ACIM Text Reading for July 17
Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship
I. The Message of the Holy Relationship
Let reason take another step. If you attack whom God would heal and hate the one He loves, then you and your Creator have a different will. Yet if you are His Will, what you must then believe is that you are not yourself. You can indeed believe this, and you do. And you have faith in this and see much evidence on its behalf. And where, you wonder, does your strange uneasiness, your sense of being disconnected, and your haunting fear of lack of meaning in yourself arise? It is as though you wandered in without a plan of any kind except to wander off, for only that seems certain.
Yet we have heard a very similar description earlier, but it was not of you. But still this strange idea which it does accurately describe, you think is you. Reason would tell you that the world you see through eyes that are not yours must make no sense to you. To whom would seeing such as this send back its messages? Surely not you, whose sight is wholly independent of the eyes that look upon the world. If this is not your vision, what can it show to you? The brain cannot interpret what your vision sees. This you would understand. The brain interprets to the body, of which it is a part. But what it says you cannot understand. Yet you have listened to it. And long and hard you tried to understand its messages.
You have not realised it is impossible to understand what fails entirely to reach you. You have received no messages at all you understand. For you have listened to what can never communicate at all. Think, then, what happens. Denying what you are, and firm in faith that you are something else, this ‘something else’ that you have made to be yourself becomes your sight. Yet it must be the ‘something else’ that sees, and as not you, explains its sight to you. Your vision would, of course, render this quite unnecessary. Yet if your eyes are closed and you have called upon this thing to lead you, asking it to explain to you the world it sees, you have no reason not to listen, nor to suspect that what it tells you is not true. Reason would tell you it cannot be true because you do not understand it. God has no secrets. He does not lead you through a world of misery, waiting to tell you, at the journey’s end, why He did this to you.
What could be secret from God’s Will? Yet you believe that you have secrets. What could your secrets be except another ‘will’ that is your own, apart from His? Reason would tell you that this is no secret that need be hidden as a sin. But a mistake indeed! Let not your fear of sin protect it from correction, for the attraction of guilt is only fear. Here is the one emotion that you made, whatever it may seem to be. This is the emotion of secrecy, of private thoughts and of the body. This is the one emotion that opposes love, and always leads to sight of differences and loss of sameness. Here is the one emotion that keeps you blind, dependent on the self you think you made to lead you through the world it made for you.
Your sight was given you, along with everything that you can understand. You will perceive no difficulty in understanding what this vision tells you, for everyone sees only what he thinks he is. And what, your sight would show you, you will understand because it is the truth. Only your vision can convey to you what you can see. It reaches you directly, without a need to be interpreted to you. What needs interpretation must be alien. Nor will it ever be made understandable by an interpreter you cannot understand.
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. But what he hears and does not understand will be his native tongue, through which he will communicate with those around him, and they with him. And the strange, shifting ones he sees about him will become to him his comforters, and he will recognise his home and see them there with him.
So in each holy relationship is the ability to communicate instead of separate reborn. 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. He is not nurtured by the ‘something else’ you thought was you. He was not given there, nor was received by anything except yourself. For no two brothers can unite except through Christ, Whose vision sees them one.
Think what is given you, my holy brother. This child will teach you what you do not understand, and make it plain. For his will be no alien tongue. He will need no interpreter to you, for it was you who taught him what he knows because you knew it. He could not come to anyone but you, never to ‘something else’. Where Christ has entered no one is alone, for never could He find a home in separate ones. Yet must He be reborn into His ancient home, so seeming new and yet as old as He, a tiny newcomer, dependent on the holiness of your relationship to let Him live.
Be certain God did not entrust His Son to the unworthy. Nothing but what is part of Him is worthy of being joined. Nor is it possible that anything not part of Him can join. Communication must have been restored to those who join, for this they could not do through bodies. What, then, has joined them? Reason will tell you that they must have seen each other through a vision not of the body, and communicated in a language the body does not speak. Nor could it be a fearful sight or sound that drew them gently into one. Rather, in each the other saw a perfect shelter where his Self could be reborn in safety and in peace. Such did his reason tell him; such he believed because it was the truth.
