A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 22, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 22

Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship

VI. The Light of the Holy Relationship

Do you want freedom of the body or of the mind? For both you cannot have. Which do you value? Which is your goal? For one you see as means; the other, end. And one must serve the other and lead to its predominance, increasing its importance by diminishing its own. Means serve the end, and as the end is reached the value of the means decreases, eclipsed entirely when they are recognised as functionless. No one but yearns for freedom and tries to find it. Yet he will seek for it where he believes it is and can be found. He will believe it possible of mind or body, and he will make the other serve his choice as means to find it.

Where freedom of the body has been chosen, the mind is used as means whose value lies in its ability to contrive ways to achieve the body’s freedom. Yet freedom of the body has no meaning, and so the mind is dedicated to serve illusions. This is a situation so contradictory and so impossible that anyone who chooses this has no idea of what is valuable. Yet even in this confusion, so profound it cannot be described, the Holy Spirit waits in gentle patience, as certain of the outcome as He is sure of His Creator’s Love. He knows this mad decision was made by one as dear to His Creator as love is to itself.

Be not disturbed at all to think how He can change the role of means and end so easily in what God loves, and would have free forever. But be you rather grateful that you can be the means to serve His end. This is the only service that leads to freedom. To serve this end the body must be perceived as sinless, because the goal is sinlessness. The lack of contradiction makes the soft transition from means to end as easy as is the shift from hate to gratitude before forgiving eyes. You will be sanctified by your brother, using your body only to serve the sinless. And it will be impossible for you to hate what serves whom you would heal.

This holy relationship, lovely in its innocence, mighty in strength, and blazing with a light far brighter than the sun that lights the sky you see, is chosen of your Father as a means for His Own plan. Be thankful that it serves yours not at all. Nothing entrusted to it can be misused, and nothing given it but will be used. This holy relationship has the power to heal all pain, regardless of its form. Neither you nor your brother alone can serve at all. Only in your joint will does healing lie. For here your healing is, and here will you accept Atonement. And in your healing is the Sonship healed because your will and your brother’s are joined.

Before a holy relationship there is no sin. The form of error is no longer seen, and reason, joined with love, looks quietly on all confusion, observing merely, ‘This was a mistake’. And then the same Atonement you accepted in your relationship corrects the error, and lays a part of Heaven in its place. How blessed are you who let this gift be given! Each part of Heaven that you bring is given you. And every empty place in Heaven that you will fill again with the Eternal Light you bring, shines now on you. The means of sinlessness can know no fear because they carry only love with them.

Child of peace, the light has come to you. The light you bring you do not recognise, and yet you will remember. Who can deny himself the vision that he brings to others? And who would fail to recognise a gift he let be laid in Heaven through himself? The gentle service that you give the Holy Spirit is service to yourself. You who are now His means must love all that He loves. And what you bring is your remembrance of everything that is eternal. No trace of anything in time can long remain in a mind that serves the timeless. And no illusion can disturb the peace of a relationship that has become the means of peace.

When you have looked upon your brother with complete forgiveness, from which no error is excluded and nothing kept hidden, what mistake can there be anywhere you cannot overlook? What form of suffering could block your sight, preventing you from seeing past it? And what illusion could there be you will not recognise as a mistake; a shadow through which you walk completely undismayed? God would let nothing interfere with those whose wills are His, and they will recognise their wills are His, because they serve His Will. And serve it willingly. And could remembrance of what they are be long delayed?

You will see your value through your brother’s eyes, and each one is released as he beholds his saviour in place of the attacker who he thought was there. Through this releasing is the world released. This is your part in bringing peace. For you have asked what is your function here, and have been answered. Seek not to change it, nor to substitute another goal. This one was given you, and only this. Accept this one and serve it willingly, for what the Holy Spirit does with gifts you give your brother, to whom He offers them, and where and when, is up to Him. He will bestow them where they are received and welcomed. He will use every one of them for peace. Nor will one little smile or willingness to overlook the tiniest mistake be lost to anyone.

What can it be but universal blessing to look on what your Father loves with charity? Extension of forgiveness is the Holy Spirit’s function. Leave this to Him. Let your concern be only that you give to Him that which can be extended. Save no dark secrets that He cannot use, but offer Him the tiny gifts He can extend forever. He will take each one and make of it a potent force for peace. He will withhold no blessing from it, nor limit it in any way. He will join to it all the power that God has given Him, to make each little gift of love a source of healing for everyone. Each little gift you offer to your brother lights up the world. Be not concerned with darkness; look away from it and toward your brother. And let the darkness be dispelled by Him Who knows the light, and lays it gently in each quiet smile of faith and confidence with which you bless your brother.

On your learning depends the welfare of the world. And it is only arrogance that would deny the power of your will. Think you the Will of God is powerless? Is this humility? You do not see what this belief has done. You see yourself as vulnerable, frail and easily destroyed, and at the mercy of countless attackers more powerful than you. Let us look straight at how this error came about, for here lies buried the heavy anchor that seems to keep the fear of God in place, unmovable and solid as a rock. While this remains, so will it seem to be.

Who can attack the Son of God and not attack his Father? How can God’s Son be weak and frail and easily destroyed unless his Father is? You do not see that every sin and every condemnation that you perceive and justify is an attack upon your Father. And that is why it has not happened, nor could be real. You do not see that this is your attempt because you think the Father and the Son are separate. And you must think that they are separate, because of fear. For it seems safer to attack another or yourself than to attack the great Creator of the universe, Whose power you know.

If you were one with God and recognised this oneness, you would know His power is yours. But you will not remember this while you believe attack of any kind means anything. It is unjustified in any form, because it has no meaning. The only way it could be justified is if you and your brother were separate from the other, and all were separate from your Creator. For only then would it be possible to attack a part of the creation without the whole, the Son without the Father; and to attack another without yourself, or hurt yourself without the other feeling pain. And this belief you want. Yet wherein lies its value, except in the desire to attack in safety? Attack is neither safe nor dangerous. It is impossible. And this is so because the universe is one. You would not choose attack on its reality if it were not essential to attack to see it separated from its maker. And thus it seems as if love could attack and become fearful.

Only the different can attack. So you conclude because you can attack, you and your brother must be different. Yet does. the Holy Spirit explain this differently. Because you and your brother are not different, you cannot attack. Either position is a logical conclusion. Either could be maintained, but never both. The only question to be answered in order to decide which must be true is whether you and your brother are different. From the position of what you understand you seem to be, and therefore can attack. Of the alternatives, this seems more natural and more in line with your experience. And therefore it is necessary that you have other experiences, more in line with truth, to teach you what is natural and true.

This is the function of your holy relationship. For what one thinks, the other will experience with him. What can this mean except your mind and your brother’s are one? Look not with fear upon this happy fact, and think not that it lays a heavy burden on you. or when you have accepted it with gladness, you will realise that your relationship is a reflection of the union of the Creator and His Son. From loving minds there is no separation. And every thought in one brings gladness to the other because they are the same. Joy is unlimited, because each shining thought of love extends its being and creates more of itself. There is no difference anywhere in it, for every thought is like itself.

The light that joins you and your brother shines throughout the universe, and because it joins you and him, so it makes you and him one with your Creator. And in Him is all creation joined. Would you regret you cannot fear alone, when your relationship can also teach the power of love is there, which makes all fear impossible? Do not attempt to keep a little of the ego with this gift. For it was given you to be used, and not obscured. What teaches you that you cannot separate denies the ego. Let truth decide if you and your brother be different or the same, and teach you which is true.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 22

Lesson 197

It can be but my gratitude I earn.

1. Here is the second step we take to free your mind from the belief in outside force pitted against your own. You make attempts at kindness and forgiveness. Yet you turn them to attack again, unless you find external gratitude and lavish thanks. Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn. And so you think God’s gifts are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill.

2. How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do. Deny your strength, and weakness must become salvation to you. See yourself as bound, and bars become your home. Nor will you leave the prison house, or claim your strength, until guilt and salvation are not seen as one, and freedom and salvation are perceived as joined, with strength beside them, to be sought and claimed, and found and fully rec­ognized.

3. The world must thank you when you offer it release from your illusions. Yet your thanks belong to you as well, for its release can only mirror yours. Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. Is it this you would undo by taking back your gifts, because they were not honored? It is you who honor them and give them fitting thanks, for it is you who have received the gifts.

4. It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you. It does not matter if your gifts seem lost and ineffectual. They are received where they are given. In your gratitude are they ac­cepted universally, and thankfully acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. And would you take them back, when He has gratefully accepted them?

5. God blesses every gift you give to Him, and every gift is given Him, because it can be given only to yourself. And what belongs to God must be His Own. Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again.

6. Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while, before He snatches them away again in death. For death will have no meaning for you then.

7. And with the end of this belief is fear forever over. Thank your Self for this, for He is grateful only unto God, and He gives thanks for you unto Himself. To everyone who lives will Christ yet come, for everyone must live and move in Him. His Being in His Father is secure, because Their Will is One. Their gratitude to all They have created has no end, for gratitude remains a part of love.

8. Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. For as you were cre­ated, you contain all things within your Self. And you are still as God created you. Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. In your heart the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear, because you are Himself. All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are.

9. Give thanks as you receive it. Be you free of all ingratitude to anyone who makes your Self complete. And from this Self is no one left outside. Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self. All that you do is given unto Him. All that you think can only be His Thoughts, sharing with Him the holy Thoughts of God. Earn now the gratitude you have denied yourself when you forgot the function God has given you. But never think that He has ever ceased to offer thanks to you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What does A Course in Miracles mean by “releasing your brother”? How can I save him if the world is an hallucination in my mind?

A) The reader should recall our earlier discussion in question 5 of Jesus’ use of metaphor in the Course.  In other words, students of A Course in Miracles need to allow themselves to be led beyond the form of its words to their underlying content. This is a process that occurs slowly over time, beginning with a more literal understanding of the Course’s teachings. At first, therefore, phrases like “releasing your brother,” or parallel ones about being your brother’s savior, or the workbook emphasis on being the light of the world, help students undo their negative self-image such as is summarized in workbook
Lesson 93:

You think you are the home of evil, darkness and sin. You think if anyone could see the truth about you he would be repelled, recoiling from you as if from a poisonous snake. You think if what is true about you were revealed to you, you would be struck with horror so intense that you would rush to death by your own hand, living on after seeing this being impossible (W-pl.93.1).

It is a healing correction to be told that our thoughts about ourselves are not true, and that not only are we loved by God as an extension of His Will (as the rest of the lesson makes clear) but that we have the power to heal and bless others as well. It is only as we progress in our work with A Course in Miracles that it becomes clear that the process of “releasing” one’s brother has nothing to do with our brother, but everything to do with ourselves. Indeed, this process of forgiveness can have nothing to do with our brother because in truth it is our dream, and he is but a figure in this dream. In one rather strong passage, Jesus asks his students:

What if you recognized this world is an hallucination? What if you really understood you made it up? What if you realized that those who seem to walk about in it, to sin and die, attack and murder and destroy themselves, are wholly unreal? (T-20.VIII.7:3-5)

In other words, our world and lives are our dreams, just as our sleeping dreams — with all their figures and events — are present only in our dreaming minds that in a sense are but hallucinations, too. Moreover, since the content of the ego’s dream is fear, hate, victimization, and unforgiveness, all dream figures will have the above themes scripted throughout the dreaming we call “life.” Therefore, there is no one to forgive because, again, all the people in our lives are simply made-up figures in our dreams. Who needs to be forgiven is ourselves — for dreaming in the first place instead of remembering our Identity as Christ, awake in God.

