ACIM Text Reading for July 17
Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness
III. Sin as an Adjustment
The belief in sin is an adjustment. And an adjustment is a change; a shift in perception, or a belief that what was so before has been made different. Every adjustment is therefore a distortion, and calls upon defences to uphold it against reality. Knowledge requires no adjustments and, in fact, is lost if any shift or change is undertaken. For this reduces it at once to mere perception; a way of looking in which certainty is lost and doubt has entered. To this impaired condition are adjustments necessary, because it is not true. Who need adjust to truth, which calls on only what he is, to understand?
Adjustments of any kind are of the ego. For it is the ego’s fixed belief that all relationships depend upon adjustments, to make of them what it would have them be. Direct relationships, in which there are no interference’s, are always seen as dangerous. The ego is the self-appointed mediator of all relationships, making whatever adjustments it deems necessary and interposing them between those who would meet, to keep them separate and prevent their union. It is this studied interference that makes it difficult for you to recognise your holy relationship for what it is.
The holy do not interfere with truth. They are not afraid of it, for it is within the truth they recognise their holiness, and rejoice at what they see. They look on it directly, without attempting to adjust themselves to it, or it to them. And so they see that it was in them, not deciding first where they would have it be. Their looking merely asks a question, and it is what they see that answers them. You make the world and then adjust to it, and it to you. Nor is there any difference between yourself and it in your perception, which made them both.
A simple question yet remains, and needs an answer. Do you like what you have made?â€”a world of murder and attack, through which you thread your timid way through constant dangers, alone and frightened, hoping at most that death will wait a little longer before it overtakes you and you disappear. You made this up. It is a picture of what you think you are; of how you see yourself. A murderer is frightened, and those who kill fear death. All these are but the fearful thoughts of those who would adjust themselves to a world made fearful by their adjustments. And they look out in sorrow from what is sad within, and see the sadness there.
Have you not wondered what the world is really like; how it would look through happy eyes? The world you see is but a judgement on yourself. It is not there at all. Yet judgement lays a sentence on it, justifies it and makes it real. Such is the world you see; a judgement on yourself, and made by you. This sickly picture of yourself is carefully preserved by the ego, whose image it is and which it loves, and placed outside you in the world. And to this world must you adjust as long as you believe this picture is outside, and has you at its mercy. This world is merciless, and were it outside you, you should indeed be fearful. Yet it was you who made it merciless, and now if mercilessness seems to look back at you, it can be corrected.
Who in a holy relationship can long remain unholy? The world the holy see is one with them, just as the world the ego looks upon is like itself. The world the holy see is beautiful because they see their innocence in it. They did not tell it what it was; they did not make adjustments to fit their orders. They gently questioned it and whispered, ‘What are you?’ And He Who watches over all perception answered. Take not the judgement of the world as answer to the question, ‘What am I?’ The world believes in sin, but the belief that made it as you see it is not outside you.
Seek not to make the Son of God adjust to his insanity. There is a stranger in him, who wandered carelessly into the home of truth and who will wander off. He came without a purpose, but he will not remain before the shining light the Holy Spirit offered, and you accepted. For there the stranger is made homeless and you are welcome. Ask not this transient stranger, ‘What am I?’ He is the only thing in all the universe that does not know. Yet it is he you ask, and it is to his answer that you would adjust. This one wild thought, fierce in its arrogance, and yet so tiny and so meaningless it slips unnoticed through the universe of truth, becomes your guide. To it you turn to ask the meaning of the universe. And of the one blind thing in all the seeing universe of truth you ask, ‘How shall I look upon the Son of God?’
Does one ask judgement of what is totally bereft of judgement? And if you have, would you believe the answer, and adjust to it as if it were the truth? The world you look on is the answer that it gave you, and you have given it power to adjust the world to make its answer true. You asked this puff of madness for the meaning of your unholy relationship, and adjusted it according to its insane answer. How happy did it make you? Did you meet your brother with joy to bless the Son of God, and give him thanks for all the happiness that he held out to you? Did you recognise your brother as the eternal gift of God to you? Did you see the holiness that shone in both you and your brother, to bless the other? That is the purpose of your holy relationship. Ask not the means of its attainment of the one thing that still would have it be unholy. Give it no power to adjust the means and end.
