ACIM Text Reading for July 25
Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception
II. The Responsibility for Sight
We have repeated how little is asked of you to learn this course. It is the same small willingness you need to have your whole relationship transformed to joy; the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit for which He gives you everything; the very little on which salvation rests; the tiny change of mind by which the crucifixion is changed to resurrection. And being true, it is so simple that it cannot fail to be completely understood. Rejected yes, but not ambiguous. And if you choose against it now it will not be because it is obscure, but rather that this little cost seemed, in your judgement, to be too much to pay for peace.
This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:
Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.
It is impossible the Son of God be merely driven by events outside of him. It is impossible that happenings that come to him were not his choice. His power of decision is the determiner of every situation in which he seems to find himself by chance or accident. No accident nor chance is possible within the universe as God created it, outside of which is nothing. Suffer, and you decided sin was your goal. Be happy, and you gave the power of decision to Him Who must decide for God for you. This is the little gift you offer to the Holy Spirit, and even this He gives to you to give yourself. For by this gift is given you the power to release your saviour, that he may give salvation unto you.
Begrudge not then this little offering. Withhold it, and you keep the world as now you see it. Give it away, and everything you see goes with it. Never was so much given for so little. In the holy instant is this exchange effected and maintained. Here is the world you do not want brought to the one you do. And here the one you do is given you because you want it. Yet for this, the power of your wanting must first be recognised. You must accept its strength, and not its weakness. You must perceive that what is strong enough to make a world can let it go, and can accept correction if it is willing to see that it was wrong.
The world you see is but the idle witness that you were right. This witness is insane. You trained it in its testimony, and as it gave it back to you, you listened and convinced yourself that what it saw was true. You did this to yourself. See only this, and you will also see how circular the reasoning on which your ‘seeing’ rests. This was not given you. This was your gift to you and to your brother. Be willing, then, to have it taken from him and be replaced with truth. And as you look upon the change in him, it will be given you to see it in yourself.
Perhaps you do not see the need for you to give this little offering. Look closer, then, at what it is. And, very simply, see in it the whole exchange of separation for salvation. All that the ego is, is an idea that it is possible that things could happen to the Son of God without his will; and thus without the Will of his Creator, Whose Will cannot be separate from his own. This is the Son of God’s replacement for his will, a mad revolt against what must forever be. This is the statement that he has the power to make God powerless and so to take it for himself, and leave himself without what God has willed for him. This is the mad idea you have enshrined upon your altars, and which you worship. And anything that threatens this seems to attack your faith, for here is it invested. Think not that you are faithless, for your belief and trust in this is strong indeed.
The Holy Spirit can give you faith in holiness and vision to see it easily enough. But you have not left open and unoccupied the altar where the gifts belong. Where they should be, you have set up your idols to something else. This other ‘will’, which seems to tell you what must happen, you give reality. And what would show you otherwise, must therefore seem unreal. All that is asked of you is to make room for truth. You are not asked to make or do what lies beyond your understanding. All you are asked to do is let it in; only to stop your interference with what will happen of itself; simply to recognise again the presence of what you thought you gave away.
Be willing, for an instant, to leave your altars free of what you placed upon them, and what is really there you cannot fail to see. The holy instant is not an instant of creation, but of recognition. For recognition comes of vision and suspended judgement. Then only it is possible to look within and see what must be there, plainly in sight, and wholly independent of inference and judgement. Undoing is not your task, but it is up to you to welcome it or not. Faith and desire go hand in hand, for everyone believes in what he wants.
We have already said that wishful thinking is how the ego deals with what it wants, to make it so. There is no better demonstration of the power of wanting, and therefore of faith, to make its goals seem real and possible. Faith in the unreal leads to adjustments of reality to make it fit the goal of madness. The goal of sin induces the perception of a fearful world to justify its purpose. What you desire, you will see. And if its reality is false, you will uphold it by not realising all the adjustments you have introduced to make it so.
When vision is denied, confusion of cause and effect becomes inevitable. The purpose now becomes to keep obscure the cause of the effect, and make effect appear to be a cause. This seeming independence of effect enables it to be regarded as standing by itself, and capable of serving as a cause of the events and feelings its maker thinks it causes. Earlier, we spoke of your desire to create your own Creator, and be father and not son to Him. This is the same desire. The Son is the effect, whose Cause he would deny. And so he seems to be the cause, producing real effects. Nothing can have effects without a cause, and to confuse the two is merely to fail to understand them both.