Our function of “releasing our brothers” through forgiveness relates to a function and process that truly occurs only within our minds — the home of dreams — although it is experienced by us as occurring between two separated individuals. By choosing Jesus as our teacher instead of the ego, by listening to his voice of forgiveness instead of the ego’s voice of attack, we join with him as expressions of the Alternative that is in everyone’s mind. And thus we become the reminders to our brothers that they can make the same choice we did, and thus be released from their guilt since we both scripted each other into our respective dreams. Therefore, we can choose either to be symbols of guilt or forgiveness for one another. This process of healing through forgiveness is summarized in this wonderfully clear passage from the manual for teachers, which discusses the role of the teacher of God when confronted by sickness:

To them [the sick] God’s teachers come, to represent another choice which they had forgotten. The simple presence of a teacher of God is a reminder … They stand for the Alternative. With God’s Word in their minds they come in benediction, not to heal the sick but to remind them of the remedy God has already given them…. Very gently they call to their brothers to turn away from death: “Behold, you Son of God, what Life can offer you. Would you choose sickness in place of this?” (M-5.III.2:1-2,6-7,11-12)

Therefore, we save the world and everyone in it by saving or changing our thoughts about the world. By releasing ourselves from our own guilt, we release the world because we are one with it, since it is our projection. That is what the Course means by saying that we “arose with him [Jesus] when he began to save the world” (C-6.5:5). Our minds are one, and Jesus’ remaining one with the Holy Spirit becomes the shining reminder in the Sonship’s mind to do the same. Our making that choice allows us to be Jesus’ manifestation to our brothers, just as he is the Holy Spirit’s manifestation for us all (C-6.5:1-2). It is this call to remember and to choose that is the true release that heals.

infinite patience

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 21, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 21

Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship

V. Weakness and Defensiveness

How does one overcome illusions? Surely not by force or anger, nor by opposing them in any way. Merely by letting reason tell you that they contradict reality. They go against what must be true. The opposition comes from them, and not reality. Reality opposes nothing. What merely is needs no defence, and offers none. Only illusions need defence because of weakness. And how can it be difficult to walk the way of truth when only weakness interferes? You are the strong one in this seeming conflict. And you need no defence. Everything that needs defence you do not want, for anything that needs defence will weaken you.

Consider what the ego wants defences for. Always to justify what goes against the truth, flies in the face of reason and makes no sense. Can this be justified? What can this be except an invitation to insanity, to save you from the truth? And what would you be saved from but what you fear? Belief in sin needs great defence, and at enormous cost. All that the Holy Spirit offers must be defended against and sacrificed. For sin is carved into a block out of your peace, and laid between you and its return.

Yet how can peace be so fragmented? It is still whole, and nothing has been taken from it. See how the means and the material of evil dreams are nothing. In truth you and your brother stand together, with nothing in between. God holds your hands, and what can separate whom He has joined as one with Him? It is your Father Whom you would defend against. Yet it remains impossible to keep love out. God rests with you in quiet, undefended and wholly undefending, for in this quiet state alone is strength and power. Here can no weakness enter, for here is no attack and therefore no illusions. Love rests in certainty. Only uncertainty can be defensive. And all uncertainty is doubt about yourself.

How weak is fear; how little and how meaningless. How insignificant before the quiet strength of those whom love has joined! This is your ‘enemy’—a frightened mouse that would attack the universe. How likely is it that it will succeed? Can it be difficult to disregard its feeble squeaks that tell of its omnipotence, and would drown out the hymn of praise to its Creator that every heart throughout the universe forever sings as one? Which is the stronger? Is it this tiny mouse or everything that God created? You and your brother are not joined together by this mouse, but by the Will of God. And can a mouse betray whom God has joined?

If you but recognised how little stands between you and your awareness of your union with your brother! Be not deceived by the illusions it presents of size and thickness, weight, solidity and firmness of foundation. Yes, to the body’s eyes it looks like an enormous solid body, immovable as is a mountain. Yet within you is a Force that no illusions can resist. This body only seems to be immovable; this Force is irresistible in truth. What, then, must happen when they come together? Can the illusion of immovability be long defended from what is quietly passed through and gone beyond?

Forget not, when you feel the need arise to be defensive about anything, you have identified yourself with an illusion. And therefore feel that you are weak because you are alone. This is the cost of all illusions. Not one but rests. on the belief that you are separate. Not one that does not seem to stand, heavy and solid and immovable, between you and your brother. And not one that truth cannot pass over lightly, and so easily that you must be convinced, in spite of what you thought it was, that it is nothing. If you forgive your brother, this must happen. For it is your unwillingness to overlook what seems to stand between you and your brother that makes it look impenetrable, and defends the illusion of its immovability.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 21

Lesson 196

It can be but myself I crucify.

1. When this is firmly understood and kept in full awareness, you will not attempt to harm yourself, nor make your body slave to vengeance. You will not attack yourself, and you will realize that to attack another is but to attack yourself. You will be free of the insane belief that to attack a brother saves yourself. And you will understand his safety is your own, and in his healing you are healed.

2. Perhaps at first you will not understand how mercy, limitless and with all things held in its sure protection, can be found in the idea we practice for today. It may, in fact, appear to be a sign that punishment can never be escaped because the ego, under what it sees as threat, is quick to cite the truth to save its lies. Yet must it fail to understand the truth it uses thus. But you can learn to see these foolish applications, and deny the meaning they appear to have.

3. Thus do you also teach your mind that you are not an ego. For the ways in which the ego would distort the truth will not deceive you longer. You will not believe you are a body to be crucified. And you will see within today’s idea the light of resurrection, looking past all thoughts of crucifixion and of death, to thoughts of liberation and of life.

4. Today’s idea is one step we take in leading us from bondage to the state of perfect freedom. Let us take this step today, that we may quickly go the way salvation shows us, taking every step in its appointed sequence, as the mind relinquishes its burdens one by one. It is not time we need for this. It is but willingness. For what would seem to need a thousand years can easily be done in just one instant by the grace of God.

5. The dreary, hopeless thought that you can make attacks on oth­ers and escape yourself has nailed you to the cross. Perhaps it seemed to be salvation. Yet it merely stood for the belief the fear of God is real. And what is that but hell? Who could believe his Father is his deadly enemy, separate from him, and waiting to destroy his life and blot him from the universe, without the fear of hell upon his heart?

6. Such is the form of madness you believe, if you accept the fearful thought you can attack another and be free yourself. Until this form is changed, there is no hope. Until you see that this, at least, must be entirely impossible, how could there be escape? The fear of God is real to anyone who thinks this thought is true. And he will not perceive its foolishness, or even see that it is there, so that it would be possible to question it.

7. To question it at all, its form must first be changed at least as much as will permit fear of retaliation to abate, and the responsibility returned to some extent to you. From there you can at least consider if you want to go along this painful path. Until this shift has been accomplished, you can not perceive that it is but your thoughts that bring you fear, and your deliverance de­pends on you.

8. Our next steps will be easy, if you take this one today. From there we go ahead quite rapidly. For once you understand it is impossible that you be hurt except by your own thoughts, the fear of God must disappear. You cannot then believe that fear is caused without. And God, Whom you had thought to banish, can be welcomed back within the holy mind He never left.

9. Salvation’s song can certainly be heard in the idea we practice for today. If it can but be you you crucify, you did not hurt the world, and need not fear its vengeance and pursuit. Nor need you hide in terror from the deadly fear of God projection hides behind. The thing you dread the most is your salvation. You are strong, and it is strength you want. And you are free, and glad of freedom. You have sought to be both weak and bound, because you feared your strength and freedom. Yet salvation lies in them.

10. There is an instant in which terror seems to grip your mind so wholly that escape appears quite hopeless. When you realize, once and for all, that it is you you fear, the mind perceives itself as split. And this had been concealed while you believed attack could be directed outward, and returned from outside to within. It seemed to be an enemy outside you had to fear. And thus a god outside yourself became your mortal enemy; the source of fear.

11. Now, for an instant, is a murderer perceived within you, eager for your death, intent on plotting punishment for you until the time when it can kill at last. Yet in this instant is the time as well in which salvation comes. For fear of God has disappeared. And you can call on Him to save you from illusions by His Love, calling Him Father and yourself His Son. Pray that the instant may be soon,—today. Step back from fear, and make advance to love.

12. There is no Thought of God that does not go with you to help you reach that instant, and to go beyond it quickly, surely and forever. When the fear of God is gone, there are no obstacles that still remain between you and the holy peace of God. How kind and merciful is the idea we practice! Give it welcome, as you should, for it is your release. It is indeed but you your mind can try to crucify. Yet your redemption, too, will come from you.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the “holy instant,” and what is its role in the Atonement?

A) In a sense, understanding the holy instant parallels understanding the question of meditation we discussed above. The holy instant is not a period of meditation wherein the student has a “good experience,” and feels the presence of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the holy instant is the Course’s term for the instant — outside time and space — when we choose the Holy Spirit as our teacher instead of the ego. It is the correction of forgiveness for the ego’s “unholy instant” of judgment and attack, the experience of undoing our guilt through Jesus’ help. It is this purpose which makes the instant holy, and establishes it as an integral part of the overall Atonement plan for correcting our misperceptions and misthoughts.

Moreover, the holy instant can be understood as the steps we take throughout our lives that gradually lead us closer and closer to the real world, in a sense the ultimate holy instant. Each time we are tempted to listen to the ego’s tale of specialness and the need for attack, we are reminded by Jesus that we can choose a miracle instead — “Let miracles replace all grievances” (workbook, pp.137-38; W-pI.78) — and have him help us make the shift in perception that constitutes the essence of forgiveness, the heart of the holy instant. In other words, the holy instants are the “little steps” of forgiveness the Course refers to that are the means for helping us undo our illusions so that we may reach our goal of truth. As we read in the Course:

Against the ego’s insane notion of salvation the Holy Spirit gently lays the holy instant …. The holy instant is the opposite of the ego’s fixed belief in salvation through vengeance for the past…. In the holy instant the power of the Holy Spirit will prevail, because you joined Him …. Release your brothers from the slavery of their illusions by forgiving them for the illusions you perceive in them. Thus will you learn that you have been forgiven, for it is you who offered them illusions. In the holy instant this is done for you in time, to bring you the true condition of Heaven (T-16.VII.6:1,3; 7:3; 9:5-7).

kingdom of god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 20, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 20

Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship

IV. The Branching of the Road

When you come to the place where the branch in the road is quite apparent, you cannot go ahead. You must go either one way or the other. For now if you go straight ahead, the way you went before you reached the branch, you will go nowhere. The whole purpose of coming this far was to decide which branch you will take now. The way you came no longer matters. It can no longer serve. No one who reaches this far can make the wrong decision, although he can delay. And there is no part of the journey that seems more hopeless and futile than standing where the road branches, and not deciding on which way to go.

It is but the first few steps along the right way that seem hard, for you have chosen, although you still may think you can go back and make the other choice. This is not so. A choice made with the power of Heaven to uphold it cannot be undone. Your way is decided. There will be nothing you will not be told, if you acknowledge this.

