ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 27

ACIM Text Reading for June 27

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

II. The Gift of Lilies

Look upon all the trinkets made to hang upon the body, or to cover it or for its use. See all the useless things made for its eyes to see. Think on the many offerings made for its pleasure, and remember all these were made to make seem lovely what you hate. Would you employ this hated thing to draw your brother to you, and to attract his body’s eyes? Learn you but offer him a crown of thorns, not recognizing it for what it is, and trying to justify your own interpretation of its value by his acceptance. Yet still the gift proclaims his worthlessness to you, as his acceptance and delight acknowledges the lack of value he places on himself.

Gifts are not made through bodies, if they be truly given and received. For bodies can neither offer nor accept; hold out nor take. Only the mind can value, and only the mind decides on what it would receive and give. And every gift it offers depends on what it wants. It will adorn its chosen home most carefully, making it ready to receive the gifts it wants by offering them to those who come unto its chosen home, or those it would attract to it. And there they will exchange their gifts, offering and receiving what their minds judge to be worthy of them.

Each gift is an evaluation of the receiver and the giver. No one but sees his chosen home as an altar to himself. No one but seeks to draw to it the worshippers of what he placed upon it, making it worthy of their devotion. And each has set a light upon his altar, that they may see what he has placed upon it and take it for their own. Here is the value that you lay upon your brother and on yourself. Here is your gift to both; your judgment on the Son of God for what he is. Forget not that it is your savior to whom the gift is offered. Offer him thorns and you are crucified. Offer him lilies and it is yourself you free.

I have great need for lilies, for the Son of God has not forgiven me. And can I offer him forgiveness when he offers thorns to me? For he who offers thorns to anyone is against me still, and who is whole without him? Be you his friend for me, that I may be forgiven and you may look upon the Son of God as whole. But look you first upon the altar in your chosen home, and see what you have laid upon it to offer me. If it be thorns whose points gleam sharply in a blood-red light, the body is your chosen home and it is separation that you offer me. And yet the thorns are gone. Look you still closer at them now, and you will see your altar is no longer what it was.

You look still with the body’s eyes, and they can see but thorns. Yet you have asked for and received another sight. Those who accept the Holy Spirit’s purpose as their own share also His vision. And what enables Him to see His purpose shine forth from every altar now is yours as well as His. He sees no strangers; only dearly loved and loving friends. He sees no thorns but only lilies, gleaming in the gentle glow of peace that shines on everything He looks upon and loves.

This Easter, look with different eyes upon your brother. You have forgiven me. And yet I cannot use your gift of lilies while you see them not. Nor can you use what I have given unless you share it. The Holy Spirit’s vision is no idle gift, no plaything to be tossed about a while and laid aside. Listen and hear this carefully, nor think it but a dream, a careless thought to play with, or a toy you would pick up from time to time and then put by. For if you do, so will it be to you.

You have the vision now to look past all illusions. It has been given you to see no thorns, no strangers and no obstacles to peace. The fear of God is nothing to you now. Who is afraid to look upon illusions, knowing his savior stands beside him? With him, your vision has become the greatest power for the undoing of illusion that God Himself could give. For what God gave the Holy Spirit, you have received. The Son of God looks unto you for his release. For you have asked for and been given the strength to look upon this final obstacle, and see no thorns nor nails to crucify the Son of God, and crown him king of death.

Your chosen home is on the other side, beyond the veil. It has been carefully prepared for you, and it is ready to receive you now. You will not see it with the body’s eyes. Yet all you need you have. Your home has called to you since time began, nor have you ever failed entirely to hear. You heard, but knew not how to look, nor where. And now you know. In you the knowledge lies, ready to be unveiled and freed from all the terror that kept it hidden. There is no fear in love. The song of Easter is the glad refrain the Son of God was never crucified. Let us lift up our eyes together, not in fear but faith. And there will be no fear in us, for in our vision will be no illusions; only a pathway to the open door of Heaven, the home we share in quietness and where we live in gentleness and peace, as one together.

Would you not have your holy brother lead you there? His innocence will light your way, offering you its guiding light and sure protection, and shining from the holy altar within him where you laid the lilies of forgiveness. Let him be to you the savior from illusions, and look on him with the new vision that looks upon the lilies and brings you joy. We go beyond the veil of fear, lighting each other’s way. The holiness that leads us is within us, as is our home. So will we find what we were meant to find by Him Who leads us.

This is the way to Heaven and to the peace of Easter, in which we join in glad awareness that the Son of God is risen from the past, and has awakened to the present. Now is he free, unlimited in his communion with all that is within him. Now are the lilies of his innocence untouched by guilt, and perfectly protected from the cold chill of fear and withering blight of sin alike. Your gift has saved him from the thorns and nails, and his strong arm is free to guide you safely through them and beyond. Walk with him now rejoicing, for the savior from illusions has come to greet you, and lead you home with him.

