ACIM Text Reading for September 20
Chapter 28 ~ The Undoing of Fear
II. Reversing Effect and Cause
Without a cause there can be no effects, and yet without effects there is no cause. The cause a cause is made by its effects; the Father is a Father by His Son. Effects do not create their cause, but they establish its causation. Thus, the Son gives Fatherhood to his Creator, and receives the gift that he has given Him. It is because he is God’s Son that he must also be a father, who creates as God created him. The circle of creation has no end. Its starting and its ending are the same. But in itself it holds the universe of all creation, without beginning and without an end.
Fatherhood is creation. Love must be extended. Purity is not confined. It is the nature of the innocent to be forever uncontained, without a barrier or limitation. Thus is purity not of the body. Nor can it be found where limitation is. The body can be healed by its effects, which are as limitless as is itself. Yet must all healing come about because the mind is recognised as not within the body, and its innocence is quite apart from it, and where all healing is. Where, then, is healing? Only where its cause is given its effects. For sickness is a meaningless attempt to give effects to causelessness, and make it be a cause.
Always in sickness does the Son of God attempt to make himself his cause, and not allow himself to be his Father’s Son. For this impossible desire, he does not believe that he is Love’s effect, and must be cause because of what he is. The cause of healing is the only Cause of everything. It has but one effect. And in that recognition, causelessness is given no effects and none is seen. A mind within a body and a world of other bodies, each with separate minds, are your ‘creations’, you the ‘other’ mind, creating with effects unlike yourself. And as their ‘father’, you must be like them.
Nothing at all has happened but that you have put yourself to sleep, and dreamed a dream in which you were an alien to yourself, and but a part of someone else’s dream. The miracle does not awaken you, but merely shows you who the dreamer is. It teaches you there is a choice of dreams while you are still asleep, depending on the purpose of your dreaming. Do you wish for dreams of healing, or for dreams of death? A dream is like a memory in that it pictures what you wanted shown to you.
An empty storehouse, with an open door, holds all your shreds of memories and dreams. Yet if you are the dreamer, you perceive this much at least: That you have caused the dream, and can accept another dream as well. But for this change in content of the dream, it must be realised that it is you who dreamed the dreaming that you do not like. It is but an effect that you have caused, and you would not be cause of this effect. In dreams of murder and attack are you the victim in a dying body slain. But in forgiving dreams is no one asked to be the victim and the sufferer. These are the happy dreams the miracle exchanges for your own. It does not ask you make another; only that you see you made the one you would exchange for this.
This world is causeless, as is every dream that anyone has dreamed within the world. No plans are possible, and no design exists that could be found and understood. What else could be expected from a thing that has no cause? Yet if it has no cause, it has no purpose. You may cause a dream, but never will you give it real effects. For that would change its cause, and it is this you cannot do. The dreamer of a dream is not awake, but does not know he sleeps, He sees illusions of himself as sick or well, depressed or happy, but without a stable cause with guaranteed effects.
The miracle establishes you dream a dream, and that its content is not true. This is a crucial step in dealing with illusions. No one is afraid of them when he perceives he made them up. The fear was held in place because he did not see that he was author of the dream, and not a figure in the dream. He gives himself the consequences that he dreams he gave his brother. And it is but this the dream has put together and has offered him, to show him that his wishes have been done. Thus does he fear his own attack, but sees it at another’s hands. As victim, he is suffering from its effects, but not their cause. He authored not his own attack, and he is innocent of what he caused. The miracle does nothing but to show him that he has done nothing. What he fears is cause without the consequences that would make it cause. And so it never was.
The separation started with the dream the Father was deprived of His effects, and powerless to keep them since He was no longer their Creator. In the dream, the dreamer made himself. But what he made has turned against him, taking on the role of its creator, as the dreamer had. And as he hated his Creator, so the figures in the dream have hated him. His body is their slave, which they abuse because the motives he has given it have they adopted as their own. And hate it for the vengeance it would offer them. It is their vengeance on the body which appears to prove the dreamer could not be the maker of the dream. Effect and cause are first split off, and then reversed, so that effect becomes a cause; the cause, effect.
