ACIM Text Reading for June 17
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
The Obstacles to Peace
The attraction of guilt produces fear of love, for love would never look on guilt at all. It is the nature of love to look upon only the truth, for there it sees itself, with which it would unite in holy union and completion. As love must look past fear, so must fear see love not. For love contains the end of guilt, as surely as fear depends on it. Love is attracted only to love. Overlooking guilt completely, it sees no fear. Being wholly without attack, it could not be afraid. Fear is attracted to what love sees not, and each believes that what the other looks upon does not exist. Fear looks on guilt with just the same devotion that love looks on itself. And each has messengers which it sends forth, and which return to it with messages written in the language in which their going forth was asked.
Love’s messengers are gently sent, and return with messages of love and gentleness. The messengers of fear are harshly ordered to seek out guilt, and cherish every scrap of evil and of sin that they can find, losing none of them on pain of death, and laying them respectfully before their lord and master. Perception cannot obey two masters, each asking for messages of different things in different languages. What fear would feed upon, love overlooks. What fear demands, love cannot even see. The fierce attraction that guilt holds for fear is wholly absent from love’s gentle perception. What love would look upon is meaningless to fear, and quite invisible.
Relationships in this world are the result of how the world is seen. And this depends on which emotion was called on to send its messengers to look upon it, and return with word of what they saw. Fear’s messengers are trained through terror, and they tremble when their master calls on them to serve him. For fear is merciless even to its friends. Its messengers steal guiltily away in hungry search of guilt, for they are kept cold and starving and made very vicious by their master, who allows them to feast only upon what they return to him. No little shred of guilt escapes their hungry eyes. And in their savage search for sin they pounce on any living thing they see, and carry it screaming to their master, to be devoured.
Send not these savage messengers into the world, to feast upon it and to prey upon reality. For they will bring you word of bones and skin and flesh. They have been taught to seek for the corruptible, and to return with gorges filled with things decayed and rotted. To them such things are beautiful, because they seem to allay their savage pangs of hunger. For they are frantic with the pain of fear, and would avert the punishment of him who sends them forth by offering him what they hold dear.
The Holy Spirit has given you love’s messengers to send instead of those you trained through fear. They are as eager to return to you what they hold dear as are the others. If you send them forth, they will see only the blameless and the beautiful, the gentle and the kind. They will be as careful to let no little act of charity, no tiny expression of forgiveness, no little breath of love escape their notice. And they will return with all the happy things they found, to share them lovingly with you. Be not afraid of them. They offer you salvation. Theirs are the messages of safety, for they see the world as kind.
If you send forth only the messengers the Holy Spirit gives you, wanting no messages but theirs, you will see fear no more. The world will be transformed before your sight, cleansed of all guilt and softly brushed with beauty. The world contains no fear that you laid not upon it. And none you cannot ask love’s messengers to remove from it, and see it still. The Holy Spirit has given you His messengers to send to your brother and return to you with what love sees. They have been given to replace the hungry dogs of fear you sent instead. And they go forth to signify the end of fear.
Love, too, would set a feast before you, on a table covered with a spotless cloth, set in a quiet garden where no sound but singing and a softly joyous whispering is ever heard. This is a feast that honours your holy relationship, and at which everyone is welcomed as an honoured guest. And in a holy instant grace is said by everyone together, as they join in gentleness before the table of communion. And I will join you there, as long ago I promised and promise still. For in your new relationship am I made welcome. And where I am made welcome, there I am.
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. To the ego sin means death, and so atonement is achieved through murder. Salvation is looked upon as a way by which the Son of God was killed instead of you. Yet would I offer you my body, you whom I love, knowing its littleness? Or would I teach that bodies cannot keep us apart? Mine was of no greater value than yours; no better means for communication of salvation, but not its Source. No one can die for anyone, and death does not atone for sin. But you can live to show it is not real. The body does appear to be the symbol of sin while you believe that it can get you what you want. While you believe that it can give you pleasure, you will also believe that it can bring you pain. To think you could be satisfied and happy with so little is to hurt yourself, and to limit the happiness that you would have calls upon pain to fill your meagre store and make your life complete. This is completion as the ego sees it. For guilt creeps in where happiness has been removed, and substitutes for it. Communion is another kind of completion, which goes beyond guilt, because it goes beyond the body.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 17
There is no death. The Son of God is free.
1. Death is a thought that takes on many forms, often unrecognized. It may appear as sadness, fear, anxiety or doubt; as anger, faithlessness and lack of trust; concern for bodies, envy, and all forms in which the wish to be as you are not may come to tempt you. All such thoughts are but reflections of the worshipping of death as savior and as giver of release.
2. Embodiment of fear, the host of sin, god of the guilty and the lord of all illusions and deceptions, does the thought of death seem mighty. For it seems to hold all living things within its withered hand; all hopes and wishes in its blighting grasp; all goals perceived but in its sightless eyes. The frail, the helpless and the sick bow down before its image, thinking it alone is real, inevitable, worthy of their trust. For it alone will surely come.
3. All things but death are seen to be unsure, too quickly lost however hard to gain, uncertain in their outcome, apt to fail the hopes they once engendered, and to leave the taste of dust and ashes in their wake, in place of aspirations and of dreams. But death is counted on. For it will come with certain footsteps when the time has come for its arrival. It will never fail to take all life as hostage to itself.
