ACIM Text Reading for July 4
THE ATTAINMENT OF PEACE
We said before that when a situation has been dedicated wholly to truth, peace is inevitable. Its attainment is the criterion by which the wholeness of the dedication can be safely assumed. Yet we also said that peace without faith will never be attained, for what is dedicated to truth as its only goal is brought to truth by faith. This faith encompasses everyone involved, for only thus the situation is perceived as meaningful and as a whole. And everyone must be involved in it; or else your faith is limited and your dedication incomplete.
Every situation, properly perceived, becomes an opportunity to heal the Son of God. And he is healed because you offered faith to him, giving him to the Holy Spirit and releasing him from every demand your ego would make of him. Thus do you see him free, and in this vision does the Holy Spirit share. And since He shares it He has given it, and so He heals through you. It is this joining Him in a united purpose that makes this purpose real, because you make it whole. And this is healing. The body is healed because you came without it, and joined the Mind in which all healing rests.
The body cannot heal, because it cannot make itself sick. It needs no healing. Its health or sickness depends entirely on how the mind perceives it, and the purpose that the mind would use it for. It is obvious that a segment of the mind can see itself as separated from the Universal Purpose. When this occurs the body becomes its weapon, used against this Purpose, to demonstrate the ‘fact’ that separation has occurred. The body thus becomes the instrument of illusion, acting accordingly; seeing what is not there, hearing what truth has never said and behaving insanely, being imprisoned by insanity.
Do not overlook our earlier statement that faithlessness leads straight to illusions. For faithlessness is the perception of a brother as a body, and the body cannot be used for purposes of union. If, then, you see your brother as a body, you have established a condition in which uniting with him becomes impossible. Your faithlessness to him has separated you from him, and kept you both apart from being healed. Your faithlessness has thus opposed the Holy Spirit’s purpose, and brought illusions, centred on the body, to stand between you. And the body will seem to be sick, for you have made of it an ‘enemy’ of healing and the opposite of truth.
It cannot be difficult to realise that faith must be the opposite of faithlessness. Yet the difference in how they operate is less apparent, though it follows directly from the fundamental difference in what they are. Faithlessness would always limit and attack; faith would remove all limitations and make whole. Faithlessness would destroy and separate; faith would unite and heal. Faithlessness would interpose illusions between the Son of God and his Creator; faith would remove all obstacles that seem to rise between them. Faithlessness is wholly dedicated to illusions; faith wholly to truth. Partial dedication is impossible. Truth is the absence of illusion; illusion the absence of truth. Both cannot be together, nor perceived in the same place. To dedicate yourself to both is to set up a goal forever impossible to attain, for part of it is sought through the body, thought of as a means for seeking out reality through attack. The other part would heal, and therefore calls upon the mind and not the body.
The inevitable compromise is the belief that the body must be healed, and not the mind. For this divided goal has given both an equal reality, which could be possible only if the mind is limited to the body and divided into little parts of seeming wholeness, but without connection. This will not harm the body, but it will keep the delusional thought system in the mind. Here, then, is healing needed. And it is here that healing is. For God gave healing not apart from sickness, nor established remedy where sickness cannot be. They are together, and when they are seen together, all attempts to keep both truth and illusion in the mind, where both must be, are recognised as dedication to illusion; and given up when brought to truth, and seen as totally unreconcilable with truth, in any respect or in any way.
Truth and illusion have no connection. This will remain forever true, however much you seek to connect them. But illusions are always connected, as is truth. Each is united, a complete thought system, but totally disconnected to each other. And to perceive this is to recognise where separation is, and where it must be healed. The result of an idea is never separate from its source. The idea of separation produced the body and remains connected to it, making it sick because of the mind’s identification with it. You think you are protecting the body by hiding this connection, for this concealment seems to keep your identification safe from the ‘attack’ of truth.
If you but understood how much this strange concealment has hurt your mind, and how confused your own identification has become because of it! You do not see how great the devastation wrought by your faithlessness, for faithlessness is an attack that seems to be justified by its results. For by withholding faith you see what is unworthy of it, and cannot look beyond the barrier to what is joined with you.
To have faith is to heal. It is the sign that you have accepted the Atonement for yourself, and would therefore share it. By faith, you offer the gift of freedom from the past, which you received. You do not use anything your brother has done before to condemn him now. You freely choose to overlook his errors, looking past all barriers between yourself and him, and seeing them as one. And in that one you see your faith is fully justified. There is no justification for faithlessness, but faith is always justified.
Faith is the opposite of fear, as much a part of love as fear is of attack. Faith is the acknowledgement of union. It is the gracious acknowledgement of everyone as a Son of your most loving Father, loved by Him like you, and therefore loved by you as yourself. It is His Love that joins you and your brother, and for His Love you would keep no one separate from yours. Each one appears just as he is perceived in the holy instant, united in your purpose to be released from guilt. You see the Christ in him, and he is healed because you look on what makes faith forever justified in everyone.
