ACIM Text Reading for July 3
Chapter 18 ~ The Passing of the Dream
IX. The Two Worlds
You have been told to bring the darkness to the light, and guilt to holiness. And you have also been told that error must be corrected at its source. Therefore, it is the tiny part of yourself, the little thought that seems split off and separate, the Holy Spirit needs. The rest is fully in God’s keeping, and needs no guide. Yet this wild and delusional thought needs help because, in its delusions, it thinks it is the Son of God, whole and omnipotent, sole ruler of the kingdom it set apart to tyrannise by madness into obedience and slavery. This is the little part you think you stole from Heaven. Give it back to Heaven. Heaven has not lost it, but you have lost sight of Heaven. Let the Holy Spirit remove it from the withered kingdom in which you set it off, surrounded by darkness, guarded by attack and reinforced by hate. Within its barricades is still a tiny segment of the Son of God, complete and holy, serene and unaware of what you think surrounds it.
Be you not separate, for the One Who does surround it has brought union to you, returning your little offering of darkness to the eternal light. How is this done? It is extremely simple, being based on what this little kingdom really is. The barren sands, the darkness and the lifelessness, are seen only through the body’s eyes. Its bleak sight is distorted, and the messages it transmits to you who made it to limit your awareness are little and limited, and so fragmented they are meaningless.
From the world of bodies, made by insanity, insane messages seem to be returned to the mind that made it. And these messages bear witness to this world, pronouncing it as true. For you sent forth these messengers to bring this back to you. Everything these messages relay to you is quite external. There are no messages that speak of what lies underneath, for it is not the body that could speak of this. Its eyes perceive it not; its senses remain quite unaware of it; its tongue cannot relay its messages. Yet God can bring you there, if you are willing to follow the Holy Spirit through seeming terror, trusting Him not to abandon you and leave you there. For it is not His purpose to frighten you, but only yours. You are severely tempted to abandon Him at the outside ring of fear, but He would lead you safely through and far beyond.
The circle of fear lies just below the level the body sees, and seems to be the whole foundation on which the world is based. Here are all the illusions, all the twisted thoughts, all the insane attacks, the fury, the vengeance and betrayal that were made to keep the guilt in place, so that the world could rise. from it and keep it hidden. Its shadow rises to the surface, enough to hold its most external manifestations in darkness, and to bring despair and loneliness to it and keep it joyless. Yet its intensity is veiled by its heavy coverings, and kept apart from what was made to keep it hidden. The body cannot see this, for the body arose from this for its protection, which depends on keeping it not seen. The body’s eyes will never look on it. Yet they will see what it dictates.
The body will remain guilt’s messenger, and will act as it directs as long as you believe that guilt is real. For the reality of guilt is the illusion that seems to make it heavy and opaque, impenetrable, and a real foundation for the ego’s thought system. Its thinness and transparency are not apparent until you see the light behind it. And then you see it as a fragile veil before the light.
This heavy-seeming barrier, this artificial floor that looks like rock, is like a bank of low dark clouds that seem to be a solid wall before the sun. Its impenetrable appearance is wholly an illusion. It gives way softly to the mountain tops that rise above it, and has no power at all to hold back anyone willing to climb above it and see the sun. It is not strong enough to stop a button’s fall, nor hold a feather. Nothing can rest upon it, for it is but an illusion of a foundation. Try but to touch it and it disappears; attempt to grasp it and your hands hold nothing.
Yet in this cloud bank it is easy to see a whole world rising. A solid mountain range, a lake, a city, all rise in your imagination, and from the clouds the messengers of your perception return to you, assuring you that it is there. Figures stand out and move about, actions seem real, and forms appear and shift from loveliness to the grotesque. And back and forth they go, as long as you would play the game of children’s make-believe. Yet however long you play it, and regardless of how much imagination you bring to it, you do not confuse it with the world below, nor seek to make it real.
So should it be with the dark clouds of guilt, no more impenetrable and no more substantial. You will not bruise yourself against them in travelling through. Let your Guide teach you their insubstantial nature as He leads you past them, for beneath them is a world of light whereon they cast no shadows. Their shadows lie upon the world beyond them, still further from the light. Yet from them to the light their shadows cannot fall.
