ACIM Text Reading for July 21
Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness
VII. The Consistency of Means and End
We have said much about discrepancies of means and end, and how these must be brought in line before your holy relationship can bring you only joy. But we have also said the means to meet the Holy Spirit’s goal will come from the same Source as does His purpose. Being so simple and direct, this course has nothing in it that is not consistent. The seeming inconsistencies, or parts you find more difficult than others, are merely indications of areas where means and end are still discrepant. And this produces great discomfort. This need not be. This course requires almost nothing of you. It is impossible to imagine one that asks so little, or could offer more.
The period of discomfort that follows the sudden change in a relationship from sin to holiness may now be almost over. To the extent you still experience it, you are refusing to leave the means to Him Who changed the purpose. You recognise you want the goal. Are you not also willing to accept the means? If you are not, let us admit that you are inconsistent. A purpose is attained by means, and if you want a purpose you must be willing to want the means as well. How can one be sincere and say, ‘I want this above all else, and yet I do not want to learn the means to get it’?
To obtain the goal the Holy Spirit indeed asks little. He asks no more to give the means as well. The means are second to the goal. And when you hesitate, it is because the purpose frightens you, and not the means. Remember this, for otherwise you will make the error of believing the means are difficult. Yet how can they be difficult if they are merely given you? They guarantee the goal, and they are perfectly in line with it. Before we look at them a little closer, remember that if you think they are impossible, your wanting of the purpose has been shaken. For if a goal is possible to reach, the means to do so must be possible as well.
It is impossible to see your brother as sinless and yet to look upon him as a body. Is this not perfectly consistent with the goal of holiness? For holiness is merely the result of letting the effects of sin be lifted, so what was always true is recognised. To see a sinless body is impossible, for holiness is positive and the body is merely neutral. It is not sinful, but neither is it sinless. As nothing, which it is, the body cannot meaningfully be invested with attributes of Christ or of the ego. Either must be an error, for both would place the attributes where they cannot be. And both must be undone for purposes of truth.
The body is the means by which the ego tries to make the unholy relationship seem real. The unholy instant is the time of bodies. But the purpose here is sin. It cannot be attained but in illusion, and so the illusion of a brother as a body is quite in keeping with the purpose of unholiness. Because of this consistency, the means remain unquestioned while the end is cherished. Seeing adapts to wish, for sight is always secondary to desire. And if you see the body, you have chosen judgement and not vision. For vision, like relationships, has no order. You either see or not.
Who sees a brother’s body has laid a judgement on him, and sees him not. He does not really see him as sinful; he does not see him at all. In the darkness of sin he is invisible. He can but be imagined in the darkness, and it is here that the illusions you hold about him are not held up to his reality. Here are illusions and reality kept separated. Here are illusions never brought to truth, and always hidden from it. And here, in darkness, is your brother’s reality imagined as a body, in unholy relationships with other bodies, serving the cause of sin an instant before he dies.
There is indeed a difference between this vain imagining and vision. The difference lies not in them, but in their purpose. Both are but means, each one appropriate to the end for which it is employed. Neither can serve the purpose of the other, for each one is a choice of purpose, employed on its behalf. Either is meaningless without the end for which it was intended, nor is it valued as a separate thing apart from the intention. The means seem real because the goal is valued. And judgement has no value unless the goal is sin.
The body cannot be looked upon except through judgement. To see the body is the sign that you lack vision, and have denied the means the Holy Spirit offers you to serve His purpose. How can a holy relationship achieve its purpose through the means of sin? Judgement you taught yourself; vision is learned from Him Who would undo your teaching. His vision cannot see the body because it cannot look on sin. And thus it leads you to reality. Your holy brother, sight of whom is your release, is no illusion. Attempt to see him not in darkness, for your imaginings about him will seem real there. You closed your eyes to shut him out. Such was your purpose, and while this purpose seems to have a meaning, the means for its attainment will be evaluated as worth the seeing, and so you will not see.