Faith is the gift of God, through Him Whom God has given you. Faithlessness looks upon the Son of God, and judges him unworthy of forgiveness. But through the eyes of faith, the Son of God is seen already forgiven, free of all the guilt he laid upon himself. Faith sees him only now because it looks not to the past to judge him, but would see in him only what it would see in you. It sees not through the body’s eyes, nor looks to bodies for its justification. It is the messenger of the new perception, sent forth to gather witnesses unto its coming, and to return their messages to you.
Faith is as easily exchanged for knowledge as is the real world. For faith arises from the Holy Spirit’s perception, and is the sign you share it with Him. Faith is a gift you offer to the Son of God through Him, and wholly acceptable to his Father as to Him. And therefore offered you. Your holy relationship, with its new purpose, offers you faith to give unto your brother. Your faithlessness has driven you and him apart, and so you do not recognise salvation in him. Yet faith unites you in the holiness you see, not through the body’s eyes, but in the sight of Him Who joined you, and in Whom you are united.
Grace is not given to a body, but to a mind. And the mind that receives it looks instantly beyond the body, and sees the holy place where it was healed. There is the altar where the grace was given, in which it stands. Do you, then, offer grace and blessing to your brother, for you stand at the same altar where grace was laid for both of you. And be you healed by grace together, that you may heal through faith.
In the holy instant, you and your brother stand before the altar God has raised unto Himself and both of you. Lay faithlessness aside, and come to it together. There will you see the miracle of your relationship as it was made again through faith. And there it is that you will realise that there is nothing faith cannot forgive. No error interferes with its calm sight, which brings the miracle of healing with equal ease to all of them. For what the messengers of love are sent to do they do, returning the glad tidings that it was done to you and your brother who stand together before the altar from which they were sent forth.
As faithlessness will keep your little kingdoms barren and separate, so will faith help the Holy Spirit prepare the ground for the most holy garden that He would make of it. For faith brings peace, and so it calls on truth to enter and make lovely what has already been prepared for loveliness. Truth follows faith and peace, completing the process of making lovely that they begin. For faith is still a learning goal, no longer needed when the lesson has been learned. Yet truth will stay forever.
Let, then, your dedication be to the eternal, and learn how not to interfere with it and make it slave to time. For what you think you do to the eternal you do to you. Whom God created as His Son is slave to nothing, being lord of all, along with his Creator. You can enslave a body, but an idea is free, incapable of being kept in prison or limited in any way except by the mind that thought it. For it remains joined to its source, which is its jailer or its liberator, according to which it chooses as its purpose for itself.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 4
Your grace is given me. I claim it now.
God speaks to us. Shall we not speak to Him? He is not distant. He makes no attempt to hide from us. We try to hide from Him, and suffer from deception. He remains entirely accessible. He loves His Son. There is no certainty but this, yet this suffices. He will love His Son forever. When his mind remains asleep, He loves him still. And when his mind awakes, He loves him with a never-changing Love.
If you but knew the meaning of His Love, hope and despair would be impossible. For hope would be forever satisfied; despair of any kind unthinkable. His grace His answer is to all despair, for in it lies remembrance of His Love. Would He not gladly give the means by which His Will is recognized? His grace is yours by your acknowledgment. And memory of Him awakens in the mind that asks the means of Him whereby its sleep is done.
Today we ask of God the gift He has most carefully preserved within our hearts, waiting to be acknowledged. This the gift by which God leans to us and lifts us up, taking salvation’s final step Himself. All steps but this we learn, instructed by His Voice. But finally He comes Himself, and takes us in His Arms and sweeps away the cobwebs of our sleep. His gift of grace is more than just an answer. It restores all memories the sleeping mind forgot; all certainty of what Love’s meaning is.
God loves His Son. Request Him now to give the means by which this world will disappear, and vision first will come, with knowledge but an instant later. For in grace you see a light that covers all the world in love, and watch fear disappear from every face as hearts rise up and claim the light as theirs. What now remains that Heaven be delayed an instant longer? What is still undone when your forgiveness rests on everything?
It is a new and holy day today, for we receive what has been given us. Our faith lies in the Giver, not our own acceptance. We acknowledge our mistakes, but He to Whom all error is unknown is yet the One Who answers our mistakes by giving us the means to lay them down, and rise to Him in gratitude and love.
And He descends to meet us, as we come to Him. For what He has prepared for us He gives and we receive. Such is His Will, because He loves His Son. To Him we pray today, returning but the word He gave to us through His Own Voice, His Word, His Love:
Your grace is given me. I claim it now. Father, I come
to You. And You will come to me who ask.
I am the Son You love.