This world of light, this circle of brightness is the real world, where guilt meets with forgiveness. Here the world outside is seen anew, without the shadow of guilt upon it. Here are you forgiven, for here you have forgiven everyone. Here is the new perception, where everything is bright and shining with innocence, washed in the waters of forgiveness, and cleansed of every evil thought you laid upon it. Here there is no attack upon the Son of God, and you are welcome. Here is your innocence, waiting to clothe you and protect you, and make you ready for the final step in the journey inward. Here are the dark and heavy garments of guilt laid by, and gently replaced by purity and love.
Yet even forgiveness is not the end. Forgiveness does make lovely, but it does not create. It is the source of healing, but it is the messenger of love and not its Source. Here you are led, that God Himself can take the final step unhindered, for here does nothing interfere with love, letting it be itself. A step beyond this holy place of forgiveness, a step still further inward but the one you cannot take, transports you to something completely different. Here is the Source of light; nothing perceived, forgiven nor transformed. But merely known.
This course will lead to knowledge, but knowledge itself is still beyond the scope of our curriculum. Nor is there any need for us to try to speak of what must forever lie beyond words. We need remember only that whoever attains the real world, beyond which learning cannot go, will go beyond it, but in a different way. Where learning ends there God begins, for learning ends before Him Who is complete where He begins, and where there is no end. It is not for us to dwell on what cannot be attained. There is too much to learn. The readiness for knowledge still must be attained.
Love is not learned. Its meaning lies within itself. And learning ends when you have recognised all it is not. That is the interference; that is what needs to be undone. Love is not learned, because there never was a time in which you knew it not. Learning is useless in the Presence of your Creator, Whose acknowledgement of you and yours of Him so far transcend all learning that everything you learned is meaningless, replaced forever by the knowledge of love and its one meaning.
Your relationship with your brother has been uprooted from the world of shadows, and its unholy purpose has been safely brought through the barriers of guilt, washed with forgiveness, and set shining and firmly rooted in the world of light. From there it calls to you to follow the course it took, lifted high above the darkness and gently placed before the gates of Heaven. The holy instant in which you and your brother were united is but the messenger of love, sent from beyond forgiveness to remind you of all that lies beyond it. Yet it is through forgiveness that it will be remembered.
And when the memory of God has come to you in the holy place of forgiveness you will remember nothing else, and memory will be as useless as learning, for your only purpose will be creating. Yet this you cannot know until every perception has been cleansed and purified, and finally removed forever. Forgiveness removes only the untrue, lifting the shadows from the world and carrying it, safe and sure within its gentleness, to the bright world of new and clean perception. There is your purpose now. And it is there that peace awaits you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 3
There is one life, and that I share with God.
There are not different kinds of life, for life is like the truth. It does not have degrees. It is the one condition in which all that God created share. Like all His Thoughts, it has no opposite. There is no death because what God created shares His life. There is no death because an opposite to God does not exist. There is no death because the Father and the Son are One.
In this world, there appears to be a state that is life’s opposite. You call it death. Yet we have learned that the idea of death takes many forms. It is the one idea which underlies all feelings that are not supremely happy. It is the alarm to which you give response of any kind that is not perfect joy. All sorrow, loss, anxiety and suffering and pain, even a little sigh of weariness, a slight discomfort or the merest frown, acknowledge death. And thus deny you live.
You think that death is of the body. Yet it is but an idea, irrelevant to what is seen as physical. A thought is in the mind. It can be then applied as mind directs it. But its origin is where it must be changed, if change occurs. Ideas leave not their source. The emphasis this course has placed on that idea is due to its centrality in our attempts to change your mind about yourself. It is the reason you can heal. It is the cause of healing. It is why you cannot die. Its truth established you as one with God.
Death is the thought that you are separate from your Creator. It is the belief conditions change, emotions alternate because of causes you cannot control, you did not make, and you can never change. It is the fixed belief ideas can leave their source, and take on qualities the source does not contain, becoming different from their own origin, apart from it in kind as well as distance, time and form.
Death cannot come from life. Ideas remain united to their source. They can extend all that their source contains. In that, they can go far beyond themselves. But they can not give birth to what was never given them. As they are made, so will their making be. As they were born, so will they then give birth. And where they come from, there will they return.
