ACIM Reading for December 21
The Song of Prayer
2.- I. Forgiveness of Yourself1. No gift of Heaven has been more misunderstood than has forgiveness. It has, in fact, become a scourge; a curse where it was meant to bless, a cruel mockery of grace, a parody upon the holy peace of God. Yet those who have not yet chosen to begin the steps of prayer cannot but use it thus. Forgiveness’ kindness is obscure at first, because salvation is not understood, nor truly sought for. What was meant to heal is used to hurt because forgiveness is not wanted. Guilt becomes salvation, and the remedy appears to be a terrible alternative to life.
2. Forgiveness-to-destroy will therefore suit the purpose of the world far better than its true objective, and the honest means by which this goal is reached. Forgiveness-to-destroy will overlook no sin, no crime, no guilt that it can seek and find and “love.” Dear to its heart is error, and mistakes loom large and grow and swell within its sight. It carefully picks out all evil things, and overlooks the loving as a plague; a hateful thing of danger and of death. Forgiveness-to-destroy is death, and this it sees in all it looks upon and hates. God’s mercy has become a twisted knife that would destroy the holy Son He loves.
3. Would you forgive yourself for doing this? Then learn that God has given you the means by which you can return to Him in peace. Do not see error. Do not make it real. Select the loving and forgive the sin by choosing in its place the face of Christ. How otherwise can prayer return to God? He loves His Son. Can you remember Him and hate what He created? You will hate his Father if you hate the Son He loves. For as you see the Son you see yourself, and as you see yourself is God to you.
4. As prayer is always for yourself, so is forgiveness always given you. It is impossible to forgive another, for it is only your sins you see in him. You want to see them there, and not in you. That is why forgiveness of another is an illusion. Yet it is the only happy dream in all the world; the only one that does not lead to death. Only in someone else can you forgive yourself, for you have called him guilty of your sins, and in him must your innocence now be found. Who but the sinful need to be forgiven? And do not ever think you can see sin in anyone except yourself.
5. This is the great deception of the world, and you the great deceiver of yourself. It always seems to be another who is evil, and in his sin you are the injured one. How could freedom be possible if this were so? You would be slave to everyone, for what he does entails your fate, your feelings, your despair or hope, your misery or joy. You have no freedom unless he gives it to you. And being evil, he can only give of what he is. You cannot see his sins and not your own. But you can free him and yourself as well.
6. Forgiveness, truly given, is the way in which your only hope of freedom lies. Others will make mistakes and so will you, as long as this illusion of a world appears to be your home. Yet God Himself has given all His Sons a remedy for all illusions that they think they see. Christ’s vision does not use your eyes, but you can look through His and learn to see like Him. Mistakes are tiny shadows, quickly gone, that for an instant only seem to hide the face of Christ, which still remains unchanged behind them all. His constancy remains in tranquil silence and in perfect peace. He does not know of shadows. His the eyes that look past error to the Christ in you.
7. Ask, then, His help, and ask Him how to learn forgiveness as His vision lets it be. You are in need of what He gives, and your salvation rests on learning this of Him. Prayer cannot be released to Heaven while forgiveness-to-destroy remains with you. God’s mercy would remove this withering and poisoned thinking from your holy mind. Christ has forgiven you, and in His sight the world becomes as holy as Himself. Who sees no evil in it sees like Him. For what He has forgiven has not sinned, and guilt can be no more. Salvation’s plan is made complete, and sanity has come.
8. Forgiveness is the call to sanity, for who but the insane would look on sin when he could see the face of Christ instead? This is the choice you make; the simplest one, and yet the only one that you can make. God calls on you to save His Son from death by offering Christ’s Love to him. This is your need, and God holds out this gift to you. As He would give, so must you give as well. And thus is prayer restored to formlessness, beyond all limits into timelessness, with nothing of the past to hold it back from reuniting with the ceaseless song that all creation sings unto its God.
9. But to achieve this end you first must learn, before you reach where learning cannot go. Forgiveness is the key, but who can use a key when he has lost the door for which the key was made, and where alone it fits? Therefore we make distinctions, so that prayer can be released from darkness into light. Forgiveness’ role must be reversed, and cleansed from evil usages and hateful goals. Forgiveness-to-destroy must be unveiled in all its treachery, and then let go forever and forever. There can be no trace of it remaining, if the plan that God established for returning be achieved at last, and learning be complete.
10. This is the world of opposites. And you must choose between them every instant while this world retains reality for you. Yet you must learn alternatives for choice, or you will not be able to attain your freedom. Let it then be clear to you exactly what forgiveness means to you, and learn what it should be to set you free. The level of your prayer depends on this, for here it waits its freedom to ascend above the world of chaos into peace.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 21
In me salvation’s means and end are one.
1. In me, God’s holy Son, are reconciled all parts of Heaven’s plan to save the world. What could conflict, when all the parts have but one purpose and one aim? How could there be a single part that stands alone, or one of more or less importance than the rest? I am the means by which God’s Son is saved, because salvation’s purpose is to find the sinlessness that God has placed in me. I was created as the thing I seek. I am the goal the world is searching for. I am God’s Son, His one eternal Love. I am salvation’s means and end as well.