Here is your savior and your friend, released from crucifixion through your vision, and free to lead you now where he would be. He will not leave you, nor forsake the savior in his pain. And gladly will you walk the way of innocence together, singing as you behold the open door of Heaven and recognize the home that called to you. Give joyously to one another the freedom and the strength to lead you there. And come before each other’s holy altar where the strength and freedom wait, to offer and receive the bright awareness that leads you home. The lamp is lit in both of you for one another. And by the hands that gave it to your brother shall both of you be led past fear to love.

 

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 27

Lesson 178

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(165) Let not my mind deny the Thought of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(166) I am entrusted with the gifts of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***
ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #420: In A Course in Miracles Jesus says: “I have great need for lilies, for the Son of God has not forgiven me. And can I offer him forgiveness when he offers thorns to me? For he who offers thorns to anyone is against me still, and who is whole without him? Be you his friend for me, that I may be forgiven and you may look upon the Son of God as whole” (T.20.II.4;1,2,3,4). I am not entirely sure what Jesus needs us to forgive him for. What has he done? Is it not we who should be asking him to forgive us that in our insane wrong- mindedness we were and still are mistaken about his and our identity?

A: First, in the passage you quote, Jesus is teaching us again that the Sonship is one: we cannot attack another person without simultaneously attacking ourselves and him. Now with regard to forgiving Jesus… We will give a brief answer here and then suggest some references for an in- depth study of this important topic. There are two levels on which we need to forgive Jesus — all based on what he tells us in the Course. The first level pertains to our projections onto him, the “bitter idols” he mentions in the clarification of terms at the end of the manual for teachers (C.5.5:7). On the one hand, we (the world) have made him into a figure of judgment and punishment who demands suffering and sacrifice. On the other hand, we have made him into a magical savior who will solve our problems, and reward us for our faith and our good deeds. These two images, of course, are prominent in the New Testament, and have been throughout the history of Christianity.

On this first level, then, we need to forgive Jesus for what he has never done and for what he has never been. This really is a defense against the more basic underlying level, which is our need to forgive Jesus for who he truly is, as he reveals himself in A Course in Miracles, thus correcting the distorted and mistaken descriptions given in most religions for the past two thousand years. If Jesus is indeed present within our minds as the reflection of God’s Love — the pure expression of the Atonement principle — then our entire identity as a separated physical and psychological being is undone. He is the living proof within our dream that we are wrong about everything, that our individual lives and the entire world are made up. He has not come to help us make our lives in the world better. When we allow ourselves to look honestly at who Jesus truly is and what he truly represents, we could not but react with fear and even hatred. So it is because of who he truly is that our forgiveness of him is needed. In this sense, we can all relate to the profound feelings expressed in Helen’s poem “Stranger on the Road,” in which she portrays her fear of confronting the truth of Jesus’ reality.

There is much more to say about this aspect of our relationship with Jesus, but space limitations prevent us from doing so here, and so we refer you to some of our publications for further study:

Question #54 in The Most Commonly Asked Questions about A Course in Miracles; “Why Must We Forgive Jesus?” in Chapter 15 of Forgiveness and Jesus: The Meeting Place of A Course in Miracles and Christianity; The Afterword in the second edition of Christian Psychology in A Course in Miracles, and “Forgiving Jesus: Stranger on the Road, an audio tape album.

Into Christ's Presence

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 26

ACIM Text Reading for June 26

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

I. Holy Week

This is Palm Sunday, the celebration of victory and the acceptance of the truth. Let us not spend this holy week brooding on the crucifixion of God’s Son, but happily in the celebration of his release. For Easter is the sign of peace, not pain. A slain Christ has no meaning. But a risen Christ becomes the symbol of the Son of God’s forgiveness on himself; the sign he looks upon himself as healed and whole.

This week begins with palms and ends with lilies, the white and holy sign the Son of God is innocent. Let no dark sign of crucifixion intervene between the journey and its purpose; between the acceptance of the truth and its expression. This week we celebrate life, not death. And we honor the perfect purity of the Son of God, and not his sins. Offer your brother the gift of lilies, not the crown of thorns; the gift of love and not the “gift” of fear. You stand beside your brother, thorns in one hand and lilies in the other, uncertain which to give. Join now with me and throw away the thorns, offering the lilies to replace them. This Easter I would have the gift of your forgiveness offered by you to me, and returned by me to you. We cannot be united in crucifixion and in death. Nor can the resurrection be complete till your forgiveness rests on Christ, along with mine.

