant, is a murderer perceived within you, eager for your death, intent on plotting punishment for you until the time when it can kill at last. Yet in this instant is the time as well in which salvation comes. For fear of God has disappeared. And you can call on Him to save you from illusions by His Love, calling Him Father and yourself His Son. Pray that the instant may be soon,–today. Step back from fear, and make advance to love.

There is no Thought of God that does not go with you to help you reach that instant, and to go beyond it quickly, surely and forever. When the fear of God is gone, there are no obstacles that still remain between you and the holy peace of God. How kind and merciful is the idea we practice! Give it welcome, as you should, for it is your release. It is indeed but you your mind can try to crucify. Yet your redemption, too, will come from you.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #7: How does one forgive oneself? I have a pen pal in prison who is new to the Course. He is in prison for assaulting his girlfriend. He says he is learning to forgive others but not himself. He is angry and ashamed of himself for hurting her. I can see his actions as a “call for love,” a mistake to be corrected and not a sin to be punished. He no doubt was a victim who became a victimizer, and keeps reliving it now. I would tell him to let it go — “Brother, choose again.” But could I say this to myself? I have dealt with depression most of my life and guilt is a familiar companion. My ego’s accusations seem overwhelming when I do one thing wrong. I see when I project my guilt onto others and I know it’s not helpful to blame and accuse myself when I judge others. But what if I really hurt someone else in some way? I could try to make amends and move on, but I don’t think my ego would let me off the hook that easily. I seem only to be able to release myself from guilt by experiencing pain for the length of time my ego dictates. I know there has to be “another way.” Why am I kind to others and mean to myself? To top it all off, I seek my addictions to get some relief from the pain of the guilt, and then I feel guilty for indulging in the addiction. I need a way out of this. Can we project guilt onto ourselves as well as others? I know I will come to understand why I don’t love myself and why I even hate myself at times. I am still learning. It is ironic that, as my friend in prison is trying to forgive himself, I am in my own prison trying to do the same.

A: It does seem that as we learn more and more to release others from the projections of our own guilt, we then feel stuck with the guilt ourselves. Jesus tells us that “as blame is withdrawn from without, there is a strong tendency to harbor it within” (T.11.IV.4:5). But he goes on to say, “It is difficult at first to realize that this is exactly the same thing, for there is no distinction between within and without” (4:6), and then, “Blame must be undone, not seen elsewhere” (5:3). So how do we do that?

The question you raise, “How does one forgive oneself?”, is a good one, but it is actually the wrong question. Because we are still so strongly identified with our egos, we can not forgive ourselves, at least not by ourselves (i.e., on our own, which is the ego state). That is why we need Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or whatever nonjudgmental symbol of love and acceptance we feel comfortable with, to look with us at our “sins”. We need someone outside of our guilt-based thought system who knows the truth about who we really are, to whom we can give our guilt, once we have uncovered it and recognized its purpose and its cost. We believe that we are bodies that can hurt and be hurt by each other. Jesus knows we are spirit, the guiltless Son of God who is incapable of attack. We don’t believe that and in fact we don’t want to believe it, because we still want the separation and our own individuality to be real. And so the forgiveness process must involve joining with someone or something outside of ourselves, such as Jesus, who knows separation and attack and guilt are not real. We are incapable of this realization on our own, by definition.

The ego, as you are experiencing it for yourself, tells us that we need to atone for our sins through suffering and sacrifice. But that only reinforces our belief that our guilt is real and that God is a punishing God who seeks revenge for our very real sins. And all of our attempts then to gain release through expiation are just forms of magic that fail to address the real problem in the mind. We need to understand that the problem is not the guilt we believe we are experiencing for our transgressions here in the world. Those “sins” are really deliberate distractions, serving the purpose of keeping our focus here in the world, looking for magical solutions to release our guilt (e.g., making amends) or to avoid experiencing it (e.g., addictions). But these only prevent us from looking deeper into our mind to the real source of all of our pain and guilt (and everyone else’s) — the belief that we have not only separated ourselves from our loving Source, but that we have been willing to kill Him, to destroy Love, to be on our own. However, if we can join with a reflection of that Love, such as Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and look at our self-accusations with their loving presence beside us, we will have to realize at some level that we have not destroyed love. And in that recognition, real forgiveness — for what has never happened — is possible, dissolving all guilt and releasing us from our self-imposed prison. And then whatever action or behavior, if any, may be most helpful and healing in response to our so-called transgressions against others in the world will simply flow through us.


Q #8: When we try to look at our ego, shall we look without judgment at the problems of the world or shall we only realize, that we choose the ego? Or is this the same?

A: Your questions presuppose that one can choose the ego and look without judgment, which is only possible if one is in a state of denial. The ego knows only judgment, which is based on its fundamental mistake of making the error real. What you want to do is live your life by paying attention to what you think and how you feel. If you find yourself getting angry, fearful, gleeful, etc. from problems in the world, whether personal or general, recognize that you have chosen the ego. It is this recognition that is the “looking.” You look at your ego’s choices with Jesus beside you. You look without judgment as illustrated in this quote:

Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it (T.18.I.6:7,8,9).

Remembering that the ego is a choice, you simply acknowledge the choice you have made without giving it power to take away your peace.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 30

ACIM Text Reading for July 30

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

VII. The Last Unanswered Question

Do you not see that all your misery comes from the strange belief that you are powerless? Being helpless is the cost of sin. Helplessness is sin’s condition; the one requirement that it demands to be believed. Only the helpless could believe in it. Enormity has no appeal save to the little. And only those who first believe that they are little could see attraction there. Treachery to the Son of God is the defence of those who do not identify with him. And you are for him or against him; either you love him or attack him, protect his unity or see him shattered and slain by your attack.

No one believes the Son of God is powerless. And those who see themselves as helpless must believe that they are not the Son of God. What can they be except his enemy? And what can they do but envy him his power, and by their envy make themselves afraid of it? These are the dark ones, silent and afraid, alone and not communicating, fearful the power of the Son of God will strike them dead, and raising up their helplessness against him. They join the army of the powerless, to wage their war of vengeance, bitterness and spite on him, to make him one with them. Because they do not know that they are one with him, they know not whom they hate. They are indeed a sorry army, each one as likely to attack his brother or turn upon himself as to remember that they thought they had a common cause.

Frantic and loud and strong the dark ones seem to be. Yet they know not their ‘enemy’, except they hate him. In hatred they have come together, but have not joined each other. For had they done so hatred would be impossible. The army of the powerless must be disbanded in the presence of strength. Those who are strong are never treacherous, because they have no need to dream of power and to act out their dream. How would an army act in dreams? Any way at all. It could be seen attacking anyone with anything. Dreams have no reason in them. A flower turns into a poisoned spear, a child becomes a giant and a mouse roars like a lion. And love is turned to hate as easily. This is no army, but a madhouse. What seems to be a planned attack is bedlam.

The army of the powerless is weak indeed. It has no weapons and it has no enemy. Yes, it can overrun the world and seek an enemy. But it can never find what is not there. Yes, it can dream it found an enemy, but this will shift even as it attacks, so that it runs at once to find another, and never comes to rest in victory. And as it runs it turns against itself, thinking it caught a glimpse of the great enemy who always eludes its murderous attack by turning into something else. How treacherous does this enemy appear, who changes so it is impossible even to recognise him.

Yet hate must have a target. There can be no faith in sin without an enemy. Who that believes in sin would dare believe he has no enemy? Could he admit that no one made him powerless? Reason would surely bid him seek no longer what is not there to find. Yet first he must be willing to perceive a world where it is not. It is not necessary that he understand how he can see it. Nor should he try. For if he focuses on what he cannot understand, he will but emphasise his helplessness, and let sin tell him that his enemy must be himself. But let him only ask himself these questions, which he must decide, to have it done for him:

Do I desire a world I rule instead of one that rules me?
Do I desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless?
Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin?
And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth?

You may already have answered the first three questions, but not yet the last. For this one still seems fearful, and unlike the others. Yet reason would assure you they are all the same. We said this year would emphasise the sameness of things that are the same. This final question, which is indeed the last you need decide, still seems to hold a threat the rest have lost for you. And this imagined difference attests to your belief that truth may be the enemy you yet may find. Here, then, would seem to be the last remaining hope of finding sin, and not accepting power.

Forget not that the choice of sin or truth, helplessness or power, is the choice of whether to attack or heal. For healing comes of power, and attack of helplessness. Whom you attack you cannot want to heal. And whom you would have healed must be the one you chose to be protected from attack. And what is this decision but the choice whether to see him through the body’s eyes, or let him be revealed to you through vision? How this decision leads to its effects is not your problem. But what you want to see must be your choice. This is a course in cause and not effect.

Consider carefully your answer to the last question you have left unanswered still. And let your reason tell you that it must be answered, and is answered in the other three. And then it will be clear to you that, as you look on the effects of sin in any form, all you need do is simply ask yourself,

Is this what I would see? Do I want this?

This is your one decision; this the condition for what occurs. It is irrelevant to how it happens, but not to why. You have control of this. And if you choose to see a world without an enemy, in which you are not helpless, the means to see it will be given you.

Why is the final question so important? Reason will tell you why. It is the same as are the other three, except in time. The others are decisions that can be made, and then unmade and made again. But truth is constant, and implies a state where vacillations are impossible. You can desire a world you rule that rules you not, and change your mind. You can desire to exchange your helplessness for power, and lose this same desire as a little glint of sin attracts you. And you can want to see a sinless world, and let an ‘enemy’ tempt you to use the body’s eyes and change what you desire.

In content all the questions are the same. For each one asks if you are willing to exchange the world of sin for what the Holy Spirit sees, since it is this the world of sin denies. And therefore those who look on sin are seeing the denial of the real world. Yet the last question adds the wish for constancy in your desire to see the real world, so the desire becomes the only one you have. By answering the final question ‘yes’, you add sincerity to the decisions you have already made to all the rest. For only then have you renounced the option to change your mind again. When it is this you do not want, the rest are wholly answered.

Why do you think you are unsure the others have been answered? Could it be necessary they be asked so often, if they had? Until the last decision has been made, the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. For you have answered ‘yes’ without perceiving that ‘yes’ must mean ‘not no’. No one decides against his happiness, but he may do so if he does not see he does it. And if he sees his happiness as ever changing, now this, now that, and now an elusive shadow attached to nothing, he does decide against it.

Elusive happiness, or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion that has no meaning. Happiness must be constant, because it is attained by giving up the wish for the inconstant. Joy cannot be perceived except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only those who wish for constancy. The power of the Son of God’s desire remains the proof that he is wrong who sees himself as helpless. Desire what you want, and you will look on it and think it real. No thought but has the power to release or kill. And none can leave the thinker’s mind, or leave him unaffected.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 30

Lesson 195

Love is the way I walk in gratitude.

Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss. The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others. And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they. How pitiful and deprecating are such thoughts! For who has cause for thanks while others have less cause? And who could suffer less because he sees another suffer more? Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world.

It is insane to offer thanks because of suffering. But it is equally insane to fail in gratitude to One Who offers you the certain means whereby all pain is healed, and suffering replaced with laughter and with happiness. Nor could the even partly sane refuse to take the steps which He directs, and follow in the way He sets before them, to escape a prison that they thought contained no door to the deliverance they now perceive.

Your brother is your “enemy” because you see in him the rival for your peace; a plunderer who takes his joy from you, and leaves you nothing but a black despair so bitter and relentless that there is no hope remaining. Now is vengeance all there is to wish for. Now can you but try to bring him down to lie in death with you, as useless as yourself; as little left within his grasping fingers as in yours.

You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you, nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love. We offer thanks to God our Father that in us all things will find their freedom. It will never be that some are loosed while others still are bound. For who can bargain in the name of love?

Therefore give thanks, but in sincerity. And let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you; the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you. Let us not compare ourselves with them, for thus we split them off from our awareness of the unity we share with them, as they must share with us.

We thank our Father for one thing alone; that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. And we rejoice that no exceptions ever can be made which would reduce our wholeness, nor impair or change our function to complete the One Who is Himself completion. We give thanks for every living thing, for otherwise we offer thanks for nothing, and we fail to recognize the gifts of God to us.

Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while.  We offer thanks for them.  For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us.  An ancient door is swinging free again; a long forgotten Word re-echoes in our memory, and gathers clarity as we are willing once again to hear.

Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. What more remains as obstacles to peace? The fear of God is now undone at last, and we forgive without comparing. Thus we cannot choose to overlook some things, and yet retain some other things still locked away as “sins.” When your forgiveness is complete you will have total gratitude, for you will see that everything has earned the right to love by being loving, even as your Self.

Today we learn to think of gratitude in place of anger, malice and revenge. We have been given everything. If we refuse to recognize it, we are not entitled therefore to our bitterness, and to a self-perception which regards us in a place of merciless pursuit, where we are badgered ceaselessly, and pushed about without a thought or care for us or for our future. Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for these insane perceptions. God has cared for us, and calls us Son. Can there be more than this?

Our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than you could ever dream of. Gratitude goes hand in hand with love, and where one is the other must be found. For gratitude is but an aspect of the Love which is the Source of all creation. God gives thanks to you, His Son, for being what you are; His Own completion and the Source of love, along with Him. Your gratitude to Him is one with His to you. For love can walk no road except the way of gratitude, and thus we go who walk the way to God.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #232: The ego thought system teaches us that being a mother or a father is something noble. In other words, having children is “good.” But as far as I understand, A Course in Miracles has something else to say about this. Is this just another illusion? Maybe something “wrong,” because it makes us believe in this world and reinforces our bonds to this reality?

