ACIM Text Reading for March 3
Knowledge is not the motivation for learning this course. Peace is. This is the prerequisite for knowledge only because those who are in conflict are not peaceful, and peace is the condition of knowledge because it is the condition of the Kingdom. Knowledge can be restored only when you meet its conditions. This is not a bargain made by God, Who makes no bargains. It is merely the result of your misuse of His laws on behalf of an imaginary will that is not His. Knowledge is His Will. If you are opposing His Will, how can you have knowledge? I have told you what knowledge offers you, but perhaps you do not yet regard this as wholly desirable. If you did you would not be so ready to throw it away when the ego asks for your allegiance.
The distractions of the ego may seem to interfere with your learning, but the ego bas no power to distract you unless you give it the power to do so. The ego’s voice is an hallucination. You cannot expect it to say ‘I am not real’. Yet you are not asked to dispel your hallucinations alone. You are merely asked to evaluate them in terms of their results to you. If you do not want them on the basis of loss of peace, they will be removed from your mind for you.
Every response to the ego is a call to war, and war does deprive you of peace. Yet in this war there is no opponent. This is the reinterpretation of reality that you must make to secure peace, and the only one you need ever make. Those whom you perceive as opponents are part of your peace, which you are giving up by attacking them. How can you have what you give up? You share to have, but you do not give it up yourself. When you give up peace, you are excluding yourself from it. This is a condition so alien to the Kingdom that you cannot understand the state that prevails within it.
Your past learning must have taught you the wrong things, simply because it has not made you happy. On this basis alone its value should be questioned. If learning aims at change, and that is always its purpose, are you satisfied with the changes your learning has brought you? Dissatisfaction with learning outcomes is a sign of learning failure, since it means that you did not get what you wanted.
The curriculum of the Atonement is the opposite of the curriculum you have established for yourself, but so is its outcome. If the outcome of yours has made you unhappy, and if you want a different one, a change in the curriculum is obviously necessary. The first change to be introduced is a change in direction. A meaningful curriculum cannot be inconsistent. If it is planned by two teachers, each believing in diametrically opposed ideas, it cannot be integrated. If it is carried out by these two teachers simultaneously, each one merely interferes with the other. This leads to fluctuation, but not to change. The volatile have no direction. They cannot choose one because they cannot relinquish the other, even if it does not exist. Their conflicted curriculum teaches them that all directions exist, and gives them no rationale for choice.
The total senselessness of such a curriculum must be fully recognised before a real change in direction becomes possible. You cannot learn simultaneously from two teachers who are in total disagreement about everything. Their joint curriculum presents an impossible learning task. They are teaching you entirely different things in entirely different ways, which might be possible except that both are teaching you about yourself. Your reality is unaffected by both, but if you listen to both, your mind will be split about what your reality is.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for March 3
The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness.
1. How holy are you who have the power to bring peace to every mind! How blessed are you who can learn to recognize the means for letting this be done through you! What purpose could you have that would bring you greater happiness?
2. You are indeed the light of the world with such a function. The Son of God looks to you for his redemption. It is yours to give him, for it belongs to you. Accept no trivial purpose or meaningless desire in its place, or you will forget your function and leave the Son of God in hell. This is no idle request that is being asked of you. You are being asked to accept salvation that it may be yours to give.
3. Recognizing the importance of this function, we will be happy to remember it very often today. We will begin the day by acknowledging it, and close the day with the thought of it in our awareness. And throughout the day we will repeat this as often as we can:
The light of the world brings peace to every mind through my forgiveness. I am the means God has appointed for the salvation of the world.
4. If you close your eyes, you will probably find it easier to let the related thoughts come to you in the minute or two that you should devote to considering this. Do not, however, wait for such an opportunity. No chance should be lost for reinforcing today’s idea. Remember that God’s Son looks to you for his salvation. And Who but your Self must be His Son?
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.