It is as needful that you recognise you made the world you see, as that you recognise that you did not create yourself. They are the same mistake. Nothing created not by your Creator has any influence over you. And if you think what you have made can tell you what you see and feel, and place your faith in its ability to do so, you are denying your Creator and believing that you made yourself. For if you think the world you made has power to make you what it wills, you are confusing Son and Father; effect and Source.
The Son’s creations are like his Father’s. Yet in creating them the Son does not delude himself that he is independent of his Source. His union with It is the Source of his creating. Apart from this he has no power to create, and what he makes is meaningless. It changes nothing in creation, depends entirely upon the madness of its maker, and cannot serve to justify the madness. Your brother thinks he made the world with you. Thus he denies creation. With you, he thinks the world he made, made him. Thus he denies he made it.
Yet the truth is you and your brother were both created by a loving Father, Who created you together and as one. See what ‘proves’ otherwise, and you deny your whole reality. But grant that everything that seems to stand between you and your brother, keeping you from each other and separate from your Father, you made in secret, and the instant of release has come to you. All its effects are gone, because its source has been uncovered. It is its seeming independence of its source that keeps you prisoner. This is the same mistake as thinking you are independent of the Source by Which you were created, and have never left.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 25
I choose the joy of God instead of pain.
Pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. It is not a fact at all. There is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright. For pain proclaims God cruel. How could it be real in any form? It witnesses to God the Father’s hatred of His Son, the sinfulness He sees in him, and His insane desire for revenge and death.
Can such projections be attested to? Can they be anything but wholly false? Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is. It is a dream of fierce retaliation for a crime that could not be committed; for attack on what is wholly unassailable. It is a nightmare of abandonment by an Eternal Love, which could not leave the Son whom It created out of love.
Pain is a sign illusions reign in place of truth. It demonstrates God is denied, confused with fear, perceived as mad, and seen as traitor to Himself. If God is real, there is no pain. If pain is real, there is no God. For vengeance is not part of love. And fear, denying love and using pain to prove that God is dead, has shown that death is victor over life. The body is the Son of God, corruptible in death, as mortal as the Father he has slain.
Peace to such foolishness! The time has come to laugh at such insane ideas. There is no need to think of them as savage crimes, or secret sins with weighty consequence. Who but a madman could conceive of them as cause of anything? Their witness, pain, is mad as they, and no more to be feared than the insane illusions which it shields, and tries to demonstrate must still be true.
It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. No one but yourself affects you. There is nothing in the world that has the power to make you ill or sad, or weak or frail. But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are. As you perceive the harmlessness in them, they will accept your holy will as theirs. And what was seen as fearful now becomes a source of innocence and holiness.
My holy brother, think of this awhile: The world you see does nothing. It has no effects at all. It merely represents your thoughts. And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want. Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. And would you deny a little corner of your mind its own inheritance, and keep it as a hospital for pain; a sickly place where living things must come at last to die?
The world may seem to cause you pain. And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. As an effect, it cannot make effects. As an illusion, it is what you wish. Your idle wishes represent its pains. Your strange desires bring it evil dreams. Your thoughts of death envelop it in fear, while in your kind forgiveness does it live.
Pain is the thought of evil taking form, and working havoc in your holy mind. Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free. In pain is God denied the Son He loves. In pain does fear appear to triumph over love, and time replace eternity and Heaven. And the world becomes a cruel and a bitter place, where sorrow rules and little joys give way before the onslaught of the savage pain that waits to end all joy in misery.
Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness.
Here will you understand there is no pain. Here does the joy of God belong to you. This is the day when it is given you to realize the lesson that contains all of salvation’s power. It is this: Pain is illusion; joy, reality. Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening. Pain is deception; joy alone is truth.
And so again we make the only choice that ever can be made; we choose between illusions and the truth, or pain and joy, or hell and Heaven. Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world.
ACIM Q & A for Today
A: Creation cannot be understood from our reference point as human beings, because it has nothing to do with the world of separation and individuals, and therefore has no counterpart in that world. It has meaning only within the Godhead, which by its very nature extends itself eternally in creations. Our human conceptual framework was intentionally established as a substitute for the truth of the Kingdom of God and to keep reality forever concealed from our awareness. Therefore our unhealed minds cannot comprehend what we have deliberately sealed off. Jesus speaks to this at the beginning of Lesson 192: “It is your Father’s holy Will that you complete Himself, and that your Self shall be His sacred Son, forever pure as He, of love created and in love preserved, extending love, creating in its name, forever one with God and with your Self. Yet what can such a function mean within a world of envy, hatred and attack? Therefore, you have a function in the world in its own terms. For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp?…Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here. Forgiveness is the closest it can come to earth” (W.pI.192.1;2:1,2;3:1,2,3).
