ACIM Text Reading for June 18
Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace
The Obstacles to Peace
i. The Attraction of Pain
Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gives instead, without the limits that would hold its extension back, and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power, and use it for the Son of God’s release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace. is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your wish? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?
Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means, and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. Only the mind can set a purpose, and only the mind can see the means for its accomplishment, and justify its use. Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind, to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion that calls them forth, and therefore is compatible with them.
But think you which it is that is compatible with you. Here is your choice, and it is free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment, and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.
It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.
Is not this inevitable? Under fear’s orders the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego’s heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship that it keeps hidden, and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body’s pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, ‘It is death’.
Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognise this, and both also recognise that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himself? Who would accuse, make guilty and condemn himself?
The ego’s messages are always sent away from you, in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognises that this is not so, but as the ‘enemy’ of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom from attack.
Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin, and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body’s praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego’s rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.
It is not given to the ego’s disciples to realise that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received, to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way, and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 18
Now are we one with Him Who is our source.
1. What time but now can truth be recognized? The present is the only time there is. And so today, this instant, now, we come to look upon what is forever there; not in our sight, but in the eyes of Christ. He looks past time, and sees eternity as represented there. He hears the sounds the senseless, busy world engenders, yet He hears them faintly. For beyond them all He hears the song of Heaven, and the Voice for God more clear, more meaningful, more near.
2. The world fades easily away before His sight. Its sounds grow dim. A melody from far beyond the world increasingly is more and more distinct; an ancient call to which He gives an ancient answer. You will recognize them both, for they are but your answer to your Father’s Call to you. Christ answers for you, echoing your Self, using your voice to give His glad consent; accepting your deliverance for you.
3. How holy is your practicing today, as Christ gives you His sight and hears for you, and answers in your name the Call He hears! How quiet is the time you give to spend with Him, beyond the world. How easily are all your seeming sins forgot, and all your sorrows unremembered. On this day is grief laid by, for sights and sounds that come from nearer than the world are clear to you who will today accept the gifts He gives.
4. There is a silence into which the world can not intrude. There is an ancient peace you carry in your heart and have not lost. There is a sense of holiness in you the thought of sin has never touched. All this today you will remember. Faithfulness in practicing today will bring rewards so great and so completely different from all things you sought before, that you will know that here your treasure is, and here your rest.
5. This is the day when vain imaginings part like a curtain, to reveal what lies beyond them. Now is what is really there made visible, while all the shadows which appeared to hide it merely sink away. Now is the balance righted, and the scale of judgment left to Him Who judges true. And in His judgment will a world unfold in perfect innocence before your eyes. Now will you see it with the eyes of Christ. Now is its transformation clear to you.
6. Brother, this day is sacred to the world. Your vision, given you from far beyond all things within the world, looks back on them in a new light. And what you see becomes the healing and salvation of the world. The valuable and valueless are both perceived and recognized for what they are. And what is worthy of your love receives your love, while nothing to be feared remains.
7. We will not judge today. We will receive but what is given us from judgment made beyond the world. Our practicing today becomes our gift of thankfulness for our release from blindness and from misery. All that we see will but increase our joy, because its holiness reflects our own. We stand forgiven in the sight of Christ, with all the world forgiven in our own. We bless the world, as we behold it in the light in which our Savior looks on us, and offer it the freedom given us through His forgiving vision, not our own.
8. Open the curtain in your practicing by merely letting go all things you think you want. Your trifling treasures put away, and leave a clean and open space within your mind where Christ can come, and offer you the treasure of salvation. He has need of your most holy mind to save the world. Is not this purpose worthy to be yours? Is not Christ’s vision worthy to be sought above the world’s unsatisfying goals?
9. Let not today slip by without the gifts it holds for you receiving your consent and your acceptance. We can change the world, if you acknowledge them. You may not see the value your acceptance gives the world. But this you surely want; you can exchange all suffering for joy this very day. Practice in earnest, and the gift is yours. Would God deceive you? Can His promise fail? Can you withhold so little, when His Hand holds out complete salvation to His Son?
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) If God is not a person, why does Jesus portray Him that way? This is confusing.
