ACIM Text Reading for July 22
Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness
VIII. The Vision of Sinlessness
Vision will come to you at first in glimpses, but they will be enough to show you what is given you who see your brother sinless. Truth is restored to you through your desire, as it was lost to you through your desire for something else. Open the holy place that you closed off by valuing the ‘something else’, and what was never lost will quietly return. It has been saved for you. Vision would not be necessary had judgement not been made. Desire now its whole undoing, and it is done for you.
Do you not want to know your own Identity? Would you not happily exchange your doubts for certainty? Would you not willingly be free of misery, and learn again of joy? Your holy relationship offers all this to you. As it was given you, so will be its effects. And as its holy purpose was not made by you, the means by which its happy end is yours is also not of you. Rejoice in what is yours but for the asking, and think not that you need make either means or end. All this is given you who would but see your brother sinless. All this is given, waiting on your desire but to receive it. Vision is freely given to those who ask to see.
Your brother’s sinlessness is given you in shining light, to look on with the Holy Spirit’s vision and to rejoice in along with Him. For peace will come to all who ask for it with real desire and sincerity of purpose, shared with the Holy Spirit and at one with Him on what salvation is. Be willing, then, to see your brother sinless, that Christ may rise before your vision and give you joy. And place no value on your brother’s body, which holds him to illusions of what he is. It is his desire to see his sinlessness, as it is yours. And bless the Son of God in your relationship, nor see in him what you have made of him.
The Holy Spirit guarantees that what God willed and gave you shall be yours. This is your purpose now, and the vision that makes it yours is ready to be given. You have the vision that enables you to see the body not. And as you look upon your brother, you will see an altar to your Father, holy as Heaven, glowing with radiant purity and sparkling with the shining lilies you laid upon it. What can you value more than this? Why do you think the body is a better home, a safer shelter for God’s Son? Why would you rather look on it than on the truth? How can the engine of destruction be preferred, and chosen to replace the holy home the Holy Spirit offers, where He will dwell with you?
The body is the sign of weakness, vulnerability and loss of power. Can such a saviour help you? Would you turn in your distress and need for help unto the helpless? Is the pitifully little the perfect choice to call upon for strength? Judgement will seem to make your saviour weak. Yet it is you who need his strength. There is no problem, no event or situation, no perplexity that vision will not solve. All is redeemed when looked upon with vision. For this is not your sight, and brings with it the laws beloved of Him Whose sight it is.
Everything looked upon with vision falls gently into place, according to the laws brought to it by His calm and certain sight. The end for everything He looks upon is always sure. For it will meet His purpose, seen in unadjusted form and suited perfectly to meet it. Destructiveness becomes benign, and sin is turned to blessing under His gentle gaze. What can the body’s eyes perceive, with power to correct? Its eyes adjust to sin, unable to overlook it in any form and seeing it everywhere, in everything. Look through its eyes, and everything will stand condemned before you. All that could save you, you will never see. Your holy relationship, the source of your salvation, will be deprived of meaning, and its most holy purpose bereft of means for its accomplishment.
Judgement is but a toy, a whim, the senseless means to play the idle game of death in your imagination. But vision sets all things right, bringing them gently within the kindly sway of Heaven’s laws. What if you recognised this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realised that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? Could you have faith in what you see, if you accepted this? And would you see it?
Hallucinations disappear when they are recognised for what they are. This is the healing and the remedy. Believe them not and they are gone. And all you need to do is recognise that you did this. Once you accept this simple fact and take unto yourself the power you gave them, you are released from them. One thing is sure; hallucinations serve a purpose, and when that purpose is no longer held they disappear. Therefore, the question never is whether you want them, but always, do you want the purpose that they serve? This world seems to hold out many purposes, each different and with different values. Yet they are all the same. Again there is no order; only a seeming hierarchy of values.
Only two purposes are possible. And one is sin, the other holiness. Nothing is in between, and which you choose determines what you see. For what you see is merely how you elect to meet your goal. Hallucinations serve to meet the goal of madness. They are the means by which the outside world, projected from within, adjusts to sin and seems to witness to its reality. It still is true that nothing is without. Yet upon nothing are all projections made. For it is the projection that gives the ‘nothing’ all the meaning that it holds.
