ACIM Reading for November 20
CLARIFICATION OF TERMS
This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception. The means of the Atonement is forgiveness. The structure of “individual consciousness” is essentially irrelevant because it is a concept representing the “original error” or the “original sin”. To study the error itself does not lead to correction, if you are indeed to succeed in overlooking the error. And it is just this process of overlooking at which the course aims.
All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well. They must, however, be willing to overlook controversy, recognising that it is a defense against truth in the form of a delaying manoeuvre. Theological considerations as such are necessarily controversial, since they depend on belief and can therefore be accepted or rejected. A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. Here alone consistency becomes possible because here alone uncertainty ends.
This course remains within the ego framework, where it is needed. It is not concerned with what is beyond all error because it is planned only to set the direction towards it. Therefore it uses words, which are symbolic, and cannot express what lies beyond symbols. It is merely the ego that questions because it is only the ego that doubts. The course merely gives another answer, once a question has been raised. However, this answer does not attempt to resort to inventiveness or ingenuity. These are attributes of the ego. The course is simple. It has one function and one goal. Only in that does it remain wholly consistent because only that can be consistent.
The ego will demand many answers that this course does not give. It does not recognise 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.
You will notice that the emphasis on structural issues in the course is brief and early. Afterwards and soon, it drops away to make way for the central teaching. Since you have asked for clarification, however, these are some of the terms that are used.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for November 20
This is a day of stillness and of peace.
1. Christ’s vision looks through me today. His sight shows me all things forgiven and at peace, and offers this same vision to the world. And I accept this vision in its name, both for myself and for the world as well. What loveliness we look upon today! What holiness we see surrounding us! And it is given us to recognize it is a holiness in which we share; it is the Holiness of God Himself.
2. This day my mind is quiet, to receive the Thoughts You offer me. And I accept what comes from You, instead of from myself. I do not know the way to You. But You are wholly certain. Father, guide Your Son along the quiet path that leads to You. Let my forgiveness be complete, and let the memory of You return to me.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Is there such a thing as free will, and what is it anyway?
A) This question must be answered in two parts:
1) In Heaven there can be no free will, for how can the Son of God be free to choose when there is literally nothing there to choose from? In a non-dualistic reality, which is the state of Heaven, there is only perfect Oneness. That is why A Course in Miracles states that the Will of God and the will of His Son are one and the same. And so there can be nothing else, and therefore nothing to choose between. Moreover, the process of choosing has meaning only within a subject-object world: a subject who chooses among different objects, all perceived and experienced to be outside the mind that chooses. Therefore, the term “free will” has no meaning here, unless it is used, as A Course in Miracles does in one place, to refer to the “freedom of will,” the title of a section in Chapter 30. However, in this instance the term means something quite different from the usual conception of “free will.” In Heaven, our will is free because it cannot be imprisoned, which is a statement that reflects the Atonement principle that the separation from God never happened. Therefore, the Son of God cannot truly be imprisoned by his own mistaken belief that he has sinned against his Creator, and thus been made a prisoner to his own guilt. We read in several places:
How wonderful it is to do your will! For that is freedom. There is nothing else that ever should be called by freedom’s name. Unless you do your will you are not free. And would God leave His Son without what he has chosen for himself? God but ensured that you would never lose your will when He gave you His perfect Answer. Hear It now, that you may be reminded of His Love and learn your will. God would not have His Son made prisoner to what he does not want. He joins with you in willing you be free. And to oppose Him is to make a choice against yourself, and choose that you be bound (T-30.II.2). In the holy state the will is free, so that its creative power is unlimited and choice is meaningless (T-5.II.6:4).
It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one (T-8.II.3:2-6).
When we finally accept the Atonement for ourselves, awakening from the dream and thus becoming manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the recognition that our wills are one with God’s must inevitably follow.
2) Within the dream, however, which is the realm of perception and illusion, the concept of free will becomes extremely important and meaningful for it is the mechanism of salvation. In his dream, the Son believed that he had chosen against God, and this set into motion the whole drama of the unholy trinity — sin, guilt, and fear — culminating in the making of the physical universe as a defense against the perceived wrathful vengeance of the ego’s made-up God. Thus, within the dream, the same power of the Son’s mind to choose against God, now must be free to choose for Him. And so Jesus states in a number of important passages:
In this world the only remaining freedom is the freedom of choice; always between two choices or two voices. Will is not involved in perception at any level, and has nothing to do with choice (manual, p. 75; C-1.7:1-2). The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven. The sleeping Son of God has but this power left to him (M-21.3:5-7).
You have chosen to be in a state of opposition in which opposites are possible. As a result, there are choices you must make….Choosing depends on a split mind (T-5.II.6:2-3,6).
Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God? you will accept only whom you invite. You are free to determine who shall be your guest, and how long he shall remain with you. Yet this is not real freedom, for it still depends on how you see it (T-11.II.7:1-4; italics ours).
Indeed, one might say that a purpose of A Course in Miracles is for Jesus to teach us that we do have a choice within our dreams of separation and specialness, and that this choice rests within our minds. By learning the meaning of forgiveness, which is that our experience of the world is a projection of a decision in our minds that can now be changed, we learn to exercise this free will. Thus we ultimately learn and remember that our true will has been free all along. We simply had forgotten. And so Jesus states: “The Holy Spirit calls you both to remember [God] and to forget [the ego]” (T-5.II.6:1).