ACIM Text Reading for July 28
Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception
V. The Function of Reason
Perception selects, and makes the world you see. It literally picks it out as the mind directs. The laws of size and shape and brightness would hold, perhaps, if other things were equal. They are not equal. For what you look for you are far more likely to discover than what you would prefer to overlook, The still, small Voice for God is not drowned out by all the ego’s raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear It. Perception is a choice and not a fact. But on this choice depends far more than you may realise as yet. For on the voice you choose to hear, and on the sights you choose to see, depends entirely your whole belief in what you are. Perception is a witness but to this, and never to reality. Yet it can show you the conditions in which awareness of reality is possible, or those where it could never be.
Reality needs no co-operation from you to be itself. But your awareness of it needs your help, because it is your choice. Listen to what the ego says, and see what it directs you see, and it is sure that you will see yourself as tiny, vulnerable and afraid. You will experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality. You will believe that you are helpless prey to forces far beyond your own control, and far more powerful than you. And you will think the world you made directs your destiny. For this will be your faith. But never believe because it is your faith it makes reality.
There is another vision and another Voice in Which your freedom lies, awaiting but your choice. And if you place your faith in Them, you will perceive another Self in you. This other Self sees miracles as natural. They are as simple and as natural to It as breathing to the body. They are the obvious response to calls for help, the only one It makes. Miracles seem unnatural to the ego because it does not understand how separate minds can influence each other. Nor could they do so. But minds cannot be separate. This other Self is perfectly aware of this. And thus It recognises that miracles do not affect another’s mind, only Its Own. They always change your mind. There is no other.
You do not realise the whole extent to which the idea of separation has interfered with reason. Reason lies in the other Self you have cut off from your awareness. And nothing you have allowed to stay in your awareness is capable of reason. How can the segment of the mind devoid of reason understand what reason is, or grasp the information it would give? All sorts of questions may arise in it, but if the basic question stems from reason, it will not ask it. Like all that stems from reason, the basic question is obvious, simple and remains unasked. But think not reason could not answer it.
God’s plan for your salvation could not have been established without your will and your consent. It must have been accepted by the Son of God, for what God wills for him he must receive. For God wills not apart from him, nor does the Will of God wait upon time to be accomplished. Therefore, what joined the Will of God must be in you now, being eternal. You must have set aside a place in which the Holy Spirit can abide, and where He is. He must have been there since the need for Him arose, and was fulfilled in the same instant. Such would your reason tell you, if you listened. Yet such is clearly not the ego’s reasoning. Your reason’s alien nature to the ego is proof you will not find the answer there. Yet if it must be so, it must exist. And if it exists for you, and has your freedom as the purpose given it, you must be free to find it.
God’s plan is simple; never circular and never self-defeating. He has no Thoughts except the Self-extending, and in this your will must be included. Thus, there must be a part of you that knows His Will and shares it. It is not meaningful to ask if what must be is so. But it is meaningful to ask why you are unaware of what is so, for this must have an answer if the plan of God for your salvation is complete. And it must be complete, because its Source knows not of incompletion.
Where would the answer be but in the Source? And where are you but there, where this same answer is? Your Identity, as much a true effect of this same Source as is the answer, must therefore be together and the same. O yes, you know this, and more than this alone. Yet any part of knowledge threatens dissociation as much as all of it. And all of it will come with any part. Here is the part you can accept. What reason points to you can see, because the witnesses on its behalf are clear. Only the totally insane can disregard them, and you have gone past this. Reason is a means that serves the Holy Spirit’s purpose in its own right. It is not reinterpreted and redirected from the goal of sin, as are the others. For reason is beyond the ego’s range of means.
Faith and perception and belief can be misplaced, and serve the great deceiver’s needs as well as truth. But reason has no place at all in madness, nor can it be adjusted to fit its end. Faith and belief are strong in madness, guiding perception toward what the mind has valued. But reason enters not at all in this. For the perception would fall away at once, if reason were applied. There is no reason in insanity, for it depends entirely on reason’s absence. The ego never uses it, because it does not realise that it exists. The partially insane have access to it, and only they have need of it. Knowledge does not depend on it, and madness keeps it out.
The part of mind where reason lies was dedicated, by your will in union with your Father’s, to the undoing of insanity. Here was the Holy Spirit’s purpose accepted and accomplished, both at once. Reason is alien to insanity, and those who use it have gained a means which cannot be applied to sin. Knowledge is far beyond attainment of any kind. But reason can serve to open doors you closed against it.
You have come very close to this. Faith and belief have shifted, and you have asked the question the ego will never ask. Does not your reason tell you now the question must have come from something that you do not know, but must belong to you? Faith and belief, upheld by reason, cannot fail to lead to changed perception. And in this change is room made way for vision. Vision extends beyond itself, as does the purpose that it serves, and all the means for its accomplishment.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 28
All things are lessons God would have me learn.
God does not know of learning. Yet His Will extends to what He does not understand, in that He wills the happiness His Son inherited of Him be undisturbed; eternal and forever gaining scope, eternally expanding in the joy of full creation, and eternally open and wholly limitless in Him. That is His Will. And thus His Will provides the means to guarantee that it is done.
God sees no contradictions. Yet His Son believes he sees them. Thus he has a need for One Who can correct his erring sight, and give him vision that will lead him back to where perception ceases. God does not perceive at all. Yet it is He Who gives the means by which perception is made true and beautiful enough to let the light of Heaven shine upon it. It is He Who answers what His Son would contradict, and keeps his sinlessness forever safe.
These are the lessons God would have you learn. His Will reflects them all, and they reflect His loving kindness to the Son He loves. Each lesson has a central thought, the same in all of them. The form alone is changed, with different circumstances and events; with different characters and different themes, apparent but not real. They are the same in fundamental content. It is this:
Forgive, and you will see this differently.
Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form. It is this sameness which makes learning sure, because the lesson is so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end. No one can hide forever from a truth so very obvious that it appears in countless forms, and yet is recognized as easily in all of them, if one but wants to see the simple lesson there.
Forgive, and you will see this differently.
These are the words the Holy Spirit speaks in all your tribulations, all your pain, all suffering regardless of its form. These are the words with which temptation ends, and guilt, abandoned, is revered no more. These are the words which end the dream of sin, and rid the mind of fear. These are the words by which salvation comes to all the world.
Shall we not learn to say these words when we are tempted to believe that pain is real, and death becomes our choice instead of life? Shall we not learn to say these words when we have understood their power to release all minds from bondage? These are words which give you power over all events that seem to have been given power over you. You see them rightly when you hold these words in full awareness, and do not forget these words apply to everything you see or any brother looks upon amiss.
How can you tell when you are seeing wrong, or someone else is failing to perceive the lesson he should learn? Does pain seem real in the perception? If it does, be sure the lesson is not learned. And there remains an unforgiveness hiding in the mind that sees the pain through eyes the mind directs.
God would not have you suffer thus. He would help you forgive yourself. His Son does not remember who he is. And God would have him not forget His Love, and all the gifts His Love brings with it. Would you now renounce your own salvation? Would you fail to learn the simple lessons Heaven’s Teacher sets before you, that all pain may disappear and God may be remembered by His Son?
All things are lessons God would have you learn. He would not leave an unforgiving thought without correction, nor one thorn or nail to hurt His holy Son in any way. He would ensure his holy rest remain untroubled and serene, without a care, in an eternal home which cares for him. And He would have all tears be wiped away, with none remaining yet unshed, and none but waiting their appointed time to fall. For God has willed that laughter should replace each one, and that His Son be free again.
We will attempt today to overcome a thousand seeming obstacles to peace in just one day. Let mercy come to you more quickly. Do not try to hold it off another day, another minute or another instant. Time was made for this. Use it today for what its purpose is. Morning and night, devote what time you can to serve its proper aim, and do not let the time be less than meets your deepest need.
Give all you can, and give a little more. For now we would arise in haste and go unto our Father’s house. We have been gone too long, and we would linger here no more. And as we practice, let us think about all things we saved to settle by ourselves, and kept apart from healing. Let us give them all to Him Who knows the way to look upon them so that they will disappear. Truth is His message; truth His teaching is. His are the lessons God would have us learn.
Each hour, spend a little time today, and in the days to come, in practicing the lesson in forgiveness in the form established for the day. And try to give it application to the happenings the hour brought, so that the next one is free of the one before. The chains of time are easily unloosened in this way. Let no one hour cast its shadow on the one that follows, and when that one goes, let everything that happened in its course go with it. Thus will you remain unbound, in peace eternal in the world of time.
This is the lesson God would have you learn: There is a way to look on everything that lets it be to you another step to Him, and to salvation of the world. To all that speaks of terror, answer thus:
I will forgive, and this will disappear.
To every apprehension, every care and every form of suffering, repeat these selfsame words. And then you hold the key that opens Heaven’s gate, and brings the Love of God the Father down to earth at last, to raise it up to Heaven. God will take this final step Himself. Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #818: The preliminary diagnosis is that there is a malignant tumor in my esophagus where the esophagus enters the stomach. The result is a severe constriction making swallowing very difficult. I have seen questions asked about praying and relieving or eliminating malignancies. My question is, what prayers should I use to relieve and remove the growth? My wife will help me pray.
A: First of all, you want to continue to seek out and follow whatever medical advice and treatment is available to help you with your condition. It is important to be clear that it is never an either-or proposition between medical interventions and A Course in Miracles . And then you should say whatever prayers bring you comfort and reassure you that it is not God’s Will that you suffer or experience pain or fear, using words that are personally meaningful to you and your wife. The specific words are not so important as the decision you make to allow your mind to be joined with your wife’s in a shared purpose of healing.
The Course’s focus is on healing the thoughts of unforgiveness we are holding against ourselves in our minds and not on changing the symptoms in our bodies, which it considers to be the effects of those thoughts. Still, there is nothing wrong with asking for help with physical conditions and Jesus recognizes that for most of us, still identified with our bodies, that will continue to be our focus of concern ( S.1.II.2 ). Perhaps you would be willing to consider your symptoms as the external expression of a thought of illness — the ego, to be specific — in your mind. Then you can bring the thoughts of fear and pain in your mind to Jesus or the Holy Spirit or God, or whatever loving presence you find most comforting. The value in focusing in your prayers on any thoughts of pain or guilt or fear in your mind, as well as your bodily concerns, is that then you are including, from the Course’s perspective, the underlying cause of the suffering and pain, as well as the effects — the physical symptoms.
There are many passages in the Course that you may find of help and comfort as you deal with the ramifications of your diagnosis. One in particular, which recognizes the process that we all must go through as we commit ourselves to putting the Course’s principles of forgiveness into practice, is workbook lesson 284, “I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt.”
“Loss is not loss when properly perceived. Pain is impossible. There is no grief with any cause at all. And suffering of any kind is nothing but a dream. This is the truth, at first to be but said and then repeated many times; and next to be accepted as but partly true, with many reservations. Then to be considered seriously more and more, and finally accepted as the truth. I can elect to change all thoughts that hurt. And I would go beyond these words today, and past all reservations, and arrive at full acceptance of the truth in them. (W.p.II.284.1, italics added ) .
These words are not meant to be used to deny or suppress whatever you may be experiencing in your body, but rather to offer the hope that, as a result of acknowledging the pain and the fear and their deeper source in the mind, the real potential for healing the underlying thoughts becomes possible.