Jesus describes creation, but only briefly, as he knows that it is virtually meaningless to us in our present condition. A similar glimpse of the nature of creation is presented earlier in the workbook: “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, not in simple terms of adding more, for that implies that it was less before. It adds by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything away, securing it forever for itself” (W.pI.105.4:2,3,4,5). These descriptions points us to a reality that has no counterpart in this world. Creation is extension, yet it is completely non-spatial, non-linear, and non-quantitative.
The dilemma you expressed, of course, has been the subject of many a philosophical/theological treatise over the centuries. Interestingly, some medieval thinkers in the Franciscan tradition spoke of the “self-diffusiveness of love.” Love is not love unless it is extending itself. And in the Thomistic tradition (St. Thomas Aquinas), the reasoning put forth is that unless there is at least one self-sufficient being, nothing would exist. That self-sufficient being would have to be infinite (without limitation), and therefore can extend its being in any way. We can get only so far with this type of speculation, though, because our limited perspective would always cause us to anthropomorphize whatever we conceive of.
It might be of help to read through the introduction to the clarification of terms, which addresses the terminology in A Course in Miracles and its exclusive concern.
Q #322: One section in Chapter 21 of the text of A Course in Miracles which has particular meaning to me is “The Responsibility for Sight.” It illustrates the discomfort that comes from realizing that decisions which appear to be made by me are actually being made on another level, a level I am completely unaware of as the decision-maker. “I” and the decisions “I” appear to make are merely the effects in form of decisions for guilt or innocence made on another level. The statement, “It is as needful that you recognize you made the world you see, as that you recognize that you did not create yourself. They are the same mistake,” touches on this issue, and I would appreciate any comments or elaborations on its meaning.
A: In particular, these two sentences are telling us that we need to accept that we, as the split mind, are cause and not effect within the ego thought system, so that we can let go of the world as a defense against our true Identity and recognize that, in reality, within Heaven, we are Effect and not Cause. We see here, as clearly as anywhere, the insanity of the ego thought system. The separation has seemed to come about because we have resented being the created and not the Creator — Effect and not Cause, Son and not Father.
And so we seek to make a new, separate identity for ourselves on God’s slain corpse — clearly here we are into a delusional thought system that believes separation from our Source is possible and murder and death are real. Delusions are unstable (T.19.4.A.8:4) and need constant protection in order to be maintained, and so, in cahoots with the ego, we concoct a wild tale of vengeance and defense, and make a world to hide in, as well as a further false identity — a physical self with its own distinct personality — to hide behind. We forget completely that we are the mind that has dreamed this insane hallucination and instead believe that we are at its mercy — effect rather than cause. Hence, the insanity of it all, because we had set out to be our own cause and have convinced ourselves that we have pulled it off. But then we relinquish awareness of that “power” and accept instead a view of ourselves as effects of the world we made, in order to protect our individuality and to cover over the real source of the pain of separation — our own choice to see ourselves as apart from Love. We see the world as the cause of all of our pain so that we never get to the source in our own mind — of both the world and the pain — where we could make a different choice about ourselves and the guilt we believe is so real.
As the statement you cite points out, denying that we are the cause and not the effect of the world is nothing more than a cover over our desire to make a world of our own outside of Heaven and deny our true Identity as God’s creation, Christ — each is just a different aspect of the same mistake. But, as your question emphasizes, the shift in perspective back to the mind is not easily made, for our identities are well-entrenched in the world and we have sought to see ourselves as mindless effects or victims of that world. And so Jesus leads us out of our self-imposed prison by inviting us to take small, gentle steps along the path of forgiveness, where we learn to see our interests and our goals as shared with all our brothers rather than as separate. Those little steps will gradually undo the fear and the guilt in our minds so that we will be able first to recognize the “power” of our mind to dream of a world that seems powerful and real while we remain in the dream, and then to recognize that, since it is only a dream and we are the dreamer, we have been the cause of nothing real. And so we have remained forever the loving Effects of a Father Who has never changed His Mind about His Love for us.
For more on the decision-making power of the mind, you may wish to look at Question #226.