ACIM Text Reading for July 5th
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
II. Sin versus Error
It is essential that error be not confused with sin, and it is this distinction that makes salvation possible. For error can be corrected, and the wrong made right. But sin, were it possible, would be irreversible. The belief in sin is necessarily based on the firm conviction that minds, not bodies, can attack. And thus the mind is guilty, and will forever so remain unless a mind not part of it can give it absolution. Sin calls for punishment as error for correction, and the belief that punishment is correction is clearly insane.
Sin is not an error, for sin entails an arrogance which the idea of error lacks. To sin would be to violate reality, and to succeed. Sin is the proclamation that attack is real and guilt is justified. It assumes the Son of God is guilty, and has thus succeeded in losing his innocence and making himself what God created not. Thus is creation seen as not eternal, and the Will of God open to opposition and defeat. Sin is the grand illusion underlying all the ego’s grandiosity. For by it God Himself is changed, and rendered incomplete.
The Son of God can be mistaken; he can deceive himself; he can even turn the power of his mind against himself. But he cannotsin. There is nothing he can do that would really change his reality in any way, nor make him really guilty. That is what sin would do, for such is its purpose. Yet for all the wild insanity inherent in the whole idea of sin, it is impossible. For the wages of sin isdeath, and how can the immortal die?
A major tenet in the ego’s insane religion is that sin is not error but truth, and it is innocence that would deceive. Purity is seen as arrogance, and the acceptance of the self as sinful is perceived as holiness. And it is this doctrine that replaces the reality of the Son of God as his Father created him, and willed that he be forever. Is this humility? Or is it, rather, an attempt to wrest creation away from truth, and keep it separate?
Any attempt to reinterpret sin as error is always indefensible to the ego. The idea of sin is wholly sacrosanct to its thought system, and quite unapproachable except with reverence and awe. It is the most ‘holy’ concept in the ego’s system; lovely and powerful, wholly true, and necessarily protected with every defence at its disposal. For here lies its ‘best’ defence, which all the others serve. Here is its armour, its protection, and the fundamental purpose of the special relationship in its interpretation.
It can indeed be said the ego made its world on sin. Only in such a world could everything be upside down. This is the strange illusion that makes the clouds of guilt seem heavy and impenetrable. The solidness that this world’s foundation seems to have is found in this. For sin has changed creation from an Idea of God to an ideal the ego wants; a world it rules, made up of bodies, mindless and capable of complete corruption and decay. If this is a mistake, it can be undone easily by truth. Any mistake can be corrected, if truth be left to judge it. But if the mistake is given the status of truth, to what can it be brought? The ‘holiness’ of sin is kept in place by just this strange device. As truth it is inviolate, and everything is brought to it for judgement. As a mistake, it must be brought to truth. It is impossible to have faith in sin, for sin is faithlessness. Yet it is possible to have faith that a mistake can be corrected.
There is no stone in all the ego’s embattled citadel that is more heavily defended than the idea that sin is real; the natural expression of what the Son of God has made himself to be, and what he is. To the ego, this is no mistake. For this is its reality; this is the ‘truth’ from which escape will always be impossible. This is his past, his present and his future. For he has somehow managed to corrupt his Father, and change His Mind completely. Mourn, then, the death of God, Whom sin has killed! And this would be the ego’s wish, which in its madness it believes it has accomplished.
Would you not rather that all this be nothing more than a mistake, entirely correctable, and so easily escaped from that its whole correction is like walking through a mist into the sun? For that is all it is. Perhaps you would be tempted to agree with the ego that it is far better to be sinful than mistaken. Yet think you carefully before you allow yourself to make this choice. Approach it not lightly, for it is the choice of hell or Heaven.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 5th
By grace I live. By grace I am released.
Grace is an aspect of the Love of God which is most like the state prevailing in the unity of truth. It is the world’s most lofty aspiration, for it leads beyond the world entirely. It is past learning, yet the goal of learning, for grace cannot come until the mind prepares itself for true acceptance. Grace becomes inevitable instantly in those who have prepared a table where it can be gently laid and willingly received; an altar clean and holy for the gift.
Grace is acceptance of the Love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear. By grace alone the hate and fear are gone, for grace presents a state so opposite to everything the world contains, that those whose minds are lighted by the gift of grace can not believe the world of fear is real.