A week is short, and yet this holy week is the symbol of the whole journey the Son of God has undertaken. He started with the sign of victory, the promise of the resurrection, already given him. Let him not wander into the temptation of crucifixion, and delay him there. Help him to go in peace beyond it, with the light of his own innocence lighting his way to his redemption and release. Hold him not back with thorns and nails when his redemption is so near. But let the whiteness of your shining gift of lilies speed him on his way to resurrection.

If you see glimpses of the face of Christ behind the veil, looking between the snow-white petals of the lilies you have received and given as your gift, you will behold your brother’s face and recognize it. I was a stranger and you took me in, not knowing who I was. Yet for your gift of lilies you will know. In your forgiveness of this stranger, alien to you and yet your ancient Friend, lies his release and your redemption with him. The time of Easter is a time of joy, and not of mourning. Look on your risen Friend, and celebrate his holiness along with me. For Easter is the time of your salvation, along with mine.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 26

Lesson 177

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(163) There is no death. The Son of God is free.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(164) Now are we one with Him Who is our Source.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1241: I have struggled most of my life with never being fully aware of God’s Love for me. I understand and appreciate His Love for others, just not me. Perhaps experiences from my childhood are the cause, or just a very poor sense of self-worth. The reasons could be endless. I see the problems and the errors in my thinking; but that does not provide an answer or healing. I feel abandoned by God. His Love is just not quite within my reach. How do I heal this thought when I do not even see myself as worthy enough to be heard by God? When I read and study the Course, it feels as though my ego, my resistance is greater and stronger than God and He is waiting for me to heal this perception of myself and of Him first, and until then He will just remain silent. Could this be true?

A: Resistance to changing our beliefs about ourselves is a major aspect of every student’s spiritual process, as is feeling unworthy of love. Kenneth’s book Ending Our Resistance to Love speaks to these issues directly. As is discussed in this book, being aware of your resistance is extremely helpful; but what you want to add to that is a decision not to justify your feelings of unworthiness. Although sometimes it is helpful to delve into the past to shed some light on this sense of unworthiness, the key to resolving the conflict is realizing that you are making a decision to hold on to that belief about yourself in the present. That is what you want to focus on. The ego loves to bring in the past because the past cannot be changed, which means we will be tempted to treat present conditions as limitations or handicaps we can do nothing about. Score one for the ego!

Approaching your sense of unworthiness as a belief you are choosing in the present (even though you do not experience it that way) advances you to the next step of looking at it now from the perspective of purpose : if you are choosing that belief, it must be for a purpose, which means there is a payoff to it, something you want. Since it leaves you feeling completely separate from God and even hopeless, then the goal of continuing to believe in it is to maintain your existence as separate from God. But the guilt over that (unconscious, of course) would necessitate projecting responsibility for it, resulting in the feeling that God has abandoned you.

This is why Jesus emphasizes that feeling unworthy of God’s Love is not humility or virtuous in any sense, unlike the view of many other spiritual paths ( W.pI.61 ) . Lesson 93 “Light and joy and peace abide in me” points out that our negative feelings are “so firmly fixed that it is difficult to help you see that they are based on nothing” ( W.pI.93.2:1 ). They are meaningless beliefs and feelings because they rest on the false assumption that we truly are separate from God and hopelessly sinful and unworthy as a result. As part of the correction, Jesus assures us, “Your sinlessness is guaranteed by God. Over and over this must be repeated, until it is accepted. . . . You are what God created or what you made. One Self is true, the other is not there. Try to experience the unity of your one Self” ( W.pI.93.6:1,2 ; 9:1,2,3). Realizing that our negativity is rooted in nothing real is extremely helpful, as we then would not be fighting against something we think is real.

To answer your last question: From the Course’s perspective, it could not be true that God is waiting for you to change your beliefs before He comes to you. That would be to give God human traits, and more importantly, it would imply that God somehow recognizes us as separate from Him, which is the exact opposite of the Atonement principle that states the separation never happened. The passages in the Course that speak of God that way are meant to help us with our fear of Him so that we would grow to trust Him as loving, comforting, and forgiving rather than as vindictive, judgmental, and unpredictable. This course is corrective of all our misperceptions about everything, and it must use language that meets us at our level of need, so that it can then raise us to higher levels, drawing us closer and closer to the perfect Oneness of Love, our true and eternal Identity.

Since Love is perfect Oneness, it is just plain silly to think that there can be anything real that can oppose It, “a power past omnipotence” (T. 29.VIII.6:2 ). What seems so powerful and destructive is nothing more than “a frightened mouse that would attack the universe” ( T.22.V.4:3 ); our seemingly monstrous ego has not even the power to stop the fall of a button ( T.18.IX.6:4 ) , and if we think otherwise, it is only because we want it to be that way, not because it is in reality. Again, our feelings of helplessness and unworthiness are all based on nothing. That is what choosing Jesus as our teacher would help us to learn, thus freeing us to be the Self that God created.