Here is the first direct perception that you can make. You make it through awareness older than perception, and yet reborn in just an instant. For what is time to what was always so? Think what that instant brought; the recognition that the ‘something else’ you thought was you is an illusion. And truth came instantly, to show you where your Self must be. It is denial of illusions that calls on truth, for to deny illusions is to recognise that fear is meaningless. Into the holy home where fear is powerless love enters thankfully, grateful that it is one with you who joined to let it enter.
Christ comes to what is like Himself; the same, not different. For he is always drawn unto Himself. What is as like Him as a holy relationship? And what draws you and your brother together draws Him to you. Here are His sweetness and His gentle innocence protected from attack. And here can He return in confidence, for faith in another is always faith in Him. You are indeed correct in looking on your brother as His chosen home, for here you will with Him and with His Father. This is your Father’s Will for you, and yours with His. And who is drawn to Christ is drawn to God as surely as both are drawn to every holy relationship, the home prepared for them as earth is turned to Heaven.
ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 17
I have a function that God would have me fill.
1. It is your Father’s holy Will that you complete Himself, and that your Self shall be His sacred Son, forever pure as He, of love created and in love preserved, extending love, creating in its name, forever one with God and with your Self. Yet what can such a function mean within a world of envy, hatred and attack?
2. Therefore, you have a function in the world in its own terms. For who can understand a language far beyond his simple grasp? Forgiveness represents your function here. It is not God’s creation, for it is the means by which untruth can be undone. And who would pardon Heaven? Yet on earth, you need the means to let illusions go. Creation merely waits for your return to be acknowledged, not to be complete.
3. Creation cannot even be conceived of in the world. It has no meaning here. Forgiveness is the closest it can come to earth. For being Heaven-born, it has no form at all. Yet God created One Who has the power to translate in form the wholly formless. What He makes are dreams, but of a kind so close to waking that the light of day already shines in them, and eyes already opening behold the joyful sights their offerings contain.
4. Forgiveness gently looks upon all things unknown in Heaven, sees them disappear, and leaves the world a clean and unmarked slate on which the Word of God can now replace the senseless symbols written there before. Forgiveness is the means by which the fear of death is overcome, because it holds no fierce attraction now and guilt is gone. Forgiveness lets the body be perceived as what it is; a simple teaching aid, to be laid by when learning is complete, but hardly changing him who learns at all.
5. The mind without the body cannot make mistakes. It cannot think that it will die, nor be the prey of merciless attack. Anger becomes impossible, and where is terror then? What fears could still assail those who have lost the source of all attack, the core of anguish and the seat of fear? Only forgiveness can relieve the mind of thinking that the body is its home. Only forgiveness can restore the peace that God intended for His holy Son. Only forgiveness can persuade the Son to look again upon his holiness.
6. With anger gone, you will indeed perceive that, for Christ’s vision and the gift of sight, no sacrifice was asked, and only pain was lifted from a sick and tortured mind. Is this unwelcome? Is it to be feared? Or is it to be hoped for, met with thanks and joyously accepted? We are one, and therefore give up nothing. But we have indeed been given everything by God.
7. Yet do we need forgiveness to perceive that this is so. Without its kindly light we grope in darkness, using reason but to justify our rage and our attack. Our understanding is so limited that what we think we understand is but confusion born of error. We are lost in mists of shifting dreams and fearful thoughts, our eyes shut tight against the light; our minds engaged in worshipping what is not there.
8. Who can be born again in Christ but him who has forgiven everyone he sees or thinks of or imagines? Who could be set free while he imprisons anyone? A jailer is not free, for he is bound together with his prisoner. He must be sure that he does not escape, and so he spends his time in keeping watch on him. The bars that limit him become the world in which his jailer lives, along with him. And it is on his freedom that the way to liberty depends for both of them.
9. Therefore, hold no one prisoner. Release instead of bind, for thus are you made free. The way is simple. Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free. Thus does each one who seems to tempt you to be angry represent your savior from the prison house of death. And so you owe him thanks instead of pain.