The mind can think it sleeps, but that is all. It cannot change what is its waking state. It cannot make a body, nor abide within a body. What is alien to the mind does not exist, because it has no source. For mind creates all things that are, and cannot give them attributes it lacks, nor change its own eternal, mindful state. It cannot make the physical. What seems to die is but the sign of mind asleep.
The opposite of life can only be another form of life. As such, it can be reconciled with what created it, because it is not opposite in truth. Its form may change; it may appear to be what it is not. Yet mind is mind, awake or sleeping. It is not its opposite in anything created, nor in what it seems to make when it believes it sleeps.
God creates only mind awake. He does not sleep, and His creations cannot share what He gives not, nor make conditions which He does not share with them. The thought of death is not the opposite to thoughts of life. Forever unopposed by opposites of any kind, the Thoughts of God remain forever changeless, with the power to extend forever changelessly, but yet within themselves, for they are everywhere.
What seems to be the opposite of life is merely sleeping. When the mind elects to be what it is not, and to assume an alien power which it does not have, a foreign state it cannot enter, or a false condition not within its Source, it merely seems to go to sleep a while. It dreams of time; an interval in which what seems to happen never has occurred, the changes wrought are substanceless, and all events are nowhere. When the mind awakes, it but continues as it always was.
Let us today be children of the truth, and not deny our holy heritage. Our life is not as we imagine it. Who changes life because he shuts his eyes, or makes himself what he is not because he sleeps, and sees in dreams an opposite to what he is? We will not ask for death in any form today. Nor will we let imagined opposites to life abide even an instant where the Thought of life eternal has been set by God Himself.
His holy home we strive to keep today as He established it, and wills it be forever and forever. He is Lord of what we think today. And in His Thoughts, which have no opposite, we understand there is one life, and that we share with Him, with all creation, with their thoughts as well, whom He created in a unity of life that cannot separate in death and leave the Source of life from where it came.
We share one life because we have one Source, a Source from which perfection comes to us, remaining always in the holy minds which He created perfect. As we were, so are we now and will forever be. A sleeping mind must waken, as it sees its own perfection mirroring the Lord of life so perfectly it fades into what is reflected there. And now it is no more a mere reflection. It becomes the thing reflected, and the light which makes reflection possible. No vision now is needed. For the wakened mind is one that knows its Source, its Self, its Holiness.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #115: I am 50 and going through menopause. There are physical changes going on, especially with my brain chemistry. My emotions are more intense than ever. I have been a student of A Course in Miracles for several years and had felt as if I had reached a certain level of peace and understanding, but now I find myself feeling a victim of my body and more insane than ever. Is this just another level of “development of trust,” and is even menopause about guilt?
A: The answer to your question lies in understanding the body and the role it plays in the ego thought system. Although we are told repeatedly in the Workbook: “I am not a body” (W.pI.84.1:4), the fact remains we do believe we are bodies, and we have conditions like menopause to prove it. Obviously the ego is the author of this belief. It tells us we somehow ended up in these bodies through no fault of our own, and now we are doomed to fall victim to all its ailments, until in the end we decay, die, and decompose. This message from the ego is purposeful. Its plan is to convince us that the body is real, and the mind is the illusion: “The ego uses the body to conspire against your mind.…The ego, which is not real, attempts to persuade the mind, which is real, that the mind is the ego’s learning device; and further, that the body is more real than the mind is” (T.6.IV.5:1,2,3). The ego has first used the body to house the guilt for having separated from God. Guilt is therefore built into all aspects of the body’s functioning, including menopause. The body is then programmed to provide endless needs, as well as physical, emotional, and psychological conditions that very effectively serve as distractions, and convincing proof of its reality. The inevitable outcome is that we feel victimized and even attacked by the body. This insanity characterizes our relationship with the body, but only when we have chosen to identify with it, seeking to keep ourselves separate, believing all the ego’s lies about who we are. Having made some progress in experiencing peace, it is understandable that the ego would find in menopause a great opportunity to strike again. This is nothing to be concerned with, and definitely nothing to feel guilty about. It is important to remember, however, that it is not helpful to deny any of the distressing symptoms of menopause, and it is certainly appropriate to seek professional medial treatment and support in any way that is helpful. In the process of learning to seek healing in our minds there is the comforting thought that menopause will end, and a beautiful passage in The Song of Prayer that applies especially for women in menopause: “The universe is waiting your release because it is its own. Be kind to it and to yourself, and then be kind to Me. I ask but this; that you be comforted and live no more in terror and in pain. Do not abandon Love. Remember this; whatever you may think about yourself, whatever you may think about the world, your Father needs you and will call to you until you come to Him in peace at last” (S.3.IV.10:3,4,5,6,7).