Related discussions may be found in Questions #180, #721, and #1042.

teach not that i died in vain

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 25

ACIM Text Reading for June 25

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

XII. The Lifting of the Veil

Forget not that you came this far together, you and your brother. And it was surely not the ego that led you here. No obstacle to peace can be surmounted through its help. It does not open up its secrets, and bid you look on them and go beyond them. It would not have you see its weakness, and learn it has no power to keep you from the truth. The Guide Who brought you here remains with you, and when you raise your eyes you will be ready to look on terror with no fear at all. But first, lift up your eyes and look on one another in innocence born of complete forgiveness of each other’s illusions, and through the eyes of faith that sees them not.

No one can look upon the fear of God unterrified, unless he has accepted the Atonement and learned illusions are not real. No one can stand before this obstacle alone, for he could not have reached this far unless his brother walked beside him. And no one would dare to look on it without complete forgiveness of his brother in his heart. Stand you here a while and tremble not. You will be ready. Let us join together in a holy instant, here in this place where the purpose, given in a holy instant, has led you. And let us join in faith that He Who brought us here together will offer you the innocence you need, and that you will accept it for my love and His.

Nor is it possible to look on this too soon. This is the place to which everyone must come when he is ready. Once he has found his brother he is ready. Yet merely to reach the place is not enough. A journey without a purpose is still meaningless, and even when it is over it seems to make no sense. How can you know that it is over unless you realize its purpose is accomplished? Here, with the journey’s end before you, you see its purpose. And it is here you choose whether to look upon it or wander on, only to return and make the choice again.

To look upon the fear of God does need some preparation. Only the sane can look on stark insanity and raving madness with pity and compassion, but not with fear. For only if they share in it does it seem fearful, and you do share in it until you look upon your brother with perfect faith and love and tenderness. Before complete forgiveness you still stand unforgiving. You are afraid of God because you fear your brother. Those you do not forgive you fear. And no one reaches love with fear beside him.

This brother who stands beside you still seems to be a stranger. You do not know him, and your interpretation of him is very fearful. And you attack him still, to keep what seems to be yourself unharmed. Yet in his hands is your salvation. You see his madness, which you hate because you share it. And all the pity and forgiveness that would heal it gives way to fear. Brother, you need forgiveness of each other, for you will share in madness or in Heaven together. And you will raise your eyes in faith together, or not at all.

Beside each of you is one who offers you the chalice of Atonement, for the Holy Spirit is in him. Would you hold his sins against him, or accept his gift to you? Is this giver of salvation your friend or enemy? Choose which he is, remembering that you will receive of him according to your choice. He has in him the power to forgive your sin, as you for him. Neither can give it to himself alone. And yet your savior stands beside each one. Let him be what he is, and seek not to make of love an enemy.

Behold your Friend, the Christ Who stands beside you. How holy and beautiful He is! You thought He sinned because you cast the veil of sin upon Him to hide His loveliness. Yet still He holds forgiveness out to you, to share His holiness. This “enemy,” this “stranger” still offers you salvation as His Friend. The “enemies” of Christ, the worshippers of sin, know not Whom they attack.

This is your brother, crucified by sin and waiting for release from pain. Would you not offer him forgiveness, when only he can offer it to you? For his redemption he will give you yours, as surely as God created every living thing and loves it. And he will give it truly, for it will be both offered and received. There is no grace of Heaven that you cannot offer to one another, and receive from your most holy Friend. Let him withhold it not, for by receiving it you offer it to him. Redemption has been given you to give each other, and thus receive it. Whom you forgive is free, and what you give you share. Forgive the sins your brother thinks he has committed, and all the guilt you think you see in him.

Here is the holy place of resurrection, to which we come again; to which we will return until redemption is accomplished and received. Think who your brother is, before you would condemn him. And offer thanks to God that he is holy, and has been given the gift of holiness for you. Join him in gladness, and remove all trace of guilt from his disturbed and tortured mind. Help him to lift the heavy burden of sin you laid upon him and he accepted as his own, and toss it lightly and with happy laughter away from him. Press it not like thorns against his brow, nor nail him to it, unredeemed and hopeless.

Give faith to one another, for faith and hope and mercy are yours to give. Into the hands that give, the gift is given. Look on your brother, and see in him the gift of God you would receive. It is almost Easter, the time of resurrection. Let us give redemption to each other and share in it, that we may rise as one in resurrection, not separate in death. Behold the gift of freedom that I gave the Holy Spirit for you. And be you free together, as you offer to the Holy Spirit this same gift. And giving it, receive it of Him in return for what you gave. He leadeth you and me together, that we might meet here in this holy place, and make the same decision.

