ACIM Reading for December 22
The Song of Prayer
2.- II. Forgiveness-to-Destroy
1. Forgiveness-to-destroy has many forms, being a weapon of the world of form. Not all of them are obvious, and some are carefully concealed beneath what seems like charity. Yet all the forms that it may seem to take have but this single goal; their purpose is to separate and make what God created equal, different. The difference is clear in several forms where the designed comparison cannot be missed, nor is it really meant to be.
2. In this group, first, there are the forms in which a “better” person deigns to stoop to save a “baser” one from what he truly is. Forgiveness here rests on an attitude of gracious lordliness so far from love that arrogance could never be dislodged. Who can forgive and yet despise? And who can tell another he is steeped in sin, and yet perceive him as the Son of God? Who makes a slave to teach what freedom is? There is no union here, but only grief. This is not really mercy. This is death.
3. Another form, still very like the first if it is understood, does not appear in quite such blatant arrogance. The one who would forgive the other does not claim to be the better. Now he says instead that here is one whose sinfulness he shares, since both have been unworthy and deserve the retribution of the wrath of God. This can appear to be a humble thought, and may indeed induce a rivalry in sinfulness and guilt. It is not love for God’s creation and the holiness that is His gift forever. Can His Son condemn himself and still remember Him?
4. Here the goal is to separate from God the Son He loves, and keep him from his Source. This goal is also sought by those who seek the role of martyr at another’s hand. Here must the aim be clearly seen, for this may pass as meekness and as charity instead of cruelty. Is it not kind to be accepting of another’s spite, and not respond except with silence and a gentle smile? Behold, how good are you who bear with patience and with saintliness the anger and the hurt another gives, and do not show the bitter pain you feel.
5. Forgiveness-to-destroy will often hide behind a cloak like this. It shows the face of suffering and pain, in silent proof of guilt and of the ravages of sin. Such is the witness that it offers one who could be savior, not an enemy. But having been made enemy, he must accept the guilt and heavy-laid reproach that thus is put upon him. Is this love? Or is it rather treachery to one who needs salvation from the pain of guilt? What could the purpose be, except to keep the witnesses of guilt away from love?
6. Forgiveness-to-destroy can also take the form of bargaining and compromise. “I will forgive you if you meet my needs, for in your slavery is my release.” Say this to anyone and you are slave. And you will seek to rid yourself of guilt in further bargains which can give no hope, but only greater pain and misery. How fearful has forgiveness now become, and how distorted is the end it seeks. Have mercy on yourself who bargains thus. God gives and does not ask for recompense. There is no giving but to give like Him. All else is mockery. For who would try to strike a bargain with the Son of God, and thank his Father for his holiness?
7. What would you show your brother? Would you try to reinforce his guilt and thus your own? Forgiveness is the means for your escape. How pitiful it is to make of it the means for further slavery and pain. Within the world of opposites there is a way to use forgiveness for the goal of God, and find the peace He offers you. Take nothing else, or you have sought your death, and prayed for separation from your Self. Christ is for all because He is in all. It is His face forgiveness lets you see. It is His face in which you see your own.
8. All forms forgiveness takes that do not lead away from anger, condemnation and comparisons of every kind are death. For that is what their purposes have set. Be not deceived by them, but lay them by as worthless in their tragic offerings. You do not want to stay in slavery. You do not want to be afraid of God. You want to see the sunlight and the glow of Heaven shining on the face of earth, redeemed from sin and in the Love of God. From here is prayer released, along with you. Your wings are free, and prayer will lift you up and bring you home where God would have you be.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for December 22
I came for the salvation of the world.
1. Here is a thought from which all arrogance has been removed, and only truth remains. For arrogance opposes truth. But when there is no arrogance the truth will come immediately, and fill up the space the ego left unoccupied by lies. Only the ego can be limited, and therefore it must seek for aims which are curtailed and limiting. The ego thinks that what one gains, totality must lose. And yet it is the Will of God I learn that what one gains is given unto all.
2. Father, Your Will is total. And the goal which stems from it shares its totality. What aim but the salvation of the world could You have given me? And what but this could be the Will my Self has shared with You?
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Does A Course in Miracles have to be studied, or is it enough just to do the workbook and read the text randomly, in whatever way I feel guided to do?
A) Again, there is no right or wrong in pursuing A Course in Miracles as a spiritual path. However, there are certain guidelines we can present that can help ensure that one’s work with the Course is not being guided by the ego. One such guideline is always to return to Jesus’ own instructions for his curriculum. The three books are set up as a college course, in which, to summarize this again, there is the basic textbook, which contains the theoretical material that the instructor (here of course it is Jesus) wishes the class to study, learn, and understand; the workbook, which as in a laboratory course for example, is the practical application of what is learned in the text; and the manual, which offers guidelines for all pupils, who in this curriculum are also teachers.
What does this mean for Course students? Simply, that they are asked by Jesus to study, learn, and understand his teaching material, as well as to practice the Course’s principles of forgiveness. That is why, for example, he does not require that students understand what is said in the workbook, as we have already seen in the quotation cited above (W-in.8-9). But he does not let his students off that hook when it comes to the text. Near the end of Chapter 1, he states very clearly:
This is a course in mind training. All learning involves attention and study at some level. Some of the later parts of the course rest too heavily on these earlier sections not to require their careful study. You will also need them for preparation. Without this, you may become much too fearful of what is to come to make constructive use of it. However, as you study these earlier sections, you will begin to see some of the implications that will be amplified later on (T-1.VII.4; italics ours).
In fact, during the Course’s dictation, Jesus was quite insistent to Helen and Bill that they study these notes, as he referred to the material. He was speaking in the manner of a college professor insisting that his students pay careful attention to what was being taught, and to study the lecture notes he was giving. It would be in direct contradiction to the wishes of Jesus not to study the text, as he specifically asks. To ignore these very specific instructions at the end of Chapter I provides still another example of students’ authority problems, wherein they believe that they know better than Jesus what is in their own best interests, not to mention how they should proceed with his Course.
Regarding the workbook, since it is not meant to be the teaching aspect of the curriculum, it need not be read nor studied in the manner that the text should be. Certainly, however, it needs to be practiced as the instructions indicate. This being said, we nonetheless believe that students would do well in their work with A Course in Miracles — to enhance their understanding of it — to read carefully through the workbook itself at some point after they have gone through the lessons, as they would do with the text. Many would be astounded at what they would find there: a depth of teaching that can easily be overlooked as one does the lessons in the one-year training program.