This is the separation’s final step, with which salvation, which proceeds to go the other way, begins. This final step is an effect of what has gone before, appearing as a cause. The miracle is the first step in giving back to cause the function of causation, not effect. For this confusion has produced the dream, and while it lasts will wakening be feared. Nor will the call to wakening be heard, because it seems to be the call to fear.
Like every lesson that the Holy Spirit requests you learn, the miracle is clear. It demonstrates what He would have you learn, and shows you its effects are what you want. In His forgiving dreams are the effects of yours undone, and hated enemies perceived as friends with merciful intent. Their enmity is seen as causeless now, because they did not make it. And you can accept the role of maker of their hate, because you see that it has no effects. Now are you freed from this much of the dream; the world is neutral, and the bodies that still seem to move about as separate things need not be feared. And so they are not sick.
The miracle returns the cause of fear. to you who made it. But it also shows that, having no effects, it is not cause, because the function of causation is to have effects. And where effects are gone, there is no cause. Thus is the body healed by miracles because they show the mind made sickness, and employed the body to be victim, or effect, of what it made. Yet half the lesson will not teach the whole. The miracle is useless if you learn but that the body can be healed, for this is not the lesson it was sent to teach. The lesson is the mind was sick that thought the body could be sick; projecting out its guilt caused nothing, and had no effects.
This world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain and suffering, of sin and guilt. They are the dream’s alternative, the choice to be the dreamer, rather than deny the active role in making up the dream. They are the glad effects of taking back the consequence of sickness to its cause. The body is released because the mind acknowledges ‘this is not done to me, but I am doing this’. And thus the mind is free to make another choice instead. Beginning here, salvation will proceed to change the course of every step. in the descent to separation, until all the steps have been retraced, the ladder gone, and all the dreaming of the world undone.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 20
To love my Father is to love His Son.
Let me not think that I can find the way to God, if I have hatred in my heart. Let me not try to hurt God’s Son, and think that I can know his Father or my Self. Let me not fail to recognize myself, and still believe that my awareness can contain my Father, or my mind conceive of all the love my Father has for me, and all the love which I return to Him.
I will accept the way You choose for me to come to You, my Father. For in that will I succeed, because it is Your Will. And I would recognize that what You will is what I will as well, and only that. And so I choose to love Your Son. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Why does Jesus repeatedly say in A Course in Miracles that I need to forgive him? What for?
A) For many students of A Course in Miracles this is a problematic issue. Why, they ask, do I have to forgive Jesus; I am not angry at him. I (Gloria) remember many years ago when I had my own group that met to discuss the Course. This issue was almost responsible for World War III breaking out in my dining room, where the group met every week. It was certainly not a neutral topic, and forgiving Jesus is indeed a central issue that goes to the heart of the Course’s teaching about undoing the ego thought system. Let us begin our answer by looking at some representative passages from the Course where Jesus discusses this. The first two come in the section, “The Obstacles to Peace” in Chapter 19 of the text, where he states:
I am made welcome in the state of grace, which means you have at last forgiven me. For I became the symbol of your sin, and so I had to die instead of you….Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look on me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was. I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or of the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you you see within yourself? (T-19.IV-A.17:1-2; T-19.IV-B.6)
And then at the beginning of the next chapter, in the section “Holy Week” which was written during the week preceding Easter, Jesus returns to this important point:
You stand beside your brother, thorns in one hand and lilies in the other [thorns and lilies are the Course’s symbols, respectively, for attack and forgiveness, crucifixion and resurrection], uncertain which to give. Join now with me and throw away the thorns, offering the lilies to replace them. This Easter I would have the gift of your forgiveness offered by you to me, and returned by me to you. We cannot be united in crucifixion and in death. Nor can the resurrection be complete until your forgiveness rests on Christ, along with mine …. I was a stranger and you took me in, not knowing who I was. Yet for your gift of lilies you will know. In your forgiveness of this stranger, alien to you and yet your ancient Friend, lies his release and your redemption with him (T-20.I.2:6-10; 4:3-5).
Jesus has to be forgiven on two levels. The first relates to the “bitter idols” the world has made of him, which clearly reflects its projections and has nothing to do with him at all. These idols have come in both special hate and love forms, where he has either been made into a figure of judgment and punishment who demands suffering and sacrifice of his followers, or else a magical savior who, upon petition, will solve problems and reward good deeds and faithful discipleship with his love and beneficence. Once again, such images reflect the specialness needs of the image-makers, with no reference to the real Jesus at all, who clearly is beyond such ego concerns. And so it can be seen here that Jesus is to be forgiven for what he has never done, and even more to the point, forgiven for what he has never been.