Free your brother here, as I freed you. Give him the selfsame gift, nor look upon him with condemnation of any kind. See him as guiltless as I look on you, and overlook the sins he thinks he sees within himself. Offer your brother freedom and complete release from sin, here in the garden of seeming agony and death. So will we prepare together the way unto the resurrection of God’s Son, and let him rise again to glad remembrance of his Father, Who knows no sin, no death, but only life eternal.

Together we will disappear into the Presence beyond the veil, not to be lost but found; not to be seen but known. And knowing, nothing in the plan God has established for salvation will be left undone. This is the journey’s purpose, without which is the journey meaningless. Here is the peace of God, given to you eternally by Him. Here is the rest and quiet that you seek, the reason for the journey from its beginning. Heaven is the gift you owe your brother, the debt of gratitude you offer to the Son of God in thanks for what he is, and what his Father created him to be.

Think carefully how you would look upon the giver of this gift, for as you look on him so will the gift itself appear to be. As he is seen as either the giver of guilt or of salvation, so will his offering be seen and so received. The crucified give pain because they are in pain. But the redeemed give joy because they have been healed of pain. Everyone gives as he receives, but he must choose what it will be that he receives. And he will recognize his choice by what he gives, and what is given him. Nor is it given anything in hell or Heaven to interfere with his decision.

You came this far because the journey was your choice. And no one undertakes to do what he believes is meaningless. What you had faith in still is faithful, and watches over you in faith so gentle yet so strong that it would lift you far beyond the veil, and place the Son of God safely within the sure protection of his Father. Here is the only purpose that gives this world, and the long journey through this world, whatever meaning lies in them. Beyond this, they are meaningless. You and your brother stand together, still without conviction they have a purpose. Yet it is given you to see this purpose in your holy Friend, and recognize it as your own.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 25

Lesson 176

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(161) Give me your blessing, holy Son of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(162) I am as God created me.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #722: I am certain that I have read and heard Ken say that our lives here (in the dream) are the constant acting out of what we believe happened to cause the separation from God — that we wanted to be special and because God cannot give special favor, we killed Him and usurped His place. In that moment the mind split. The facilitator in the group I attend often defines the separation as something that happened to us when we were very young – usually by a parent whom we loved and trusted, and that parent did or said something that was not love, and so we gave it an interpretation other than love, and that was our introduction to the “ego”. Can you comment on these interpretations — they seem to be saying the same thing. I see my relationship with my parents as being the acting out of my relationship with God. I chose autonomy from God and continue to do so and I chose autonomy from my parents as all children do in this dream.

A: The separation, as it is spoken of in A Course in Miracles, has nothing to do with the body. The body is simply the projection of a thought of guilt in the mind — it embodies that thought, if you will. The separation began, as you say, when the Son of God believed he had killed God and gave himself existence as a separate mind (not in reality, of course). The process of fragmenting what once was one continued, culminating in our experience right now of there being multitudes of separate, individualized beings. All that we are doing, however, despite appearances, is reliving “the single instant when the time of terror took the place of love” (T.26.V.13:1). So, yes, our interactions with our parents — and everyone else as well — would reflect the ego thoughts in our minds or, in a holy instant, the love in our minds. What is so hard for us to fathom is that the mind (not the brain) of the infant or child is a mature mind containing both the thought system of the ego and the thought system of the Holy Spirit along with the capacity to choose between the two. The separation is already a “reality” for that mind. It projects itself into the form of a body, which appears to begin as an infant and then develops through various stages into adulthood. But since ideas leave not their source, this is all going on only within the mind, which is outside time and space.


Q #723: Is it right that from the viewpoint of A Course in Miracles we are already “saved” and have always been, and isn’t that the humorous part in all of the book that we ask so many questions and struggle and struggle and it’s all already done for us? If someone from outside were watching us, wouldn’t that be good stuff for a comedy? Aren’t love and humor closely linked? How can we express that love in this world without being absorbed by it? By letting ourselves be absorbed?

A: As Jesus tells us in the text: “It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity …” (T.27.VIII.6:5). This means that when viewed from the Holy Spirit’s perspective we find ourselves in a humorous situation as you indicate. In the end, just before God reaches down to lift us to Himself, we will smile at the foolishness of the entire dream. Meanwhile, that smile can be experienced in the dream in the holy instant and the real world (T.19.III.10; 27.VII.14; W.pI.153.14; T.15.V.11). For one who knows that separation from God is impossible, the belief in separation is preposterous and perhaps comical. For one who believes separation is real, its effects seem real as well, and are experienced as disastrous and painful (T.27.VIII.8:4,5,6,7). You are correct in saying that we are saved and have, in truth, never left our home in God. We certainly would not need to struggle and question if we accepted this truth as true. The problem is that we think we are here and do notbelieve the truth about ourselves. As Jesus tells us in the text: “This is a very simple course. Perhaps you do not feel you need a course which, in the end, teaches that only reality is true. But do you believe it? When you perceive the real world, you will recognize that you did not believe it” (T.11.VIII.1: 1,2,3,4 italics ours). This means that until we reach the real world, we do not believe reality is true. We have chosen to believe instead the ego’s lie of separation, which is why we take ourselves and the dream of separation seriously, and are not smiling the smile the Course speaks of, nor laughing “… at pain and loss, at sickness and at grief, at poverty, starvation and at death” (W.pI.187.6:4). Our resistance to learning what is true is the source of our struggle with the Course’s teaching, and of our inability to smile peacefully at everything in our lives and our world.