Prisoners bound with heavy chains for years, starved and emaciated, weak and exhausted, and with eyes so long cast down in darkness they remember not the light, do not leap up in joy the instant they are made free. It takes a while for them to understand what freedom is. You groped but feebly in the dust and found your brother’s hand, uncertain whether to let it go or to take hold on life so long forgotten. Strengthen your hold and raise your eyes unto your strong companion, in whom the meaning of your freedom lies. He seemed to be crucified beside you. And yet his holiness remained untouched and perfect, and with him beside you, you shall this day enter with him to Paradise, and know the peace of God.
Such is my will for you and your brother, and for each of you for one another and for himself. Here there is only holiness and joining without limit. For what is Heaven but union, direct and perfect, and without the veil of fear upon it? Here are we one, looking with perfect gentleness upon each other and on ourselves. Here all thoughts of any separation between us become impossible. You who were prisoners in separation are now made free in Paradise. And here would I unite with you, my friend, my brother and my Self.
Your gift unto your brother has given me the certainty our union will be soon. Share, then, this faith with me, and know that it is justified. There is no fear in perfect love because it knows no sin, and it must look on others as on itself. Looking with charity within, what can it fear without? The innocent see safety, and the pure in heart see God within His Son, and look unto the Son to lead them to the Father. And where else would they go but where they will to be? You and your brother now will lead the other to the Father as surely as God created His Son holy, and kept him so. In your brother is the light of God’s eternal promise of your immortality. See him as sinless, and there can be no fear in you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 17
I will be still an instant and go home.
This world you seem to live in is not home to you. And somewhere in your mind you know that this is true. A memory of home keeps haunting you, as if there were a place that called you to return, although you do not recognize the voice, nor what it is the voice reminds you of. Yet still you feel an alien here, from somewhere all unknown. Nothing so definite that you could say with certainty you are an exile here. Just a persistent feeling, sometimes not more than a tiny throb, at other times hardly remembered, actively dismissed, but surely to return to mind again.
No one but knows whereof we speak. Yet some try to put by their suffering in games they play to occupy their time, and keep their sadness from them. Others will deny that they are sad, and do not recognize their tears at all. Still others will maintain that what we speak of is illusion, not to be considered more than but a dream. Yet who, in simple honesty, without defensiveness and self-deception, would deny he understands the words we speak?
We speak today for everyone who walks this world, for he is not at home. He goes uncertainly about in endless search, seeking in darkness what he cannot find; not recognizing what it is he seeks. A thousand homes he makes, yet none contents his restless mind. He does not understand he builds in vain. The home he seeks can not be made by him. There is no substitute for Heaven. All he ever made was hell.
Perhaps you think it is your childhood home that you would find again. The childhood of your body, and its place of shelter, are a memory now so distorted that you merely hold a picture of a past that never happened. Yet there is a Child in you Who seeks His Father’s house, and knows that He is alien here. This childhood is eternal, with an innocence that will endure forever. Where this Child shall go is holy ground. It is His Holiness that lights up Heaven, and that brings to earth the pure reflection of the light above, wherein are earth and Heaven joined as one.
It is this Child in you your Father knows as His Own Son. It is this Child Who knows His Father. He desires to go home so deeply, so unceasingly, His voice cries unto you to let Him rest a while. He does not ask for more than just a few instants of respite; just an interval in which He can return to breathe again the holy air that fills His Father’s house. You are His home as well. He will return. But give Him just a little time to be Himself, within the peace that is His home, resting in silence and in peace and love.
This Child needs your protection. He is far from home. He is so little that He seems so easily shut out, His tiny voice so readily obscured, His call for help almost unheard amid the grating sounds and harsh and rasping noises of the world. Yet does He know that in you still abides His sure protection. You will fail Him not. He will go home, and you along with Him.
This Child is your defenselessness; your strength. He trusts in you. He came because He knew you would not fail. He whispers of His home unceasingly to you. For He would bring you back with Him, that He Himself might stay, and not return again where He does not belong, and where He lives an outcast in a world of alien thoughts. His patience has no limits. He will wait until you hear His gentle Voice within you, calling you to let Him go in peace, along with you, to where He is at home and you with Him.
When you are still an instant, when the world recedes from you, when valueless ideas cease to have value in your restless mind, then will you hear His Voice. So poignantly He calls to you that you will not resist Him longer. In that instant He will take you to His home, and you will stay with Him in perfect stillness, silent and at peace, beyond all words, untouched by fear and doubt, sublimely certain that you are at home.