Your question should not be, ‘How can I see my brother without the body?’ Ask only, ‘Do I really wish to see him sinless?’ And as you ask, forget not that his sinlessness is your escape from fear. Salvation is the Holy Spirit’s goal. The means is vision. For what the seeing look upon is sinless. No one who loves can judge, and what he sees is free of condemnation. And what he sees he did not make, for it was given him to see, as was the vision that made his seeing possible.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 21
Salvation of the world depends on me.
Here is the statement that will one day take all arrogance away from every mind. Here is the thought of true humility, which holds no function as your own but that which has been given you. It offers your acceptance of a part assigned to you, without insisting on another role. It does not judge your proper role. It but acknowledges the Will of God is done on earth as well as Heaven. It unites all wills on earth in Heaven’s plan to save the world, restoring it to Heaven’s peace.
Let us not fight our function. We did not establish it. It is not our idea. The means are given us by which it will be perfectly accomplished. All that we are asked to do is to accept our part in genuine humility, and not deny with self-deceiving arrogance that we are worthy. What is given us to do, we have the strength to do. Our minds are suited perfectly to take the part assigned to us by One Who knows us well.
Today’s idea may seem quite sobering, until you see its meaning. All it says is that your Father still remembers you, and offers you the perfect trust He holds in you who are His Son. It does not ask that you be different in any way from what you are. What could humility request but this? And what could arrogance deny but this? Today we will not shrink from our assignment on the specious grounds that modesty is outraged. It is pride that would deny the Call for God Himself.
All false humility we lay aside today, that we may listen to God’s Voice reveal to us what He would have us do. We do not doubt our adequacy for the function He will offer us. We will be certain only that He knows our strengths, our wisdom and our holiness. And if He deems us worthy, so we are. It is but arrogance that judges otherwise.
There is one way, and only one, to be released from the imprisonment your plan to prove the false is true has brought to you. Accept the plan you did not make instead. Judge not your value to it. If God’s Voice assures you that salvation needs your part, and that the whole depends on you, be sure that it is so. The arrogant must cling to words, afraid to go beyond them to experience which might affront their stance. Yet are the humble free to hear the Voice which tells them what they are, and what to do.
Arrogance makes an image of yourself that is not real. It is this image which quails and retreats in terror, as the Voice for God assures you that you have the strength, the wisdom and the holiness to go beyond all images. You are not weak, as is the image of yourself. You are not ignorant and helpless. Sin can not tarnish the truth in you, and misery can come not near the holy home of God.
All this the Voice for God relates to you. And as He speaks, the image trembles and seeks to attack the threat it does not know, sensing its basis crumble. Let it go. Salvation of the world depends on you, and not upon this little pile of dust. What can it tell the holy Son of God? Why need he be concerned with it at all?
And so we find our peace. We will accept the function God has given us, for all illusions rest upon the weird belief that we can make another for ourselves. Our self-made roles are shifting, and they seem to change from mourner to ecstatic bliss of love and loving. We can laugh or weep, and greet the day with welcome or with tears. Our very being seems to change as we experience a thousand shifts in mood, and our emotions raise us high indeed, or dash us to the ground in hopelessness.
Is this the Son of God? Could He create such instability and call it Son? He Who is changeless shares His attributes with His creation. All the images His Son appears to make have no effect on what he is. They blow across his mind like wind-swept leaves that form a patterning an instant, break apart to group again, and scamper off. Or like mirages seen above a desert, rising from the dust.
These unsubstantial images will go, and leave your mind unclouded and serene, when you accept the function given you. The images you make give rise to but conflicting goals, impermanent and vague, uncertain and ambiguous. Who could be constant in his efforts, or direct his energies and concentrated drive toward goals like these? The functions which the world esteems are so uncertain that they change ten times an hour at their most secure. What hope of gain can rest on goals like this?
In lovely contrast, certain as the sun’s return each morning to dispel the night, your truly given function stands out clear and wholly unambiguous. There is no doubt of its validity. It comes from One Who knows no error, and His Voice is certain of Its messages. They will not change, nor be in conflict. All of them point to one goal, and one you can attain. Your plan may be impossible, but God’s can never fail because He is its Source.