ACIM Q & A for Today
i. Could you please comment on the Course’s view on suicide?
ii: What is the “right” way to cope with suicide, seen through the eyes of A Course in Miracles?
iii: My grandfather committed suicide. Death, our separation from God — it’s all an illusion. So is suicide wrong? Or is it the state of mind — feeling separated from God — while committing suicide that is wrong? What happens if one does commit suicide? Do people automatically become one with God when they are not in the illusion of the world?
iv: My wife recently committed suicide. She and I were students of A Course in Miracles. Sometimes I wonder, if all this is an illusion, what is the purpose of our staying alive? Why should we struggle with this life that is not part of the real world anyway? What is the purpose of any of this?
A: From the perspective of the Course, every death is really suicide. For, as Jesus explains, “No one can die unless he chooses death” (T.19.IV.C.1:4), and again later, “No one dies without his own consent. Nothing occurs but represents your wish, and nothing is omitted that you choose” (W.pI.152.1:4,5).
But the Course also makes it clear that death is a thought in the mind that has nothing to do with the body (e.g., W.pI.163.1:1; W.pI.167.2:1,2,3). For the ego itself has its origins in an insane but illusory thought of death — the belief that we can attack God in order to wrest a separate individual self from Him. Such a thought represents not only murder — the death of God — but also suicide — the death of our true Self as Christ. And so whatever follows in the world of bodies and behavior from this initial insane thought can be no more real or sane.
Because the Course always asks us to focus on content and purpose rather than form and appearance, all death in the world that comes from an ego thought will be viewed in exactly the same light. The ego’s purpose in all death is to prove that the separation is real and that, in the end, God triumphs over us by taking back from us the life that we have stolen from Him. We can either resist until we finally succumb to more powerful external forces, or we can resign ourselves to our fate and yield to death by our own hands. What form death may come in then does not matter, for the content is always the same — our puny, painful life is ours only for a limited time before we inevitably must lose it.
On the other hand, looking with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, we would see all death, including suicide, as no different in content, but only in form, from every other choice we ever make here in the world that is based on our perception of ourselves as separate and alone, in pain, vulnerable and victimized. And yet we would know that that perception is false, based as it is on a faulty premise about ourselves, that we are this body, trapped in a harsh, cruel world, not of our making, desperately battling against insurmountable odds to find a little peace and happiness in a hopeless situation over which we have no control.
From most of the world’s perspective, suicide has a stigma and a negative moral judgment associated with it, but that is simply part of the ego’s defense which insists that both life as a separate self and death of that self are real. From the Course’s perspective, the thought behind suicide, if it is ego-based [Jesus also makes clear that death can be chosen with the guidance of the Holy Spirit (M.12.5; S.3.II)], is a mistake, an error, but that is all. It is not a sin, nor does it entail any negative consequences any different from any other decision we make with the ego as our teacher — they all reinforce the guilt we unconsciously are wanting to keep alive in our mind to prove that the separation is real. And so suicide is no more of a mistake than the mistake we made in choosing to be born into the world. In both cases, we are trying to deal with the problem of the guilt in our mind by focusing on the seemingly external world and our body, guaranteeing that we will not find a solution. We are attempting to solve the problem of separation in the world, as if the world were the problem, rather than in the mind, where the real problem — the insane thought of separation — is buried.
And so, whether we commit suicide or we die in any other way, believing that death is real, we will remain trapped in the self-imposed ego belief in separation. Death does not deliver us from the ego thought system, nor from the world that is its defense. Only looking at the ego thought system with the nonjudgmental presence of Jesus or the Holy Spirit beside us and deciding once and for all that the idea of separation holds no value for us can return us to the experience of our oneness with God. For the world is not depriving us of anything — only our choice to be separate is.
Even though this world is an illusion, as are our individual lives here — a life we feel is bracketed between birth and death — we don’t believe it. If we did, and truly knew the world’s purpose was to attack God and therefore our Self, then of course we would never think of ourselves as being in bodies. But the fact that we all live that way — breathing, eating, drinking, recreating, etc. — proves that while we might intellectually believe what A Course in Miracles tells us, it is certainly not our experience.
Therefore, the Holy Spirit’s purpose for our being here, once we have been born, is to have us learn His lessons of forgiveness, including the ultimate lesson that death is unreal. The world then becomes a classroom in which we happily learn what He is teaching us. Wanting to leave the world simply reinforces its reality for us. After all, who would want to leave a place unless he first believed it were real and unpleasant. That is why Jesus tells us in the text: “There is a risk in thinking death is peace” (T.27.VII.10:2). True peace comes not from leaving the physical world, but only through the practice of forgiveness that undoes the mind’s guilt that is the only cause of pain and suffering, as well as the belief in the reality of death. And so, as we are willing, at the pace we choose, we take the small steps of forgiveness that will return us to the glorious eternal Self that we could never destroy, the Self that has remained our Identity despite our foolish digressions into the illusions of death.