ACIM Text Reading for October 19
Chapter 31 ~ The Final Vision
VII. The Saviour’s Vision
Learning is change. Salvation does not seek to use a means as yet too alien to your thinking to be helpful, nor to make the kinds of change you could not recognise. Concepts are needed while perception lasts, and changing concepts is salvation’s task. For it must deal in contrasts, not in truth, which has no opposite and cannot change. In this world’s concepts are the guilty ‘bad’; the ‘good’ are innocent. And no one here but holds a concept of himself in which he counts the ‘good’ to pardon him the ‘bad’. Nor does he trust the ‘good’ in anyone, believing that the ‘bad’ must lurk behind. This concept emphasises treachery, and trust becomes impossible. Nor could it change while you perceive the ‘bad’ in you.
You could not recognise your ‘evil’ thoughts as long as you see value in attack. You will perceive them sometimes, but will not see them as meaningless. And so they come in fearful form, with content still concealed, to shake your sorry concept of yourself and blacken it with still another ‘crime’. You cannot give yourself your innocence, for you are too confused about yourself. But shouldone brother dawn upon your sight as wholly worthy of forgiveness, then your concept of yourself is wholly changed. Your ‘evil’ thoughts have been forgiven with his, because you let them all affect you not. No longer do you choose that you should be the sign of evil and of guilt in him. And as you give your trust to what is good in him, you give it to the good in you.
In terms of concepts, it is thus you see him more than just a body, for the good is never what the body seems to be. The actions of the body are perceived as coming from the ‘baser’ part of you, and thus of him as well. By focusing upon the good in him, the body grows decreasingly persistent in your sight, and will at length be seen as little more than just a shadow circling round the good. And this will be your concept of yourself, when you have reached the world beyond the sight your eyes alone can offer you to see. For you will not interpret what you see without the Aid That God has given you. And in His sight there is another world.
You live in that world just as much as this. For both are concepts of yourself, which can be interchanged but never jointly held. The contrast is far greater than you think, for you will love this concept of yourself, because it was not made for you alone. Born as a gift for someone not perceived to be yourself, it has been given you. For your forgiveness, offered unto him, has been accepted now for both of you.
Have faith in him who walks with you, so that your fearful concept of yourself may change. And look upon the good in him, that you may not be frightened by your ‘evil’ thoughts because they do not cloud your view of him. And all this shift requires is that you be willing that this happy change occur. No more than this is asked. On its behalf, remember what the concept of yourself that now you hold has brought you in its wake, and welcome the glad contrast offered you. Hold out your hand, that you may have the gift of kind forgiveness which you offer one whose need for it is just the same as yours. And let the cruel concept of yourself be changed to one that brings the peace of God.
The concept of yourself that now you hold would guarantee your function here remain forever unaccomplished and undone. And thus it dooms you to a bitter sense of deep depression and futility. Yet it need not be fixed, unless you choose to hold it past the hope of change and keep it static and concealed within your mind. Give it instead to Him Who understands the changes that it needs to let it serve the function given you to bring you peace, that you may offer peace to have it yours. Alternatives are in your mind to use, and you can see yourself another way. Would you not rather look upon yourself as needed for salvation of the world, instead of as salvation’s enemy?
The concept of the self stands like a shield, a silent barricade before the truth, and hides it from your sight. All things you see are images, because you look on them as through a barrier that dims your sight and warps your vision, so that you behold nothing with clarity. The light is kept from everything you see. At most, you glimpse a shadow of what lies beyond. At least, you merely look on darkness, and perceive the terrified imaginings that come from guilty thoughts and concepts born of fear. And what you see is hell, for fear is hell. All that is given you is for release; the sight, the vision and the inner Guide all lead you out of hell with those you love beside you, and the universe with them.
Behold your role within the universe! To every part of true creation has the Lord of Love and Life entrusted all salvation from the misery of hell. And to each one has He allowed the grace to be a saviour to the holy ones especially entrusted to his care. And this he learns when first he looks upon one brother as he looks upon himself, and sees the mirror of himself in him. Thus is the concept of himself laid by, for nothing stands between his sight and what he looks upon, to judge what he beholds. And in this single vision does he see the face of Christ, and understands he looks on everyone as he beholds this one. For there is light where darkness was before, and now the veil is lifted from his sight.