And so you and your brother stand, here in this holy place, before the veil of sin that hangs between you and the face of Christ. Let it be lifted! Raise it together with your brother, for it is but a veil that stands between you. Either you or your brother alone will see it as a solid block, nor realise how thin the drapery that separates you now. Yet it is almost over in your awareness, and peace has reached you even here, before the veil. Think what will happen after. The love of Christ will light your face, and shine from it into a darkened world that needs the light. And from this holy place He will return with you, not leaving it nor you. You will become His messengers, returning Him unto Himself.

Think of the loveliness that you will see, who walk with Him! And think how beautiful will you and your brother look to the other! How happy you will be to be together, after such a long and lonely journey where you walked alone. The gates of Heaven, open now for you, will you now open to the sorrowful. And none who looks upon the Christ in you but will rejoice. How beautiful the sight you saw beyond the veil, which you will bring to light the tired eyes of those as weary now as once you were. How thankful will they be to see you come among them, offering Christ’s forgiveness to dispel their faith in sin.

Every mistake you make, your brother will gently have corrected for you. For in his sight your loveliness is his salvation, which he would protect from harm. And you will be your brother’s strong protector from everything that seems to rise between you both. So shall you walk the world with me, whose message has not yet been given everyone. For you are here to let it be received. God’s offer still is open, yet it waits acceptance. From you who have accepted it is it received. Into your hand, joined with your brother’s, is it safely given, for you who share it have become its willing guardian and protector.

To all who share the Love of God the grace is given to the givers of what they have received. And so they learn that it is theirs forever. All barriers disappear before their coming, as every obstacle was finally surmounted that seemed to rise and block their way before. This veil you and your brother lift together opens the way to truth to more than you. Those who would let illusions be lifted from their minds are this world’s saviours, walking the world with their Redeemer, and carrying His message of hope and freedom and release from suffering to everyone who needs a miracle to save him.

How easy is it to offer this miracle to everyone! No one who has received it for himself could find it difficult. For by receiving it, he learned it was not given him alone. Such is the function of a holy relationship; to receive together and give as you received. Standing before the veil, it still seems difficult. But hold out your hand, joined with your brother’s, and touch this heavy-seeming block, and you will learn how easily your fingers slip through its nothingness. It is no solid wall. And only an illusion stands between you and your brother, and the holy Self you share together.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 20

Lesson 195

Love is the way I walk in gratitude.

1. Gratitude is a lesson hard to learn for those who look upon the world amiss. The most that they can do is see themselves as better off than others. And they try to be content because another seems to suffer more than they. How pitiful and deprecating are such thoughts! For who has cause for thanks while others have less cause? And who could suffer less because he sees another suffer more? Your gratitude is due to Him alone Who made all cause of sorrow disappear throughout the world.

2. It is insane to offer thanks because of suffering. But it is equally insane to fail in gratitude to One Who offers you the certain means whereby all pain is healed, and suffering replaced with laughter and with happiness. Nor could the even partly sane refuse to take the steps which He directs, and follow in the way He sets before them, to escape a prison that they thought contained no door to the deliverance they now perceive.

3. Your brother is your “enemy” because you see in him the rival for your peace; a plunderer who takes his joy from you, and leaves you nothing but a black despair so bitter and relentless that there is no hope remaining. Now is vengeance all there is to wish for. Now can you but try to bring him down to lie in death with you, as useless as yourself; as little left within his grasping fingers as in yours.

4. You do not offer God your gratitude because your brother is more slave than you, nor could you sanely be enraged if he seems freer. Love makes no comparisons. And gratitude can only be sincere if it be joined to love. We offer thanks to God our Father that in us all things will find their freedom. It will never be that some are loosed while others still are bound. For who can bargain in the name of love?

5. Therefore give thanks, but in sincerity. And let your gratitude make room for all who will escape with you; the sick, the weak, the needy and afraid, and those who mourn a seeming loss or feel apparent pain, who suffer cold or hunger, or who walk the way of hatred and the path of death. All these go with you. Let us not compare ourselves with them, for thus we split them off from our awareness of the unity we share with them, as they must share with us.

6. We thank our Father for one thing alone; that we are separate from no living thing, and therefore one with Him. And we rejoice that no exceptions ever can be made which would reduce our wholeness, nor impair or change our function to complete the One Who is Himself completion. We give thanks for every living thing, for otherwise we offer thanks for nothing, and we fail to recognize the gifts of God to us.

7. Then let our brothers lean their tired heads against our shoulders as they rest a while. We offer thanks for them. For if we can direct them to the peace that we would find, the way is opening at last to us. An ancient door is swinging free again; a long forgotten Word re-echoes in our memory, and gathers clarity as we are willing once again to hear.

8. Walk, then, in gratitude the way of love. For hatred is forgotten when we lay comparisons aside. What more remains as ob­stacles to peace? The fear of God is now undone at last, and we forgive without comparing. Thus we cannot choose to overlook some things, and yet retain some other things still locked away as “sins.” When your forgiveness is complete you will have total gratitude, for you will see that everything has earned the right to love by being loving, even as your Self.

9. Today we learn to think of gratitude in place of anger, malice and revenge. We have been given everything. If we refuse to recognize it, we are not entitled therefore to our bitterness, and to a self-perception which regards us in a place of merciless pursuit, where we are badgered ceaselessly, and pushed about without a thought or care for us or for our future. Gratitude becomes the single thought we substitute for these insane perceptions. God has cared for us, and calls us Son. Can there be more than this?

10. Our gratitude will pave the way to Him, and shorten our learning time by more than you could ever dream of. Gratitude goes hand in hand with love, and where one is the other must be found. For gratitude is but an aspect of the Love which is the Source of all creation. God gives thanks to you, His Son, for be­ing what you are; His Own completion and the Source of love, along with Him. Your gratitude to Him is one with His to you. For love can walk no road except the way of gratitude, and thus we go who walk the way to God.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) What is the role of meditation in practicing A Course in Miracles?

A) Meditation as such is not an integral part of the Course’s curriculum. Certainly one can take the workbook lessons and their one-year training program to be exercises in meditation. But, again, these are only meant for a one-year period. However, Jesus would never object to his students spending quiet time with him, asking for help in removing the blocks of guilt and hate that interfere with their awareness of his loving presence. Nevertheless, he specifically cautions students not to make idols of their regular periods of spiritual practice, even though they may still require structure, part of which, naturally, could be times of meditation or quiet:

But what about those who have not reached his [an advanced teacher of God’s] certainty? They are not yet ready for such lack of structuring on their own part.  What must they do to learn to give the day to God? There are some general rules which do apply, although each one must use them as best he can in his own way. Routines as such are dangerous, because they easily become gods in their own right, threatening the very goals for which they were set up (M-16.2:1-5; italics ours).

In “I Need Do Nothing,” his special message to Helen which we quoted above, Jesus specifically discusses how his Course is not a course in meditation, but rather has a much different focus. This does not make it necessarily better than other paths, but it does establish how different it is from them:

Many have spent a lifetime in preparation, and have indeed achieved their instants of success. This course does not attempt to teach more than they learned in time, but it does aim at saving time …. It is extremely difficult to reach Atonement by fighting against sin. Enormous effort is expended in the attempt to make holy what is hated and despised [the body]. Nor is a lifetime of contemplation and long periods of meditation aimed at detachment from the body necessary. All such attempts will ultimately succeed because of their purpose, Yet the means are tedious and very time consuming, for all of them look to the future for release from a state of  present unworthiness and inadequacy.Your way will be different, not in purpose but in means. … You are not making use of the course if you insist on using means which have served others well, neglecting what was made for you (T- I8.VII.4:4-5,7-11; 5:1; 6:5; italics ours in 4:9).

And so, students of A Course in Miracles would be silly not to meditate, if such a practice is beneficial to their spiritual path. And Jesus, again, would hardly seek to dissuade them. However, he would caution them, as we have seen, not to make the meditative practice a source of dependency. It should be a means, not an end. Moreover, it would certainly be a mistake if such students felt that all students of A Course in Miracles must meditate, simply because they did. Students should never forget that the curriculum is highly individualized, and that the personal curriculum is undertaken between each individual student and the Holy Spirit.

There is another caution we may note here regarding dependency and meditation. The clear purpose of A Course in Miracles, and specifically the workbook, is for its students to generalize the lessons and principles to all aspects of their daily lives, at all times. It would be directly against this purpose to have students need to take time out from a difficult situation so as to go apart and be externally quiet. This clearly would never work in the midst of a traffic jam, a difficult meeting, a psychotherapy session, a classroom, a car filled with boisterous children, etc. If the quiet cannot be internalized so that one knows that Jesus or the Holy Spirit is always present in the mind, then the actual meditation has been of little use. Rather, students should aim at generalizing these quiet times to all times, learning how accessible their true Teacher is.

this is practical course

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 19, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 19

Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship

III. Reason and the Forms of Error

The introduction of reason into the ego’s thought system is the beginning of its undoing, for reason and the ego are contradictory. Nor is it possible for them to coexist in your awareness. For reason’s goal is to make plain, and therefore obvious. You can see reason. This is not a play on words, for here is the beginning of a vision that has meaning. Vision is sense, quite literally. If it is not the body’s sight, it must be understood. For it is plain, and what is obvious is not ambiguous. It can be understood. And here do reason and the ego separate, to go their separate ways.

The ego’s whole continuance depends on its belief you cannot learn this course. Share this belief, and reason will be unable to see your errors and make way for their correction. For reason sees through errors, telling you what you thought was real is not. Reason can see the difference between sin and mistakes, because it wants correction. Therefore, it tells you what you thought was uncorrectable can be corrected, and thus it must have been an error. The ego’s opposition to correction leads to its fixed belief in sin and disregard of errors. It looks on nothing that can be corrected. Thus does the ego damn, and reason save.

Reason is not salvation in itself, but it makes way for peace and brings you to a state of mind in which salvation can be given you. Sin is a block, set like a heavy gate, locked and without a key, across the road to peace. No one who looks on it without the help of reason would try to pass it. The body’s eyes behold it as solid granite, so thick it would be madness to attempt to pass it. Yet reason sees through it easily, because it is an error. The form it takes cannot conceal its emptiness from reason’s eyes.

Only the form of error attracts the ego. Meaning it does not recognise, and does not see if it is there or not. Everything the body’s eyes can see is a mistake, an error in perception, a distorted fragment of the whole without the meaning that the whole would give. And yet mistakes, regardless of their form, can be corrected. Sin is but error in a special form the ego venerates. It would preserve all errors and make them sins. For here is its own stability, its heavy anchor in the shifting world it made; the rock on which its church is built, and where its worshippers are bound to bodies, believing the body’s freedom is their own.

Reason will tell you that the form of error is not what makes it a mistake. If what the form conceals is a mistake, the form cannot prevent correction. The body’s eyes see only form. They cannot see beyond what they were made to see. And they were made to look on error and not see past it. Theirs is indeed a strange perception, for they can see only illusions, unable to look beyond the granite block of sin, and stopping at the outside form of nothing. To this distorted form of vision the outside of everything, the wall that stands between you and the truth, is wholly true. Yet how can sight that stops at nothingness, as if it were a solid wall, see truly? It is held back by form, having been made to guarantee that nothing else but form will be perceived.

These eyes, made not to see, will never see. For the idea they represent left not its maker, and it is their maker that sees through them. What was its maker’s goal but not to see? For this the body’s eyes are perfect means, but not for seeing. See how the body’s eyes rest on externals and cannot go beyond. Watch how they stop at nothingness, unable to go beyond the form to meaning. Nothing so blinding as perception of form. For sight of form means understanding has been obscured.