A: Jesus does not say that there is something “wrong” in being a parent; nor does he say it is something noble. Any role in this world is part of the ego’s plan to make its world the only reality. So in that sense, parenting is part of the whole illusion that there is life outside Heaven. Any role in this world is a substitute for our true role as God’s one Son, Christ. Parenting in particular, though, may have more guilt associated with it — even though there really are no degrees of guilt — because of its connection with producing “life,” i.e., bringing babies into the world. Within the ego thought system, this is a way of competing with God, a way of saying that we are just as powerful as He is, and therefore that He no longer is needed. The ego now can produce life, and end it. Many religions bless this process by describing it as co-creation, i.e., human parents are the co- creators, with God, of life. In A Course in Miracles, however, life is the pure abstract oneness of Love in Heaven. All bodily life and parenting is therefore illusory. Given the Holy Spirit’s purpose, though, the role of parent can become a classroom in which a person can learn how to be a loving, kind, compassionate authority figure while carrying out the responsibilities of a parent appropriately and conscientiously. The lesson of shared interests can be very effectively learned, while the parent keeps the boundaries between parent and child clearly defined. (Questions #179 and #202 might be of interest to you.)


Q #233: In answering Question #79, you quoted a statement that I would like you to elaborate on and explain: “Everyone makes an ego or a self for himself, which is subject to enormous variation because of its instability. He also makes an ego for everyone else he perceives, which is equally variable.” Does this mean that I am responsible not only for my own thoughts and actions, but also for the things you do to me, and that I choose the manner in which you play them out? Is this included in the script I write — exactly, in detail, how you will treat me?

A: To make sense of this passage, we need to be clear that Jesus is speaking to the dreamer of the dream and not to the figure in the dream that we mistakenly identify as ourselves (T.27.VII;VIII). At the metaphysical level, we have assigned all the roles and actions to all the figures in our life – – our waking dreams — just as we have done in our sleeping dreams at night. But most of us are not in touch with this initial level of decision-making. These are all the possible ego scripts, written by the single, collective mind before the fragmentation into billions of separate, individual minds seemed to occur.

At the next level of seemingly fragmented, independent minds, we reach agreements with other minds about how we will play out our respective dream roles, that is, which scripts we will review. And, while we choose from the ego-based scripts, these are always some variation on the theme of victim and victimizer. We select the events of our life in conjunction with other minds, but again we have no conscious memory of making the choices, an essential repression for our victim defense to work (for a further discussion of this, see Question #37).

The above passage, however, can also be considered from a more immediate psychological level, which is relatively easy to become conscious of and so more practical to work with. We simply recognize our propensity to attribute ego motivations to others, based on our interpretations of our own ego needs. Your purpose may or may not be to manipulate me in any given situation, but I will ascribe ego intent to your actions and act as if my interpretation is valid. Jesus makes it very clear that this kind of analysis is hazardous to our own peace of mind (T.12.I.1,2). And he also gently reminds us of the unreliability of our observations of others: “Remember how many times you thought you knew all the ‘facts’ you needed for judgment, and how wrong you were! Is there anyone who has not had this experience? Would you know how many times you merely thought you were right, without ever realizing you were wrong?” (M.10.4:1,2,3).

Yet we continue making “an ego for everyone else” as a way of seeing the guilt of the ego thought system outside of ourselves rather than accepting responsibility for its existence within our own mind. So Jesus’ purpose is to lead us to recognize not only what a barrier our projections are to our own happiness but “the tremendous release and deep peace that comes from meeting yourself and your brothers totally without judgment” (T.3.VI.3:1).

want only love

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 29

ACIM Text Reading for July 29

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

VI. Reason versus Madness

Reason cannot see sin but can see errors, and leads to their correction. It does not value them, but their correction. Reason will also tell you that when you think you sin, you call for help. Yet if you will not accept the help you call for, you will not believe that it is yours to give. And so you will not give it, thus maintaining the belief. For uncorrected error of any kind deceives you about the power that is in you to make correction. If it can correct, and you allow it not to do so, you deny it to yourself and to your brother. And if he shares this same belief you both will think that you are damned. This you could spare him and yourself. For reason would not make way for correction in you alone.

Correction cannot be accepted or refused by you without your brother. Sin would maintain it can. Yet reason tells you that you cannot see your brother or yourself as sinful and still perceive the other innocent. Who looks upon himself as guilty and sees a sinless world? And who can see a sinful world and look upon himself apart from it? Sin would maintain you and your brother must be separate. But reason tells you that this must be wrong. If you and your brother are joined, how could it be that you have private thoughts? And how could thoughts that enter into what but seems like yours alone have no effect at all on what is yours? If minds are joined, this is impossible.

No one can think but for himself, as God thinks not without His Son. Only were both in bodies could this be. Nor could one mind think only for itself unless the body were the mind. For only bodies can be separate, and therefore unreal. The home of madness cannot be the home of reason. Yet it is easy to leave the home of madness if you see reason. You do not leave insanity by going somewhere else. You leave it simply by accepting reason where madness was. Madness and reason see the same things, but it is certain that they look upon them differently.

Madness is an attack on reason that drives it out of mind, and takes its place. Reason does not attack, but takes the place of madness quietly, replacing madness if it be the choice of the insane to listen to it. But the insane know not their will, for they believe they see the body, and let their madness tell them it is real. Reason would be incapable of this. And if you would defend the body against your reason, you will not understand the body or yourself.

The body does not separate you from your brother, and if you think it does you are insane. But madness has a purpose, and believes it also has the means to make its purpose real. To see the body as a barrier between what reason tells you must be joined must be insane. Nor could you see it, if you heard the voice of reason. What can there be that stands between what is continuous? And if there is nothing in between, how can what enters part be kept away from other parts? Reason would tell you this. But think what you must recognise, if it be so.

If you choose sin instead of healing, you would condemn the Son of God to what can never be corrected. You tell him, by your choice, that he is damned; separate from you and from his Father forever, without a hope of safe return. You teach him this, and you will learn of him exactly what you taught. For you can teach him only that he is as you would have him, and what you choose he be is but your choice for you. Yet think not this is fearful. That you are joined to him is but a fact, not an interpretation. How can a fact be fearful unless it disagrees with what you hold more dear than truth? Reason will tell you that this fact is your release.

Neither your brother nor yourself can be attacked alone. But neither can accept a miracle instead without the other being blessed by it, and healed of pain. Reason, like love, would reassure you, and seeks not to frighten you. The power to heal the Son of God is given you because he must be one with you. You are responsible for how he sees himself. And reason tells you it is given you to change his whole mind, which is one with you, in just an instant. And any instant serves to bring complete correction of his errors and make him whole. The instant that you choose to let yourself be healed, in that same instant is his whole salvation seen as complete with yours. Reason is given you to understand that this is so. For reason, kind as is the purpose for which it is the means, leads steadily away from madness toward the goal of truth. And here you will lay down the burden of denying truth. This is the burden that is terrible, and not the truth.

That you and your brother are joined is your salvation; the gift of Heaven, not the gift of fear. Does Heaven seem to be a burden to you? In madness, yes. And yet what madness sees must be dispelled by reason. Reason assures you Heaven is what you want, and all you want. Listen to Him Who speaks with reason, and brings your reason into line with His. Be willing to let reason be the means by which He would direct you how to leave insanity behind. Hide not behind insanity in order to escape from reason. What madness would conceal the Holy Spirit still holds out, for everyone to look upon with gladness.

You are your brother’s saviour. He is yours. Reason speaks happily indeed of this. This gracious plan was given love by Love. And what Love plans is like Itself in this: Being united, It would have you learn what you must be. And being one with It, it must be given you to give what It has given, and gives still. Spend but an instant in the glad acceptance of what is given you to give your brother, and learn with him what has been given both of you. To give is no more blessed than to receive. But neither is it less.

The Son of God is always blessed as one. And as his gratitude goes out to you who blessed him, reason will tell you that it cannot be you stand apart from blessing. The gratitude he offers you reminds you of the thanks your Father gives you for completing Him. And here alone does reason tell you that you can understand what you must be. Your Father is as close to you as is your brother. Yet what is there that could be nearer you than is your Self?

The power you have over the Son of God is not a threat to his reality. It but attests to it. Where could his freedom lie but in himself, if he be free already? And who could bind him but himself, if he deny his freedom? God is not mocked; no more His Son can be imprisoned save by his own desire. And it is by his own desire that he is freed. Such is his strength, and not his weakness. He is at his own mercy. And where he chooses to be merciful, there is he free. But where he chooses to condemn instead, there is he held a prisoner, waiting in chains his pardon on himself to set him free.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 29

Lesson 194

I place the future in the Hands of God.

Today’s idea takes another step toward quick salvation, and a giant stride it is indeed! So great the distance is that it encompasses, it sets you down just short of Heaven, with the goal in sight and obstacles behind. Your foot has reached the lawns that welcome you to Heaven’s gate; the quiet place of peace, where you await with certainty the final step of God. How far are we progressing now from earth! How close are we approaching to our goal! How short the journey still to be pursued!

Accept today’s idea, and you have passed all anxiety, all pits of hell, all blackness of depression, thoughts of sin, and devastation brought about by guilt. Accept today’s idea, and you have released the world from all imprisonment by loosening the heavy chains that locked the door to freedom on it. You are saved, and your salvation thus becomes the gift you give the world, because you have received.

In no one instant is depression felt, or pain experienced or loss perceived. In no one instant sorrow can be set upon a throne, and worshipped faithfully. In no one instant can one even die. And so each instant given unto God in passing, with the next one given Him already, is a time of your release from sadness, pain and even death itself.

God holds your future as He holds your past and present. They are one to Him, and so they should be one to you. Yet in this world, the temporal progression still seems real. And so you are not asked to understand the lack of sequence really found in time. You are but asked to let the future go, and place it in God’s Hands. And you will see by your experience that you have laid the past and present in His Hands as well, because the past will punish you no more, and future dread will now be meaningless.

Release the future. For the past is gone, and what is present, freed from its bequest of grief and misery, of pain and loss, becomes the instant in which time escapes the bondage of illusions where it runs its pitiless, inevitable course. Then is each instant which was slave to time transformed into a holy instant, when the light that was kept hidden in God’s Son is freed to bless the world. Now is he free, and all his glory shines upon a world made free with him, to share his holiness.

If you can see the lesson for today as the deliverance it really is, you will not hesitate to give as much consistent effort as you can, to make it be a part of you. As it becomes a thought that rules your mind, a habit in your problem-solving repertoire, a way of quick reaction to temptation, you extend your learning to the world. And as you learn to see salvation in all things, so will the world perceive that it is saved.

What worry can beset the one who gives his future to the loving Hands of God? What can he suffer? What can cause him pain, or bring experience of loss to him? What can he fear? And what can he regard except with love? For he who has escaped all fear of future pain has found his way to present peace, and certainty of care the world can never threaten. He is sure that his perception may be faulty, but will never lack correction. He is free to choose again when he has been deceived; to change his mind when he has made mistakes.

Place, then, your future in the Hands of God. For thus you call the memory of Him to come again, replacing all your thoughts of sin and evil with the truth of love. Think you the world could fail to gain thereby, and every living creature not respond with healed perception? Who entrusts himself to God has also placed the world within the Hands to which he has himself appealed for comfort and security. He lays aside the sick illusions of the world along with his, and offers peace to both.

Now are we saved indeed. For in God’s Hands we rest untroubled, sure that only good can come to us. If we forget, we will be gently reassured. If we accept an unforgiving thought, it will be soon replaced by love’s reflection. And if we are tempted to attack, we will appeal to Him Who guards our rest to make the choice for us that leaves temptation far behind. No longer is the world our enemy, for we have chosen that we be its friend.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #142: I have been a keen student of A Course in Miracles for a good 12 years and find it the most appropriate spiritual path for me. Thinking of Jesus and his teachings has become a part of my life, a way of consciously forgiving myself and thus of course others as well. I also accept fully that all pain is some form of unforgiveness (“Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness” [W.pI.193.4:1]). Now regardless of my practice, which is almost on a continual and absolutely unforced basis, parallel to whatever else I may be occupied with, various aches and pains and other ailments do occur at a level which makes me question the efficacy of my practice — my only choice then remaining the same old magic, usually a pain killer. Even ardently repeating a maxim like “I am not a body. I am free. For I am still as God created me” [W.pI.rVI.3:3,4,5] during an attack seems quite ineffective. Is it basically still a very fearful subconscious that is at the bottom of this, or is it the ego taking me for a ride and having me believe that I have forgiven myself more than I really have?

 A: You’re trying so very hard, but you also want to be gentle and patient with yourself. It would be helpful not to try to evaluate your progress based on any feedback you feel your body is giving you. Aches and pains always reveal unhealed areas in the mind, and in that sense it is helpful to pay attention to them, but not as a yardstick against which to judge how well you are practicing forgiveness and whether you are passing or failing the Course. 

Yes, there is still fear, as well as guilt, buried in your subconscious mind, and yes, your ego will always want to fool you about your progress, but also your lack of progress (T.18.V.1:5,6). All of that is to be expected while you still identify yourself as the body which has the name you answer to. For seeing yourself as a body means you still believe that the separation and its accompanying guilt are real and you still believe you need a defense against that guilt, which is the purpose the body serves. The pain, apparently in the body, is intended to distract you from its real source in the mind. So if you are willing to make the connection back to the mind and see the cause — unforgiveness — that is all you really need do.