What has no meaning cannot be perceived. And meaning always looks within to find itself, and then looks out. All meaning that you give the world outside must thus reflect the sight you saw within; or better, if you saw at all or merely judged against. Vision is the means by which the Holy Spirit translates your nightmares into happy dreams; your wild hallucinations that show you all the fearful outcomes of imagined sin into the calm and reassuring sights with which He would replace them. These gentle sights and sounds are looked on happily, and heard with joy. They are His substitutes for all the terrifying sights and screaming sounds the ego’s purpose brought to your horrified awareness. They step away from sin, reminding you that it is not reality which frightens you, and that the errors which you made can be corrected.
When you have looked on what seemed terrifying, and seen it change to sights of loveliness and peace; when you have looked on scenes of violence and death, and watched them change to quiet views of gardens under open skies, with clear, life-giving water running happily beside them in dancing brooks that never waste away; who need persuade you to accept the gift of vision? And after vision, who is there who could refuse what must come after? Think but an instant just on this; you can behold the holiness God gave His Son. And never need you think that there is something else for you to see.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 22
I bless the world because I bless myself.
No one can give unless he has. In fact, giving is proof of having. We have made this point before. What seems to make it hard to credit is not this. No one can doubt that you must first possess what you would give. It is the second phase on which the world and true perception differ. Having had and given, then the world asserts that you have lost what you possessed. The truth maintains that giving will increase what you possess.
How is this possible? For it is sure that if you give a finite thing away, your body’s eyes will not perceive it yours. Yet we have learned that things but represent the thoughts that make them. And you do not lack for proof that when you give ideas away, you strengthen them in your own mind. Perhaps the form in which the thought seems to appear is changed in giving. Yet it must return to him who gives. Nor can the form it takes be less acceptable. It must be more.
Ideas must first belong to you, before you give them. If you are to save the world, you first accept salvation for yourself. But you will not believe that this is done until you see the miracles it brings to everyone you look upon. Herein is the idea of giving clarified and given meaning. Now you can perceive that by your giving is your store increased.
Protect all things you value by the act of giving them away, and you are sure that you will never lose them. What you thought you did not have is thereby proven yours. Yet value not its form. For this will change and grow unrecognizable in time, however much you try to keep it safe. No form endures. It is the thought behind the form of things that lives unchangeable.
Give gladly. You can only gain thereby. The thought remains, and grows in strength as it is reinforced by giving. Thoughts extend as they are shared, for they can not be lost. There is no giver and receiver in the sense the world conceives of them. There is a giver who retains; another who will give as well. And both must gain in this exchange, for each will have the thought in form most helpful to him. What he seems to lose is always something he will value less than what will surely be returned to him.
Never forget you give but to yourself. Who understands what giving means must laugh at the idea of sacrifice. Nor can he fail to recognize the many forms which sacrifice may take. He laughs as well at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death. He recognizes sacrifice remains the one idea that stands behind them all, and in his gentle laughter are they healed.
Illusion recognized must disappear. Accept not suffering, and you remove the thought of suffering. Your blessing lies on everyone who suffers, when you choose to see all suffering as what it is. The thought of sacrifice gives rise to all the forms that suffering appears to take. And sacrifice is an idea so mad that sanity dismisses it at once.
Never believe that you can sacrifice. There is no place for sacrifice in what has any value. If the thought occurs, its very presence proves that error has arisen and correction must be made. Your blessing will correct it. Given first to you, it now is yours to give as well. No form of sacrifice and suffering can long endure before the face of one who has forgiven and has blessed himself.
The lilies that your brother offers you are laid upon your altar, with the ones you offer him beside them. Who could fear to look upon such lovely holiness? The great illusion of the fear of God diminishes to nothingness before the purity that you will look on here. Be not afraid to look. The blessedness you will behold will take away all thought of form, and leave instead the perfect gift forever there, forever to increase, forever yours, forever given away.