To the ego, Jesus is the most threatening figure imaginable, as we have already indicated in our answers to earlier questions, for if he is real, then the ego thought system cannot be. And so the part of anyone’s mind that still clings to specialness and individuality — the hallmarks of the ego thought system — would inevitably fear, and therefore attack Jesus to protect itself. This attack reflects the original ego thought that the Son of God had sinfully separated himself from the Love of God. Guilt over such attacks on Jesus — the Western world’s greatest embodiment of this Love — can only lead to denial. Guilt (or self-hatred) is such an overwhelming experience that it is almost inevitably buried in our minds. This reflects the magical belief that, like the proverbial ostrich, if we do not see the problem, it is not there. This ego dynamic of avoiding the pain of our guilt culminates in projecting our belief in sin and guilt onto Jesus.
This is the meaning of the passages quoted above from the text. Rather than our accepting responsibility for our guilt — which the ego teaches us must lead to death as justified punishment for our sin — we hope, once again magically, that by projecting the guilt out onto Jesus, leading to his death, we will be off the hook. For the ego would kill rather than have its existence undone. And thus two thousand years of belief in vicarious salvation, which Christian theology espouses, proclaims that “Jesus did it for us.” This insane dynamic reflects the ego’s “bread-and-butter” dynamic of the guilt-attack cycle, wherein the guiltier we feel, the greater is our need to attack others in “self-defense,” which in turn reinforces the guilt which always remains repressed in our minds. And then the cycle begins all over again. This is why Christians have always worshiped a slain savior, and why Catholics specifically commemorate Jesus’ death by reenacting it every day at Mass. Our guilt impels us continually to kill him off. And so what we forgive in Jesus is simply the projection of what remains unforgiven in ourselves.
What we find here is that this first level of forgiving Jesus for our projections onto him, is really the defense against the underlying level which reflects our real need for forgiveness: Jesus has to be forgiven for who he truly is. Again, if the Jesus of reality is indeed present within our minds as the perfect embodiment of God’s Love — the pure expression of the Holy Spirit’s Atonement principle — then our entire identity as a separated physical and psychological being is undone. It is truly this that we hold against Jesus. He is the living proof within the dream of our own existence, that we are wrong and he is right. He is the clear and unmistakable presence from outside the dream that attests to our sleeping minds that the dream itself is unreal. To accept this is to accept that we are truly not here, but dreaming a dream where we made up an individual self to replace the Self that God created. And so to preserve this made-up self, we must attack and destroy the truth. We have already examined this idea in some depth, but let us return to it once more by quoting some expressive lines from one of Helen’s later poems, “Stranger on the Road,” which so graphically portray this fear of confronting the truth of Jesus’ existence. In effect, Jesus’ presence in our minds denies the “truth” of our own thought system of fear and death, which in our strange insanity we believe is comforting to us and therefore needs to be protected from him:
The road is long. I will not lift my eyes,
For fear has gripped my heart, and fear I know —
The shield that keeps me safe from rising hope;
The friend that keeps You stranger still to me.Why should You walk with me along the road,
An unknown whom I almost think I fear
Because You seem like someone in a dream
Of deathlessness, when death alone is real?
Do not disturb me now. I am content
With death, for grief is kinder now than hope.
While there was hope I suffered. Now I go
In certainty, for death has surely come.
Do not disturb the ending. What is done
Is done forever. Neither hope nor tears
Can touch finality. Do not arouse
The dead. Come, Stranger, let us say “Amen.”
(The Gifts of God, p. 103)
And so in all honesty we need to look at how we fear and hate Jesus, feelings that are almost always buried in our unconscious minds, under layers and layers of defenses. Through forgiving him for who he truly is, we learn at the same time to forgive ourselves for trying to pretend that we are not who we truly are, and then seeking to blame him for it. Were the presence of Jesus not so explicitly clear in A Course in Miracles, many students would not have the opportunity of dealing with this deeply buried layer of unforgiveness and guilt in themselves.