Resistance is undone through the process of forgiveness, whereby we look at all the judgments that issue from the choice to identify with the ego, with a little willingness to offer them to the Holy Spirit to be transformed. The process begins with the recognition that our interpretation of every experience is a projection of guilt for having chosen to believe the separation is real. As forgiveness becomes a way of life, guilt and the fear of punishment diminish and the love that is always there slowly dawns upon the mind. This does not happen abruptly. Slowly, fear lessens and glimpses of love’s reflection take its place. Gradually it becomes easier and more attractive to identify with the love. When we identify with love, we are “absorbed” in it in the sense that it is the only thing we choose. In the text, Jesus tells us: “When you want only love you will see nothing else” (T.12.VII.8:1). Love then extends itself naturally with no interference from the ego. Until then, the many other things we think we want keep us holding on to the ego’s guilt and fear, which block love from our awareness. Very early in the text, Jesus tells us we are the same as he, but allow other interests to obscure our awareness: “There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else” (T.1.II.3:10,11,12). Our goal is to seek the Holy Spirit’s help through forgiveness to remove “the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence” (T.in.1:7). We will then truly see the humor in the dream, smile gently at our foolishness, and be “absorbed” in love.

sinless son

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 24

ACIM Text Reading for June 24

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

XI. The Fourth Obstacle: The Fear of God

What would you see without the fear of death? What would you feel and think if death held no attraction for you? Very simply, you would remember your Father. The Creator of life, the Source of everything that lives, the Father of the universe and of the universe of universes, and of everything that lies even beyond them would you remember. And as this memory rises in your mind, peace must still surmount a final obstacle, after which is salvation completed, and the Son of God entirely restored to sanity. For here your world does end.

The fourth obstacle to be surmounted hangs like a heavy veil before the face of Christ. Yet as His face rises beyond it, shining with joy because He is in His Father’s Love, peace will lightly brush the veil aside and run to meet Him, and to join with Him at last. For this dark veil, which seems to make the face of Christ Himself like to a leper’s, and the bright Rays of His Father’s Love that light His face with glory appear as streams of blood, fades in the blazing light beyond it when the fear of death is gone.

This is the darkest veil, upheld by the belief in death and protected by its attraction. The dedication to death and to its sovereignty is but the solemn vow, the promise made in secret to the ego never to lift this veil, not to approach it, nor even to suspect that it is there. This is the secret bargain made with the ego to keep what lies beyond the veil forever blotted out and unremembered. Here is your promise never to allow union to call you out of separation; the great amnesia in which the memory of God seems quite forgotten; the cleavage of your Self from you;–the fear of God, the final step in your dissociation.

See how the belief in death would seem to “save” you. For if this were gone, what could you fear but life? It is the attraction of death that makes life seem to be ugly, cruel and tyrannical. You are no more afraid of death than of the ego. These are your chosen friends. For in your secret alliance with them you have agreed never to let the fear of God be lifted, so you could look upon the face of Christ and join Him in His Father.

Every obstacle that peace must flow across is surmounted in just the same way; the fear that raised it yields to the love beyond, and so the fear is gone. And so it is with this. The desire to get rid of peace and drive the Holy Spirit from you fades in the presence of the quiet recognition that you love Him. The exaltation of the body is given up in favor of the spirit, which you love as you could never love the body. And the appeal of death is lost forever as love’s attraction stirs and calls to you. From beyond each of the obstacles to love, Love Itself has called. And each has been surmounted by the power of the attraction of what lies beyond. Your wanting fear seemed to be holding them in place. Yet when you heard the Voice of Love beyond them, you answered and they disappeared.

And now you stand in terror before what you swore never to look upon. Your eyes look down, remembering your promise to your “friends.” The “loveliness” of sin, the delicate appeal of guilt, the “holy” waxen image of death, and the fear of vengeance of the ego you swore in blood not to desert, all rise and bid you not to raise your eyes. For you realize that if you look on this and let the veil be lifted, they will be gone forever. All of your “friends,” your “protectors” and your “home” will vanish. Nothing that you remember now will you remember.