Only mistakes have different forms, and so they can deceive. You can change form because it is not true. It could not be reality because it can be changed. Reason will tell you that if form is not reality it must be an illusion, and is not there to see. And if you see it you must be mistaken, for you are seeing what can not be real as if it were. What cannot see beyond what is not there must be distorted perception, and must perceive illusions as the truth. Could it, then, recognise the truth?

Let not the form of his mistakes keep you from him whose holiness is yours. Let not the vision of his holiness, the sight of which would show you your forgiveness, be kept from you by what the body’s eyes can see. Let your awareness of your brother not be blocked by your perception of his sins and of his body. What is there in him that you would attack except what you associate with his body, which you believe can sin? Beyond his errors is his holiness and your salvation. You gave him not his holiness, but tried to see your sins in him to save yourself. And yet, his holiness is your forgiveness. Can you be saved by making sinful the one whose holiness is your salvation?

A holy relationship, however newly born, must value holiness above all else. Unholy values will produce confusion, and in awareness. In an unholy relationship, each one is valued because he seems to justify the other’s sin. Each sees within the other what impels him to sin against his will. And thus he lays his sins upon the other, and is attracted to him to perpetuate his sins. And so it must become impossible for each to see himself as causing sin by his desire to have sin real. Yet reason sees a holy relationship as what it is; a common state of mind, where both give errors gladly to correction, that both may happily be healed as one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 19

Lesson 194

I place the future in the hands of God.

1. Today’s idea takes another step toward quick salvation, and a giant stride it is indeed! So great the distance is that it encompasses, it sets you down just short of Heaven, with the goal in sight and obstacles behind. Your foot has reached the lawns that welcome you to Heaven’s gate; the quiet place of peace, where you await with certainty the final step of God. How far are we progressing now from earth! How close are we approaching to our goal! How short the journey still to be pursued!

2. Accept today’s idea, and you have passed all anxiety, all pits of hell, all blackness of depression, thoughts of sin, and devastation brought about by guilt. Accept today’s idea, and you have re­leased the world from all imprisonment by loosening the heavy chains that locked the door to freedom on it. You are saved, and your salvation thus becomes the gift you give the world, because you have received.

3. In no one instant is depression felt, or pain experienced or loss perceived. In no one instant sorrow can be set upon a throne, and worshipped faithfully. In no one instant can one even die. And so each instant given unto God in passing, with the next one given Him already, is a time of your release from sadness, pain and even death itself.

4. God holds your future as He holds your past and present. They are one to Him, and so they should be one to you. Yet in this world, the temporal progression still seems real. And so you are not asked to understand the lack of sequence really found in time. You are but asked to let the future go, and place it in God’s Hands. And you will see by your experience that you have laid the past and present in His Hands as well, because the past will punish you no more, and future dread will now be meaningless.

5. Release the future. For the past is gone, and what is present, freed from its bequest of grief and misery, of pain and loss, becomes the instant in which time escapes the bondage of illusions where it runs its pitiless, inevitable course. Then is each instant which was slave to time transformed into a holy instant, when the light that was kept hidden in God’s Son is freed to bless the world. Now is he free, and all his glory shines upon a world made free with him, to share his holiness.

6. If you can see the lesson for today as the deliverance it really is, you will not hesitate to give as much consistent effort as you can, to make it be a part of you. As it becomes a thought that rules your mind, a habit in your problem-solving repertoire, a way of quick reaction to temptation, you extend your learning to the world. And as you learn to see salvation in all things, so will the world perceive that it is saved.

7. What worry can beset the one who gives his future to the lov­ing Hands of God? What can he suffer? What can cause him pain, or bring experience of loss to him? What can he fear? And what can he regard except with love? For he who has escaped all fear of future pain has found his way to present peace, and certainty of care the world can never threaten. He is sure that his perception may be faulty, but will never lack correction. He is free to choose again when he has been deceived; to change his mind when he has made mistakes.

8. Place, then, your future in the Hands of God. For thus you call the memory of Him to come again, replacing all your thoughts of sin and evil with the truth of love. Think you the world could fail to gain thereby, and every living creature not respond with healed perception? Who entrusts himself to God has also placed the world within the Hands to which he has himself appealed for comfort and security. He lays aside the sick illusions of the world along with his, and offers peace to both.

9. Now are we saved indeed. For in God’s Hands we rest untroubled, sure that only good can come to us. If we forget, we will be gently reassured. If we accept an unforgiving thought, it will be soon replaced by love’s reflection. And if we are tempted to attack, we will appeal to Him Who guards our rest to make the choice for us that leaves temptation far behind. No longer is the world our enemy, for we have chosen that we be its friend.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) A Course in Miracles says that there is no love without ambivalence. Does this mean that I never come from a loving space, and that all my thoughts and actions are from my ego? 

A) No, it certainly does not. The specific statement in the Course is as follows: 

You project onto the ego the decision to separate, and this conflicts with the love you feel for the ego because you made it. No love in this world is without this ambivalence, and since no ego has experienced love without ambivalence the concept is beyond its understanding. Love will enter immediately into any mind that truly wants it, but it must want it truly. This means that it wants it without ambivalence, and this kind of wanting is wholly without the ego’s “drive to get” (T-4.III.4:5-8).

This passage clearly implies that when we choose the correction of the Holy Spirit in our right minds — the holy instant — and truly let go of our egos, we can become a reflection of love, a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. In this case, it is indeed possible to come from a loving space. In fact, the principal goal of the Course is to have students learn to access their right minds, the loving home of the Holy Spirit.  However, one needs to be discerning, for very often the ego’s special love can appear to be identical to the Holy Spirit’s real Love.  The ego’s unconscious “drive to get” — the core of specialness — is still very much present, and serves to mask the truth with the clever lies of illusion. 

Any thought, word, or deed that proceeds from the wrong mind, even though it appears as loving, cannot be so. Therefore, to evaluate any interaction by appearances can be but a lack of discernment stemming from our need to appear loving and understanding; in other words, what our egos would bless as “spiritually enlightened” behavior. We should not underestimate the need each one of us has to be accepted by others because we want to be judged by them as loving. This need becomes a powerful interference to choosing our right minds, wherein lies the only real love. 

Sometimes the most loving action, emanating from our right minds, would be to say “No” to someone’s request, incurring their disappointment and anger. That is why Jesus states: 

To learn this course requires willingness to question every value that you hold. Not one can be kept hidden and obscure but it will jeopardize your learning. No belief is neutral.  Every one has the power to dictate each decision you make (T-24.in.2:1-4).

Let us suppose that an unconscious value that our egos hold is to be popular and admired by many for being a loving and thoughtful person. Our whole life’s script then, emanating from our wrong minds, revolves around being this kind of dream figure. We might achieve our goal, but at what cost? Students of A Course in Miracles sometimes make this mistake of judging by appearance and form. Sometimes the most difficult correction for us to accept is to go against some “cherished value” of our egos — above all, the models of special love and special hate relationships. If students can be reasonably clear that they have uncovered their unconscious ego values and have the little willingness to access the correction in their right minds — getting themselves out of the way — then they will be manifestations of the thought system of the Holy Spirit and not the ego. 

Indeed, our daily practice of forgiveness is what allows us to be increasingly in touch with this loving Presence of truth in our split minds, so that our thoughts, words, and deeds can express this truth. Therefore, it is certainly possible that our lives can come from our right minds and not our wrong minds, from the Holy Spirit and not the ego. It is this process of increasingly reflecting love instead of hate that brings us to the gate of Heaven, beyond which is the Love of God. 

secret of salvation

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 18, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 18

Chapter 22 ~ Salvation and the Holy Relationship

II. Your Brother’s Sinlessness

The opposite of illusions is not disillusionment but truth. Only to the ego, to which truth is meaningless, do they appear to be the only alternatives, and different from each other. In truth they are the same. Both bring the same amount of misery, though each one seems to be the way to lose the misery the other brings. Every illusion carries pain and suffering in the dark folds of the heavy garments in which it hides its nothingness. Yet by these dark and heavy garments are those who seek illusions covered, and hidden from the joy of truth.

Truth is the opposite of illusions because it offers joy. What else but joy could be the opposite of misery? To leave one kind of misery and seek another is hardly an escape. To change illusions is to make no change. The search for joy in misery is senseless, for how could joy be found in misery? All that is possible in the dark world of misery is to select some aspects out of it, see them as different, and define the difference as joy. Yet to perceive a difference where none exists will surely fail to make a difference.

Illusions carry only guilt and suffering, sickness and death, to their believers. The form in which they are accepted is irrelevant. No form of misery in reason’s eyes can be confused with joy. Joy is eternal. You can be sure indeed that any seeming happiness that does not last is really fear. Joy does not turn to sorrow, for the eternal cannot change. But sorrow can be turned to joy, for time gives way to the eternal. Only the timeless must remain unchanged, but everything in time can change with time. Yet if the change be real and not imagined, illusions must give way to truth, and not to other dreams that are but equally unreal. This is no difference.

Reason will tell you that the only way to escape from misery is to recognise it and go the other way. Truth is the same and misery the same, but they are different from each other in every way, in every instance and without exception. To believe that one exception can exist is to confuse what is the same with what is different. One illusion cherished and defended against the truth makes all truth meaningless, and all illusions real. Such is the power of belief. It cannot compromise. And faith in innocence is faith in sin, if the belief excludes one living thing and holds it out, apart from its forgiveness.

Both reason and the ego will tell you this, but what they make of it is not the same. The ego will assure you now that it is impossible for you to see no guilt in anyone. And if this seeing is the only means by which escape from guilt can be attained, then the belief in sin must be eternal. Yet reason looks on this another way, for reason sees the source of an idea as what will make it either true or false. This must be so, if the idea is like its source. Therefore, says reason, if escape from guilt was given to the Holy Spirit as His purpose, and by One to Whom nothing He wills can be impossible, the means for its attainment are more than possible. They must be there, and you must have them.

This is a crucial period in this course, for here the separation of you and the ego must be made complete. For if you have the means to let the Holy Spirit’s purpose be accomplished, they can be used. And through their use will you gain faith in them. Yet to the ego this must be impossible, and no one undertakes to do what holds no hope of ever being done. You know what your Creator wills is possible, but what you made believes it is not so. Now must you choose between yourself and an illusion of yourself. Not both, but one. There is no point in trying to avoid this one decision. It must be made. Faith and belief can fall to either side, but reason tells you misery lies only on one side and joy upon the other.

Forsake not now your brother. For you who are the same will not decide alone nor differently. Either you give each other life or death; either you are each other’s saviour or his judge, offering him sanctuary or condemnation. This course will be believed entirely or not at all. For it is wholly true or wholly false, and cannot be but partially believed. And you will either escape from misery entirely or not at all. Reason will tell you that there is no middle ground where you can pause uncertainly, waiting to choose between the joy of Heaven and the misery of hell. Until you choose Heaven, you are in hell and misery.

There is no part of Heaven you can take and weave into illusions. Nor is there one illusion you can enter Heaven with. A saviour cannot be a judge, nor mercy condemnation. And vision cannot damn, but only bless. Whose function is to save, will save. How He will do it is beyond your understanding, but when must be your choice. For time you made, and time you can command. You are no more a slave to time than to the world you made.

Let us look closer at the whole illusion that what you made has power to enslave its maker. This is the same belief that caused the separation. It is the meaningless idea that thoughts can leave the thinker’s mind, be different from it and in opposition to it. If this were true thoughts would not be the mind’s extensions, but its enemies. And here we see again another form of the same fundamental illusion we have seen many times before. Only if it were possible the Son of God could leave his Father’s Mind, make himself different and oppose His Will, would it be possible that the self he made, and all it made, should be his master.