2. Let me today, my Father, take the role You offer me in Your request that I accept Atonement for myself. For thus does what is thereby reconciled in me become as surely reconciled to You.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Why do the text and workbook have different focuses, and at times seem to be saying different things?
A) Jesus refers to A Course in Miracles as a “multi-faceted curriculum,” and so it requires that his teaching be presented in different forms. The text, which was dictated to Helen first, contains the theology, metaphysical foundation, and teachings on accepting forgiveness for our special relationships, on which the curriculum rests. For example, only in the text — highlighted for the most part from Chapter 15 through Chapter 24 — does one find the exposition of the teaching on special and holy relationships. Nowhere in the workbook or manual is this very important subject specifically discussed. In the workbook, as Jesus explains in the introduction, the first part (Lessons 1-220) deals “with the undoing of the way you see now,” while the second part (Lessons 221-365) deals ” with the acquisition of true perception” (workbook, p.1; W-in.3:1). Nothing is mentioned about the theory of A Course in Miracles. Indeed, the specific relationship between the text and the workbook is clearly set forth in the Introduction:
A theoretical foundation such as the text provides is necessary as a framework to make the exercises in this workbook meaningful. Yet it is doing the exercises that will make the goal of the course possible. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. It is the purpose of this workbook to train your mind to think along the lines the text sets forth (W-in.1).
It is because of these different purposes and focuses that at times the two books seem to be saying different things, and even at times seeming to contradict each other. Perhaps the best example of this interesting phenomenon relates to the role of the Holy Spirit. Many passages in the workbook urge students to ask Him for very specific help, as we can see in this example from the final lessons (361-365):
This holy instant would I give to You [the Holy Spirit].
Be You in charge. For I would follow You,
Certain that Your direction gives me peace. And if I need a word to help me, He will give it to me. If I need a thought, that will He also give. And if I need but stillness and a tranquil, open mind, these are the gifts I will receive of Him. He is in charge by my request. And He will bear and answer me, because He speaks for God my Father and His holy Son (W-p.II.361-365).
And yet we are taught in the text that it is not the role of the Holy Spirit to guide us in the world of effects — the material world of specifics — but rather to help us change our minds about the cause of our problems: our belief in the reality of sin and guilt. For example:
In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause [the mind’s belief in sin], and looks not to effects [the problems experienced in the physical world]. How else could He correct your error, who have overlooked the cause entirely? He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed (T-27.VIII.9:1-5).
Nevertheless, if students do not understand the afore-mentioned two levels that A Course in Miracles is written on, and which, by the way, it never specifically identifies as such, then one is apt to conclude that these statements are contradictory. To restate these levels briefly:
Level One: the Course’s metaphysical foundation, which emphasizes the difference between God and Heaven, the only reality, and the collective illusory world of the ego.Level Two: the Course’s practical level, which deals only with the illusory dream. Here, the contrast is between the wrong mind which is the ego’s thought system of sin, guilt, and fear, and the Holy Spirit’s correction of forgiveness within the right mind.
Regarding the subject of God, we find the same apparent contradiction. In workbook Lesson 71 we are told to ask God Himself for specific help:
What would You have me do?
Where would You have me go?
What would You have me say, and to whom?
Moreover, all of Part If of the workbook consists of prayers from the student to God the Father. This is so, despite the following very clear statement — interestingly enough, also from the workbook — that God does not hear our prayers:
Think not He hears the little prayers of those who call on Him with names of idols cherished by the world. They cannot reach Him thus (W-pI.183.7:3-4).
And in the manual for teachers we read these lines about the true nature of our words:
God does not understand words, for they were made by separated minds to keep them in the illusion of separation. Words can be helpful, particularly for the beginner, in helping concentration and facilitating the exclusion, or at least the control, of extraneous thoughts. Let us not forget, however, that words are but symbols of symbols. They are thus twice removed from reality (M-21.1:7-10).
Clearly, the first passage has us asking God the Father a series of specific questions to which we would fully expect to receive answers. Part of the reason it is framed this way is that inherent within the separation thought is the statement that I am self-created, and therefore am my own source. So by asking God for help at what we have referred to as Level Two, the level of the illusory dream, I am acknowledging that I am not an autonomous self-created being, but rather someone who needs help in undoing this false self that I made up. It is in this way that the thought that I am on my own has been undone, and I realize that the answers to all my questions have already been given, and that they are one. As A Course in Miracles emphasizes, the Holy Spirit’s correction to my ego’s dream of separation has already occurred, because time is already over, as we have noted in a previous chapter (question 16 ). But since I walk around believing and experiencing otherwise, the correction will reach me in a form to which I can relate.
In conclusion, from these two examples alone it should be clear that Jesus indeed knew what he was doing when he dictated these three books of A Course in Miracles, and it is we who lack the understanding of how he integrates his curriculum and accomplishes the goal of changing our thought system.