It seems to you the world will utterly abandon you if you but raise your eyes. Yet all that will occur is you will leave the world forever. This is the re-establishment of your will. Look upon it, open-eyed, and you will nevermore believe that you are at the mercy of things beyond you, forces you cannot control, and thoughts that come to you against your will. It is your will to look on this. No mad desire, no trivial impulse to forget again, no stab of fear nor the cold sweat of seeming death can stand against your will. For what attracts you from beyond the veil is also deep within you, unseparated from it and completely one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 24

Lesson 175

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(159) I give the miracles I have received.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(160) I am at home. Fear is the stranger here.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #71: I have a “pattern” of what seems to happen to me in relationships. I keep seeing the situations end up with me being alone and feeling like something has been taken away from me and that the other person has something I want and need. They get it and I don’t.

I have been trying to ask for help in every way I can imagine. I end up seeing my Teacher as torturing me and I am afraid of Him. Lately I have been asking for all the things I want for myself for these other people. It seems to bring some relief but the underlying thought of my Teacher torturing me is still there. How do I trust someone that is torturing me?

A: It appears that the situation you describe in your relationships is one of being victimized by your partner, a situation that you have projected on to your Teacher. Since you capitalize “Teacher” and “Him” you must be referring to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. It may be helpful to make this assumption in answering your question. The Course tells us that while our minds are not healed all our relationships are marked with the victim/victimizer theme. This takes the form of feeling needy, unfairly treated and deprived. We blame others for causing our sense of scarcity. The Course invites us to see the real cause of this so it can be “undone”. The real cause of feeling deprived is that we have denied our true identity and taken on an identity as separated individuals, being on our own apart from God. The guilt we feel for having made this choice to identify with the ego is too much to bear, so we project it onto others, including Jesus. We blame them for treating us unfairly. We are then caught in a vicious circle because the guilt is not undone by projecting it. It stays in the mind impelling us to continually find situations and people to project it onto. That is why you notice a pattern in your relationships. We do the same thing over and over hoping for different results. The Course asks us to accept responsibility for the choice we have made. This is the process of undoing that is the real solution to our predicament. Although we may still perceive our partners or Jesus as causing our feelings of victimization, there is a part of our mind that now knows that the feeling comes from within and not outside ourselves. This does dissipate some of the feeling and is the beginning step of the forgiveness process. This is what the Course means when it says “Be willing to forgive the Son of God for what he did not do” (T.17.III.1:5). Since we project the same feelings onto Jesus, He is obviously included in the forgiveness process as well.

There is another reason why it is normal for students of the Course to feel victimized by Jesus. The ego recognizes that by following His teaching in the Course the underpinnings of its thought system are being pulled out from under it and eventually our identification with it will be relinquished. This can indeed be experienced in a mild form as having something taken away, or in the extreme as “being tortured.” The Manual describes this process: “First, they must go through what might be called a period of undoing. This need not be painful, but it usually is so experienced. It seems as if things are being taken away, and it is rarely understood initially that their lack of value is merely being recognized” (M.4.I.A.3:1,2,3). The very title of this section, “The Development of Trust,” indicates that we are starting from a place of not trusting to be led through a process of developing trust. Our learning process with Jesus as our teacher may be viewed as similar to the healing relationship with a doctor or dentist. When we see a doctor or dentist we know that their help may seem to hurt us but they will treat our illness and eventually we will feel better. In this sense Jesus is our “doctor”; he is a teacher who is teaching us a new thought system to heal our sick minds. It seems to hurt because we are so confused and lost in our misperceptions about everything and we are attached to the thoughts of the ego that have actually made our minds sick and in need of healing. It may help to try to relate to Jesus as you would to a kind and loving doctor who is helping in the gentlest way possible. Just as the dentist or doctor would not take groans or complaining personally, neither does Jesus. In fact he expects that we have grievances against him and knows that we are just learning to trust him: “Forgive me, then, today. And you will know you have forgiven me if you behold your brother in the light of holiness. He cannot be less holy than can I, and you can not be holier than he” (W.pII.288.2:1,2,3).Our forgiveness then includes Jesus and all of our brothers. It is the answer to our problem of separation and our feelings of deprivation. In the process it is important not to deny the negative feelings towards Jesus, but not to think they have any effect on his love or his ability to help in spite of our fear or lack of trust. The fact that you ask for help must mean that on some level you do trust him and you do know he can help you.