Rest with Him frequently today. For He was willing to become a little Child that you might learn of Him how strong is he who comes without defenses, offering only love’s messages to those who think he is their enemy. He holds the might of Heaven in His hand and calls them friend, and gives His strength to them, that they may see He would be Friend to them. He asks that they protect Him, for His home is far away, and He will not return to it alone.
Christ is reborn as but a little Child each time a wanderer would leave his home. For he must learn that what he would protect is but this Child, Who comes defenseless and Who is protected by defenselessness. Go home with Him from time to time today. You are as much an alien here as He.
Take time today to lay aside your shield which profits nothing, and lay down the spear and sword you raised against an enemy without existence. Christ has called you friend and brother. He has even come to ask your help in letting Him go home today, completed and completely. He has come as does a little child, who must beseech his father for protection and for love. He rules the universe, and yet He asks unceasingly that you return with Him, and take illusions as your gods no more.
You have not lost your innocence. It is for this you yearn. This is your heart’s desire. This is the voice you hear, and this the call which cannot be denied. The holy Child remains with you. His home is yours. Today He gives you His defenselessness, and you accept it in exchange for all the toys of battle you have made. And now the way is open, and the journey has an end in sight at last. Be still an instant and go home with Him, and be at peace a while.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #1239: There is a line in one of the lessons in the workbook of A Course in Miracles that says “no one dies without his own consent” ( W.pI.152.1:4 ). Could that mean that on some level in our mind we get to a point (while here, experiencing living in a body) that we say, “I am done with this,” or does our dying (death of the physical body) happen at whatever point in time as a result of making the first decision to become a body? I would appreciate it if you could give me your understanding of this statement.
A: This statement about dying is best understood in the context of the only two purposes we can ever choose to identify with in our minds, and which we are always choosing between at every instant. We are always choosing either to reinforce our belief in separation or to undo it. Thus, death can come upon the completion of our forgiveness lessons, as explained in The Song of Prayer : “a quiet choice, made joyfully and with a sense of peace, because the body has been kindly used to help the Son of God along the way he goes to God” ( S.3.II.2:1 ). Understand, though, that this expresses the content in the mind only; the form could be cancer, a stroke, or any number of other ways in which the body ceases to function. The form does not necessarily indicate the content in the mind. The purpose of a fatal illness could also be ego based — a way of punishing oneself or others, for example. It is always a choice, though.
With regard to the second point . . . Since the mind is not bound by time, there is no predetermined time for the death of the body. To use the analogy of a video-tape library, there are multiple videos of death, and the decision maker can choose any one of them, depending on the purpose it has identified with. But all of this occurs outside time and space, so it is practically impossible for us to comprehend it in our present state.
Other questions on this Service address this important issue from several points of view, and we refer you to them for additional discussion and references: #135, #175, and #262.
#1332: My question is in regard to sickness. I understand the idea that sickness, according to A Course in Miracles , is of the mind and is a perspective, etc. However, we obviously will all die of something unless we have reached a level of enlightenment in which we can just leave our bodies at will and break with the illusion. Does this mean that everyone who dies, no matter what level they have reached spiritually is still holding “unforgiveness”? I know of some very high beings who still got diseases, had strokes, and other health issues.
A: A Course in Miracles states that “no one dies without his own consent” (W.pI.152.1) ; but this decision can be wrong-minded or right-minded. Our discussion in Question #262 focuses on the important distinction between form and content in the Course’s view of death. Helpful references are also provided there as well as in Questions #494 and #604. The key point is that the condition of the body does not automatically tell us which thought system the mind has chosen and whether or not the mind has reached enlightenment. Thus, we should not attempt to judge based upon appearances. A healed mind could take the form of a cancer-consumed dying body if there were a valuable teaching purpose in it, for example. That mind, though, would not be suffering — a most difficult teaching for us to comprehend and accept, because of our lack of awareness of our mind and our body-oriented way of thinking. Jesus’ body certainly seemed to be in terrible condition at the end, but we would not conclude that his mind must therefore have been in terrible condition as well. A seemingly pain-wracked body is not necessarily a regrettable tragedy, in other words. Again, this can only be understood from the perspective of the mind’s right-minded position “above the battleground” of the ego’s world of bodies.