Behold the great projection, but look on it with the decision that it must be healed, and not with fear. Nothing you made has any power over you unless you still would be apart from your Creator, and with a will opposed to His. For only if you would believe His Son could be His enemy does it seem possible that what you made is yours. You would condemn His joy to misery, and make Him different. And all the misery you made has been your own. Are you not glad to learn it is not true? Is it not welcome news to hear not one of the illusions that you made replaced the truth?

Only your thoughts have been impossible. Salvation cannot be. It is impossible to look upon your saviour as your enemy and recognise him. Yet it is possible to recognise him for what he is, if God would have it so. What God has given to your holy relationship is there. For what He gave the Holy Spirit to give to you He gave. Would you not look upon the saviour that has been given you? And would you not exchange, in gratitude, the function of an executioner you gave him for the one he has in truth? Receive of him what God has given him for you, not what you tried to give yourself.

Beyond the body that you interposed between you and your brother, and shining in the golden light that reaches it from the bright, endless circle that extends forever, is your holy relationship, beloved of God Himself. How still it rests, in time and yet beyond, immortal yet on earth. How great the power that lies in it. Time waits upon its will, and earth will be as it would have it be. Here is no separate will, nor the desire that anything be separate. Its will has no exceptions, and what it wills is true. Every illusion brought to its forgiveness is gently overlooked and disappears. For at its centre Christ has been reborn, to light His home with vision that overlooks the world. Would you not have this holy home be yours as well? No misery is here, but only joy.

All you need do to dwell in quiet here with Christ is share His vision. Quickly and gladly is His vision given anyone who is but willing to see his brother sinless. And no one can remain beyond this willingness, if you would be released entirely from all effects of sin. Would you have partial forgiveness for yourself? Can you reach Heaven while a single sin still tempts you to remain in misery? Heaven is the home of perfect purity, and God created it for you. Look on your holy brother, sinless as yourself, and let him lead you there.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 18

Lesson 193

All things are lessons God would have me learn.

1. God does not know of learning. Yet His Will extends to what He does not understand, in that He wills the happiness His Son inherited of Him be undisturbed; eternal and forever gaining scope, eternally expanding in the joy of full creation, and eternally open and wholly limitless in Him. That is His Will. And thus His Will provides the means to guarantee that it is done.

2. God sees no contradictions. Yet His Son believes he sees them. Thus he has a need for One Who can correct his erring sight, and give him vision that will lead him back to where perception ceases. God does not perceive at all. Yet it is He Who gives the means by which perception is made true and beautiful enough to let the light of Heaven shine upon it. It is He Who answers what His Son would contradict, and keeps his sinlessness forever safe.

3. These are the lessons God would have you learn. His Will reflects them all, and they reflect His loving kindness to the Son He loves. Each lesson has a central thought, the same in all of them. The form alone is changed, with different circumstances and events; with different characters and different themes, appar­ent but not real. They are the same in fundamental content. It is this:

Forgive, and you will see this differently.

4. Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form. It is this sameness which makes learning sure, because the lesson is so simple that it cannot be rejected in the end. No one can hide forever from a truth so very obvious that it appears in countless forms, and yet is recognized as easily in all of them, if one but wants to see the simple lesson there.

5.

Forgive, and you will see this differently.

These are the words the Holy Spirit speaks in all your tribulations, all your pain, all suffering regardless of its form. These are the words with which temptation ends, and guilt, abandoned, is revered no more. These are the words which end the dream of sin, and rid the mind of fear. These are the words by which salvation comes to all the world.

6. Shall we not learn to say these words when we are tempted to believe that pain is real, and death becomes our choice instead of life? Shall we not learn to say these words when we have under­stood their power to release all minds from bondage? These are words which give you power over all events that seem to have been given power over you. You see them rightly when you hold these words in full awareness, and do not forget these words apply to everything you see or any brother looks upon amiss.

7. How can you tell when you are seeing wrong, or someone else is failing to perceive the lesson he should learn? Does pain seem real in the perception? If it does, be sure the lesson is not learned. And there remains an unforgiveness hiding in the mind that sees the pain through eyes the mind directs.

8. God would not have you suffer thus. He would help you forgive yourself. His Son does not remember who he is. And God would have him not forget His Love, and all the gifts His Love brings with it. Would you now renounce your own salvation? Would you fail to learn the simple lessons Heaven’s Teacher sets before you, that all pain may disappear and God may be remembered by His Son?

9. All things are lessons God would have you learn. He would not leave an unforgiving thought without correction, nor one thorn or nail to hurt His holy Son in any way. He would ensure his holy rest remain untroubled and serene, without a care, in an eternal home which cares for him. And He would have all tears be wiped away, with none remaining yet unshed, and none but waiting their appointed time to fall. For God has willed that laughter should replace each one, and that His Son be free again.

10. We will attempt today to overcome a thousand seeming obsta­cles to peace in just one day. Let mercy come to you more quickly. Do not try to hold it off another day, another minute or another instant. Time was made for this. Use it today for what its purpose is. Morning and night, devote what time you can to serve its proper aim, and do not let the time be less than meets your deepest need.

11. Give all you can, and give a little more. For now we would arise in haste and go unto our Father’s house. We have been gone too long, and we would linger here no more. And as we practice, let us think about all things we saved to settle by ourselves, and kept apart from healing. Let us give them all to Him Who knows the way to look upon them so that they will disappear. Truth is His message; truth His teaching is. His are the lessons God would have us learn.

12. Each hour, spend a little time today, and in the days to come, in practicing the lesson in forgiveness in the form established for the day. And try to give it application to the happenings the hour brought, so that the next one is free of the one before. The chains of time are easily unloosened in this way. Let no one hour cast its shadow on the one that follows, and when that one goes, let everything that happened in its course go with it. Thus will you remain unbound, in peace eternal in the world of time.

13. This is the lesson God would have you learn: There is a way to look on everything that lets it be to you another step to Him, and to salvation of the world. To all that speaks of terror, answer thus:

I will forgive, and this will disappear.

To every apprehension, every care and every form of suffering, repeat these selfsame words. And then you hold the key that opens Heaven’s gate, and brings the Love of God the Father down to earth at last, to raise it up to Heaven. God will take this final step Himself. Do not deny the little steps He asks you take to Him.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) How free are we in our everyday lives to act in our own best interests, especially if, as A Course in Miracles says, we are all hallucinating? 

A) This answer begins where the previous one ends. Within the dream of our individual existence — the hallucination — we are free to choose. However, such choosing has nothing to do with what the world understands by choosing, especially when we think of trying to act in our own best interests. We cannot act in our best interests because, as the workbook reminds us, “I do not perceive my own best interests” (W-pI.24; italics ours). This is a crucial aspect in the understanding of the Course, and the above lesson states the point clearly: 

In no situation that arises do you realize the outcome that would make you happy.  Therefore, you have no guide to appropriate action, and no way of judging the result.  What you do is determined by your perception of the situation, and that perception is wrong. It is inevitable, then, that you will not serve your own best interests. Yet they are your only goal in any situation which is correctly perceived. Otherwise, you will not recognize what they are. If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn (W-pI.24.1-2:2).

Therefore, throughout A Course in Miracles, Jesus urges us to consult either him or the Holy Spirit, for They are the only ones Who do know what our best interests are. And these, naturally, always involve the change of mind or perception that reflects our decisions to forgive instead of to attack. On our own, we cannot forgive, let alone know what choices we should make. However, we are always free to choose our teacher, and in that choice we have already acted in our own best interests. And this, and only this, is the meaning of free will within this world of illusion, for it is from the right mind alone that the right choice — our best interest — can result. Thus it is that Jesus addresses his students: “Resign now as your own teacher… for you were badly taught” (T-12.V.8:3; T-28.I.7:1), and he asks that they choose instead the Teacher Whose wisdom will always teach them correctly. 

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 17, 2019

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

Lesson 192

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). 

hostage or host

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 16, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 16

Chapter 22

SALVATION AND THE HOLY RELATIONSHIP

Introduction

Take pity on yourself, so long enslaved. Rejoice whom God hath joined have come together and need no longer look on sin apart. No two can look on sin together, for they could never see it in the same place and time. Sin is a strictly individual perception, seen in the other yet believed by each to be within himself. And each one seems to make a different error, and one the other cannot understand. Brother, it is the same, made by the same, and forgiven for its maker in the same way. The holiness of your relationship forgives you and your brother, undoing the effects of what you both believed and saw. And with their going is the need for sin gone with them.

Who has need for sin? Only the lonely and alone, who see their brothers different from themselves. It is this difference, seen but not real, that makes the need for sin, not real but seen, seem justified. And all this would be real if sin were so. For an unholy relationship is based on differences, where each one thinks the other has what he has not. They come together, each to complete himself and rob the other. They stay until they think that there is nothing left to steal, and then move on. And so they wander through a world of strangers, unlike themselves, living with their bodies perhaps under a common roof that shelters neither; in the same room and yet a world apart.

A holy relationship starts from a different premise. Each one has looked within and seen no lack. Accepting his completion, he would extend it by joining with another, whole as himself. He sees no difference between these selves, for differences are only of the body. Therefore, he looks on nothing he would take. He denies not his own reality because it is the truth. Just under Heaven does he stand, but close enough not to return to earth. For this relationship has Heaven’s holiness. How far from home can a relationship so like to Heaven be?

Think what a holy relationship can teach! Here is belief in differences undone. Here is the faith in differences shifted to sameness. And here is sight of differences transformed to vision. Reason now can lead you and your brother to the logical conclusion of your union. It must extend, as you extended when you and he joined. It must reach out beyond itself, as you reached out beyond the body, to let you and your brother be joined. And now the sameness that you saw extends and finally removes all sense of differences, so that the sameness that lies beneath them all becomes apparent. Here is the golden circle where you recognise the Son of God. For what is born into a holy relationship can never end.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 16

Lesson 191

I am the holy Son of God Himself.

1. Here is your declaration of release from bondage of the world. And here as well is all the world released. You do not see what you have done by giving to the world the role of jailer to the Son of God. What could it be but vicious and afraid, fearful of shad­ows, punitive and wild, lacking all reason, blind, insane with hate?

2. What have you done that this should be your world? What have you done that this is what you see? Deny your own Iden­tity, and this is what remains. You look on chaos and proclaim it is yourself. There is no sight that fails to witness this to you. There is no sound that does not speak of frailty within you and without; no breath you draw that does not seem to bring you nearer death; no hope you hold but will dissolve in tears.

3. Deny your own Identity, and you will not escape the madness which induced this weird, unnatural and ghostly thought that mocks creation and that laughs at God. Deny your own Identity, and you assail the universe alone, without a friend, a tiny particle of dust against the legions of your enemies. Deny your own Identity, and look on evil, sin and death, and watch despair snatch from your fingers every scrap of hope, leaving you noth­ing but the wish to die.

4. Yet what is it except a game you play in which Identity can be denied? You are as God created you. All else but this one thing is folly to believe. In this one thought is everyone set free. In this one truth are all illusions gone. In this one fact is sinlessness proclaimed to be forever part of everything, the central core of its existence and its guarantee of immortality.

5. But let today’s idea find a place among your thoughts and you have risen far above the world, and all the worldly thoughts that hold it prisoner. And from this place of safety and escape you will return and set it free. For he who can accept his true Identity is truly saved. And his salvation is the gift he gives to everyone, in gratitude to Him Who pointed out the way to happiness that changed his whole perspective of the world.