The Course offers an alternative to the ego’s use of the body, and an alternative to our definition of ourselves. This is where the “development of trust” enters the picture. You can see clearly the tricks the ego is up to, and make a decision to look at menopause differently, believing that what the Course is teaching is in fact true and worthy of trust. All of the symptoms related to menopause can be used as an opportunity to question the ego’s interpretation of this, or any bodily condition. We turn to the mind for true healing in the process of dealing with menopause, monitoring all the thoughts you mention and any others that arise, so they can be given to the Holy Spirit for reinterpretation: “The Holy Spirit, as always, takes what you have made and translates it into a learning device. Again as always, He reinterprets what the ego uses as an argument for separation into a demonstration against it. If the mind can heal the body, but the body cannot heal the mind, then the mind must be stronger than the body. Every miracle demonstrates this” (T.6.V.A.2:4,5,6,7).
Q #116: I am somewhat at odds with the whole idea of God intervening in the world of form. I know that the Foundation’s view is that since the world of form is an illusion, it is inconceivable that He could be involved in making changes and alterations in a world of form. I also know it is all about changing our thoughts about the world to bring us closer to waking. But in lesson 71 “Only God’s plan for salvation will work” it actually has the separated mind ask God, “What would you have me do? Where would you have me go? What would you have me say, and to whom?” Isn’t this asking God what direction you should take in the world of form? I also know that when I relinquish my ego thought and ask God to direct my thoughts then my world of form DOES change. Also how does A Course in Miracles reconcile Jesus being immaculately conceived? Wouldn’t that be considered intervention into the illusion?
A: As discussed elsewhere in these Questions, it is important to recognize that much of the Course is written in metaphorical language, reaching us where we believe we are (e.g., see Question 72). And so God is described throughout the Course in ways that suggest He is concerned about us here in the world, only to provide a correction for our ego belief that God is an angry Father intent on our destruction. And so, rather than as our enemy, the Course is trying to help us view God as our Friend, Who will help us do what we need to do. In addition, it is very common in the Workbook lessons that God is used when the real meaning is God’s Voice, or the Holy Spirit.
As always, the larger context of the Course and, in this case, the lesson itself make the deeper intent of lines such as those you quote clearer. This lesson first describes the ego’s plan for salvation — holding grievances against others so that the guilt in our mind seems to rest on them rather than on ourselves — the blame game (W.pI.71.2). Clearly, this “solution” is the problem, because it in fact keeps the guilt alive in our minds rather than undoing it. And so God’s (that is, the Holy Spirit’s) plan, although not described specifically in this lesson, will have to involve being willing to release those grievances. Since our anger and judgments are triggered by our interactions with others, the direction to ask God for specific help that you refer to really means that we do not continue to act — doing, going, speaking, etc. — on our own, that is, with the ego’s guidance. If we can carry the memory of God’s Love with us as we move through our day, we can be sure that we will be just where we need to be to learn the lessons of forgiveness that will bring us the peace we seek.
Now when we release ourselves from the ego’s dictates and open ourselves up to the guidance of God’s Voice, we may experience shifts in our external world, as you mention, although this may not always be the case. These changes occur not because God or the Holy Spirit has literally intervened but rather because we have been willing to make inner choices (often unconscious), aligned with love rather than hate. External projections of our guilt may then very well change, although this is never the purpose, from the Course’s perspective, for changing our teacher. That becomes a trap, rooting our focus back in the world as we look for external changes to validate our inner shift.
Virgin births and immaculate conceptions do suggest divine interventions in the world of form, but the Jesus of the Course never makes any of these claims about himself. The Bible and traditional Christianity represent a very different spiritual path from the Course and it is best not to confuse the two or try to integrate them in any way.