A) This question goes to the heart of a very important issue for students of A Course in Miracles: Jesus’ metaphoric use of language. It is a source of great misunderstanding for students, both in terms of understanding what Jesus is teaching in the Course, as well as in applying its principles in their everyday lives. The language of the Course is clearly dualistic, symbolic, and metaphoric — as indeed all language must be — and there are numerous places in the Course where Jesus explains that he must use the language of illusion — i.e., duality — in order for his students to understand the truths he is teaching. He says, for example, in the context of the newly born holy relationship:
Of all the messages you have received and failed to understand, this course alone is open to your understanding and can be understood. This is your language. You do not understand it yet only because your whole communication is like a baby’s. The sounds a baby makes and what he hears are highly unreliable, meaning different things to him at different times. Neither the sounds he hears nor sights he sees are stable yet…. Yet a holy relationship, so recently reborn itself from an unholy relationship, and yet more ancient than the old illusion it has replaced, is like a baby now in its rebirth. Still in this infant is your vision returned to you, and he will speak the language you can understand (T-22.1.6:1-5; 7:2-3; italics ours in 7:3).
We all have experienced this same need Jesus is describing here. When speaking with children we use words and concepts that are appropriate to the child’s level of understanding. Even if the form of what we say is not always literally true, the content of our love and desire to be helpful is truly genuine. And later in the text, speaking of the Oneness of Christ that teaches us from within our separated minds, Jesus makes the same point:
Since you believe that you are separate, Heaven presents itself to you as separate, too. Not that it is in truth, but that the link that has been given you to join the truth may reach to you through what you understand…. Yet must It [0neness] use the language that this mind can understand, in the condition in which it thinks it is [the dualistic state of separation). And It must use all learning to transfer illusions to the truth, taking all false ideas of what you are, and leading you beyond them to the truth that is beyond them (T-25.1. 5:1-2; 7:4-5; italics ours in 7:4).
Since, as we have already seen, there is no way Jesus can communicate to us what God our Creator and Source truly is like, he must resort to the language of myth and metaphor. These are the symbols that we — identified as bodies — can understand. And so throughout A Course in Miracles, God is referred to as a body since we cannot even think of Him without one (text, p. 364; T-18.VIll. 1:7). He is called “Father,” and portrayed with Arms, Hands, and a Voice, and having feelings of loneliness and incompletion. It is even implied that God has tear ducts, since He cries over His Sons who are separated from Him. Clearly, the non-dualistic God we have described cannot possess these traits or bodily parts. Moreover, the true God does not think, as we experience thinking. Nor can He really have a plan of Atonement as a response to the illusion of separation when, as described in the Course, He creates the Holy Spirit. The apparent contradiction here is resolved when we understand, again, that Jesus is speaking to us on the anthropomorphic level we can understand, a wonderful example of the principle he enunciates early in the text:
… a miracle, to attain its full efficacy, must be expressed in a language that the recipient can understand without fear (T-2.IV.5:3).
Students of A Course in Miracles must be wary of falling into the trap of taking literally what is meant figuratively. A good rule of thumb is to recall that only non-duality is real. In contrast, duality is the illusion of separation, as can be seen in this paraphrase of a sentence from the manual in which we substitute the word duality for death, a passage from which we shall quote more fully in a later question:
Teacher of God, your one assignment could be stated thus: Accept no compromise in which duality plays a part (manual, p. 64; M-27.7: 1)
Any passage in A Course in Miracles where Jesus speaks of God doing anything, of having any characteristics of homo sapiens — anthropomorphisms — is inherently dualistic and therefore is a metaphor to express the abstract and non-specific Love of God that is beyond all dualism. Similarly, any references to the Holy Spirit or Jesus doing anything fall into the same category.
To be sure, these are extremely meaningful passages for us who still believe we are in the dualistic world of time and space, but to take these statements as literal truth will ensure that we never learn the lessons that will help us to awaken from the dream that there is indeed a world of individuality and separate bodies. All too often, students end up reinforcing their own specialness and identification with their bodies by never moving beyond the Course’s language — borrowed from the Bible — which largely consists of metaphoric descriptions of God and the Holy Spirit as bodies and persons who interact with them. Focusing on the Holy Spirit’s true role as a Thought in our minds, calling us to choose Him instead of the ego as our teacher, will keep students on the right track of forgiveness.
For a fuller discussion of this very important topic, the reader may wish to consult the tape sets “Making the Holy Spirit Special: the Arrogance of the Ego” and “Duality as Metaphor in A Course in Miracles.”