6. One holy thought like this and you are free: You are the holy Son of God Himself. And with this holy thought you learn as well that you have freed the world. You have no need to use it cruelly, and then perceive this savage need in it. You set it free of your imprisonment. You will not see a devastating image of yourself walking the world in terror, with the world twisting in agony because your fears have laid the mark of death upon its heart.

7. Be glad today how very easily is hell undone. You need but tell yourself:

I am the holy Son of God Himself. I cannot suffer, cannot be in pain; I cannot suffer loss, nor fail to do all that salvation asks.

And in that thought is everything you look on wholly changed.

8. A miracle has lighted up all dark and ancient caverns, where the rites of death echoed since time began. For time has lost its hold upon the world. The Son of God has come in glory to redeem the lost, to save the helpless, and to give the world the gift of his forgiveness. Who could see the world as dark and sinful, when God’s Son has come again at last to set it free?

9. You who perceive yourself as weak and frail, with futile hopes and devastated dreams, born but to die, to weep and suffer pain, hear this: All power is given unto you in earth and Heaven. There is nothing that you cannot do. You play the game of death, of being helpless, pitifully tied to dissolution in a world which shows no mercy to you. Yet when you accord it mercy, will its mercy shine on you.

10. Then let the Son of God awaken from his sleep, and opening his holy eyes, return again to bless the world he made. In error it began, but it will end in the reflection of his holiness. And he will sleep no more and dream of death. Then join with me today. Your glory is the light that saves the world. Do not withhold salvation longer. Look about the world, and see the suffering there. Is not your heart willing to bring your weary brothers rest?

11. They must await your own release. They stay in chains till you are free. They cannot see the mercy of the world until you find it in yourself. They suffer pain until you have denied its hold on you. They die till you accept your own eternal life. You are the holy Son of God Himself. Remember this, and all the world is free. Remember this, and earth and Heaven are one.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) If all life here is an illusion, why does A Course in Miracles refer to “living things”? 

A) Here again, we must understand Jesus’ use of language. Passages in which that phrase appears, as in Lesson 195 for example, are written on the level of our experience and not Jesus’ reality. For it is within the dream of our individual existence in this world that we indeed do form relationships with “living things.” And therefore, as is the message of that lesson, we should feel grateful to those beings for the learning opportunities our relationships with them afford us; namely, that what we projected onto them is simply a mistaken belief in our own guilt. 

For Jesus to insist that we relate to him on his level would indeed make no sense, as we have already discussed, for our experience remains rooted within the dream. And so his purpose of expressing his truth on the level of our capacity to understand must be recognized by Course students lest they seriously misinterpret his message. Jesus specifically tells us that there is no life outside Heaven, as we saw in an earlier question, and so there can be no “living things” in the world. But since we believe we are alive here, relating to other beings we believe are alive here as well, it would be pointless for Jesus to demand that we accept a truth that our fear precludes us from accepting at this time. Therefore, reflecting his gentle love for us, he speaks about “living things,” even though on another level there is nothing living here at all. 

 

the way to god

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 15th, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 15th

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

VIII. The Inner Shift

Are thoughts, then, dangerous? To bodies, yes! The thoughts that seem to kill are those that teach the thinker that he can be killed. And so he ‘dies’ because of what he learned. He goes from life to death, the final proof he valued the inconstant more than constancy. Surely he thought he wanted happiness. Yet he did not desire it because it was the truth, and therefore must be constant.

The constancy of joy is a condition quite alien to your understanding. Yet if you could even imagine what it must be, you would desire it although you understand it not. The constancy of happiness has no exceptions; no change of any kind. It is unshakeable as is the Love of God for His creation. Sure in its vision as its Creator is in what He knows, happiness looks on everything and sees it is the same. It sees not the ephemeral, for it desires everything be like itself, and sees it so. Nothing has power to confound its constancy, because its own desire cannot be shaken. It comes as surely unto those who see the final question is necessary to the rest, as peace must come to those who choose to heal and not to judge.

Reason will tell you that you cannot ask for happiness inconstantly. For if what you desire you receive, and happiness is constant, then you need ask for it but once to have it always. And if you do not have it always, being what it is, you did not ask for it. For no one fails to ask for his desire of something he believes holds out some promise of the power of giving it. He may be wrong in what he asks, where, and of what. Yet he will ask because desire is a request, an asking for, and made by one whom God Himself will never fail to answer. God has already given all that he really wants. Yet what he is uncertain of, God cannot give. For he does not desire it while he remains uncertain, and God’s giving must be incomplete unless it is received.

You who complete God’s Will and are His happiness, whose will is powerful as His, a power that is not lost in your illusions, think carefully why you have not yet decided how you would answer the final question. Your answer to the others has made it possible to help you be already partly sane. And yet it is the final one that really asks if you are willing to be wholly sane.

What is the holy instant but God’s appeal to you to recognise what He has given you? Here is the great appeal to reason; the awareness of what is always there to see, the happiness that could be always yours. Here is the constant peace you could experience forever. Here is what denial has denied revealed to you. For here the final question is already answered, and what you ask for given. Here is the future now, for time is powerless because of your desire for what will never change. For you have asked that nothing stand between the holiness of your relationship and your awareness of its holiness.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 15th

Lesson 190

I choose the joy of God instead of pain.

1. Pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. It is not a fact at all. There is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright. For pain proclaims God cruel. How could it be real in any form? It witnesses to God the Father’s hatred of His Son, the sinfulness He sees in him, and His insane desire for revenge and death.

2. Can such projections be attested to? Can they be anything but wholly false? Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is. It is a dream of fierce retaliation for a crime that could not be committed; for attack on what is wholly unassail­able. It is a nightmare of abandonment by an Eternal Love, which could not leave the Son whom It created out of love.

3. Pain is a sign illusions reign in place of truth. It demonstrates God is denied, confused with fear, perceived as mad, and seen as traitor to Himself. If God is real, there is no pain. If pain is real, there is no God. For vengeance is not part of love. And fear, denying love and using pain to prove that God is dead, has shown that death is victor over life. The body is the Son of God, corruptible in death, as mortal as the Father he has slain.

4. Peace to such foolishness! The time has come to laugh at such insane ideas. There is no need to think of them as savage crimes, or secret sins with weighty consequence. Who but a madman could conceive of them as cause of anything? Their witness, pain, is mad as they, and no more to be feared than the insane illusions which it shields, and tries to demonstrate must still be true.

5. It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. There is no cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. No one but yourself affects you. There is nothing in the world that has the power to make you ill or sad, or weak or frail. But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are. As you perceive the harm­lessness in them, they will accept your holy will as theirs. And what was seen as fearful now becomes a source of innocence and holiness.

6. My holy brother, think of this awhile: The world you see does nothing. It has no effects at all. It merely represents your thoughts. And it will change entirely as you elect to change your mind, and choose the joy of God as what you really want. Your Self is radiant in this holy joy, unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable, forever and forever. And would you deny a little corner of your mind its own inheritance, and keep it as a hospital for pain; a sickly place where living things must come at last to die?

7. The world may seem to cause you pain. And yet the world, as causeless, has no power to cause. As an effect, it cannot make effects. As an illusion, it is what you wish. Your idle wishes represent its pains. Your strange desires bring it evil dreams. Your thoughts of death envelop it in fear, while in your kind forgiveness does it live.

8. Pain is the thought of evil taking form, and working havoc in your holy mind. Pain is the ransom you have gladly paid not to be free. In pain is God denied the Son He loves. In pain does fear appear to triumph over love, and time replace eternity and Heaven. And the world becomes a cruel and a bitter place, where sorrow rules and little joys give way before the onslaught of the savage pain that waits to end all joy in misery.

9. Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place where Heaven’s peace holds all things still at last. Lay down all thoughts of danger and of fear. Let no attack enter with you. Lay down the cruel sword of judgment that you hold against your throat, and put aside the withering assaults with which you seek to hide your holiness.

10. Here will you understand there is no pain. Here does the joy of God belong to you. This is the day when it is given you to realize the lesson that contains all of salvation’s power. It is this: Pain is illusion; joy, reality. Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening. Pain is deception; joy alone is truth.

11. And so again we make the only choice that ever can be made; we choose between illusions and the truth, or pain and joy, or hell and Heaven. Let our gratitude unto our Teacher fill our hearts, as we are free to choose our joy instead of pain, our holiness in place of sin, the peace of God instead of conflict, and the light of Heaven for the darkness of the world.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Is learning cumulative? That is, do I take what I have learned with me when I die, so that when I “come back” I do not have to begin all over again? 

A) The premise of this question is that time is linear, and therefore one’s learning can be measured within an evolving linear dimension. However, as we learn in A Course in Miracles, also discussed in the previous chapter, time is not linear since everything within the dream of time and space occurred within the original instant. And so learning does not really occur within the seemingly linear-based dream figure we call ourselves.  Rather, our learning is simply the acceptance of the correction of forgiveness within our minds. This correction, held for us by the Holy Spirit, undoes — or unlearns — the ego’s thought system of separation. It existed before the world of time and space was made, and it still remains in our minds. Our ability to choose this correction is also in our minds. And so it is what we have referred to as the decision maker — the part of our tripartite minds that chooses — that learns the difference between the ego’s lies and the Holy Spirit’s truth. The physical and psychological self with which we identify, and which we believe does the learning, is simply the reflection in a world of time and space of the decision maker, whose choosing occurs outside the temporal and spatial dimensions. 

This of course is not understandable to a brain that has been programmed to think only within the dimension of time and space, life and death. But we are assured by Jesus that our understanding is not necessary: 

You find it difficult to accept the idea that you need give so little, to receive so much. And it is very hard for you to realize it is not personally insulting that your contribution and the Holy Spirit’s are so extremely disproportionate. You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is. Yet we have emphasized that you need understand nothing (T-18.IV.7:3-6).

And so, even if we cannot truly understand how we learn the lessons of the Holy Spirit, we can at least understand how we do not learn them. 

infinite patience

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 14, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 14

Chapter 1 ~ Reason and Perception

VII. The Last Unanswered Question

Do you not see that all your misery comes from the strange belief that you are powerless? Being helpless is the cost of sin. Helplessness is sin’s condition; the one requirement that it demands to be believed. Only the helpless could believe in it. Enormity has no appeal save to the little. And only those who first believe that they are little could see attraction there. Treachery to the Son of God is the defence of those who do not identify with him. And you are for him or against him; either you love him or attack him, protect his unity or see him shattered and slain by your attack.

No one believes the Son of God is powerless. And those who see themselves as helpless must believe that they are not the Son of God. What can they be except his enemy? And what can they do but envy him his power, and by their envy make themselves afraid of it? These are the dark ones, silent and afraid, alone and not communicating, fearful the power of the Son of God will strike them dead, and raising up their helplessness against him. They join the army of the powerless, to wage their war of vengeance, bitterness and spite on him, to make him one with them. Because they do not know that they are one with him, they know not whom they hate. They are indeed a sorry army, each one as likely to attack his brother or turn upon himself as to remember that they thought they had a common cause.