Do as God’s Voice directs. And if It asks a thing of you which seems impossible, remember Who it is that asks, and who would make denial. Then consider this; which is more likely to be right? The Voice that speaks for the Creator of all things, Who knows all things exactly as they are, or a distorted image of yourself, confused, bewildered, inconsistent and unsure of everything? Let not its voice direct you. Hear instead a certain Voice, which tells you of a function given you by your Creator Who remembers you, and urges that you now remember Him.
His gentle Voice is calling from the known to the unknowing. He would comfort you, although He knows no sorrow. He would make a restitution, though He is complete; a gift to you, although He knows that you have everything already. He has Thoughts which answer every need His Son perceives, although He sees them not. For Love must give, and what is given in His Name takes on the form most useful in a world of form.
These are the forms which never can deceive, because they come from Formlessness Itself. Forgiveness is an earthly form of love, which as it is in Heaven has no form. Yet what is needed here is given here as it is needed. In this form you can fulfill your function even here, although what love will mean to you when formlessness has been restored to you is greater still. Salvation of the world depends on you who can forgive. Such is your function here.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #21: If the art may be seen as a form of special relationship the artist makes as a substitute for God’s Love, are forms of art to be considered as a call for love? And how do these forms differ from the forms expressed through “channeling” like Mozart’s music? Can we say that the “channeled” art more of expression of love rather than a call for love? And how can we “justify” human distinction between great and mediocre art on Level two of our experience here in material world?
A: First, we cannot judge whether the specific work of a specific artist is a substitute for God’s Love, the manifestation of a special relationship. Only the artist would be able to discern that. We usually cannot tell just from the form whether it has come from the wrong (ego) mind or the right (Holy Spirit) mind. If the reflection of God’s Love is the source of a particular work of art, then, yes, it is an expression of love. Our mistake would be, then, to venerate the work, rather than to identify with the content behind the form.
All special love relationships are defenses against the searing pain in our minds that comes from the guilt we all feel over having rejected God’s Love in favor of giving ourselves existence on our own terms. Following the ego’s counsel, our attention gets directed away from our guilt-laden minds to specific individuals, substances, or activities that can shut out the pain and fill up the loneliness that is in our minds. In essence, our special love relationships are telling God that we don’t need His Love, and that we are perfectly capable of filling the void and experiencing completion and worth through relationships in the world. This is the content underlying the form of all special love relationships. The good feelings that come from these types of relationships hide the hatred that is their basis.
At the same time, in another part of our minds, we are longing to be told that this whole thing was just some silly mistake, that we have been forgiven, and therefore our guilt and our defenses against that guilt are no longer necessary. This is the “call” that is present in our minds that are split between these two attitudes or ways of thinking.
Any form can be used by the Holy Spirit to remind us of the truth about ourselves. One is not more or less inspiring than another, in this sense. In other words, once we believe the separation has occurred and we are here in the world as bodies, the world and our bodies are regarded as neutral. Therefore, anything at all in this world can become a means of leading us beyond the world, or more deeply into it, depending on whether we choose the ego or the Holy Spirit as our teacher. We can be enthralled with Michelangelo’s statue of David and be reminded of our perfection and oneness with God; but the same experience can occur while we are looking at a diseased tree in our yard. When we become dependent on a particular form in order to have a “spiritual” experience, then we have gotten caught in a special love relationship.
Finally, there is nothing wrong with having preferences in this world, provided we don’t take them seriously. We can say that one work of art is better than another, just as we can say that a particular musical composition is better than another, one method of education is better than another, one medical treatment is better than another, based on criteria we have set up in those fields. From the Course’s point of view, they all are equally illusory. Yet, it is natural to evaluate things in a somewhat objective way in the world. The lesson, though, is not to take seriously any conclusions we reach about things in the world — we should do it with a gentle smile somewhere in our minds, because we know that it is all made up.