Now are we one in thought, for fear has gone. And here, before the altar to one God, one Father, one Creator and one Thought, we stand together as one Son of God. Not separate from Him Who is our Source; not distant from one brother who is part of our one Self Whose innocence has joined us all as one, we stand in blessedness, and give as we receive. The Name of God is on our lips. And as we look within, we see the purity of Heaven shine in our reflection of our Father’s Love.
Now are we blessed, and now we bless the world. What we have looked upon we would extend, for we would see it everywhere. We would behold it shining with the grace of God in everyone. We would not have it be withheld from anything we look upon. And to ensure this holy sight is ours, we offer it to everything we see. For where we see it, it will be returned to us in form of lilies we can lay upon our altar, making it a home for Innocence Itself, Who dwells in us and offers us His Holiness as ours.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: Simply put, what you put your faith in you then believe. Faith thus precedes belief. We never lack faith, for we always place our faith in either of two teachers: the ego or Jesus; and then we will believe what that teacher says. “It is impossible that the Son of God lack faith, but he can choose where he would have it be. Faithlessness is not a lack of faith, but faith in nothing. Faith given to illusions does not lack power, for by it does the Son of God believe that he is powerless. Thus is he faithless to himself, but strong in faith in his illusions about himself. For faith, perception and belief you made, as means for losing certainty and finding sin. This mad direction was your choice, and by your faith in what you chose, you made what you desired” (T.21.III.5).
Q #415: In the past, I have found ways to misuse A Course in Miracles for the purpose of conflict avoidance, and this has had the effect of demonstrating to some people that they hold power over me. Could you please explain the difference between allowing yourself to be used as a doormat, and what the Course is trying to teach in regard to dealing with situations where it’s necessary to be assertive, to acknowledge yourself as an equal in accord with God’s will?
A: Misusing the Course to avoid conflict is a common mistake among its students. This is a form of denial, and is in direct opposition to a very important goal of the Course, which is to teach us to pay attention to the conflict in our lives. This is one of the ways in which A Course in Miracles is a unique spiritual path. It tells us that by looking at conflict we learn to recognize the hidden, unconscious beliefs we hold about ourselves and others, all of which stem from the belief that the separation is real. Our conflicts are generally riddled with judgments, feelings, and thoughts, reflecting the conflict in our minds caused by the choice to believe the ego’s lies about who we are as bodies, thus denying our true Identity as God’s innocent Son. As long as we are unaware of this conflict in the mind, it cannot be brought to the Holy Spirit for healing. This is the purpose the Course gives to conflict in our lives, and it is the only way it can truly be resolved.
Because the Course is showing us the real source of conflict is the unhealed mind, it does not tell us how to deal with it on the level of form, to which you are referring. We are asked to be willing to recognize all the thoughts, beliefs and feelings that come up in any situation, seeing that they reflect the choice in the mind to identify with the ego thought system, and be willing to question them in the light of the Course’s teachings. We are not asked to do anything on the level of form. Trying to act in a way that seems spiritual or appears to be in accord with the metaphysical principles of the Course (i.e., keeping silent when mistreated) while still identifying with the ego’s thought system, is unproductive, and leaves you feeling like a doormat. That is certainly not the experience to which Jesus is leading us. Moreover, if you are a victim, there must be a victimizer, thereby reinforcing separation.
The Course tells us we are not only “equal”; we are one. We will know this when all the forms by which we perceive ourselves to be separate and different from one another have been forgiven. Until then, we continue to practice forgiveness. It is possible to assert yourself and remain faithful to the Course, because it is no different from doing any of the things you do to take care of yourself physically, emotionally or psychologically. Asserting yourself without attack is a way to acknowledge your need to be treated respectfully, as well as the other’s need for the same treatment, thereby reinforcing the belief that we have no separate interests. As long as we do believe we are bodies, we interact with others according to normal behavioral standards. This means not denying any of our feelings or perceived needs, which would only deprive us of opportunities to learn and to forgive. The Course cautions us very early in the text: “The body is merely part of your experience in the physical world…it is almost impossible to deny its existence in this world. Those who do so are engaging in a particularly unworthy form of denial”(T.2.IV.3:8,10,11).