Frantic and loud and strong the dark ones seem to be. Yet they know not their ‘enemy’, except they hate him. In hatred they have come together, but have not joined each other. For had they done so hatred would be impossible. The army of the powerless must be disbanded in the presence of strength. Those who are strong are never treacherous, because they have no need to dream of power and to act out their dream. How would an army act in dreams? Any way at all. It could be seen attacking anyone with anything. Dreams have no reason in them. A flower turns into a poisoned spear, a child becomes a giant and a mouse roars like a lion. And love is turned to hate as easily. This is no army, but a madhouse. What seems to be a planned attack is bedlam.

The army of the powerless is weak indeed. It has no weapons and it has no enemy. Yes, it can overrun the world and seek an enemy. But it can never find what is not there. Yes, it can dream it found an enemy, but this will shift even as it attacks, so that it runs at once to find another, and never comes to rest in victory. And as it runs it turns against itself, thinking it caught a glimpse of the great enemy who always eludes its murderous attack by turning into something else. How treacherous does this enemy appear, who changes so it is impossible even to recognise him.

Yet hate must have a target. There can be no faith in sin without an enemy. Who that believes in sin would dare believe he has no enemy? Could he admit that no one made him powerless? Reason would surely bid him seek no longer what is not there to find. Yet first he must be willing to perceive a world where it is not. It is not necessary that he understand how he can see it. Nor should he try. For if he focuses on what he cannot understand, he will but emphasise his helplessness, and let sin tell him that his enemy must be himself. But let him only ask himself these questions, which he must decide, to have it done for him:

Do I desire a world I rule instead of one that rules me?
Do I desire a world where I am powerful instead of helpless?
Do I desire a world in which I have no enemies and cannot sin?
And do I want to see what I denied because it is the truth?

You may already have answered the first three questions, but not yet the last. For this one still seems fearful, and unlike the others. Yet reason would assure you they are all the same. We said this year would emphasise the sameness of things that are the same. This final question, which is indeed the last you need decide, still seems to hold a threat the rest have lost for you. And this imagined difference attests to your belief that truth may be the enemy you yet may find. Here, then, would seem to be the last remaining hope of finding sin, and not accepting power.

Forget not that the choice of sin or truth, helplessness or power, is the choice of whether to attack or heal. For healing comes of power, and attack of helplessness. Whom you attack you cannot want to heal. And whom you would have healed must be the one you chose to be protected from attack. And what is this decision but the choice whether to see him through the body’s eyes, or let him be revealed to you through vision? How this decision leads to its effects is not your problem. But what you want to see must be your choice. This is a course in cause and not effect.

Consider carefully your answer to the last question you have left unanswered still. And let your reason tell you that it must be answered, and is answered in the other three. And then it will be clear to you that, as you look on the effects of sin in any form, all you need do is simply ask yourself,

Is this what I would see? Do I want this?

This is your one decision; this the condition for what occurs. It is irrelevant to how it happens, but not to why. You have control of this. And if you choose to see a world without an enemy, in which you are not helpless, the means to see it will be given you.

Why is the final question so important? Reason will tell you why. It is the same as are the other three, except in time. The others are decisions that can be made, and then unmade and made again. But truth is constant, and implies a state where vacillations are impossible. You can desire a world you rule that rules you not, and change your mind. You can desire to exchange your helplessness for power, and lose this same desire as a little glint of sin attracts you. And you can want to see a sinless world, and let an ‘enemy’ tempt you to use the body’s eyes and change what you desire.

In content all the questions are the same. For each one asks if you are willing to exchange the world of sin for what the Holy Spirit sees, since it is this the world of sin denies. And therefore those who look on sin are seeing the denial of the real world. Yet the last question adds the wish for constancy in your desire to see the real world, so the desire becomes the only one you have. By answering the final question ‘yes’, you add sincerity to the decisions you have already made to all the rest. For only then have you renounced the option to change your mind again. When it is this you do not want, the rest are wholly answered.

Why do you think you are unsure the others have been answered? Could it be necessary they be asked so often, if they had? Until the last decision has been made, the answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. For you have answered ‘yes’ without perceiving that ‘yes’ must mean ‘not no’. No one decides against his happiness, but he may do so if he does not see he does it. And if he sees his happiness as ever changing, now this, now that, and now an elusive shadow attached to nothing, he does decide against it.

Elusive happiness, or happiness in changing form that shifts with time and place, is an illusion that has no meaning. Happiness must be constant, because it is attained by giving up the wish for the inconstant. Joy cannot be perceived except through constant vision. And constant vision can be given only those who wish for constancy. The power of the Son of God’s desire remains the proof that he is wrong who sees himself as helpless. Desire what you want, and you will look on it and think it real. No thought but has the power to release or kill. And none can leave the thinker’s mind, or leave him unaffected.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 14

Lesson 189

I feel the love of God within me now.

1. There is a light in you the world can not perceive. And with its eyes you will not see this light, for you are blinded by the world. Yet you have eyes to see it. It is there for you to look upon. It was not placed in you to be kept hidden from your sight. This light is a reflection of the thought we practice now. To feel the Love of God within you is to see the world anew, shining in innocence, alive with hope, and blessed with perfect charity and love.

2. Who could feel fear in such a world as this? It welcomes you, rejoices that you came, and sings your praises as it keeps you safe from every form of danger and of pain. It offers you a warm and gentle home in which to stay a while. It blesses you throughout the day, and watches through the night as silent guardian of your holy sleep. It sees salvation in you, and protects the light in you, in which it sees its own. It offers you its flowers and its snow, in thankfulness for your benevolence.

3. This is the world the Love of God reveals. It is so different from the world you see through darkened eyes of malice and of fear, that one belies the other. Only one can be perceived at all. The other one is wholly meaningless. A world in which forgiveness shines on everything, and peace offers its gentle light to eve­ryone, is inconceivable to those who see a world of hatred rising from attack, poised to avenge, to murder and destroy.

4. Yet is the world of hatred equally unseen and inconceivable to those who feel God’s Love in them. Their world reflects the qui­etness and peace that shines in them; the gentleness and inno­cence they see surrounding them; the joy with which they look out from the endless wells of joy within. What they have felt in them they look upon, and see its sure reflection everywhere.

5. What would you see? The choice is given you. But learn and do not let your mind forget this law of seeing: You will look upon that which you feel within. If hatred finds a place within your heart, you will perceive a fearful world, held cruelly in death’s sharp-pointed, bony fingers. If you feel the Love of God within you, you will look out on a world of mercy and of love.

6. Today we pass illusions, as we seek to reach to what is true in us, and feel its all-embracing tenderness, its Love which knows us perfect as itself, its sight which is the gift its Love bestows on us. We learn the way today. It is as sure as Love itself, to which it carries us. For its simplicity avoids the snares the foolish convolutions of the world’s apparent reasoning but serve to hide.

7. Simply do this: Be still, and lay aside all thoughts of what you are and what God is; all concepts you have learned about the world; all images you hold about yourself. Empty your mind of everything it thinks is either true or false, or good or bad, of every thought it judges worthy, and all the ideas of which it is ashamed. Hold onto nothing. Do not bring with you one thought the past has taught, nor one belief you ever learned before from anything. Forget this world, forget this course, and come with wholly empty hands unto your God.

8. Is it not He Who knows the way to you? You need not know the way to Him. Your part is simply to allow all obstacles that you have interposed between the Son and God the Father to be quietly removed forever. God will do His part in joyful and immediate response. Ask and receive. But do not make demands, nor point the road to God by which He should appear to you. The way to reach Him is merely to let Him be. For in that way is your reality proclaimed as well.

9. And so today we do not choose the way in which we go to Him. But we do choose to let Him come. And with this choice we rest. And in our quiet hearts and open minds, His Love will blaze its pathway of itself. What has not been denied is surely there, if it be true and can be surely reached. God knows His Son, and knows the way to him. He does not need His Son to show Him how to find His way. Through every opened door His Love shines outward from its home within, and lightens up the world in innocence.

10. Father, we do not know the way to You. But we have called, and You have answered us. We will not interfere. Salvation’s ways are not our own, for they belong to You. And it is unto You we look for them. Our hands are open to receive Your gifts. We have no thoughts we think apart from You, and cherish no beliefs of what we are, or Who created us. Yours is the way that we would find and follow. And we ask but that Your Will, which is our own as well, be done in us and in the world, that it become a part of Heaven now. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) A Course in Miracles teaches that anger is never justified. Does this mean I should never get angry, and that if I do, I am not being a good Course student or am not being spiritual enough? 

A) Jesus does in fact explicitly state in two places that anger (or attack) is never justified. In the introduction to his discussion of the crucifixion, he states: 

Anger always involves projection of separation, which must ultimately be accepted as one’s own responsibility, rather than being blamed on others …. You cannot beattacked, attack has no justification, and you are responsible for what you believe (T-6.in.1:2,7).

And later in the text, discussing why forgiveness is always justified, Jesus teaches: 

Anger is never justified. Attack has no foundation. It is here escape from fear begins, and will be made complete. Here is the real world given in exchange for dreams of terror.  For it is on this forgiveness rests, and is but natural (T-30.VI.1:1-5).

Our answer here directly follows the discussion of the previous question, and goes to the heart of one’s practice of A Course in Miracles. Jesus is not asking his students to be perfect; if they were, or even wanted to be, then they would have remained in Heaven — the only home of perfection — or would already have returned. The fact that students have need of A Course in Miracles is witnessing to their belief in the reality of imperfection. And imperfect people become angry and seek to avoid responsibility for their own choices. One can indeed say that the core thought of everyone’s ego is to keep the individuality and specialness it believed it stole from God, but to avoid responsibility for it. Therefore, this avoidance can only occur by people blaming another for what they secretly believe they did, and thus attacking someone else for their sin. 

Jesus’ purpose in the Course is to help his students accept responsibility for their projections onto others.  It would be most unrealistic of him to expect his students to have no attack thoughts, but it is a most reasonable goal to ask that students at least be aware of their egos’ attempts to deny responsibility for being upset. Therefore, becoming angry does not mean one is not a good Course student, but becoming a “good” one means learning — or even being willing to learn — to be responsible for one’s angry perceptions of others, and to be aware of one’s own guilt over separation from the Love of God and the loving guidance of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. “Good” students thus would never seek to justify their angry thoughts or feelings; at the same time they would not be denying that they have them. This honesty allows Jesus or the Holy Spirit to help them change their minds, if they so choose. This is the gentle and loving way of understanding Jesus’ statements in the text that we quoted above. 

tiny mad idea

 

 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 13, 2019

ACIM Text Reading for July 13

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

VI. Reason versus Madness

Reason cannot see sin but can see errors, and leads to their correction. It does not value them, but their correction. Reason will also tell you that when you think you sin, you call for help. Yet if you will not accept the help you call for, you will not believe that it is yours to give. And so you will not give it, thus maintaining the belief. For uncorrected error of any kind deceives you about the power that is in you to make correction. If it can correct, and you allow it not to do so, you deny it to yourself and to your brother. And if he shares this same belief you both will think that you are damned. This you could spare him and yourself. For reason would not make way for correction in you alone.

Correction cannot be accepted or refused by you without your brother. Sin would maintain it can. Yet reason tells you that you cannot see your brother or yourself as sinful and still perceive the other innocent. Who looks upon himself as guilty and sees a sinless world? And who can see a sinful world and look upon himself apart from it? Sin would maintain you and your brother must be separate. But reason tells you that this must be wrong. If you and your brother are joined, how could it be that you have private thoughts? And how could thoughts that enter into what but seems like yours alone have no effect at all on what is yours? If minds are joined, this is impossible.