Grace is not learned. The final step must go beyond all learning. Grace is not the goal this course aspires to attain. Yet we prepare for grace in that an open mind can hear the Call to waken. It is not shut tight against God’s Voice. It has become aware that there are things it does not know, and thus is ready to accept a state completely different from experience with which it is familiarly at home.
We have perhaps appeared to contradict our statement that the revelation of the Father and the Son as One has been already set. But we have also said the mind determines when that time will be, and has determined it. And yet we urge you to bear witness to the Word of God to hasten the experience of truth, and speed its advent into every mind that recognizes truth’s effects on you.
Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is.
We cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all. It comes to every mind when total recognition that its will is God’s has been completely given and received completely. It returns the mind into the endless present, where the past and future cannot be conceived. It lies beyond salvation; past all thought of time, forgiveness and the holy face of Christ. The Son of God has merely disappeared into his Father, as his Father has in him. The world has never been at all. Eternity remains a constant state.
This is beyond experience we try to hasten. Yet forgiveness, taught and learned, brings with it the experiences which bear witness that the time the mind itself determined to abandon all but this is now at hand. We do not hasten it, in that what you will offer was concealed from Him Who teaches what forgiveness means.
All learning was already in His Mind, accomplished and complete. He recognized all that time holds, and gave it to all minds that each one might determine, from a point where time was ended, when it is released to revelation and eternity. We have repeated several times before that you but make a journey that is done.
For oneness must be here. Whatever time the mind has set for revelation is entirely irrelevant to what must be a constant state, forever as it always was; forever to remain as it is now. We merely take the part assigned long since, and fully recognized as perfectly fulfilled by Him Who wrote salvation’s script in His Creator’s Name, and in the Name of His Creator’s Son.
There is no need to further clarify what no one in the world can understand. When revelation of your oneness comes, it will be known and fully understood. Now we have work to do, for those in time can speak of things beyond, and listen to words which explain what is to come is past already. Yet what meaning can the words convey to those who count the hours still, and rise and work and go to sleep by them?
Suffice it, then, that you have work to do to play your part. The ending must remain obscure to you until your part is done. It does not matter. For your part is still what all the rest depends on. As you take the role assigned to you, salvation comes a little nearer each uncertain heart that does not beat as yet in tune with God.
Forgiveness is the central theme that runs throughout salvation, holding all its parts in meaningful relationships, the course it runs directed and its outcome sure. And now we ask for grace, the final gift salvation can bestow. Experience that grace provides will end in time, for grace foreshadows Heaven, yet does not replace the thought of time but for a little while.
The interval suffices. It is here that miracles are laid; to be returned by you from holy instants you receive, through grace in your experience, to all who see the light that lingers in your face. What is the face of Christ but his who went a moment into timelessness, and brought a clear reflection of the unity he felt an instant back to bless the world? How could you finally attain to it forever, while a part of you remains outside, unknowing, unawakened, and in need of you as witness to the truth?
Be grateful to return, as you were glad to go an instant, and accept the gifts that grace provided you. You carry them back to yourself. And revelation stands not far behind. Its coming is ensured. We ask for grace, and for experience that comes from grace. We welcome the release it offers everyone. We do not ask for the unaskable. We do not look beyond what grace can give. For this we can give in the grace that has been given us.
Our learning goal today does not exceed this prayer. Yet in the world, what could be more than what we ask this day of Him Who gives the grace we ask, as it was given Him?
By grace I live. By grace I am released.
By grace I give. By grace I will release.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1116: In the answer to Question #771, you say, “Jesus did not need to forgive those who crucified his body because he was not identified with his body.” In bodies we need to learn to forgive others. The Jesus who appears in the Bible makes the most important quote of his entire career by saying, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” If he had no need to extend forgiveness to those who attacked his body, then why did he ask for those who had attacked his body to be forgiven? If one claims that this Jesus in his petition for forgiveness in the Bible has nothing to do with the Jesus in A Course in Miracles, then we have completely thrown out the baby with the bath water.
While it is easy to recognize the insanity of this world, one can but wonder at the lack of consistency in conflicting statements made throughout the entire texts. If they were in error or mere figures of speech, the distinction is not usually or clearly drawn for the reader. How can inconsistency be consistent with truth? If a thing is true it must always be true.
A: Ah yes, it can all become so very confusing when we try to understand who really said what when, or when we aren’t clear how to differentiate between what is meant literally and what is meant metaphorically in a writing such as the Course, which is much more like a poem than a scientific treatise.
