ACIM Text Reading for August 2
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
I. The Message of the Holy Relationship
Let reason take another step. If you attack whom God would heal and hate the one He loves, then you and your Creator have a different will. Yet if you are His Will, what you must then believe is that you are not yourself. You can indeed believe this, and you do. And you have faith in this and see much evidence on its behalf. And where, you wonder, does your strange uneasiness, your sense of being disconnected, and your haunting fear of lack of meaning in yourself arise? It is as though you wandered in without a plan of any kind except to wander off, for only that seems certain.
Yet we have heard a very similar description earlier, but it was not of you. But still this strange idea which it does accurately describe, you think is you. Reason would tell you that the world you see through eyes that are not yours must make no sense to you. To whom would seeing such as this send back its messages? Surely not you, whose sight is wholly independent of the eyes that look upon the world. If this is not your vision, what can it show to you? The brain cannot interpret what your vision sees. This you would understand. The brain interprets to the body, of which it is a part. But what it says you cannot understand. Yet you have listened to it. And long and hard you tried to understand its messages.
You have not realised it is impossible to understand what fails entirely to reach you. You have received no messages at all you understand. For you have listened to what can never communicate at all. Think, then, what happens. Denying what you are, and firm in faith that you are something else, this ‘something else’ that you have made to be yourself becomes your sight. Yet it must be the ‘something else’ that sees, and as not you, explains its sight to you. Your vision would, of course, render this quite unnecessary. Yet if your eyes are closed and you have called upon this thing to lead you, asking it to explain to you the world it sees, you have no reason not to listen, nor to suspect that what it tells you is not true. Reason would tell you it cannot be true because you do not understand it. God has no secrets. He does not lead you through a world of misery, waiting to tell you, at the journey’s end, why He did this to you.
What could be secret from God’s Will? Yet you believe that you have secrets. What could your secrets be except another ‘will’ that is your own, apart from His? Reason would tell you that this is no secret that need be hidden as a sin. But a mistake indeed! Let not your fear of sin protect it from correction, for the attraction of guilt is only fear. Here is the one emotion that you made, whatever it may seem to be. This is the emotion of secrecy, of private thoughts and of the body. This is the one emotion that opposes love, and always leads to sight of differences and loss of sameness. Here is the one emotion that keeps you blind, dependent on the self you think you made to lead you through the world it made for you.
Your sight was given you, along with everything that you can understand. You will perceive no difficulty in understanding what this vision tells you, for everyone sees only what he thinks he is. And what, your sight would show you, you will understand because it is the truth. Only your vision can convey to you what you can see. It reaches you directly, without a need to be interpreted to you. What needs interpretation must be alien. Nor will it ever be made understandable by an interpreter you cannot understand.
Of all the messages you have received and failed to understand, this course alone is open to your understanding and can be understood. This is your language. You do not understand it yet only because your whole communication is like a baby’s. The sounds a baby makes and what he hears are highly unreliable, meaning different things to him at different times. Neither the sounds he hears nor sights he sees are stable yet. But what he hears and does not understand will be his native tongue, through which he will communicate with those around him, and they with him. And the strange, shifting ones he sees about him will become to him his comforters, and he will recognise his home and see them there with him.
So in each holy relationship is the ability to communicate instead of separate reborn. Yet a holy relationship, so recently reborn itself from an unholy relationship, and yet more ancient than the old illusion it has replaced, is like a baby now in its rebirth. Still in this infant is your vision returned to you, and he will speak the language you can understand. He is not nurtured by the ‘something else’ you thought was you. He was not given there, nor was received by anything except yourself. For no two brothers can unite except through Christ, Whose vision sees them one.
Think what is given you, my holy brother. This child will teach you what you do not understand, and make it plain. For his will be no alien tongue. He will need no interpreter to you, for it was you who taught him what he knows because you knew it. He could not come to anyone but you, never to ‘something else’. Where Christ has entered no one is alone, for never could He find a home in separate ones. Yet must He be reborn into His ancient home, so seeming new and yet as old as He, a tiny newcomer, dependent on the holiness of your relationship to let Him live.