 If there is a pain killer that seems to be helpful in relieving your pain, by all means continue to use it. So what if it is not the ultimate healing? Know that Jesus is not judging you for what you may see as your weakness and inability to forgive completely. Taking medication is a gentler and more loving way of dealing with your pain than trying to persuade yourself that the pain is not real by using words from the Course as affirmations to shout down the ego and cover over what you still believe about yourself — that you are a body. It will always be more helpful simply to get in touch with what you still believe and why, knowing, as you suggest, that it is only fear that holds you in those beliefs. By acknowledging and looking at the fear, you will be doing your part in its healing.

For a further consideration of issues related to the questions you raise, you may wish to look at Question #128.


Q #143: I know that A Course in Miracles is not aimed at the level of behavior and it indicates that depression is an attempt to attack God. Therefore, I have been angry with myself for being depressed about the war with Iraq, thinking that I should be “above” that. Was it wrong that I had hoped that peace would prevail on a physical level? Is it an indication of my specialness that I am depressed that it hasn’t?

A: It is quite normal to hope that peace would prevail on a physical level; and many other people have also felt depressed about the war and about the world situation in general. The only mistake you are making is being angry with yourself and thinking that you should be beyond depression.

In connecting depression with blasphemy (T.10.V), Jesus is calling our attention, in a dramatic way, to the effects in our minds of giving our allegiance to the ego (specifically the god of sickness), rather than to his healing love. When you become depressed, all that you have done is identify with your ego’s view of things. But, more than likely, you identify with the ego in many other ways throughout the day. So why would you be surprised by this form? It is easy to forget that simply feeling scared when your supply of oxygen is cut off is an ego reaction. We have ego reactions all the time, and it is a mistake to have a hierarchy among them. Any time you are tempted to judge yourself by feeling you should be beyond a, b, or c, you should stop right there and remind yourself that that judgment is coming from your ego, and therefore should not be taken seriously. In his kind and gentle guidance of us, Jesus would never utter those words of judgment.

Wanting there to be peace in the world is quite normal, to repeat; but it can also be viewed in the context of your special relationship with your identity as an individual in “your” world. In this sense, your identity as an individual would be more secure and less problematic if there were no conflicts in the world. The impatience and depression about the turmoil might be reminding you of the profound insecurity you feel on a deep level, because, somewhere in your mind, you know that your existence as an individual is not authentic. In your wrong/ego mind you believe (as we all do) that your existence came at God’s expense. A world without major upheavals thus can be a defense against that insecurity, which is always present in the mind that believes it has separated from God. Also, since we are the ones who made the world to replace our true home in Heaven — thereby saying that we could get along without God just fine — then when the world “doesn’t work right,” we would feel as if we had failed. Depression would be one response to that sense of failure, for once again we have been reminded that we have denied God (blasphemy).

On the other hand, for some people, being preoccupied with the chaos and strife in the world protects them from having to deal with the chaos and strife in their minds. But this defense, as is the case with all defenses, reinforces their unconscious guilt, because they would then want there to be calamities in the world to serve their own need for protection from their minds.

The good news that Jesus imparts to us in the Course is that true peace is not dependent on anything external in order to be what it is. He helps us realize that peace in the world, even it were achieved, would always be a fragile peace, and therefore would not bring us the comfort we long for. It would depend on the presence of specific conditions, and it would require guardians, or a “peace-keeping force,” as governments typically describe them. The peace of mind that Jesus offers us is simply restored to us; it is not something we must earn. And, thankfully, it is restored simply by our choosing against the interferences to its presence, which means that we must first become aware of how we interfere with it, and how we defend against it. This would be our own personal “peace-keeping force” — our ongoing vigilance for our attacks against our Self. Once these interferences are gone, peace will flow through us naturally, but we then would have no investment in how it is extended, or whether it is received by others when offered.

You but mistake interpretation

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 28

ACIM Text Reading for July 28

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

V. The Function of Reason

Perception selects, and makes the world you see. It literally picks it out as the mind directs. The laws of size and shape and brightness would hold, perhaps, if other things were equal. They are not equal. For what you look for you are far more likely to discover than what you would prefer to overlook, The still, small Voice for God is not drowned out by all the ego’s raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear It. Perception is a choice and not a fact. But on this choice depends far more than you may realise as yet. For on the voice you choose to hear, and on the sights you choose to see, depends entirely your whole belief in what you are. Perception is a witness but to this, and never to reality. Yet it can show you the conditions in which awareness of reality is possible, or those where it could never be.

Reality needs no co-operation from you to be itself. But your awareness of it needs your help, because it is your choice. Listen to what the ego says, and see what it directs you see, and it is sure that you will see yourself as tiny, vulnerable and afraid. You will experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality. You will believe that you are helpless prey to forces far beyond your own control, and far more powerful than you. And you will think the world you made directs your destiny. For this will be your faith. But never believe because it is your faith it makes reality.

There is another vision and another Voice in Which your freedom lies, awaiting but your choice. And if you place your faith in Them, you will perceive another Self in you. This other Self sees miracles as natural. They are as simple and as natural to It as breathing to the body. They are the obvious response to calls for help, the only one It makes. Miracles seem unnatural to the ego because it does not understand how separate minds can influence each other. Nor could they do so. But minds cannot be separate. This other Self is perfectly aware of this. And thus It recognises that miracles do not affect another’s mind, only Its Own. They always change your mind. There is no other.

You do not realise the whole extent to which the idea of separation has interfered with reason. Reason lies in the other Self you have cut off from your awareness. And nothing you have allowed to stay in your awareness is capable of reason. How can the segment of the mind devoid of reason understand what reason is, or grasp the information it would give? All sorts of questions may arise in it, but if the basic question stems from reason, it will not ask it. Like all that stems from reason, the basic question is obvious, simple and remains unasked. But think not reason could not answer it.

God’s plan for your salvation could not have been established without your will and your consent. It must have been accepted by the Son of God, for what God wills for him he must receive. For God wills not apart from him, nor does the Will of God wait upon time to be accomplished. Therefore, what joined the Will of God must be in you now, being eternal. You must have set aside a place in which the Holy Spirit can abide, and where He is. He must have been there since the need for Him arose, and was fulfilled in the same instant. Such would your reason tell you, if you listened. Yet such is clearly not the ego’s reasoning. Your reason’s alien nature to the ego is proof you will not find the answer there. Yet if it must be so, it must exist. And if it exists for you, and has your freedom as the purpose given it, you must be free to find it.

God’s plan is simple; never circular and never self-defeating. He has no Thoughts except the Self-extending, and in this your will must be included. Thus, there must be a part of you that knows His Will and shares it. It is not meaningful to ask if what must be is so. But it is meaningful to ask why you are unaware of what is so, for this must have an answer if the plan of God for your salvation is complete. And it must be complete, because its Source knows not of incompletion.

Where would the answer be but in the Source? And where are you but there, where this same answer is? Your Identity, as much a true effect of this same Source as is the answer, must therefore be together and the same. O yes, you know this, and more than this alone. Yet any part of knowledge threatens dissociation as much as all of it. And all of it will come with any part. Here is the part you can accept. What reason points to you can see, because the witnesses on its behalf are clear. Only the totally insane can disregard them, and you have gone past this. Reason is a means that serves the Holy Spirit’s purpose in its own right. It is not reinterpreted and redirected from the goal of sin, as are the others. For reason is beyond the ego’s range of means.

Faith and perception and belief can be misplaced, and serve the great deceiver’s needs as well as truth. But reason has no place at all in madness, nor can it be adjusted to fit its end. Faith and belief are strong in madness, guiding perception toward what the mind has valued. But reason enters not at all in this. For the perception would fall away at once, if reason were applied. There is no reason in insanity, for it depends entirely on reason’s absence. The ego never uses it, because it does not realise that it exists. The partially insane have access to it, and only they have need of it. Knowledge does not depend on it, and madness keeps it out.

The part of mind where reason lies was dedicated, by your will in union with your Father’s, to the undoing of insanity. Here was the Holy Spirit’s purpose accepted and accomplished, both at once. Reason is alien to insanity, and those who use it have gained a means which cannot be applied to sin. Knowledge is far beyond attainment of any kind. But reason can serve to open doors you closed against it.

You have come very close to this. Faith and belief have shifted, and you have asked the question the ego will never ask. Does not your reason tell you now the question must have come from something that you do not know, but must belong to you? Faith and belief, upheld by reason, cannot fail to lead to changed perception. And in this change is room made way for vision. Vision extends beyond itself, as does the purpose that it serves, and all the means for its accomplishment.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 28

Lesson 193

All things are lessons God would have me learn.

God does not know of learning. Yet His Will extends to what He does not understand, in that He wills the happiness His Son inherited of Him be undisturbed; eternal and forever gaining scope, eternally expanding in the joy of full creation, and eternally open and wholly limitless in Him. That is His Will. And thus His Will provides the means to guarantee that it is done.

God sees no contradictions. Yet His Son believes he sees them. Thus he has a need for One Who can correct his erring sight, and give him vision that will lead him back to where perception ceases. God does not perceive at all. Yet it is He Who gives the means by which perception is made true and beautiful enough to let the light of Heaven shine upon it. It is He Who answers what His Son would contradict, and keeps his sinlessness forever safe.

These are the lessons God would have you learn. His Will reflects them all, and they reflect His loving kindness to the Son He loves. Each lesson has a central thought, the same in all of them. The form alone is changed, with different circumstances and events; with different characters and different themes, apparent but not real. They are the same in fundamental content. It is this:

Forgive, and you will see this differently.

Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form. It is this sameness which makes learning sure, because the lesson is so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end. No one can hide forever from a truth so very obvious that it appears in countless forms, and yet is recognized as easily in all of them, if one but wants to see the simple lesson there.

Forgive, and you will see this differently.

These are the words the Holy Spirit speaks in all your tribulations, all your pain, all suffering regardless of its form. These are the words with which temptation ends, and guilt, abandoned, is revered no more. These are the words which end the dream of sin, and rid the mind of fear. These are the words by which salvation comes to all the world.

Shall we not learn to say these words when we are tempted to believe that pain is real, and death becomes our choice instead of life? Shall we not learn to say these words when we have understood their power to release all minds from bondage? These are words which give you power over all events that seem to have been given power over you. You see them rightly when you hold these words in full awareness, and do not forget these words apply to everything you see or any brother looks upon amiss.

How can you tell when you are seeing wrong, or someone else is failing to perceive the lesson he should learn? Does pain seem real in the perception? If it does, be sure the lesson is not learned. And there remains an unforgiveness hiding in the mind that sees the pain through eyes the mind directs.

God would not have you suffer thus. He would help you forgive yourself. His Son does not remember who he is. And God would have him not forget His Love, and all the gifts His Love brings with it. Would you now renounce your own salvation? Would you fail to learn the simple lessons Heaven’s Teacher sets before you, that all pain may disappear and God may be remembered by His Son?

All things are lessons God would have you learn. He would not leave an unforgiving thought without correction, nor one thorn or nail to hurt His holy Son in any way. He would ensure his holy rest remain untroubled and serene, without a care, in an eternal home which cares for him. And He would have all tears be wiped away, with none remaining yet unshed, and none but waiting their appointed time to fall. For God has willed that laughter should replace each one, and that His Son be free again.

We will attempt today to overcome a thousand seeming obstacles to peace in just one day. Let mercy come to you more quickly. Do not try to hold it off another day, another minute or another instant. Time was made for this. Use it today for what its purpose is. Morning and night, devote what time you can to serve its proper aim, and do not let the time be less than meets your deepest need.

Give all you can, and give a little more. For now we would arise in haste and go unto our Father’s house. We have been gone too long, and we would linger here no more. And as we practice, let us think about all things we saved to settle by ourselves, and kept apart from healing. Let us give them all to Him Who knows the way to look upon them so that they will disappear. Truth is His message; truth His teaching is. His are the lessons God would have us learn.

Each hour, spend a little time today, and in the days to come, in practicing the lesson in forgiveness in the form established for the day. And try to give it application to the happenings the hour brought, so that the next one is free of the one before. The chains of time are easily unloosened in this way. Let no one hour cast its shadow on the one that follows, and when that one goes, let everything that happened in its course go with it. Thus will you remain unbound, in peace eternal in the world of time.

This is the lesson God would have you learn: There is a way to look on everything that lets it be to you another step to Him, and to salvation of the world. To all that speaks of terror, answer thus:

I will forgive, and this will disappear.

To every apprehension, every care and every form of suffering, repeat these selfsame words. And then you hold the key that opens Heaven’s gate, and brings the Love of God the Father down to earth at last, to raise it up to Heaven. God will take this final step Himself. Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #818The preliminary diagnosis is that there is a malignant tumor in my esophagus where the esophagus enters the stomach. The result is a severe constriction making swallowing very difficult. I have seen questions asked about praying and relieving or eliminating malignancies. My question is, what prayers should I use to relieve and remove the growth? My wife will help me pray.

A: First of all, you want to continue to seek out and follow whatever medical advice and treatment is available to help you with your condition. It is important to be clear that it is never an either-or proposition between medical interventions and A Course in Miracles . And then you should say whatever prayers bring you comfort and reassure you that it is not God’s Will that you suffer or experience pain or fear, using words that are personally meaningful to you and your wife. The specific words are not so important as the decision you make to allow your mind to be joined with your wife’s in a shared purpose of healing.

