ACIM Text Reading for August 1
SALVATION AND THE HOLY RELATIONSHIP
Take pity on yourself, so long enslaved. Rejoice whom God hath joined have come together and need no longer look on sin apart. No two can look on sin together, for they could never see it in the same place and time. Sin is a strictly individual perception, seen in the other yet believed by each to be within himself. And each one seems to make a different error, and one the other cannot understand. Brother, it is the same, made by the same, and forgiven for its maker in the same way. The holiness of your relationship forgives you and your brother, undoing the effects of what you both believed and saw. And with their going is the need for sin gone with them.
Who has need for sin? Only the lonely and alone, who see their brothers different from themselves. It is this difference, seen but not real, that makes the need for sin, not real but seen, seem justified. And all this would be real if sin were so. For an unholy relationship is based on differences, where each one thinks the other has what he has not. They come together, each to complete himself and rob the other. They stay until they think that there is nothing left to steal, and then move on. And so they wander through a world of strangers, unlike themselves, living with their bodies perhaps under a common roof that shelters neither; in the same room and yet a world apart.
A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself. He sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body. Therefore, he looks on nothing he would take. He denies not his own reality because it is the truth. Just under Heaven does he stand, but close enough not to return to earth. For this relationship has Heaven’s holiness. How far from home can a relationship so like to Heaven be?
Think what a holy relationship can teach! Here is belief in differences undone. Here is the faith in differences shifted to sameness. And here is sight of differences transformed to vision. Reason now can lead you and your brother to the logical conclusion of your union. It must extend, as you extended when you and he joined. It must reach out beyond itself, as you reached out beyond the body, to let you and your brother be joined. And now the sameness that you saw extends and finally removes all sense of differences, so that the sameness that lies beneath them all becomes apparent. Here is the golden circle where you recognise the Son of God. For what is born into a holy relationship can never end.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 1
It can be but my gratitude I earn.
Here is the second step we take to free your mind from the belief in outside force pitted against your own. You make attempts at kindness and forgiveness. Yet you turn them to attack again, unless you find external gratitude and lavish thanks. Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn. And so you think God’s gifts are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill.
How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do. Deny your strength, and weakness must become salvation to you. See yourself as bound, and bars become your home. Nor will you leave the prison house, or claim your strength, until guilt and salvation are not seen as one, and freedom and salvation are perceived as joined, with strength beside them, to be sought and claimed, and found and fully recognized.
The world must thank you when you offer it release from your illusions. Yet your thanks belong to you as well, for its release can only mirror yours. Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. Is it this you would undo by taking back your gifts, because they were not honored? It is you who honor them and give them fitting thanks, for it is you who have received the gifts.
It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you. It does not matter if your gifts seem lost and ineffectual. They are received where they are given. In your gratitude are they accepted universally, and thankfully acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. And would you take them back, when He has gratefully accepted them?
God blesses every gift you give to Him, and every gift is given Him, because it can be given only to yourself. And what belongs to God must be His Own. Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again.
Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while, before He snatches them away again in death. For death will have no meaning for you then.
And with the end of this belief is fear forever over. Thank your Self for this, for He is grateful only unto God, and He gives thanks for you unto Himself. To everyone who lives will Christ yet come, for everyone must live and move in Him. His Being in His Father is secure, because Their Will is One. Their gratitude to all They have created has no end, for gratitude remains a part of love.
Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. For as you were created, you contain all things within your Self. And you are still as God created you. Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. In your heart the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear, because you are Himself. All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are.
Give thanks as you receive it. Be you free of all ingratitude to anyone who makes your Self complete. And from this Self is no one left outside. Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self. All that you do is given unto Him. All that you think can only be His Thoughts, sharing with Him the holy Thoughts of God. Earn now the gratitude you have denied yourself when you forgot the function God has given you. But never think that He has ever ceased to offer thanks to you.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q #88: I keep thinking of the error, the original thought, whatever it was that happened. This is a struggle for me. What could it have been for us to want to escape in fear? How could this happen? If we were created in the likeness of God than why did this error happen? How could we do this? I would think that we couldn’t foul up. Everything about this course seems right to me. It is the only thought system that makes any sense, except I keep wondering about this error. I feel as though I failed, and that makes me harbor self hatred, today. Tomorrow I will feel differently as this happens so often, and I usually forget the whole thing in a matter of seconds.
A: The “error” to which you refer is the separation. The simple answer to your question is that the “error” did not in fact occur. In the Clarification of Terms the Course tells us: “Who asks you to define the ego and explain how it arose can be but he who thinks it real, and seeks by definition to ensure that its illusive nature is concealed behind the words that seem to make it so” (C.2.2:5). The question, therefore, is actually a statement that implies a belief in the separation. The question cannot truly be answered: “The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognize as questions the mere form of a question to which an answer is impossible. The ego may ask, ‘How did the impossible occur?’, ‘To what did the impossible happen?’, and may ask this in many forms. Yet there is no answer; only an experience. Seek only this, and do not let theology delay you” (C.in.4). Separation from God is impossible: “You cannot walk the world apart from God, because you could not be without Him. He is what your life is. Where you are He is. There is one life. That life you share with Him. Nothing can be apart from Him and live” (W.pI.156.2:4,5,6,7,8,9). The Course’s explanation of how we seem to be in bodies, walking around in a world of physical form, is that we are asleep “dreaming of exile” (T.10.I.2:1). This is the only “explanation” for a situation that does not really exist, a separation that did not and cannot occur.
However, we do seem to be very real in our experience in this dream, just as in our so called sleeping dreams all the characters seem to be real, until we wake up and realize we were only dreaming. The reason we seem to be so real in this dream is that we want the dream to be real. We are actively choosing to identify with the character we call ourselves in the dream, and by doing this we are choosing the seeming separation. Recognizing this choice is very important, and is basic to the Course’s teaching, that we have a mind with the power to choose. The only possible explanation for making the choice for separation is our attraction to the initial “rush” that goes with the feeling of being independent individuals. But then we become instantly aware of a profound loneliness, which impels us to seek for completion to fill the void caused by the separation. In our insanity we seek outside ourselves: “No one who comes here but must still have hope, some lingering illusion, or some dream that there is something outside of himself that will bring happiness and peace to him” (T.29.VII.2:1).
This does not make us failures. It does make us badly mistaken. The guilt we feel for making this mistake, is overwhelming, and so we call the mistake a “sin,” make it practically unforgivable, and hate ourselves for it. We then project this hatred out on to everyone and everything in the world. To compound our error, we make up a false god, so we can blame him for making such a painful world, and accuse him of trying to punish us for this terrible “sin.” We go on and on in this endless cycle; choosing separation, feeling guilty, projecting, blaming, hiding, denying. This keeps the world in operation, makes the error real in our experience, and seems to be happening without any responsibility on our part. It is only when as we become acutely aware of the pain it causes us, and learn, through the Course’s teaching, to make the undeniable association between the pain and its source, which is the separation, will we begin to “choose differently.” But first we must accept responsibility for the choice. In our insanity, we repeatedly choose the separation, hoping that we can make it work without the pain. The Course is teaching us how wrong we are. Learning to choose differently is our only hope, and the way out of the dream of separation. As we are told in the Text: “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, ‘My brother, choose again’” (T.31.VIII.3:1,2).