4. Would you bow down to idols such as this? Here is the strength and might of God Himself perceived within an idol made of dust. Here is the opposite of God proclaimed as lord of all creation, stronger than God’s Will for life, the endlessness of love and Heaven’s perfect, changeless constancy. Here is the Will of Father and of Son defeated finally, and laid to rest beneath the headstone death has placed upon the body of the holy Son of God.
5. Unholy in defeat, he has become what death would have him be. His epitaph, which death itself has written, gives no name to him, for he has passed to dust. It says but this: “Here lies a witness God is dead.” And this it writes again and still again, while all the while its worshippers agree, and kneeling down with foreheads to the ground, they whisper fearfully that it is so.
6. It is impossible to worship death in any form, and still select a few you would not cherish and would yet avoid, while still believing in the rest. For death is total. Either all things die, or else they live and cannot die. No compromise is possible. For here again we see an obvious position, which we must accept if we be sane; what contradicts one thought entirely can not be true, unless its opposite is proven false.
7. The idea of the death of God is so preposterous that even the insane have difficulty in believing it. For it implies that God was once alive and somehow perished; killed, apparently, by those who did not want Him to survive. Their stronger will could triumph over His, and so eternal life gave way to death. And with the Father died the Son as well.
8. Death’s worshippers may be afraid. And yet, can thoughts like these be fearful? If they saw that it is only this which they believe, they would be instantly released. And you will show them this today. There is no death, and we renounce it now in every form, for their salvation and our own as well. God made not death. Whatever form it takes must therefore be illusion. This the stand we take today. And it is given us to look past death, and see the life beyond.
9. Our Father, bless our eyes today. We are Your messengers, and we would look upon the glorious reflection of Your Love which shines in everything. We live and move in You alone. We are not separate from Your eternal life. There is no death, for death is not Your Will. And we abide where You have placed us, in the life we share with You and with all living things, to be like You and part of You forever. We accept Your Thoughts as ours, and our will is one with Yours eternally. Amen.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Is the God in A Course in Miracles the same as the God in the Bible?
A) Jesus unequivocally states in the Course that God did not create this world, and thus on this basis alone He is distinctly different from the Judaeo-Christian deity. The biblical God is a dualistic creator of a material universe that he creates by the spoken word, as noted in Genesis’ first account of creation: “And God said, let there be …… Thus this world and all creatures came into existence as separated entities, existing outside of him. In effect, therefore, the biblical God creates by projecting a thought or concept outside himself, where it becomes a physical “reality,” as witnessed, again, in the creation story in the Book of Genesis.
But the distinctions between the two are even more profound. The biblical God is very much a person who sees sin as real, and must therefore respond to it, first by punishment, and then by the plan of the atonement wherein salvation and forgiveness are won through the suffering and sacrifice of his holy Servant (the Suffering Servant in Isaiah — Old Testament) and his only begotten Son Jesus (New Testament). The God of A Course in Miracles, on the other hand, is not a person and therefore has none of the anthropomorphic qualities of homo sapiens. This God does not even know about the separation (the Course’s equivalent of the biblical notion of original sin), and thus does not and cannot respond to it.
Therefore, the God of the Course is not the God of formal religion, and certainly not the God of the Bible. In truth, our Source is beyond all concepts and anthropomorphisms, and has nothing in common with the biblical God who has all the attributes of special love (a God who has a chosen people) and special hate (a God of punishment) that are associated with the ego thought system. The previously mentioned section “The Laws of Chaos” contains a graphic portrait of this biblical God who has made sin real and thus revealed his ego origins, or better, the egos of the writers of the books of the Bible:
The arrogance on which the laws of chaos stand could not be more apparent than emerges here. Here is a principle that would define what the Creator of reality must be; what He must think and what He must believe; and how He must respond, believing it. It is not seen as even necessary that He be asked about the truth of what has been established for His belief [the reality of sin]. His Son can tell Him this, and He has but the choice whether to take his word for it or be mistaken…. [But] if God cannot be mistaken, He must accept His Son’s belief in what he is [a sinner], and hate him for it.See how the fear of God is reinforced by this… principle. Now it become impossible to turn to Him for help in misery. For now He has become the “enemy” Who caused it, to Whom appeal is useless …. And now is conflict made inevitable, beyond the help of God. For now salvation must remain impossible, because the savior has become the enemy.
There can be no release and no escape. Atonement thus becomes a myth, and vengeance, not forgiveness, is the Will of God. From where all this begins [the belief in the reality of sin], there is no sight of help that can succeed. Only destruction can be the outcome. And God Himself seems to be siding with it, to overcome His Son (T-23.11.6:1-4,6; 7:1-3,5-6; 8:1-5).
This portrait, as is clear, is not only of the archetypal ego god that lies at the heart of every one’s mind who believes in separation, but is also what has been so powerfully expressed in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. This god is a figure, to make the point again, who believes in the reality of sin and in its atonement through punishment, the principal components of which — suffering and sacrifice — become the great plan of salvation or redemption. And as A Course in Miracles teaches, once belief in separation is accorded any reality, it is inevitable in the wrong-minded ego thought system that the ego’s god be perceived as an avenger. This reflects the ego’s “unholy trinity” of sin, guilt, and fear: The ego thought system posits the separation as accomplished, and calls it sin. Then the psychological experience of sin follows and guilt is born. And now the ego god demands punishment, the origin of fear as we have already seen in the above quotation. And behind all this insanity remains the true God of Love, Who simply “waits” for the minds of His sleeping children to awaken from their nightmare dreams and return to Him Whom they never left.