The Course’s focus is on healing the thoughts of unforgiveness we are holding against ourselves in our minds and not on changing the symptoms in our bodies, which it considers to be the effects of those thoughts. Still, there is nothing wrong with asking for help with physical conditions and Jesus recognizes that for most of us, still identified with our bodies, that will continue to be our focus of concern ( S.1.II.2 ). Perhaps you would be willing to consider your symptoms as the external expression of a thought of illness — the ego, to be specific — in your mind. Then you can bring the thoughts of fear and pain in your mind to Jesus or the Holy Spirit or God, or whatever loving presence you find most comforting. The value in focusing in your prayers on any thoughts of pain or guilt or fear in your mind, as well as your bodily concerns, is that then you are including, from the Course’s perspective, the underlying cause of the suffering and pain, as well as the effects — the physical symptoms.

There are many passages in the Course that you may find of help and comfort as you deal with the ramifications of your diagnosis. One in particular, which recognizes the process that we all must go through as we commit ourselves to putting the Course’s principles of forgiveness into practice, is workbook lesson 284, “I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt.”    

“Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth, at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth. I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt. And I would go beyond these words today, and past all reservations, and arrive at full acceptance of the truth in them. (W.p.II.284.1, italics added .

These words are not meant to be used to deny or suppress whatever you may be experiencing in your body, but rather to offer the hope that, as a result of acknowledging the pain and the fear and their deeper source in the mind, the real potential for healing the underlying thoughts becomes possible.

There are a number of questions, as you note, addressing issues of prayer and healing. Two that may be particularly relevant to your concerns include Questions #149 and #215.

infinite patience


A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 27

ACIM Text Reading for July 27

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

IV. The Fear to Look Within

The Holy Spirit will never teach you that you are sinful. Errors He will correct, but this makes no one fearful. You are indeed afraid to look within and see the sin you think is there. This you would not be fearful to admit. Fear in association with sin the ego deems quite appropriate, and smiles approvingly. It has no fear to let you feel ashamed. It doubts not your belief and faith in sin. Its temples do not shake because of this. Your faith that sin is there but witnesses to your desire that it be there to see. This merely seems to be the source of fear.

Remember that the ego is not alone. Its rule is tempered, and its unknown ‘enemy’, Whom it cannot even see, it fears. Loudly the ego tells you not to look inward, for if you do your eyes will light on sin, and God will strike you blind. This you believe, and so you do not look. Yet this is not the ego’s hidden fear, nor yours who serve it. Loudly indeed the ego claims it is; too loudly and too often. For underneath this constant shout and frantic proclamation, the ego is not certain it is so. Beneath your fear to look within because of sin is yet another fear, and one which makes the ego tremble.

What if you looked within and saw no sin? This ‘fearful’ question is one the ego never asks. And you who ask it now are threatening the ego’s whole defensive system too seriously for it to bother to pretend it is your friend. Those who have joined their brothers have detached themselves from their belief that their identity lies in the ego. A holy relationship is one in which you join with what is part of you in truth. And your belief in sin has been already shaken, nor are you now entirely unwilling to look within and see it not.

Your liberation still is only partial; still limited and incomplete, yet born within you. Not wholly mad, you have been willing to look on much of your insanity and recognise its madness. Your faith is moving inward, past insanity and on to reason. And what your reason tells you now the ego would not hear. The Holy Spirit’s purpose was accepted by the part of your mind the ego knows not of. No more did you. And yet this part, with which you now identify, is not afraid to look upon itself. It knows no sin. How, otherwise, could it have been willing to see the Holy Spirit’s purpose as its own?

This part has seen your brother, and recognised him perfectly since time began. And it desired nothing but to join with him and to be free again, as once it was. It has been waiting for the birth of freedom; the acceptance of release to come to you. And now you recognise that it was not the ego that joined the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and so there must be something else. Think not that this is madness. For this your reason tells you, and it follows perfectly from what you have already learned.

There is no inconsistency in what the Holy Spirit teaches. This is the reasoning of the sane. You have perceived the ego’s madness, and not been made afraid because you did not choose to share in it. At times it still deceives you. Yet in your saner moments, its ranting strikes no terror in your heart. For you have realised that all the gifts it would withdraw from you, in rage at your ‘presumptuous’ wish to look within, you do not want. A few remaining trinkets still seem to shine and catch your eye. Yet you would not ‘sell’ Heaven to have them.

And now the ego is afraid. Yet what it hears in terror, the other part hears as the sweetest music; the song it longed to hear since first the ego came into your mind. The ego’s weakness is its strength. The song of freedom, which sings the praises of another world, brings to it hope of peace. For it remembers Heaven, and now it sees that Heaven has come to earth at last, from which the ego’s rule has kept it out so long. Heaven has come because it found a home in your relationship on earth. And earth can hold no longer what has been given Heaven as its own.

Look gently on your brother, and remember the ego’s weakness is revealed in both your sight. What it would keep apart has met and joined, and looks upon the ego unafraid. Little child, innocent of sin, follow in gladness the way to certainty. Be not held back by fear’s insane insistence that sureness lies in doubt. This has no meaning. What matters it to you how loudly it is proclaimed? The senseless is not made meaningful by repetition and by clamour. The quiet way is open. Follow it happily, and question not what must be so.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 27

Lesson 192

I have a function God would have me fill.

It is your Father’s holy Will that you complete Himself, and that your Self shall be His sacred Son, forever pure as He, of love created and in love preserved, extending love, creating in its name, forever one with God and with your Self. Yet what can such a function mean within a world of envy, hatred and attack?

Therefore, you have a function in the world in its own terms. For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp? Forgiveness represents your function here. It is not God’s creation, for it is the means by which untruth can be undone. And who would pardon Heaven? Yet on earth, you need the means to let illusions go. Creation merely waits for your return to be acknowledged, not to be complete.

Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here. Forgiveness is the closest it can come to earth. For being Heaven-born, it has no form at all. Yet God created One Who has the power to translate in form the wholly formless. What He makes are dreams, but of a kind so close to waking that the light of day already shines in them, and eyes already opening behold the joyful sights their offerings contain.

Forgiveness gently looks upon all things unknown in Heaven, sees them disappear, and leaves the world a clean and unmarked slate on which the Word of God can now replace the senseless symbols written there before. Forgiveness is the means by which the fear of death is overcome, because it holds no fierce attraction now and guilt is gone. Forgiveness lets the body be perceived as what it is; a simple teaching aid, to be laid by when learning is complete, but hardly changing him who learns at all.

The mind without the body cannot make mistakes. It cannot think that it will die, nor be the prey of merciless attack. Anger becomes impossible, and where is terror then? What fears could still assail those who have lost the source of all attack, the core of anguish and the seat of fear? Only forgiveness can relieve the mind of thinking that the body is its home. Only forgiveness can restore the peace that God intended for His holy Son. Only forgiveness can persuade the Son to look again upon his holiness.

With anger gone, you will indeed perceive that, for Christ’s vision and the gift of sight, no sacrifice was asked, and only pain was lifted from a sick and tortured mind. Is this unwelcome? Is it to be feared? Or is it to be hoped for, met with thanks and joyously accepted? We are one, and therefore give up nothing. But we have indeed been given everything by God.

Yet do we need forgiveness to perceive that this is so. Without its kindly light we grope in darkness, using reason but to justify our rage and our attack. Our understanding is so limited that what we think we understand is but confusion born of error. We are lost in mists of shifting dreams and fearful thoughts, our eyes shut tight against the light; our minds engaged in worshipping what is not there.

Who can be born again in Christ but him who has forgiven everyone he sees or thinks of or imagines? Who could be set free while he imprisons anyone? A jailer is not free, for he is bound together with his prisoner. He must be sure that he does not escape, and so he spends his time in keeping watch on him. The bars that limit him become the world in which his jailer lives, along with him. And it is on his freedom that the way to liberty depends for both of them.

Therefore, hold no one prisoner. Release instead of bind, for thus are you made free. The way is simple. Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free. Thus does each one who seems to tempt you to be angry represent your savior from the prison house of death. And so you owe him thanks instead of pain.

Be merciful today. The Son of God deserves your mercy. It is he who asks that you accept the way to freedom now. Deny him not. His Father’s Love for him belongs to you. Your function here on earth is only to forgive him, that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1254(i): (The following two questions were submitted by the same person.)

A Course in Miracles states that “ everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked ” (T.21.II.2:5). On one of your tapes you said that if I am stuck and feel miserable, it is because I want to be stuck and feel miserable. I am having such a struggle in this life with everything — job, family, where I live. It just does not seem possible that this is happening because I want to struggle and be unhappy. I feel like I do not want life to be so difficult, and that the way my life has gone and is going is totally out of my control. I know I don’t know what I’m doing or how to be free of all of this misery. When we become aware that we are getting what we ask for, which for some of us is an unhappy life, how do we change it? Or is it just your lot in life?

A: First, Jesus is not referring to external circumstances or events in the passage you quoted; he is talking only about our interpretation or how we experience what goes on in our lives. What that means is that seeing yourself as an innocent victim of outside forces is an interpretation. It comes as quite a shock to most students, when, in the very next sentence, he says that to feel that way is self-deception (T.21.II.2:6). It is true that we cannot control most things in the world: the weather, the speed of light, the job and housing markets, the decisions and actions of dictators, etc., but we definitely can control our responses to these forces as they affect our lives. That is the level of responsibility that Jesus is referring to and training us to focus on, because that is the beginning phase of recovering the power of our minds, which we gave away when we chose separation over union with God. This does not mean, though, that you should not take whatever steps you can to improve your situation in the world.

The main point is that the peace of God is within our minds as part of our very being and therefore is not dependent on anything outside us. Nothing can take it away or diminish it, as Jesus expresses in the lesson “My salvation comes from me”: “The seeming cost of accepting today’s idea is this: It means that nothing outside yourself can save you; nothing outside yourself can give you peace. But it also means that nothing outside yourself can hurt you, or disturb your peace or upset you in any way” (W.pI.70.2:1,2; see also W.pI.152). This is indeed hard for us to comprehend, but it is the heart of Jesus’ radical message. If peace is within us at all times and we don’t experience it, there can be but one reason: we ourselves chose against it because the ego’s offering was more appealing to us at the moment. We then deny we did that, and blame our lack of peace on something other than that decision. It is true, as you say, that it makes no sense to think we actually want to be miserable and to be constantly struggling, but all that means is that we are not in touch with our mind’s dynamics and are just deluding ourselves about why we are unhappy. Correcting this confusion is a main objective of the lessons in the workbook — for example, Lesson 5 states, “I am never upset for the reason I think” (W.pI.5).

Based on the strategy of the ego, what we want (in our wrong minds) is to keep our existence as individuals separate from God, but not the guilt over that; however, to achieve that goal, we cannot stay in our minds, because that’s where God can get us, the ego warns. Therefore, we must project ourselves into another state; and (to abbreviate a very long story) that’s why we experience ourselves only as bodies struggling to survive in a world that seems to throw one problem after another at us. Then the world is the problem, not the decision we are making in our minds, because we are no longer aware that we even have a mind. The ego’s strategy thus has succeeded — apparently. So in A Course in Miracles, Jesus exposes this whole plot and teaches us how to end our suffering through the practice of forgiveness.

Similar concerns have been expressed by other students, and you might find it helpful to read these discussions. See Questions #980, #1353, and #1359.


Q #1254(ii): When I do the workbook lessons in A Course in Miracles and need to go into my mind away from the world, and reach God, I have never been able to do that. I have done the lessons several times and still am no better at sinking down, inward. I don’t get to a peaceful place, or the altar or anywhere I am asked to “go”. Can you help?

A: Patience and trust are the key to practicing the lessons. Your wanting to do what Jesus asks is what truly heals your mind, not necessarily perfect results as you would be tempted to judge them. Your willingness is the content that really matters. That is what you want to trust in. The action, so to speak, is going on at another level of which you are not aware; therefore, it could well be that you are making great strides spiritually simply by wanting to get beyond your ego, even though you do not experience being beyond it see T.18.V.1). The experience may come in a different way — perhaps at a time when you ordinarily would be anxious or angry, and that does not happen. Just try not to judge yourself as you do the lessons.

the way to god

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 26

ACIM Text Reading for July 26

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

III. Faith, Belief and Vision

All special relationships have sin as their goal. For they are bargains with reality, toward which the seeming union is adjusted. Forget not this; to bargain is to set a limit, and any brother with whom you have a limited relationship, you hate. You may attempt to keep the bargain in the name of ‘fairness’, sometimes demanding payment of yourself, perhaps more often of the other. Thus in the ‘fairness’ you attempt to ease the guilt that comes from the accepted purpose of the relationship. And that is why the Holy Spirit must change its purpose to make it useful to Him and harmless to you.

If you accept this change, you have accepted the idea of making room for truth. The source of sin is gone. You may imagine that you still experience its effects, but it is not your purpose and you no longer want it. No one allows a purpose to be replaced while he desires it, for nothing is so cherished and protected as is a goal the mind accepts. This it will follow, grimly or happily, but always with faith and with the persistence that faith inevitably brings. The power of faith is never recognised if it is placed in sin. But it is always recognised if it is placed in love.

Why is it strange to you that faith can move mountains? This is indeed a little feat for such a power. For faith can keep the Son of God in chains as long as he believes he is in chains. And when he is released from them it will be simply because he no longer believes in them, withdrawing faith that they can hold him, and placing it in his freedom instead. It is impossible to place equal faith in opposite directions. What faith you give to sin you take away from holiness. And what you offer holiness has been removed from sin.