Be certain God did not entrust His Son to the unworthy. Nothing but what is part of Him is worthy of being joined. Nor is it possible that anything not part of Him can join. Communication must have been restored to those who join, for this they could not do through bodies. What, then, has joined them? Reason will tell you that they must have seen each other through a vision not of the body, and communicated in a language the body does not speak. Nor could it be a fearful sight or sound that drew them gently into one. Rather, in each the other saw a perfect shelter where his Self could be reborn in safety and in peace. Such did his reason tell him; such he believed because it was the truth.
Here is the first direct perception that you can make. You make it through awareness older than perception, and yet reborn in just an instant. For what is time to what was always so? Think what that instant brought; the recognition that the ‘something else’ you thought was you is an illusion. And truth came instantly, to show you where your Self must be. It is denial of illusions that calls on truth, for to deny illusions is to recognise that fear is meaningless. Into the holy home where fear is powerless love enters thankfully, grateful that it is one with you who joined to let it enter.
Christ comes to what is like Himself; the same, not different. For he is always drawn unto Himself. What is as like Him as a holy relationship? And what draws you and your brother together draws Him to you. Here are His sweetness and His gentle innocence protected from attack. And here can He return in confidence, for faith in another is always faith in Him. You are indeed correct in looking on your brother as His chosen home, for here you will with Him and with His Father. This is your Father’s Will for you, and yours with His. And who is drawn to Christ is drawn to God as surely as both are drawn to every holy relationship, the home prepared for them as earth is turned to Heaven.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 2
Only my condemnation injures me.
Injury is impossible. And yet illusion makes illusion. If you can condemn, you can be injured. For you have believed that you can injure, and the right you have established for yourself can be now used against you, till you lay it down as valueless, unwanted and unreal. Then does illusion cease to have effects, and those it seemed to have will be undone. Then are you free, for freedom is your gift, and you can now receive the gift you gave.
Condemn and you are made a prisoner. Forgive and you are freed. Such is the law that rules perception. It is not a law that knowledge understands, for freedom is a part of knowledge. To condemn is thus impossible in truth. What seems to be its influence and its effects have not occurred at all. Yet must we deal with them a while as if they had. Illusion makes illusion. Except one. Forgiveness is illusion that is answer to the rest.
Forgiveness sweeps all other dreams away, and though it is itself a dream, it breeds no others. All illusions save this one must multiply a thousandfold. But this is where illusions end. Forgiveness is the end of dreams, because it is a dream of waking. It is not itself the truth. Yet does it point to where the truth must be, and gives direction with the certainty of God Himself. It is a dream in which the Son of God awakens to his Self and to his Father, knowing They are One.
Forgiveness is the only road that leads out of disaster, past all suffering, and finally away from death. How could there be another way, when this one is the plan of God Himself? And why would you oppose it, quarrel with it, seek to find a thousand ways in which it must be wrong; a thousand other possibilities?
Is it not wiser to be glad you hold the answer to your problems in your hand? Is it not more intelligent to thank the One Who gives salvation, and accept His gift with gratitude? And is it not a kindness to yourself to hear His Voice and learn the simple lessons He would teach, instead of trying to dismiss His words, and substitute your own in place of His?
His words will work. His words will save. His words contain all hope, all blessing and all joy that ever can be found upon this earth. His words are born in God, and come to you with Heaven’s love upon them. Those who hear His words have heard the song of Heaven. For these are the words in which all merge as one at last. And as this one will fade away, the Word of God will come to take its place, for it will be remembered then and loved.
This world has many seeming separate haunts where mercy has no meaning, and attack appears as justified. Yet all are one; a place where death is offered to God’s Son and to his Father. You may think They have accepted. But if you will look again upon the place where you beheld Their blood, you will perceive a miracle instead. How foolish to believe that They could die! How foolish to believe you can attack! How mad to think that you could be condemned, and that the holy Son of God can die!
The stillness of your Self remains unmoved, untouched by thoughts like these, and unaware of any condemnation which could need forgiveness. Dreams of any kind are strange and alien to the truth. And what but truth could have a Thought which builds a bridge to it that brings illusions to the other side?
Today we practice letting freedom come to make its home with you. The truth bestows these words upon your mind, that you may find the key to light and let the darkness end:
Only my condemnation injures me.
Only my own forgiveness sets me free.
Do not forget today that there can be no form of suffering that fails to hide an unforgiving thought. Nor can there be a form of pain forgiveness cannot heal.