10. Be merciful today. The Son of God deserves your mercy. It is he who asks that you accept the way to freedom now. Deny him not. His Father’s Love for him belongs to you. Your function here on earth is only to forgive him, that you may accept him back as your Identity. He is as God created him. And you are what he is. Forgive him now his sins, and you will see that you are one with him.
ACIM Q & A for Today
Q) Is there such a thing as free will, and what is it anyway?
A) This question must be answered in two parts:
1) In Heaven there can be no free will, for how can the Son of God be free to choose when there is literally nothing there to choose from? In a non-dualistic reality, which is the state of Heaven, there is only perfect Oneness. That is why A Course in Miracles states that the Will of God and the will of His Son are one and the same. And so there can be nothing else, and therefore nothing to choose between. Moreover, the process of choosing has meaning only within a subject-object world: a subject who chooses among different objects, all perceived and experienced to be outside the mind that chooses. Therefore, the term “free will” has no meaning here, unless it is used, as A Course in Miracles does in one place, to refer to the “freedom of will,” the title of a section in Chapter 30. However, in this instance the term means something quite different from the usual conception of “free will.” In Heaven, our will is free because it cannot be imprisoned, which is a statement that reflects the Atonement principle that the separation from God never happened. Therefore, the Son of God cannot truly be imprisoned by his own mistaken belief that he has sinned against his Creator, and thus been made a prisoner to his own guilt. We read in several places:
How wonderful it is to do your will! For that is freedom. There is nothing else that ever should be called by freedom’s name. Unless you do your will you are not free. And would God leave His Son without what he has chosen for himself? God but ensured that you would never lose your will when He gave you His perfect Answer. Hear It now, that you may be reminded of His Love and learn your will. God would not have His Son made prisoner to what he does not want. He joins with you in willing you be free. And to oppose Him is to make a choice against yourself, and choose that you be bound (T-30.II.2). In the holy state the will is free, so that its creative power is unlimited and choice is meaningless (T-5.II.6:4).
It is not your will to be imprisoned because your will is free. That is why the ego is the denial of free will. It is never God Who coerces you, because He shares His Will with you. His Voice teaches only in accordance with His Will, but that is not the Holy Spirit’s lesson because that is what you are. The lesson is that your will and God’s cannot be out of accord because they are one (T-8.II.3:2-6).
When we finally accept the Atonement for ourselves, awakening from the dream and thus becoming manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the recognition that our wills are one with God’s must inevitably follow.
2) Within the dream, however, which is the realm of perception and illusion, the concept of free will becomes extremely important and meaningful for it is the mechanism of salvation. In his dream, the Son believed that he had chosen against God, and this set into motion the whole drama of the unholy trinity — sin, guilt, and fear — culminating in the making of the physical universe as a defense against the perceived wrathful vengeance of the ego’s made-up God. Thus, within the dream, the same power of the Son’s mind to choose against God, now must be free to choose for Him. And so Jesus states in a number of important passages:
In this world the only remaining freedom is the freedom of choice; always between two choices or two voices. Will is not involved in perception at any level, and has nothing to do with choice (manual, p. 75; C-1.7:1-2). The power of his decision offers it to him as he requests. Herein lie hell and Heaven. The sleeping Son of God has but this power left to him (M-21.3:5-7).
You have chosen to be in a state of opposition in which opposites are possible. As a result, there are choices you must make….Choosing depends on a split mind (T-5.II.6:2-3,6).
Would you be hostage to the ego or host to God? you will accept only whom you invite. You are free to determine who shall be your guest, and how long he shall remain with you. Yet this is not real freedom, for it still depends on how you see it (T-11.II.7:1-4; italics ours).
Indeed, one might say that a purpose of A Course in Miracles is for Jesus to teach us that we do have a choice within our dreams of separation and specialness, and that this choice rests within our minds. By learning the meaning of forgiveness, which is that our experience of the world is a projection of a decision in our minds that can now be changed, we learn to exercise this free will. Thus we ultimately learn and remember that our true will has been free all along. We simply had forgotten. And so Jesus states: “The Holy Spirit calls you both to remember [God] and to forget [the ego]” (T-5.II.6:1).