Faith and belief and vision are the means by which the goal of holiness is reached. Through them the Holy Spirit leads you to the real world, and away from all illusions where your faith was laid. This is His direction; the only one He ever sees. And when you wander, He reminds you there is but one. His faith and His belief and vision are all for you. And when you have accepted them completely instead of yours, you will have need of them no longer. For faith and vision and belief are meaningful only before the state of certainty is reached. In Heaven they are unknown. Yet Heaven is reached through them.

It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be. Faithlessness is not a lack of faith, but faith in nothing. Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless. Thus is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. For faith, perception and belief you made, as means for losing certainty and finding sin. This mad direction was your choice, and by your faith in what you chose, you made what you desired.

The Holy Spirit has a use for all the means for sin by which you sought to find it. But as He uses them they lead away from sin, because His purpose lies in the opposite direction. He sees the means you use, but not the purpose for which you made them. He would not take them from you, for He sees their value as a means for what He wills for you. You made perception that you might choose among your brothers, and seek for sin with them. The Holy Spirit sees perception as a means to teach you that the vision of the holy relationship is all you want to see. Then will you give your faith to holiness, desiring and believing in it because of your desire.

Faith and belief become attached to vision, as all the means that once served sin are redirected now toward holiness. For what you think is sin is limitation, and whom you try to limit to the body you hate because you fear. In your refusal to forgive him, you would condemn him to the body because the means for sin are dear to you. And so the body has your faith and your belief. But holiness would set your brother free, removing hatred by removing fear, not as a symptom, but at its source.

Those who would free their brothers from the body can have no fear. They have renounced the means for sin by choosing to let all limitations be removed. As they desire to look upon their brothers in holiness, the power of their belief and faith sees far beyond the body, supporting vision, not obstructing it. But first they chose to recognise how much their faith had limited their understanding of the world, desiring to place its power elsewhere should another point of view be given them. The miracles that follow this decision are also born of faith. For all who choose to look away from sin are given vision, and are led to holiness.

Those who believe in sin must think the Holy Spirit asks for sacrifice, for this is how they think their purpose is accomplished. Brother, the Holy Spirit knows that sacrifice brings nothing. He makes no bargains. And if you seek to limit Him, you will hate Him because you are afraid. The gift that He has given you is more than anything that stands this side of Heaven. The instant for its recognition is at hand. Join your awareness to what has been already joined. The faith you give your brother can accomplish this. For He Who loves the world is seeing it for you, without one spot of sin upon it, and in the innocence that makes the sight of it as beautiful as Heaven.

Your faith in sacrifice has given it great power in your sight; except you do not realise you cannot see because of it. For sacrifice must be exacted of a body, and by another body. The mind could neither ask it nor receive it of itself. And no more could the body. The intention is in the mind, which tries to use the body to carry out the means for sin in which the mind believes. Thus is the joining of mind and body an inescapable belief of those who value sin. And so is sacrifice invariably a means for limitation, and thus for hate.

Think you the Holy Spirit is concerned with this? He gives not what it is His purpose to lead you from. You think He would deprive you for your good. But ‘good’ and ‘deprivation’ are opposites, and cannot meaningfully join in any way. It is like saying that the moon and sun are one because they come with night and day, and so they must be joined. Yet sight of one is but the sign the other has disappeared from sight. Nor is it possible that what gives light be one with what depends on darkness to be seen. Neither demands the sacrifice of the other. Yet on the absence of the other does each depend.

The body was made to be a sacrifice to sin, and in the darkness so it still is seen. Yet in the light of vision it is looked upon quite differently. You can have faith in it to serve the Holy Spirit’s goal, and give it power to serve as means to help the blind to see. But in their seeing they look past it, as do you. The faith and the belief you gave it belongs beyond. You gave perception and belief and faith from mind to body. Let them now be given back to what produced them, and can use them still to save itself from what it made.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 26

Lesson 191

I am the holy Son of God Himself.

Here is your declaration of release from bondage of the world. And here as well is all the world released. You do not see what you have done by giving to the world the role of jailer to the Son of God. What could it be but vicious and afraid, fearful of shadows, punitive and wild, lacking all reason, blind, insane with hate?

What have you done that this should be your world? What have you done that this is what you see? Deny your own Identity, and this is what remains. You look on chaos and proclaim it is yourself. There is no sight that fails to witness this to you. There is no sound that does not speak of frailty within you and without; no breath you draw that does not seem to bring you nearer death; no hope you hold but will dissolve in tears.

Deny your own Identity, and you will not escape the madness which induced this weird, unnatural and ghostly thought that mocks creation and that laughs at God. Deny your own Identity, and you assail the universe alone, without a friend, a tiny particle of dust against the legions of your enemies. Deny your own Identity, and look on evil, sin and death, and watch despair snatch from your fingers every scrap of hope, leaving you nothing but the wish to die.

Yet what is it except a game you play in which Identity can be denied? You are as God created you. All else but this one thing is folly to believe. In this one thought is everyone set free. In this one truth are all illusions gone. In this one fact is sinlessness proclaimed to be forever part of everything, the central core of its existence and its guarantee of immortality.

But let today’s idea find a place among your thoughts and you have risen far above the world, and all the worldly thoughts that hold it prisoner. And from this place of safety and escape you will return and set it free. For he who can accept his true Identity is truly saved. And his salvation is the gift he gives to everyone, in gratitude to Him Who pointed out the way to happiness that changed his whole perspective of the world.

One holy thought like this and you are free: You are the holy Son of God Himself. And with this holy thought you learn as well that you have freed the world. You have no need to use it cruelly, and then perceive this savage need in it. You set it free of your imprisonment. You will not see a devastating image of yourself walking the world in terror, with the world twisting in agony because your fears have laid the mark of death upon its heart.

Be glad today how very easily is hell undone. You need but tell yourself:

I am the holy Son of God Himself. I cannot suffer,
cannot be in pain; I cannot suffer loss, nor fail to do
all that salvation asks.

And in that thought is everything you look on wholly changed.

A miracle has lighted up all dark and ancient caverns, where the rites of death echoed since time began. For time has lost its hold upon the world. The Son of God has come in glory to redeem the lost, to save the helpless, and to give the world the gift of his forgiveness. Who could see the world as dark and sinful, when God’s Son has come again at last to set it free?

You who perceive yourself as weak and frail, with futile hopes and devastated dreams, born but to die, to weep and suffer pain, hear this: All power is given unto you in earth and Heaven. There is nothing that you cannot do. You play the game of death, of being helpless, pitifully tied to dissolution in a world which shows no mercy to you. Yet when you accord it mercy, will its mercy shine on you.

Then let the Son of God awaken from his sleep, and opening his holy eyes, return again to bless the world he made. In error it began, but it will end in the reflection of his holiness. And he will sleep no more and dream of death. Then join with me today. Your glory is the light that saves the world. Do not withhold salvation longer. Look about the world, and see the suffering there. Is not your heart willing to bring your weary brothers rest?

They must await your own release. They stay in chains till you are free. They cannot see the mercy of the world until you find it in yourself. They suffer pain until you have denied its hold on you. They die till you accept your own eternal life. You are the holy Son of God Himself. Remember this, and all the world is free. Remember this, and earth and Heaven are one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #279: I know that, as A Course in Miracles says, all illness is a defense against truth. Are you aware of any case of someone who, after many years of continuous study and practice of the Course, started to feel an abstract fear of this apparent reality, like losing his mind — agoraphobic-like symptoms?

A: It is not surprising that fear may appear to become more intense as we work with the Course over time. We are after all in the process of removing all the many defenses we have constructed to minimize fear in our awareness and to disguise it as other seemingly more manageable feelings, such as anger or excitement.

Jesus is well aware that our fear will seem to increase over time as we study and apply his Course: “You have not yet gone back far enough, and that is why you become so fearful. As you approach the Beginning, you feel the fear of the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death” (T.3.VII.5:9,10,11). And later in the text: “As the light comes nearer you will rush to darkness, shrinking from the truth, sometimes retreating to the lesser forms of fear, and sometimes to stark terror” (T.18.III.2:1).

The form that our increased fear may take will in most cases keep our focus on the external world and on threat to the body’s life and well-being, since that is the identity as egos we are trying to maintain. Agoraphobia is certainly a specific form in which the fear could be expressed, as the experience of oneness that the Course is leading us towards is one of no limits or boundaries — the ultimate spaciousness, if you will.

No matter what form the fear takes, the answer is always the same. All fear ultimately comes from the belief that we have attacked and destroyed love and that we will be attacked and destroyed in return. If we can quiet our minds just enough to ask for help, joining with the presence of love that has remained always there despite our beliefs, we will know that love cannot be destroyed, and so neither the guilt of attack nor the punishment we have believed it calls for are true. In the words that conclude the introduction to the text, “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God” (T.in.2:2,3,4).

You do not say whether this is simply a theoretical question you are asking or whether you are describing your own or someone else’s actual experience. If the latter is the case, should the symptoms persist and continue to be unsettling and problematic, it is always a wise course of action to see a professional therapist for help in alleviating the symptoms.


Q #280: Is there a positive form of denial? Would denying the countless, tiny, fearful, negative thoughts that bombard me throughout the day be one way of applying, in practical terms, what Jesus calls, “Denial of Error”?

A: It depends on what you mean by denying. If you mean that you are aware that they are there and that you (as the decision maker) are responsible for them, but then you deny their power to take away your peace or change your reality as God’s Son, then you are using denial in a helpful, positive way. Then you would be denying the error, or denying the denial of truth (T.12.II.1:5). The mistake we all made was to take the “tiny, mad idea” of separation seriously, instead of smiling at the silliness and insanity of believing that we could exist as separate individuals apart from God (T.27.VIII.6). We repeat this mistake every time we judge our ego thoughts to be so awful and so bothersome that we need to repress them or escape from them. We correct that mistake every time we look squarely at our ego thoughts, and remember that the only power they have is the power we give to them by our belief that they define us and that they can truly affect us. So that we don’t skip steps, then, we first must deny their seeming power. And we can do that most effectively by looking at them with the love of Jesus next to us. As that love becomes more and more real to us, our ego thoughts will become less and less real to us. And then one day we will simply regard them as meaningless, as we will have finally accepted the love of Jesus as the only reality in our minds.

health is inner peace

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 25

ACIM Text Reading for July 25

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

II. The Responsibility for Sight

We have repeated how little is asked of you to learn this course. It is the same small willingness you need to have your whole relationship transformed to joy; the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit for which He gives you everything; the very little on which salvation rests; the tiny change of mind by which the crucifixion is changed to resurrection. And being true, it is so simple that it cannot fail to be completely understood. Rejected yes, but not ambiguous. And if you choose against it now it will not be because it is obscure, but rather that this little cost seemed, in your judgement, to be too much to pay for peace.

This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:

I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for, and receive as I have asked.

Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.

It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing. Suffer, and you decided sin was your goal. Be happy, and you gave the power of decision to Him Who must decide for God for you. This is the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit, and even this He gives to you to give yourself. For by this gift is given you the power to release your saviour, that he may give salvation unto you.

Begrudge not then this little offering. Withhold it, and you keep the world as now you see it. Give it away, and everything you see goes with it. Never was so much given for so little. In the holy instant is this exchange effected and maintained. Here is the world you do not want brought to the one you do. And here the one you do is given you because you want it. Yet for this, the power of your wanting must first be recognised. You must accept its strength, and not its weakness. You must perceive that what is strong enough to make a world can let it go, and can accept correction if it is willing to see that it was wrong.

The world you see is but the idle witness that you were right. This witness is insane. You trained it in its testimony, and as it gave it back to you, you listened and convinced yourself that what it saw was true. You did this to yourself. See only this, and you will also see how circular the reasoning on which your ‘seeing’ rests. This was not given you. This was your gift to you and to your brother. Be willing, then, to have it taken from him and be replaced with truth. And as you look upon the change in him, it will be given you to see it in yourself.

Perhaps you do not see the need for you to give this little offering. Look closer, then, at what it is. And, very simply, see in it the whole exchange of separation for salvation. All that the ego is, is an idea that it is possible that things could happen to the Son of God without his will; and thus without the Will of his Creator, Whose Will cannot be separate from his own. This is the Son of God’s replacement for his will, a mad revolt against what must forever be. This is the statement that he has the power to make God powerless and so to take it for himself, and leave himself without what God has willed for him. This is the mad idea you have enshrined upon your altars, and which you worship. And anything that threatens this seems to attack your faith, for here is it invested. Think not that you are faithless, for your belief and trust in this is strong indeed.

The Holy Spirit can give you faith in holiness and vision to see it easily enough. But you have not left open and unoccupied the altar where the gifts belong. Where they should be, you have set up your idols to something else. This other ‘will’, which seems to tell you what must happen, you give reality. And what would show you otherwise, must therefore seem unreal. All that is asked of you is to make room for truth. You are not asked to make or do what lies beyond your understanding. All you are asked to do is let it in; only to stop your interference with what will happen of itself; simply to recognise again the presence of what you thought you gave away.

Be willing, for an instant, to leave your altars free of what you placed upon them, and what is really there you cannot fail to see. The holy instant is not an instant of creation, but of recognition. For recognition comes of vision and suspended judgement. Then only it is possible to look within and see what must be there, plainly in sight, and wholly independent of inference and judgement. Undoing is not your task, but it is up to you to welcome it or not. Faith and desire go hand in hand, for everyone believes in what he wants.

We have already said that wishful thinking is how the ego deals with what it wants, to make it so. There is no better demonstration of the power of wanting, and therefore of faith, to make its goals seem real and possible. Faith in the unreal leads to adjustments of reality to make it fit the goal of madness. The goal of sin induces the perception of a fearful world to justify its purpose. What you desire, you will see. And if its reality is false, you will uphold it by not realising all the adjustments you have introduced to make it so.