Perhaps the simplest way to respond to your query would be this. The content of the message of the figure we call Jesus who lived two thousand years ago is the same as the content of the message of the Jesus who speaks to us now from outside time and space through the Course. The forms no doubt are different, for a variety of reasons, including differences in the psychological sophistication of the times then and now. However, it is a completely separate question as to whether Jesus’ followers, especially those who attempted to put his good news down in writing two thousand years ago, truly understood his message of love and forgiveness. From the Course’s perspective, if we accept its words as coming from the same source as the Jesus who appeared two thousand years ago in Palestine, the accuracy of the New Testament and its gospels as reports on Jesus’ words and teachings is debatable. Jesus’ followers’ recollections of his message, or what they heard second and third hand from others (ever played the game of “telephone’?), were no doubt distorted by the projections of their own egos.
Jesus comments very explicitly on these distortions in the text:
“The message of the crucifixion is perfectly clear: Teach only love, for that is what you are .
“If you interpret the crucifixion in any other way, you are using it as a weapon for assault rather than as the call for peace for which it was intended. The Apostles often misunderstood it, and for the same reason that anyone misunderstands it. Their own imperfect love made them vulnerable to projection, and out of their own fear they spoke of the “wrath of God” as His retaliatory weapon. Nor could they speak of the crucifixion entirely without anger, because their sense of guilt had made them angry.
“These are some of the examples of upside-down thinking in the New Testament, although its gospel is really only the message of love. If the Apostles had not felt guilty, they never could have quoted me as saying, ‘I come not to bring peace but a sword.’ This is clearly the opposite of everything I taught. Nor could they have described my reactions to Judas as they did, if they had really understood me. I could not have said, ‘Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?’ unless I believed in betrayal. The whole message of the crucifixion was simply that I did not. The ‘punishment’ I was said to have called forth upon Judas was a similar mistake. Judas was my brother and a Son of God, as much a part of the Sonship as myself. Was it likely that I would condemn him when I was ready to demonstrate that condemnation is impossible?
“As you read the teachings of the Apostles, remember that I told them myself that there was much they would understand later, because they were not wholly ready to follow me at the time ” (T.6.I.13;14;15;16:1) .
So you’re going to make yourself crazy if you attempt to reconcile the teachings of the Course with what Jesus’ followers two thousand years ago wrote about what they thought he had said and taught and done. The statement you repeat above as attributed to Jesus by the gospel writers at his crucifixion, if taken literally, would undermine the whole foundation upon which the Course’s teachings on forgiveness rest. If Jesus had believed there was anything to forgive, he would have been making sin real and his request to the Father would be what Jesus in “The Song of Prayer” pamphlet refers to as forgiveness-to-destroy (S.2.I,II) . Jesus in the Course does provide an alternative interpretation of this gospel statement that clearly provides a correction for its original intent: “Miracle-minded forgiveness is only correction. It has no element of judgment at all. The statement ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ in no way evaluates what they do. It is an appeal to God to heal their minds. There is no reference to the outcome of the error. That does not matter” (T.2.V.A.16) .
Now if you feel more drawn to the stories and quotations attributed to Jesus in the New Testament than to his words in the Course, then perhaps the Course is not your path. You are the only one who can decide that. But if the Course is your path, you’ll want to stay focused on its content and not get lost in the ego’s hairsplitting over discrepancies and contradictions. Jesus emphasizes this near the end of the Course:
“This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception….
“All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well. They must, however, be willing to overlook controversy, recognizing that it is a defense against truth in the form of a delaying maneuver…. A universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. Here alone consistency becomes possible because here alone uncertainty ends.
“This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed…. Therefore it uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies beyond symbols. … The course is simple . It has one function [ forgiveness ]and one goal [ peace ]. Only in that does it remain wholly consistent because only that can be consistent” ( C.in.1:1,2; 2:1,2,3,5,6,7; 3:1,3,8,9,10 ).
Finally, in response to your concluding comment: A thing, including the Course, as well as the Bible, can never be true. The content underlying the words can reflect the truth, but the words themselves are not the truth. Teachings can only point to the truth, which is beyond all words and symbols.
For further discussion on the nature of the Course’s use of symbols, The Message of A Course in Miracles, Part II: Few Choose to Listen, as well as the audiotape and CD set, Duality as Metaphor , can be especially helpful.