ACIM Text Reading for July 11
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
i. The Attraction of Pain
Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gives instead, without the limits that would hold its extension back, and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power, and use it for the Son of God’s release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace. is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your wish? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?
Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means, and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. Only the mind can set a purpose, and only the mind can see the means for its accomplishment, and justify its use. Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind, to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion that calls them forth, and therefore is compatible with them.
But think you which it is that is compatible with you. Here is your choice, and it is free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment, and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.
It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.
Is not this inevitable? Under fear’s orders the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego’s heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship that it keeps hidden, and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body’s pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, ‘It is death’.
Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognise this, and both also recognise that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himself? Who would accuse, make guilty and condemn himself?
The ego’s messages are always sent away from you, in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognises that this is not so, but as the ‘enemy’ of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom from attack.
Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin, and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body’s praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego’s rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.
It is not given to the ego’s disciples to realise that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received, to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way, and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 11
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
(159) I give the miracles I have received.
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
(160) I am at home. Fear is the stranger here.
God is but Love, and therefore so am I.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #236: One of the things I find hardest to accept about A Course in Miracles is its apparent dismissal of humanity’s “higher strivings,” as embodied, especially, in art and science. Clearly what the Course understands by our “creations” is something entirely different from “creativity” in the artistic or scientific sense. The latter, it would seem, generates nothing more than illusion within illusion (shades of Plato?), rather than pointing Man to a higher and more beautiful reality. Does this mean that artists and scientists should pack it in, and the rest of us dismiss their efforts as part of the big ego-distraction?
A: You raise an important question, one that has troubled many students and observers of A Course in Miracles. On the one hand, it is indeed possible to concentrate on learning and practicing forgiveness while setting aside for a while this dimension of the Course’s theory. On the other hand, this issue cannot be ignored if one is to attain a comprehensive understanding of what the Course is saying about our world and ourselves.
Examining this issue in the light of the two levels on which this Course is written, along with the distinction between form and content might help with your concern.
Although it is true that artistic and scientific “creativity” “generates nothing more than illusion within illusion,” this does not mean that “artists and scientists should pack it in, and the rest of us dismiss their efforts as part of the big ego-distraction” — any more than the fact that the body is part of the ego’s plan to attack God means that surgeons, chiropractors, dentists, physical therapists, etc., should “pack it in.” The Course would indeed not be the practical, gentle, and kind course that it is if this were what it advocated.
First, throughout the Course, Jesus is trying to help us see things from his point of view, to step outside the entire world to view its origin in the thought system we maintain in our minds, and to see what we have given up in exchange for our individual, separate existence, so that we may have a better basis for understanding and evaluating what we have. He appeals to us in many ways to recognize that even the best of what we have in this world is unimaginably miniscule when compared to the glory that we rejected in our choice to prefer separation over oneness.
Jesus consistently teaches us that nothing in this world, or of this world, is of God, and therefore it has no reality. On this level of absolute truth, which we call Level One, all human activity is futile and meaningless. The only genuine creativity is in Heaven, in the extension of infinite Love: “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. . . by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything it has away, thus securing it forever for itself” (W.pI.105.4:2,3,4,5).
Moving from Level One of the Course to Level Two — which is the level of teaching in which Jesus communicates in a framework that is meaningful to us, and which he can use to start us back up the ladder our choice to be separate led us down (T.28.III.1:2) — he tells us that we have a split mind, and that when we left Heaven (an impossibility of course), we took with us the memory of all we left behind, but buried it far beyond awareness. Since it is still there in our split minds, however, it can be evoked. Practicing A Course in Miracles is one way of bringing this memory back into awareness. In fact, anything at all may be utilized toward this end, including the work of artists and scientists. But it is not the form that is decisive, although the form may be the starting point. It is what the form reminds us of that is relevant, its content, in other words. The perfection of Michelangelo’s statue of David, for example, can transport one from the physical realm to the non-physical, abstract perfection of God’s creation in Heaven. The same inspiration can come from viewing a distorted body, however. It is entirely conditional on the viewer first choosing to shift from the wrong mind to the right mind, from identifying with the ego to identifying with the Atonement principle, that the separation never happened in reality.
From another angle: since our minds are split, we are not totally insane; and therefore we are sometimes motivated by selflessness, defenselessness, and a willingness to see our interests as shared with everyone else’s. Thus, the efforts of a scientist or doctor to relieve pain and reduce human misery can serve as a reminder of our ego-free state in our right minds, the reflection of our pure innocence and oneness as Christ. Jesus would never simply dismiss our efforts as meaningless in and of themselves — whether they be the “higher strivings” of humanity, or the humble efforts of a street cleaner to keep the neighborhood looking nice. Jesus looks only at the purpose, which can transcend self-centeredness, self-aggrandizement, or be limited solely to them. The value of our activities is associated only with their purpose, which is always the result of a decision made in our minds to see either shared or separate interests. We therefore can serve each other best by being reminders of the truth and flawless beauty of our immaculate Identity as Christ, which is reflected in our right minds, and which we witness to by our willingness to see all people as the same. Again, this may come through the work of scientists, artists, poets, or welders in a factory. It is always a matter of content, not form.