The veil across the face of Christ, the fear of God and of salvation, and the love of guilt and death, they all are different names for just one error; that there is a space between you and your brother, kept apart by an illusion of yourself that holds him off from you, and you away from him. The sword of judgement is the weapon that you give to the illusion of yourself, that it may fight to keep the space that holds your brother off unoccupied by love. Yet while you hold this sword, you must perceive the body as yourself, for you are bound to separation from the sight of him who holds the mirror to another view of what he is, and thus what you must be.
What is temptation but the wish to stay in hell and misery? And what could this give rise to but an image of yourself that can be miserable, and remain in hell and torment? Who has learned to see his brother not as this has saved himself, and thus is he a saviour to the rest. To everyone has God entrusted all, because a partial saviour would be one who is but partly saved. The holy ones whom God has given you to save are but everyone you meet or look upon, not knowing who they are; all those you saw an instant and forgot, and those you knew a long while since, and those you will yet meet; the unremembered and the not yet born. For God has given you His Son to save from every concept that he ever held.
Yet while you wish to stay in hell, how could you be the saviour of the Son of God? How would you know his holiness while you set him apart from yours? For holiness is seen through holy eyes that look upon the innocence within, and thus expect to see it everywhere. And so they call it forth in everyone they look upon, that he may be what they expect of him. This is the saviour’s vision; that he see his innocence in all he looks upon, and see his own salvation everywhere. He holds no concept of himself between his calm and open eyes and what he sees. He brings the light to what he looks upon, that he may see it as it really is.
Whatever form temptation seems to take, it always but reflects a wish to be a self that you are not. And from that wish a concept rises, teaching that you are the thing you wish to be. It will remain your concept of yourself until the wish that fathered it no longer is held dear. But while you cherish it, you will behold your brother in the likeness of the self whose image has the wish begot of you. For seeing can but represent a wish, because it has no power to create. Yet it can look with love or look with hate, depending only on the simple choice of whether you would join with what you see, or keep yourself apart and separate.
The saviour’s vision is as innocent of what your brother is as it is free of any judgement made upon yourself. It sees no past in anyone at all. And thus it serves a wholly open mind, unclouded by old concepts, and prepared to look on only what the present holds. It cannot judge because it does not know. And recognising this, it merely asks, ‘What is the meaning of what I behold?’ Then is the answer given. And the door held open for the face of Christ to shine upon the one who asks, in innocence, to see beyond the veil of old ideas and ancient concepts held so long and dear against the vision of the Christ in you.
Be vigilant against temptation, then, remembering that it is but a wish, insane and meaningless, to make yourself a thing that you are not. And think as well upon the thing that you would be instead. It is a thing of madness, pain and death; a thing of treachery and black despair, of failing dreams and no remaining hope except to die, and end the dream of fear. This is temptation; nothing more than this. Can this be difficult to choose against? Consider what temptation is, and see the real alternatives you choose between. There are but two. Be not deceived by what appears as many choices. There is hell or Heaven, and of these you choose but one.
Let not the world’s light, given unto you, be hidden from the world. It needs the light, for it is dark indeed, and men despair because the saviour’s vision is withheld and what they see is death. Their saviour stands, unknowing and unknown, beholding them with eyes unopened. And they cannot see until he looks on them with seeing eyes, and offers them forgiveness with his own. Can you to whom God says, ‘Release My Son!’ be tempted not to listen, when you learn that it is you for whom He asks release? And what but this is what this course would teach? And what but this is there for you to learn?
ACIM Workbook Lesson for October 19
Let me remember that there is no sin.
Sin is the only thought that makes the goal of God seem unattainable. What else could blind us to the obvious, and make the strange and the distorted seem more clear? What else but sin engenders our attacks? What else but sin could be the source of guilt, demanding punishment and suffering? And what but sin could be the source of fear, obscuring God’s creation; giving love the attributes of fear and of attack?
Father, I would not be insane today. I would not be afraid of love, nor seek for refuge in its opposite. For love can have no opposite. You are the Source of everything there is. And everything that is remains with You, and You with it.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Why does A Course in Miracles use masculine language in denoting the Trinity? Is Jesus a sexist?