When vision is denied, confusion of cause and effect becomes inevitable. The purpose now becomes to keep obscure the cause of the effect, and make effect appear to be a cause. This seeming independence of effect enables it to be regarded as standing by itself, and capable of serving as a cause of the events and feelings its maker thinks it causes. Earlier, we spoke of your desire to create your own Creator, and be father and not son to Him. This is the same desire. The Son is the effect, whose Cause he would deny. And so he seems to be the cause, producing real effects. Nothing can have effects without a cause, and to confuse the two is merely to fail to understand them both.

It is as needful that you recognise you made the world you see, as that you recognise that you did not create yourself. They are the same mistake. Nothing created not by your Creator has any influence over you. And if you think what you have made can tell you what you see and feel, and place your faith in its ability to do so, you are denying your Creator and believing that you made yourself. For if you think the world you made has power to make you what it wills, you are confusing Son and Father; effect and Source.

The Son’s creations are like his Father’s. Yet in creating them the Son does not delude himself that he is independent of his Source. His union with It is the Source of his creating. Apart from this he has no power to create, and what he makes is meaningless. It changes nothing in creation, depends entirely upon the madness of its maker, and cannot serve to justify the madness. Your brother thinks he made the world with you. Thus he denies creation. With you, he thinks the world he made, made him. Thus he denies he made it.

Yet the truth is you and your brother were both created by a loving Father, Who created you together and as one. See what ‘proves’ otherwise, and you deny your whole reality. But grant that everything that seems to stand between you and your brother, keeping you from each other and separate from your Father, you made in secret, and the instant of release has come to you. All its effects are gone, because its source has been uncovered. It is its seeming independence of its source that keeps you prisoner. This is the same mistake as thinking you are independent of the Source by Which you were created, and have never left.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 25

Lesson 190

I choose the joy of God instead of pain.

Pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. It is not a fact at all. There is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright. For pain proclaims God cruel. How could it be real in any form? It witnesses to God the Father’s hatred of His Son, the sinfulness He sees in him, and His insane desire for revenge and death.

Can such projections be attested to? Can they be anything but wholly false? Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is. It is a dream of fierce retaliation for a crime that could not be committed; for attack on what is wholly unassailable. It is a nightmare of abandonment by an Eternal Love, which could not leave the Son whom It created out of love.

Pain is a sign illusions reign in place of truth. It demonstrates God is denied, confused with fear, perceived as mad, and seen as traitor to Himself. If God is real, there is no pain. If pain is real, there is no God. For vengeance is not part of love. And fear, denying love and using pain to prove that God is dead, has shown that death is victor over life. The body is the Son of God, corruptible in death, as mortal as the Father he has slain.

Peace to such foolishness! The time has come to laugh at such insane ideas. There is no need to think of them as savage crimes, or secret sins with weighty consequence. Who but a madman could conceive of them as cause of anything? Their witness, pain, is mad as they, and no more to be feared than the insane illusions which it shields, and tries to demonstrate must still be true.

It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. No one but yourself affects you. There is nothing in the world that has the power to make you ill or sad, or weak or frail. But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are. As you perceive the harmlessness in them, they will accept your holy will as theirs. And what was seen as fearful now becomes a source of innocence and holiness.

My holy brother, think of this awhile: The world you see does nothing. It has no effects at all. It merely represents your thoughts. And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want. Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. And would you deny a little corner of your mind its own inheritance, and keep it as a hospital for pain; a sickly place where living things must come at last to die?

The world may seem to cause you pain. And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. As an effect, it cannot make effects. As an illusion, it is what you wish. Your idle wishes represent its pains. Your strange desires bring it evil dreams. Your thoughts of death envelop it in fear, while in your kind forgiveness does it live.

Pain is the thought of evil taking form, and working havoc in your holy mind. Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free. In pain is God denied the Son He loves. In pain does fear appear to triumph over love, and time replace eternity and Heaven. And the world becomes a cruel and a bitter place, where sorrow rules and little joys give way before the onslaught of the savage pain that waits to end all joy in misery.

Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness.

Here will you understand there is no pain. Here does the joy of God belong to you. This is the day when it is given you to realize the lesson that contains all of salvation’s power. It is this: Pain is illusion; joy, reality. Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening. Pain is deception; joy alone is truth.

And so again we make the only choice that ever can be made; we choose between illusions and the truth, or pain and joy, or hell and Heaven. Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #321: How can a being create a being with the ability to create if that original being was itself not created?

A: Creation cannot be understood from our reference point as human beings, because it has nothing to do with the world of separation and individuals, and therefore has no counterpart in that world. It has meaning only within the Godhead, which by its very nature extends itself eternally in creations. Our human conceptual framework was intentionally established as a substitute for the truth of the Kingdom of God and to keep reality forever concealed from our awareness. Therefore our unhealed minds cannot comprehend what we have deliberately sealed off. Jesus speaks to this at the beginning of Lesson 192: “It is your Father’s holy Will that you complete Himself, and that your Self shall be His sacred Son, forever pure as He, of love created and in love preserved, extending love, creating in its name, forever one with God and with your Self. Yet what can such a function mean within a world of envy, hatred and attack? Therefore, you have a function in the world in its own terms. For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp?…Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here. Forgiveness is the closest it can come to earth” (W.pI.192.1;2:1,2;3:1,2,3).

Jesus describes creation, but only briefly, as he knows that it is virtually meaningless to us in our present condition. A similar glimpse of the nature of creation is presented earlier in the workbook: “True giving is creation. It extends the limitless to the unlimited, eternity to timelessness, and love unto itself. It adds to all that is complete already, not in simple terms of adding more, for that implies that it was less before. It adds by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything away, securing it forever for itself” (W.pI.105.4:2,3,4,5). These descriptions points us to a reality that has no counterpart in this world. Creation is extension, yet it is completely non-spatial, non-linear, and non-quantitative.

The dilemma you expressed, of course, has been the subject of many a philosophical/theological treatise over the centuries. Interestingly, some medieval thinkers in the Franciscan tradition spoke of the “self-diffusiveness of love.” Love is not love unless it is extending itself. And in the Thomistic tradition (St. Thomas Aquinas), the reasoning put forth is that unless there is at least one self-sufficient being, nothing would exist. That self-sufficient being would have to be infinite (without limitation), and therefore can extend its being in any way. We can get only so far with this type of speculation, though, because our limited perspective would always cause us to anthropomorphize whatever we conceive of.

It might be of help to read through the introduction to the clarification of terms, which addresses the terminology in A Course in Miracles and its exclusive concern.


Q #322: One section in Chapter 21 of the text of A Course in Miracles which has particular meaning to me is “The Responsibility for Sight.” It illustrates the discomfort that comes from realizing that decisions which appear to be made by me are actually being made on another level, a level I am completely unaware of as the decision-maker. “I” and the decisions “I” appear to make are merely the effects in form of decisions for guilt or innocence made on another level. The statement, “It is as needful that you recognize you made the world you see, as that you recognize that you did not create yourself. They are the same mistake,” touches on this issue, and I would appreciate any comments or elaborations on its meaning.

A: In particular, these two sentences are telling us that we need to accept that we, as the split mind, are cause and not effect within the ego thought system, so that we can let go of the world as a defense against our true Identity and recognize that, in reality, within Heaven, we are Effect and not Cause. We see here, as clearly as anywhere, the insanity of the ego thought system. The separation has seemed to come about because we have resented being the created and not the Creator — Effect and not Cause, Son and not Father.

And so we seek to make a new, separate identity for ourselves on God’s slain corpse — clearly here we are into a delusional thought system that believes separation from our Source is possible and murder and death are real. Delusions are unstable (T.19.4.A.8:4) and need constant protection in order to be maintained, and so, in cahoots with the ego, we concoct a wild tale of vengeance and defense, and make a world to hide in, as well as a further false identity — a physical self with its own distinct personality — to hide behind. We forget completely that we are the mind that has dreamed this insane hallucination and instead believe that we are at its mercy — effect rather than cause. Hence, the insanity of it all, because we had set out to be our own cause and have convinced ourselves that we have pulled it off. But then we relinquish awareness of that “power” and accept instead a view of ourselves as effects of the world we made, in order to protect our individuality and to cover over the real source of the pain of separation — our own choice to see ourselves as apart from Love. We see the world as the cause of all of our pain so that we never get to the source in our own mind — of both the world and the pain — where we could make a different choice about ourselves and the guilt we believe is so real.

As the statement you cite points out, denying that we are the cause and not the effect of the world is nothing more than a cover over our desire to make a world of our own outside of Heaven and deny our true Identity as God’s creation, Christ — each is just a different aspect of the same mistake. But, as your question emphasizes, the shift in perspective back to the mind is not easily made, for our identities are well-entrenched in the world and we have sought to see ourselves as mindless effects or victims of that world. And so Jesus leads us out of our self-imposed prison by inviting us to take small, gentle steps along the path of forgiveness, where we learn to see our interests and our goals as shared with all our brothers rather than as separate. Those little steps will gradually undo the fear and the guilt in our minds so that we will be able first to recognize the “power” of our mind to dream of a world that seems powerful and real while we remain in the dream, and then to recognize that, since it is only a dream and we are the dreamer, we have been the cause of nothing real. And so we have remained forever the loving Effects of a Father Who has never changed His Mind about His Love for us.

For more on the decision-making power of the mind, you may wish to look at Question #226.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 24

ACIM Text Reading for July 24

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

I. The Forgotten Song

Never forget the world the sightless ‘see’ must be imagined, for what it really looks like is unknown to them. They must infer what could be seen from evidence forever indirect; and reconstruct their inferences as they stumble and fall because of what they did not recognise, or walk unharmed through open doorways that they thought were closed. And so it is with you. You do not see. Your cues for inference are wrong, and so you stumble and fall down upon the stones you did not recognise, but fail to be aware you can go through the doors you thought were closed, but which stand open before unseeing eyes, waiting to welcome you.

How foolish is it to attempt to judge what could be seen instead. It is not necessary to imagine what the world must look like. It must be seen before you recognise it for what it is. You can be shown which doors are open, and you can see where safety lies; and which way leads to darkness, which to light. Judgement will always give you false directions, but vision shows you where to go. Why should you guess?

There is no need to learn through pain. And gentle lessons are acquired joyously, and are remembered gladly. What gives you happiness you want to learn and not forget. It is not this you would deny. Your question is whether the means by which this course is learned will bring to you the joy it promises. If you believed it would, the learning of it would be no problem. You are not a happy learner yet because you still remain uncertain that vision gives you more than judgement does, and you have learned that both you cannot have.

The blind become accustomed to their world by their adjustments to it. They think they know their way about in it. They learned it, not through joyous lessons, but through the stern necessity of limits they believed they could not overcome. And still believing this, they hold those lessons dear, and cling to them because they cannot see. They do not understand the lessons keep them blind. This they do not believe. And so they keep the world they learned to ‘see’ in their imagination, believing that their choice is that or nothing. They hate the world they learned through pain. And everything they think is in it serves to remind them that they are incomplete arid bitterly deprived.

Thus they define their life where they live, adjusting to it as they think they must, afraid to lose the little that they have. And so it is with all who see the body as all they have and all their brothers have. They try to reach each other, and they fail, and fail again. And they adjust to loneliness, believing that to keep the body is to save the little that they have. Listen, and try to think if you remember what we will speak of now.

Listen—perhaps you catch a hint of an ancient state not quite forgotten; dim, perhaps, and yet not altogether unfamiliar, like a song whose name is long forgotten; and the circumstances in which you heard completely unremembered. Not the whole song has stayed with you, but just a little wisp of melody, attached not to a person or a place or anything particular. But you remember, from just this little part, how lovely was the song, how wonderful the setting where you heard it, and how you loved those who were there and listened with you.

The notes are nothing. Yet you have kept them with you, not for themselves, but as a soft reminder of what would make you weep if you remembered how dear it was to you. You could remember, yet you are afraid, believing you would lose the world you learned since then. And yet you know that nothing in the world you learned is half so dear as this. Listen, and see if you remember an ancient song you knew so long ago and held more dear than any melody you taught yourself to cherish since.

Beyond the body, beyond the sun and stars, past everything you see and yet somehow familiar, is an arc of golden light that stretches as you look into a great and shining circle. And all the circle fills with light before your eyes. The edges of the circle disappear, and what is in it is no longer contained at all. The light expands and covers everything, extending to infinity forever shining and with no break or limit anywhere. Within it everything is joined in perfect continuity. Nor is it possible to imagine that anything could be outside, for there is nowhere that this light is not.

This is the vision of the Son of God, whom you know well. Here is the sight of him who knows his Father. Here is the memory of what you are; a part of this, with all of it within, and joined to all as surely as all is joined in you. Accept the vision that can show you this, and not the body. You know the ancient song, and know it well. Nothing will ever be as dear to you as is this ancient hymn the Son of God sings to his Father still.

And now the blind can see, for that same song they sing in honour of their Creator gives praise to them as well. The blindness that they made will not withstand the memory of this song. And they will look upon the vision of the Son of God, remembering who he is they sing of. What is a miracle but this remembering? And who is there in whom this memory lies not? The light in one awakens it in all. And when you see it in your brother, you are remembering for everyone.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 24

Lesson 189

I feel the Love of God within me now.

There is a light in you the world can not perceive. And with its eyes you will not see this light, for you are blinded by the world. Yet you have eyes to see it. It is there for you to look upon. It was not placed in you to be kept hidden from your sight. This light is a reflection of the thought we practice now. To feel the Love of God within you is to see the world anew, shining in innocence, alive with hope, and blessed with perfect charity and love.