Accept the one illusion which proclaims there is no condemnation in God’s Son, and Heaven is remembered instantly; the world forgotten, all its weird beliefs forgotten with it, as the face of Christ appears unveiled at last in this one dream. This is the gift the Holy Spirit holds for you from God your Father. Let today be celebrated both on earth and in your holy home as well. Be kind to Both, as you forgive the trespasses you thought Them guilty of, and see your innocence shining upon you from the face of Christ.
Now is there silence all around the world. Now is there stillness where before there was a frantic rush of thoughts that made no sense. Now is there tranquil light across the face of earth, made quiet in a dreamless sleep. And now the Word of God alone remains upon it. Only that can be perceived an instant longer. Then are symbols done, and everything you ever thought you made completely vanished from the mind that God forever knows to be His only Son.
There is no condemnation in him. He is perfect in his holiness. He needs no thoughts of mercy. Who could give him gifts when everything is his? And who could dream of offering forgiveness to the Son of Sinlessness Itself, so like to Him Whose Son he is, that to behold the Son is to perceive no more, and only know the Father? In this vision of the Son, so brief that not an instant stands between this single sight and timelessness itself, you see the vision of yourself, and then you disappear forever into God.
Today we come still nearer to the end of everything that yet would stand between this vision and our sight. And we are glad that we have come this far, and recognize that He Who brought us here will not forsake us now. For He would give to us the gift that God has given us through Him today. Now is the time for your deliverance. The time has come. The time has come today.
ACIM Q & A for Today
11) How did the ego originate, and what is to prevent the separation from happening again?
This is unquestionably the most frequently asked question of all, and it seems as if every student of A Course in Miracles has wondered about this at one time or another. We have been impressed over the years by the ingenuity with which Course students have framed this question in many different forms; yet the basic question itself can be restated in this way: “If God is perfect and unified, and has a perfect and unified Son, how could an imperfect thought of separation and division have possibly arisen within such a Mind?”‘
Jesus’ answer to this question in the Course comes within a non-dualistic framework, and will hardly satisfy an intellectually inquisitive mind that demands an answer on its own terms. However, within the dualistic framework that we experience as our reality, the question is really a statement masquerading in question form, “asked” by an ego mind in order to establish its own reality and unique identity. Therefore, the questioner is really saying: “I believe I am here, and now I want you to explain to me how I got here.”
Consciousness, being the first split introduced into the mind of the dreaming Son, is an ego state where a perceiver and a perceived seem to exist as separate “realities.” Consciousness results in a concept of a limited false self that is separate and uncertain, seeming to experience an opposite to the true Self as God created It. And it is this false self that believes it is “here” and “asks” the question about its own seeming origin, thereby seeking to verify it. In truth, however, imperfection cannot emanate from perfection, and an imperfect thought of separation and division cannot arise from the perfect Mind of God’s perfect Son, in which opposites cannot exist. Only in a world of dreams can these absurdities, and the beliefs that foster such uncertainty lead to musings like this.
The question therefore can only be asked by those who believe and experience that they are indeed separate and distinct, and it can only be answered by someone who agrees with this premise that the impossible has in fact happened, and therefore requires and even demands an explanation. Thus, only a dreaming ego would ask such a question, since a Son of God, certain of his Identity in Heaven and awake in God, could not even conceive of the separation which is the basis for asking the question in the first place. And obviously, if in reality the separation never happened once, how could it possibly happen a second time? Therefore, once again, it is a trick question, much like the comedian’s question, “When did you stop beating your wife?” which, if answered, can only incriminate the person responding.
Jesus directly addresses this question two times: The first is found in the text, where he gives a very practical answer to what was originally a question posed by William Thetford, Helen’s colleague and friend, as she was taking down the dictation:
It is reasonable to ask how the mind could ever have made the ego. In fact, it is the best question you could ask, There is, however, no point in giving an answer in terms of the past because the past does not matter, and history would not exist if the same errors were not being repeated in the present (T-4.II.1:1-3).
In other words, why worry about how and why the separation happened in the distant past, when you are still making the same choice to be separate in the present?
The next answer comes in two parts, and is found in the clarification of terms, the appendix to the manual for teachers. Here, Jesus’ answer is much more to the point as it addresses the pseudo-nature of the question itself, and his answer is reflected in our discussion above:
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).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.
There is no definition for a lie that serves to make it true (C-2.2:5-3: 1).