No one can think but for himself, as God thinks not without His Son. Only were both in bodies could this be. Nor could one mind think only for itself unless the body were the mind. For only bodies can be separate, and therefore unreal. The home of madness cannot be the home of reason. Yet it is easy to leave the home of madness if you see reason. You do not leave insanity by going somewhere else. You leave it simply by accepting reason where madness was. Madness and reason see the same things, but it is certain that they look upon them differently.

Madness is an attack on reason that drives it out of mind, and takes its place. Reason does not attack, but takes the place of madness quietly, replacing madness if it be the choice of the insane to listen to it. But the insane know not their will, for they believe they see the body, and let their madness tell them it is real. Reason would be incapable of this. And if you would defend the body against your reason, you will not understand the body or yourself.

The body does not separate you from your brother, and if you think it does you are insane. But madness has a purpose, and believes it also has the means to make its purpose real. To see the body as a barrier between what reason tells you must be joined must be insane. Nor could you see it, if you heard the voice of reason. What can there be that stands between what is continuous? And if there is nothing in between, how can what enters part be kept away from other parts? Reason would tell you this. But think what you must recognise, if it be so.

If you choose sin instead of healing, you would condemn the Son of God to what can never be corrected. You tell him, by your choice, that he is damned; separate from you and from his Father forever, without a hope of safe return. You teach him this, and you will learn of him exactly what you taught. For you can teach him only that he is as you would have him, and what you choose he be is but your choice for you. Yet think not this is fearful. That you are joined to him is but a fact, not an interpretation. How can a fact be fearful unless it disagrees with what you hold more dear than truth? Reason will tell you that this fact is your release.

Neither your brother nor yourself can be attacked alone. But neither can accept a miracle instead without the other being blessed by it, and healed of pain. Reason, like love, would reassure you, and seeks not to frighten you. The power to heal the Son of God is given you because he must be one with you. You are responsible for how he sees himself. And reason tells you it is given you to change his whole mind, which is one with you, in just an instant. And any instant serves to bring complete correction of his errors and make him whole. The instant that you choose to let yourself be healed, in that same instant is his whole salvation seen as complete with yours. Reason is given you to understand that this is so. For reason, kind as is the purpose for which it is the means, leads steadily away from madness toward the goal of truth. And here you will lay down the burden of denying truth. This is the burden that is terrible, and not the truth.

That you and your brother are joined is your salvation; the gift of Heaven, not the gift of fear. Does Heaven seem to be a burden to you? In madness, yes. And yet what madness sees must be dispelled by reason. Reason assures you Heaven is what you want, and all you want. Listen to Him Who speaks with reason, and brings your reason into line with His. Be willing to let reason be the means by which He would direct you how to leave insanity behind. Hide not behind insanity in order to escape from reason. What madness would conceal the Holy Spirit still holds out, for everyone to look upon with gladness.

You are your brother’s saviour. He is yours. Reason speaks happily indeed of this. This gracious plan was given love by Love. And what Love plans is like Itself in this: Being united, It would have you learn what you must be. And being one with It, it must be given you to give what It has given, and gives still. Spend but an instant in the glad acceptance of what is given you to give your brother, and learn with him what has been given both of you. To give is no more blessed than to receive. But neither is it less.

The Son of God is always blessed as one. And as his gratitude goes out to you who blessed him, reason will tell you that it cannot be you stand apart from blessing. The gratitude he offers you reminds you of the thanks your Father gives you for completing Him. And here alone does reason tell you that you can understand what you must be. Your Father is as close to you as is your brother. Yet what is there that could be nearer you than is your Self?

The power you have over the Son of God is not a threat to his reality. It but attests to it. Where could his freedom lie but in himself, if he be free already? And who could bind him but himself, if he deny his freedom? God is not mocked; no more His Son can be imprisoned save by his own desire. And it is by his own desire that he is freed. Such is his strength, and not his weakness. He is at his own mercy. And where he chooses to be merciful, there is he free. But where he chooses to condemn instead, there is he held a prisoner, waiting in chains his pardon on himself to set him free.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 13

Lesson 188

The Peace of God is shining in me now.

1. Why wait for Heaven? Those who seek the light are merely covering their eyes. The light is in them now. Enlightenment is but a recognition, not a change at all. Light is not of the world, yet you who bear the light in you are alien here as well. The light came with you from your native home, and stayed with you because it is your own. It is the only thing you bring with you from Him Who is your Source. It shines in you because it lights your home, and leads you back to where it came from and you are at home.

2. This light can not be lost. Why wait to find it in the future, or believe it has been lost already, or was never there? It can so easily be looked upon that arguments which prove it is not there become ridiculous. Who can deny the presence of what he beholds in him? It is not difficult to look within, for there all vision starts. There is no sight, be it of dreams or from a truer Source, that is not but the shadow of the seen through inward vision. There perception starts, and there it ends. It has no source but this.

3. The peace of God is shining in you now, and from your heart extends around the world. It pauses to caress each living thing, and leaves a blessing with it that remains forever and forever. What it gives must be eternal. It removes all thoughts of the ephemeral and valueless. It brings renewal to all tired hearts, and lights all vision as it passes by. All of its gifts are given eve­ryone, and everyone unites in giving thanks to you who give, and you who have received.

4. The shining in your mind reminds the world of what it has forgotten, and the world restores the memory to you as well. From you salvation radiates with gifts beyond all measure, given and returned. To you, the giver of the gift, does God Himself give thanks. And in His blessing does the light in you shine brighter, adding to the gifts you have to offer to the world.

5. The peace of God can never be contained. Who recognizes it within himself must give it. And the means for giving it are in his understanding. He forgives because he recognized the truth in him. The peace of God is shining in you now, and in all living things. In quietness is it acknowledged universally. For what your inward vision looks upon is your perception of the universe.

6. Sit quietly and close your eyes. The light within you is sufficient. It alone has power to give the gift of sight to you. Exclude the outer world, and let your thoughts fly to the peace within. They know the way. For honest thoughts, untainted by the dream of worldly things outside yourself, become the holy messengers of God Himself.

7. These thoughts you think with Him. They recognize their home. And they point surely to their Source, Where God the Father and the Son are one. God’s peace is shining on them, but they must remain with you as well, for they were born within your mind, as yours was born in God’s. They lead you back to peace, from where they came but to remind you how you must return.

8. They heed your Father’s Voice when you refuse to listen. And they urge you gently to accept His Word for what you are, instead of fantasies and shadows. They remind you that you are the co-creator of all things that live. For as the peace of God is shining in you, it must shine on them.

9. We practice coming nearer to the light in us today. We take our wandering thoughts, and gently bring them back to where they fall in line with all the thoughts we share with God. We will not let them stray. We let the light within our minds direct them to come home. We have betrayed them, ordering that they depart from us. But now we call them back, and wash them clean of strange desires and disordered wishes. We restore to them the holiness of their inheritance.

10. Thus are our minds restored with them, and we acknowledge that the peace of God still shines in us, and from us to all living things that share our life. We will forgive them all, absolving all the world from what we thought it did to us. For it is we who make the world as we would have it. Now we choose that it be innocent, devoid of sin and open to salvation. And we lay our saving blessing on it, as we say:

The peace of God is shining in me now.
Let all things shine upon me in that peace,
And let me bless them with the light in me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q) Can one be a student of A Course in Miracles and serve on a jury (be a doctor, lawyer, etc.) or remain with a partner who is not a student of the Course? Or should one be with a partner at all?  Isn’t that simply a form of specialness? 
A) These questions reflect the level confusion we have already considered, for they suggest that there are certain activities, occupations, or relationships that are more or less spiritual than others. For example, the underlying assumptions are that it is holier to become a teacher of A Course in Miracles than it is to serve in government or the armed forces. In other words, this assumption makes the error real, something Jesus distinctly cautions his students against doing. Indeed, the first law of chaos described in Chapter 23, and already referred to, explicitly states the ego’s principle that there “is a hierarchy of illusions” (T-23.II.2:3). 

As we have frequently stated in this book, the focus of the Course student should never be on specific behavior, but only on which voice is chosen as a guide for this behavior. Everything else is meaningless. Very often, difficult occupations provide the best classrooms in which to learn and practice the principle of forgiveness, which is based on the premise that nothing outside us can affect us in any way. It is only our minds’ choices for the ego that can bring us pain. Many years ago we were giving a workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A man stood up and spoke of his work at Los Alamos, site of some of this country’s most significant nuclear weapons research and production. Several of the participants began to attack him for being a student of A Course in Miracles at the same time that he was involved in what they felt was bellicose and obviously ego-based activity. They clearly missed the whole point. What better classroom could there be for someone than to operate in the midst of such a blatant example of the ego thought system, and learn how to see it differently through the eyes of forgiveness, and especially how to see oneself differently. And is working on a nuclear bomb really any different from participation in any institution in the world, all of which deal with separation, specialness, and the perpetuation of the ego thought system? 

As for partners in relationships, the same principles and cautions apply. Over the years, we have heard many stories of couples who have broken up because one of the partners was not a Course student, as if that external condition were a prerequisite for a happy life together. The issue, naturally, is not that every couple should remain together, or that they should separate. However, using A Course in Miracles as an excuse for breaking up, or a reason for remaining together misses the whole point again. Very often, in fact, remaining with someone who is not a student of the Course may be the perfect classroom in which to learn that the heart of A Course in Miracles is its content of forgiveness, not the form in which that teaching comes. We shall return to this issue in the final chapter. 

The same mistakes occur on the “other side” of relationships; i.e., the belief that students of the Course should not be involved in any romantic or sexual relationships at all, not to mention getting married and having children, since that would clearly reflect special relationships. However, it has been forgotten that specialness exists not in a relationship between two people, but in the thoughts of a person who has preferred the ego’s individuality or specialness to the Holy Spirit’s Love. The lack that inevitably follows such a decision must lead to seeking outside oneself for help in filling that lack, what the Course would describe as the scarcity principle. That filling up the perceived inner lack is what A Course in Miracles means by special relationships. 

It is impossible to be born into this world without specialness, and it is simply denial that would lead students to believe that they are without this belief system. One of the core definitions the Course uses for specialness is substitution, and simply leaving Heaven — as all people in the world believe they have done — expresses the belief that the ego’s specialness is a worthy and worthwhile substitute for the Love of God. Therefore, the special relationship is the rule of the separated world, and rather than deny it, students of A Course in Miracles should accept this perceptual fact, and turn to Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help in learning the lessons of forgiveness that this valuable classroom offers under Their guidance. 

In other words, as we frequently remind students during our workshops and classes, when studying A Course in Miracles, students should above all not forget to be normal. And normal people serve on juries, become involved in litigation, carry insurance, get sick, become angry, laugh, cry, mourn the deaths of loved ones, have relationships, families, circles of friends, etc., etc., etc. The challenge is to be involved in all these normal human activities, but to do so differently — with Jesus instead of without him. Thus Jesus encourages his students to be like everyone else, but to be happy and peaceful: 

There is a way of living in the world that is not here, although it seems to be. You do not change appearance, though you smile more frequently. Your forehead is serene; your eyes are quiet (W-pI.155.1:1-3; italics ours).

Therefore, as we cautioned in our discussion of the previous question, students of A Course in Miracles should watch for their ego’s vigilance in judging other people’s responses or behaviors, or their own for that matter. Jesus’ loving judgment is always and only in terms of content — i.e., the inner teacher that is chosen — and never the form.And unless one has the egoless wisdom of the Holy Spirit, how can an observer possibly know which teacher has been chosen? 

infinite patience