Who could feel fear in such a world as this? It welcomes you, rejoices that you came, and sings your praises as it keeps you safe from every form of danger and of pain. It offers you a warm and gentle home in which to stay a while. It blesses you throughout the day, and watches through the night as silent guardian of your holy sleep. It sees salvation in you, and protects the light in you, in which it sees its own. It offers you its flowers and its snow, in thankfulness for your benevolence.

This is the world the Love of God reveals. It is so different from the world you see through darkened eyes of malice and of fear, that one belies the other. Only one can be perceived at all. The other one is wholly meaningless. A world in which forgiveness shines on everything, and peace offers its gentle light to everyone, is inconceivable to those who see a world of hatred rising from attack, poised to avenge, to murder and destroy.

Yet is the world of hatred equally unseen and inconceivable to those who feel God’s Love in them. Their world reflects the quietness and peace that shines in them; the gentleness and innocence they see surrounding them; the joy with which they look out from the endless wells of joy within. What they have felt in them they look upon, and see its sure reflection everywhere.

What would you see? The choice is given you. But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: You will look upon that which you feel within. If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world, held cruelly in death’s sharp-pointed, bony fingers. If you feel the Love of God within you, you will look out on a world of mercy and of love.

Today we pass illusions, as we seek to reach to what is true in us, and feel its all-embracing tenderness, its Love which knows us perfect as itself, its sight which is the gift its Love bestows on us. We learn the way today. It is as sure as Love itself, to which it carries us. For its simplicity avoids the snares the foolish convolutions of the world’s apparent reasoning but serve to hide.

Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.

Is it not He Who knows the way to you? You need not know the way to Him. Your part is simply to allow all obstacles that you have interposed between the Son and God the Father to be quietly removed forever. God will do His part in joyful and immediate response. Ask and receive. But do not make demands, nor point the road to God by which He should appear to you. The way to reach Him is merely to let Him be. For in that way is your reality proclaimed as well.

And so today we do not choose the way in which we go to Him. But we do choose to let Him come. And with this choice we rest. And in our quiet hearts and open minds, His Love will blaze its pathway of itself. What has not been denied is surely there, if it be true and can be surely reached. God knows His Son, and knows the way to him. He does not need His Son to show Him how to find His way. Through every opened door His Love shines outward from its home within, and lightens up the world in innocence.

Father, we do not know the way to You. But we have called, and You have answered us. We will not interfere. Salvation’s ways are not our own, for they belong to You. And it is unto You we look for them. Our hands are open to receive Your gifts. We have no thoughts we think apart from You, and cherish no beliefs of what we are, or Who created us. Yours is the way that we would find and follow. And we ask but that Your Will, which is our own as well, be done in us and in the world, that it become a part of Heaven now. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #418: What does the statement “reflection of Love” mean? If there is no love in this world, how can you tell what is a reflection of love? Many students of A Course in Miracles I know run around saying they are “extending” love. They do this by acts and deeds and thoughts. This doesn’t seem to be what the Course is saying. If there is no love in the world, how can one extend love in the world? I can understand there being no love in the world since God is Love, and God knows not of this world. But this reflection thing seems to hang me up. Can you help?

A: It is important to remember that when the Course speaks about the extension or the reflection of love, it is addressing the mind that chooses to identify with the part of the mind that remembers God, not the separate individual who identifies with the body in the dream. In reality, the Son cannot be separate from the Father and cannot obliterate memory of Him; therefore, a part of the mind holds the memory of God. It is this part which is a reflection of God’s Love. When the mind chooses to identify with this love, it flows through the figure in the dream and is thereby extended. It is not limited by form of any kind, but takes the form which is most helpful in any situation and to anyone. This is not an act of will, nor a choice on the part of an individual to perform specific “loving acts,” as we may define them.

It is unlikely that those who identify with the part of the mind that reflects God’s Love would run around saying they are “extending” love. If they do, hopefully they are aware that “they” are not the ones doing the extending. The figure in the dream does nothing. We are not asked to use our judgment to evaluate any situation or to determine what is or is not a loving response. As the Course reminds us clearly and repeatedly, our function is forgiveness. It is practiced by recognizing all the unloving thoughts and judgments we may have, asking for them to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. We then do what the Course invites us to do: “Step gently aside, and let healing be done for you. Keep but one thought in mind and do not lose sight of it, however tempted you may be to judge any situation, and to determine your response by judging it. Focus your mind only on this: I am not alone, and I would not intrude the past upon my Guest. I have invited Him, and He is here. I need do nothing except not to interfere” (T.16.I.3:8,9,10,11,12). Once we have arrived at this noninterference, all that is left is the reflection of love.


Q #419: Sabotage is a big issue with me. It doesn’t matter what the form is, I just ruin things for myself. Needless to say, the consequences of continually sabotaging myself are always regretful and sad and the more they are recalled in my mind the more guilty I feel. I have grown very weary of my self. Can you please elaborate on the subject of sabotage.

A: Speaking in general, because we do not know you personally, self-sabotage is usually motivated by hidden ego dynamics, such as: (1) The need to punish yourself for the “sin” of attacking Love in order to have your own existence. This would cause you to think that you do not deserve to be happy for any extended period of time. And, further, following the ego’s story, you would think that God would be more pleased with you if He saw that you had a rough life. Thus you would be willing to pay for your sinfulness through a life filled with failure and misfortune. (2) The need to prove that your life as an individual is real and is the truth about you. Thus, being weary of being you says you are still you, and you are not as God created you. (3) The need to hold someone else responsible for your miserable life. If you dig beneath the surface, more than likely you will find yourself blaming your self-destructive pattern on something in your past, or some other factor for which you are not responsible. That would again fulfill the ego’s aim of sustaining the separation but not taking responsibility for it.

The application of forgiveness to this painful condition involves first acknowledging that there must be an unconscious need within you to reinforce this self-concept, and that it obviously is coming from your identification with the ego. In that sense, you (the decision-making mind identified with the ego), are simply carrying out your own strategy. Gentleness in looking at these thoughts within yourself is essential if you are to begin the process of healing, and asking help of Jesus or the Holy Spirit would ensure that you would look without judgment. Being weary of yourself is already a judgment, because it is saying this is who you truly are, and to some extent you are a helpless victim. To get beyond that, all you need to do is say and feel as objectively as you can: “This is where I am, and for some insane reason I must believe that this is helping me achieve something of value. This does not make be a bad person or a sinful person, just mistaken. I clearly have chosen the ego as my teacher and am simply following its guidance.” If you could do that without any judgment whatsoever, you would be making progress in lessening your investment in the ego thought system, and you would not be worsening the situation by trying to fight yourself. This patient acceptance of yourself would then give you some “breathing space,” and then at some point you would be able to get in touch with these deeper layers of motivation and ask for help to see them differently, from a healing perspective in your right mind.

Finally, it is never wrong or out of keeping with your commitment to A Course in Miracles to seek help from a therapist. Sometimes successful behavioral changes lessen psychological pressures enough so that you can then work on the underlying dynamics such as the ones outlined above.

you have no idea

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 23

ACIM Text Reading for July 23

Chapter 21

REASON AND PERCEPTION

Introduction

Projection makes perception. The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that. But though it is no more than that, it is not less. Therefore, to you it is important. It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world. Perception is a result and not a cause. And that is why order of difficulty in miracles is meaningless. Everything looked upon with vision is healed and holy. Nothing perceived without it means anything. And where there is no meaning, there is chaos.

Damnation is your judgement on yourself, and this you will project upon the world. See it as damned, and all you see is what you did to hurt the Son of God. If you behold disaster and catastrophe, you tried to crucify him. If you see holiness and hope, you joined the Will of God to set him free. There is no choice that lies between these two decisions. And you will see the witness to the choice you made, and learn from this to recognise which one you chose. The world you see but shows you how much joy you have allowed yourself to see in you, and to accept as yours. And, if this is its meaning, then the power to give it joy must lie within you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 23

Lesson 188

The peace of God is shining in me now.

Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the light in you are alien here as well. The light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home.

This light can not be lost. Why wait to find it in the future, or believe it has been lost already, or was never there? It can so easily be looked upon that arguments which prove it is not there become ridiculous. Who can deny the presence of what he beholds in him? It is not difficult to look within, for there all vision starts. There is no sight, be it of dreams or from a truer Source, that is not but the shadow of the seen through inward vision. There perception starts, and there it ends. It has no source but this.

The peace of God is shining in you now, and from your heart extends around the world. It pauses to caress each living thing, and leaves a blessing with it that remains forever and forever. What it gives must be eternal. It removes all thoughts of the ephemeral and valueless. It brings renewal to all tired hearts, and lights all vision as it passes by. All of its gifts are given everyone, and everyone unites in giving thanks to you who give, and you who have received.

The shining in your mind reminds the world of what it has forgotten, and the world restores the memory to you as well. From you salvation radiates with gifts beyond all measure, given and returned. To you, the giver of the gift, does God Himself give thanks. And in His blessing does the light in you shine brighter, adding to the gifts you have to offer to the world.

The peace of God can never be contained. Who recognizes it within himself must give it. And the means for giving it are in his understanding. He forgives because he recognized the truth in him. The peace of God is shining in you now, and in all living things. In quietness is it acknowledged universally. For what your inward vision looks upon is your perception of the universe.

Sit quietly and close your eyes. The light within you is sufficient. It alone has power to give the gift of sight to you. Exclude the outer world, and let your thoughts fly to the peace within. They know the way. For honest thoughts, untainted by the dream of worldly things outside yourself, become the holy messengers of God Himself.

These thoughts you think with Him. They recognize their home. And they point surely to their Source, Where God the Father and the Son are One. God’s peace is shining on them, but they must remain with you as well, for they were born within your mind, as yours was born in God’s. They lead you back to peace, from where they came but to remind you how you must return.

They heed your Father’s Voice when you refuse to listen. And they urge you gently to accept His Word for what you are, instead of fantasies and shadows. They remind you that you are the co-creator of all things that live. For as the peace of God is shining in you, it must shine on them.

We practice coming nearer to the light in us today. We take our wandering thoughts, and gently bring them back to where they fall in line with all the thoughts we share with God. We will not let them stray. We let the light within our minds direct them to come home. We have betrayed them, ordering that they depart from us. But now we call them back, and wash them clean of strange desires and disordered wishes. We restore to them the holiness of their inheritance.

Thus are our minds restored with them, and we acknowledge that the peace of God still shines in us, and from us to all living things that share our life. We will forgive them all, absolving all the world from what we thought it did to us. For it is we who make the world as we would have it. Now we choose that it be innocent, devoid of sin and open to salvation. And we lay our saving blessing on it, as we say:

The peace of God is shining in me now.
Let all things shine upon me in that peace,
And let me bless them with the light in me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1191My inclination has been for years to feel that I have enough work to do in personal encounters and relationships, and that I do not have to look for more issues coming from the media. I am convinced that the world will not become a better place, and so, not in resignation, but happily, I turn to the only place to go in seriousness, which is inside, and do the work there. I am asking about this because I remember thinking that the world will change some day because of our inner work, and then we will see happy headlines instead of catastrophic headlines.

A: It seems as if you are reflecting the important principle of A Course in Miracles “Seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world” (T.21.in.1:7) . It is essential to understand this passage as pertaining only to content, not form. The opening statement of the paragraph in which this quote appears provides its context: “Projection makes perception” (T.21.in.1:1) . This is the thrust of Jesus’ teaching and his training of us. He wants us to learn how to perceive correctly, which means learning to make a connection between our perception and the prior choice we made in our minds to identify with the ego thought system or the Holy Spirit’s thought system. Our interpretation of what our eyes see follows directly from that choice. If we identify with the thought system of forgiveness, we can look on scenes of overwhelming devastation and know that devastation has nothing to do with reality (W.pII.13.1:3) . We will not be indifferent to the suffering of others; we will be at peace as we deal with the situations in our lives and the world because we will know that pain and suffering do not define our reality. We will be in the world but not of it.

The origin of the world is a thought of attack (W.pII.3.2:1) , and therefore it is not surprising that headlines constantly scream of disaster and catastrophe. That will continue until the mind of God’s Son no longer is attracted to separation. When we are unwilling to pay the high price of being separate, we will ask for help to change our minds about our purpose for being here, and then the world will take on a different purpose: “It becomes a home in which forgiveness is born, and where it grows and becomes stronger and more all-embracing. Here is it nourished, for here it is needed” (M.14.2:2,3) . When every seemingly separate mind has at last accepted the Atonement, the world will not become a better place with “happy headlines”; “It will merely cease to seem to be” (M.14.2:12) . There will be no need for a world when there no longer is any guilt in our minds that needs to be projected. But we needn’t fear that the world will disappear before we are ready to leave it behind: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here” (T.16.VI.8:1,2,3) .

In the section “I Need Do Nothing,” Jesus teaches us how to walk his unique path of forgiveness, a path that has us quietly peaceful in our minds while busily active in the world. It is not a path of indifference or escapism. One way of describing this approach is to say that we learn to become passive to the ego but not to the Holy Spirit. Our peace is sustained by our choice to identify with the Holy Spirit’s thought system, because then whatever we do will be done through us, with no effort or strain on our part. That is the essence of Jesus’ message in this section: “To do nothing is to rest, and make a place within you where the activity of the body ceases to demand attention. . . . This quiet center, in which you do nothing, will remain with you, giving you rest in the midst of every busy doing on which you are sent. For from this center will you be directed how to use the body sinlessly. It is this center, from which the body is absent, that will keep it so in your awareness of it” (T.18.VII.7:7; 8:3,4,5).