A) No, Jesus is not a sexist, nor was the Course’s scribe, Helen Schucman a reverse one. Indeed, A Course in Miracles is written linguistically within the male-dominated Judaeo-Christian tradition, and uses the patriarchal biblical language on which that tradition is based. Consequently, the Course conforms to this religious culture by using Trinitarian terms that are exclusively masculine. It must be understood, however, that the Trinity is neither masculine nor feminine, and the Holy One knows nothing of gender, since It did not create bodies. This point is a further testimony to the difference between the biblical creator-God and the God of A Course in Miracles. In fact, Jesus himself speaks of his use of ego-oriented language:
This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed….
It uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies
beyond symbols (manual, p. 73; C-in.3:1,3).
And so it is clear that the Course’s meaning in using this masculine language lies elsewhere. While the form of the Course’s words is the same as the twenty-five-hundred-year-old Western tradition, its content is exactly the opposite. This provides a good example of a principle enunciated twice in the text, that the Holy Spirit does not take our special relationships (the form) away from us, but instead transforms them (by changing their purpose — the content) (text, pp. 333, 351; T-17.IV.2:3-6; T-18.11.6). Therefore, the reader is given a wonderful opportunity to practice forgiveness by having whatever buried judgmental thoughts are unconsciously present be raised to awareness by the Course’s “sexist” language, so that they may now be looked at differently with the Holy Spirit’s help. In this way, a special hate (or love) relationship with patriarchal authorities — religious or secular — may be transformed into a holy relationship, the relationship now having forgiveness and peace as its purpose, instead of judgment and attack.
In like manner, we can understand the Course’s usage of the term Son of God. For two thousand years, it has exclusively been used in Christian theology to denote only Jesus, the biblical God’s only begotten Son, and Second Person of the Trinity. Moreover, Jesus’ specialness was accentuated by St. Paul’s relegating the rest of humanity to the status of “adopted sons” of God (Galatians 4:4). To accentuate the point that he is our equal, Jesus in A Course in Miracles uses the same term that heretofore had excluded everyone except himself. Now, however, it denotes all people: God’s children who yet believe they are bodies and separate from their Source and therefore different from Him. And even more specifically, the term Son of God denotes the students who are reading and studying A Course in Miracles, a usage clearly made regardless of their gender.
This term is thus deliberately used to help correct two thousand years of what A Course in Miracles sees as Christianity’s distortion of Jesus’ basic message, in this case the perfect equality and unity of the Sonship of God. And so in the Course Jesus presents himself as no different from anyone else in reality (although certainly he is different from us in time). Therefore, to state it once again, the same term — Son of God — that was used only for Jesus is now used for all of us. Moreover, the term is also used to denote Christ, God’s pre-separation creation, His one Son. Again, we see usage of the same form as in traditional Christianity, but with a totally different content. The phrase Son of Godcan also be easily understood as synonymous with child, a term which is also often used in the Course.
The reinterpretation of Son of God from exclusive to totally inclusive is crucial to the Course’s thought system. And because of Jesus’ reason for using this term, students — men and women alike — should be vigilant against the temptation to change the Course’s “offensive” language. While such practice is understandable, it does serve to undermine one of Jesus’ pedagogical purposes. It would be much more in keeping with the teachings of A Course in Miracles to leave the form as it is, and change one’s mind instead. In these circumstances, one would do well to paraphrase a famous line from the text: Therefore, seek not to change the course, but choose to change your mind about the course (text, p. 415; T-2l.in.1:7). Therefore, since the Course’s form will not be changed, students would be wise to use their reactions as a classroom in which they can learn to forgive, not only Jesus, Helen, or A Course in Miracles itself, but also all those in the past (or present) who have been perceived as treating them or others unfairly.
One final note on the subject of the Course’s masculine language: It has long been a grammatical convention that pronouns referring back to a neuter noun, such as “one” or “person,” take the masculine form of “he.” Clearly, since a central teaching of A Course in Miracles is that we are not bodies — and so the members of the Trinity are not bodies either — the issue, once again, is merely one of form or style.