Q #1192What is beyond the physical? Someone defined insanity as doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. I believe the way the majority of us live is possibly a better definition of insanity: we hunt for food, we eat, sleep, and reproduce. The approaches we have developed to maintain this cycle differ, but with some variation, produce the same results regardless of one’s status in society. Can this cycle be a valid reason for our existence?

A: To be technically accurate, we would have to say there is nothing beyond the physical because the physical does not exist. To say that there is something beyond it is to say it is real somehow. However, to start with our experience of the physical as real, we can then say that one of the principal purposes of A Course in Miracles is to help us realize that that experience is a defense against the truth. The truth is that only spirit in a state of perfect Oneness is real. Jesus thus is teaching us how we came to believe that the physical world and body are real and how to undo that erroneous belief. “It cannot be too strongly emphasized that this course aims at a complete reversal of thought” (M.24.4:1). Through our study of the text and our practice of the workbook exercises we will gradually make the shifts in our thinking that will lead us beyond the body (T.18.VI) and beyond all the idols (T.30.III) we made as substitutes for our true Identity as spirit, one with God’s Love.

Insanity, from the Course’s perspective, is thinking that we really exist apart from God as separate individuals. God is totality. There cannot be anything outside totality, and to think there can be is insanity, for we would then wind up seeing what is not there! Jesus thus instructs us: “There is one life. That life you share with Him. Nothing can be apart from Him and live” (W.pI.156.2:7,8,9); “Life not in Heaven is impossible, and what is not in Heaven is not anywhere” (T.23.II.19:6). Our work as students of this course, thus, is to ask our inner Teacher to help us learn how to use the world and the body to undo our belief that we are separate from God, our Source. We thus will be able to live more peacefully, with less guilt, anger, and judgment.

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 22

ACIM Text Reading for July 22

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

VIII. The Vision of Sinlessness

Vision will come to you at first in glimpses, but they will be enough to show you what is given you who see your brother sinless. Truth is restored to you through your desire, as it was lost to you through your desire for something else. Open the holy place that you closed off by valuing the ‘something else’, and what was never lost will quietly return. It has been saved for you. Vision would not be necessary had judgement not been made. Desire now its whole undoing, and it is done for you.

Do you not want to know your own Identity? Would you not happily exchange your doubts for certainty? Would you not willingly be free of misery, and learn again of joy? Your holy relationship offers all this to you. As it was given you, so will be its effects. And as its holy purpose was not made by you, the means by which its happy end is yours is also not of you. Rejoice in what is yours but for the asking, and think not that you need make either means or end. All this is given you who would but see your brother sinless. All this is given, waiting on your desire but to receive it. Vision is freely given to those who ask to see.

Your brother’s sinlessness is given you in shining light, to look on with the Holy Spirit’s vision and to rejoice in along with Him. For peace will come to all who ask for it with real desire and sincerity of purpose, shared with the Holy Spirit and at one with Him on what salvation is. Be willing, then, to see your brother sinless, that Christ may rise before your vision and give you joy. And place no value on your brother’s body, which holds him to illusions of what he is. It is his desire to see his sinlessness, as it is yours. And bless the Son of God in your relationship, nor see in him what you have made of him.

The Holy Spirit guarantees that what God willed and gave you shall be yours. This is your purpose now, and the vision that makes it yours is ready to be given. You have the vision that enables you to see the body not. And as you look upon your brother, you will see an altar to your Father, holy as Heaven, glowing with radiant purity and sparkling with the shining lilies you laid upon it. What can you value more than this? Why do you think the body is a better home, a safer shelter for God’s Son? Why would you rather look on it than on the truth? How can the engine of destruction be preferred, and chosen to replace the holy home the Holy Spirit offers, where He will dwell with you?

The body is the sign of weakness, vulnerability and loss of power. Can such a saviour help you? Would you turn in your distress and need for help unto the helpless? Is the pitifully little the perfect choice to call upon for strength? Judgement will seem to make your saviour weak. Yet it is you who need his strength. There is no problem, no event or situation, no perplexity that vision will not solve. All is redeemed when looked upon with vision. For this is not your sight, and brings with it the laws beloved of Him Whose sight it is.

Everything looked upon with vision falls gently into place, according to the laws brought to it by His calm and certain sight. The end for everything He looks upon is always sure. For it will meet His purpose, seen in unadjusted form and suited perfectly to meet it. Destructiveness becomes benign, and sin is turned to blessing under His gentle gaze. What can the body’s eyes perceive, with power to correct? Its eyes adjust to sin, unable to overlook it in any form and seeing it everywhere, in everything. Look through its eyes, and everything will stand condemned before you. All that could save you, you will never see. Your holy relationship, the source of your salvation, will be deprived of meaning, and its most holy purpose bereft of means for its accomplishment.

Judgement is but a toy, a whim, the senseless means to play the idle game of death in your imagination. But vision sets all things right, bringing them gently within the kindly sway of Heaven’s laws. What if you recognised this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realised that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? Could you have faith in what you see, if you accepted this? And would you see it?

Hallucinations disappear when they are recognised for what they are. This is the healing and the remedy. Believe them not and they are gone. And all you need to do is recognise that you did this. Once you accept this simple fact and take unto yourself the power you gave them, you are released from them. One thing is sure; hallucinations serve a purpose, and when that purpose is no longer held they disappear. Therefore, the question never is whether you want them, but always, do you want the purpose that they serve? This world seems to hold out many purposes, each different and with different values. Yet they are all the same. Again there is no order; only a seeming hierarchy of values.

Only two purposes are possible. And one is sin, the other holiness. Nothing is in between, and which you choose determines what you see. For what you see is merely how you elect to meet your goal. Hallucinations serve to meet the goal of madness. They are the means by which the outside world, projected from within, adjusts to sin and seems to witness to its reality. It still is true that nothing is without. Yet upon nothing are all projections made. For it is the projection that gives the ‘nothing’ all the meaning that it holds.

What has no meaning cannot be perceived. And meaning always looks within to find itself, and then looks out. All meaning that you give the world outside must thus reflect the sight you saw within; or better, if you saw at all or merely judged against. Vision is the means by which the Holy Spirit translates your nightmares into happy dreams; your wild hallucinations that show you all the fearful outcomes of imagined sin into the calm and reassuring sights with which He would replace them. These gentle sights and sounds are looked on happily, and heard with joy. They are His substitutes for all the terrifying sights and screaming sounds the ego’s purpose brought to your horrified awareness. They step away from sin, reminding you that it is not reality which frightens you, and that the errors which you made can be corrected.

When you have looked on what seemed terrifying, and seen it change to sights of loveliness and peace; when you have looked on scenes of violence and death, and watched them change to quiet views of gardens under open skies, with clear, life-giving water running happily beside them in dancing brooks that never waste away; who need persuade you to accept the gift of vision? And after vision, who is there who could refuse what must come after? Think but an instant just on this; you can behold the holiness God gave His Son. And never need you think that there is something else for you to see.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 22

Lesson 187

I bless the world because I bless myself.

No one can give unless he has. In fact, giving is proof of having. We have made this point before. What seems to make it hard to credit is not this. No one can doubt that you must first possess what you would give. It is the second phase on which the world and true perception differ. Having had and given, then the world asserts that you have lost what you possessed. The truth maintains that giving will increase what you possess.

How is this possible? For it is sure that if you give a finite thing away, your body’s eyes will not perceive it yours. Yet we have learned that things but represent the thoughts that make them. And you do not lack for proof that when you give ideas away, you strengthen them in your own mind. Perhaps the form in which the thought seems to appear is changed in giving. Yet it must return to him who gives. Nor can the form it takes be less acceptable. It must be more.

Ideas must first belong to you, before you give them. If you are to save the world, you first accept salvation for yourself. But you will not believe that this is done until you see the miracles it brings to everyone you look upon. Herein is the idea of giving clarified and given meaning. Now you can perceive that by your giving is your store increased.

Protect all things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them. What you thought you did not have is thereby proven yours. Yet value not its form. For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time, however much you try to keep it safe. No form endures. It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable.

Give gladly. You can only gain thereby. The thought remains, and grows in strength as it is reinforced by giving. Thoughts extend as they are shared, for they can not be lost. There is no giver and receiver in the sense the world conceives of them. There is a giver who retains; another who will give as well. And both must gain in this exchange, for each will have the thought in form most helpful to him. What he seems to lose is always something he will value less than what will surely be returned to him.

Never forget you give but to yourself. Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice. Nor can he fail to recognize the many forms which sacrifice may take. He laughs as well at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death. He recognizes sacrifice remains the one idea that stands behind them all, and in his gentle laughter are they healed.

Illusion recognized must disappear. Accept not suffering, and you remove the thought of suffering. Your blessing lies on everyone who suffers, when you choose to see all suffering as what it is. The thought of sacrifice gives rise to all the forms that suffering appears to take. And sacrifice is an idea so mad that sanity dismisses it at once.

Never believe that you can sacrifice. There is no place for sacrifice in what has any value. If the thought occurs, its very presence proves that error has arisen and correction must be made. Your blessing will correct it. Given first to you, it now is yours to give as well. No form of sacrifice and suffering can long endure before the face of one who has forgiven and has blessed himself.

The lilies that your brother offers you are laid upon your altar, with the ones you offer him beside them. Who could fear to look upon such lovely holiness? The great illusion of the fear of God diminishes to nothingness before the purity that you will look on here. Be not afraid to look. The blessedness you will behold will take away all thought of form, and leave instead the perfect gift forever there, forever to increase, forever yours, forever given away.

Now are we one in thought, for fear has gone. And here, before the altar to one God, one Father, one Creator and one Thought, we stand together as one Son of God. Not separate from Him Who is our Source; not distant from one brother who is part of our one Self Whose innocence has joined us all as one, we stand in blessedness, and give as we receive. The Name of God is on our lips. And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father’s Love.

Now are we blessed, and now we bless the world. What we have looked upon we would extend, for we would see it everywhere. We would behold it shining with the grace of God in everyone. We would not have it be withheld from anything we look upon. And to ensure this holy sight is ours, we offer it to everything we see. For where we see it, it will be returned to us in form of lilies we can lay upon our altar, making it a home for Innocence Itself, Who dwells in us and offers us His Holiness as ours.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #414: Please comment on the similarities and differences in the terms “belief” and “faith” as used in A Course in Miracles.

A: Simply put, what you put your faith in you then believe. Faith thus precedes belief. We never lack faith, for we always place our faith in either of two teachers: the ego or Jesus; and then we will believe what that teacher says. “It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be. Faithlessness is not a lack of faith, but faith in nothing. Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless. Thus is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. For faith, perception and belief you made, as means for losing certainty and finding sin. This mad direction was your choice, and by your faith in what you chose, you made what you desired” (T.21.III.5).


Q #415: In the past, I have found ways to misuse A Course in Miracles for the purpose of conflict avoidance, and this has had the effect of demonstrating to some people that they hold power over me. Could you please explain the difference between allowing yourself to be used as a doormat, and what the Course is trying to teach in regard to dealing with situations where it’s necessary to be assertive, to acknowledge yourself as an equal in accord with God’s will?

A: Misusing the Course to avoid conflict is a common mistake among its students. This is a form of denial, and is in direct opposition to a very important goal of the Course, which is to teach us to pay attention to the conflict in our lives. This is one of the ways in which A Course in Miracles is a unique spiritual path. It tells us that by looking at conflict we learn to recognize the hidden, unconscious beliefs we hold about ourselves and others, all of which stem from the belief that the separation is real. Our conflicts are generally riddled with judgments, feelings, and thoughts, reflecting the conflict in our minds caused by the choice to believe the ego’s lies about who we are as bodies, thus denying our true Identity as God’s innocent Son. As long as we are unaware of this conflict in the mind, it cannot be brought to the Holy Spirit for healing. This is the purpose the Course gives to conflict in our lives, and it is the only way it can truly be resolved.

Because the Course is showing us the real source of conflict is the unhealed mind, it does not tell us how to deal with it on the level of form, to which you are referring. We are asked to be willing to recognize all the thoughts, beliefs and feelings that come up in any situation, seeing that they reflect the choice in the mind to identify with the ego thought system, and be willing to question them in the light of the Course’s teachings. We are not asked to do anything on the level of form. Trying to act in a way that seems spiritual or appears to be in accord with the metaphysical principles of the Course (i.e., keeping silent when mistreated) while still identifying with the ego’s thought system, is unproductive, and leaves you feeling like a doormat. That is certainly not the experience to which Jesus is leading us. Moreover, if you are a victim, there must be a victimizer, thereby reinforcing separation.

The Course tells us we are not only “equal”; we are one. We will know this when all the forms by which we perceive ourselves to be separate and different from one another have been forgiven. Until then, we continue to practice forgiveness. It is possible to assert yourself and remain faithful to the Course, because it is no different from doing any of the things you do to take care of yourself physically, emotionally or psychologically. Asserting yourself without attack is a way to acknowledge your need to be treated respectfully, as well as the other’s need for the same treatment, thereby reinforcing the belief that we have no separate interests. As long as we do believe we are bodies, we interact with others according to normal behavioral standards. This means not denying any of our feelings or perceived needs, which would only deprive us of opportunities to learn and to forgive. The Course cautions us very early in the text: “The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world…it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial”(T.2.IV.3:8,10,11).

I Have Nothing Else