As we learn to see the ego dynamics at work in our relationships and understand their purpose, we learn to be willing to take responsibility for the way we feel and no longer believe the ego’s interpretation or projection. It then becomes easier to accept that Jesus is not the cause of our dilemma; rather he is offering us a way out of hell through the teaching of the Course. He is not forcing us or rushing us, but nudges us gently along the path from the ego’s dream of darkness to the light ofhis love: “How can you wake children in a more kindly way than by a gentle Voice that will not frighten them, but will merely remind them that the night is over and the light has come? You do not inform them that the nightmares that frightened them so badly are not real, because children believe in magic. You merely reassure them that they are safe now. Then you train them to recognize the difference between sleeping and waking, so they will understand they need not be afraid of dreams. And so when bad dreams come, they will themselves call on the light to dispel them” (T.6.V.2).Holy Encounter copy

 

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 23

ACIM Text Reading for June 23

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

X. The Incorruptible Body

From the ego came sin and guilt and death, in opposition to life and innocence, and to the Will of God Himself. Where can such opposition lie but in the sick minds of the insane, dedicated to madness and set against the peace of Heaven? One thing is sure; God, Who created neither sin nor death, wills not that you be bound by them. He knows of neither sin nor its results. The shrouded figures in the funeral procession march not in honor of their Creator, Whose Will it is they live. They are not following His Will; they are opposing it.

And what is the black-draped body they would bury? A body which they dedicated to death, a symbol of corruption, a sacrifice to sin, offered to sin to feed upon and keep itself alive; a thing condemned, damned by its maker and lamented by every mourner who looks upon it as himself. You who believe you have condemned the Son of God to this are arrogant. But you who would release him are but honoring the Will of his Creator. The arrogance of sin, the pride of guilt, the sepulchre of separation, all are part of your unrecognized dedication to death. The glitter of guilt you laid upon the body would kill it. For what the ego loves, it kills for its obedience. But what obeys it not, it cannot kill.

You have another dedication that would keep the body incorruptible and perfect as long as it is useful for your holy purpose. The body no more dies than it can feel. It does nothing. Of itself it is neither corruptible nor incorruptible. It is nothing. It is the result of a tiny, mad idea of corruption that can be corrected. For God has answered this insane idea with His Own; an Answer Which left Him not, and therefore brings the Creator to the awareness of every mind which heard His Answer and accepted It.

You who are dedicated to the incorruptible have been given through your acceptance, the power to release from corruption. What better way to teach the first and fundamental principle in a course on miracles than by showing you the one that seems to be the hardest can be accomplished first? The body can but serve your purpose. As you look on it, so will it seem to be. Death, were it true, would be the final and complete disruption of communication, which is the ego’s goal.

Those who fear death see not how often and how loudly they call to it, and bid it come to save them from communication. For death is seen as safety, the great dark savior from the light of truth, the answer to the Answer, the silencer of the Voice That speaks for God. Yet the retreat to death is not the end of conflict. Only God’s Answer is its end. The obstacle of your seeming love for death that peace must flow across seems to be very great. For in it lie hidden all the ego’s secrets, all its strange devices for deception, all its sick ideas and weird imaginings. Here is the final end of union, the triumph of the ego’s making over creation, the victory of lifelessness on Life Itself.

Under the dusty edge of its distorted world the ego would lay the Son of God, slain by its orders, proof in his decay that God Himself is powerless before the ego’s might, unable to protect the life that He created against the ego’s savage wish to kill. My brother, child of our Father, this is a dream of death. There is no funeral, no dark altars, no grim commandments nor twisted rituals of condemnation to which the body leads you. Ask not release of it. But free it from the merciless and unrelenting orders you laid upon it, and forgive it what you ordered it to do. In its exaltation you commanded it to die, for only death could conquer life. And what but insanity could look upon the defeat of God, and think it real?

The fear of death will go as its appeal is yielded to love’s real attraction. The end of sin, which nestles quietly in the safety of your relationship, protected by your union with your brother, and ready to grow into a mighty force for God is very near. The infancy of salvation is carefully guarded by love, preserved from every thought that would attack it, and quietly made ready to fulfill the mighty task for which it was given you. Your newborn purpose is nursed by angels, cherished by the Holy Spirit and protected by God Himself. It needs not your protection; it is yours. For it is deathless, and within it lies the end of death.

What danger can assail the wholly innocent? What can attack the guiltless? What fear can enter and disturb the peace of sinlessness? What has been given you, even in its infancy, is in full communication with God and you. In its tiny hands it holds, in perfect safety, every miracle you will perform, held out to you. The miracle of life is ageless, born in time but nourished in eternity. Behold this infant, to whom you gave a resting place by your forgiveness of your brother, and see in it the Will of God. Here is the babe of Bethlehem reborn. And everyone who gives him shelter will follow him, not to the cross, but to the resurrection and the life.

When anything seems to you to be a source of fear, when any situation strikes you with terror and makes your body tremble and the cold sweat of fear comes over it, remember it is always for one reason; the ego has perceived it as a symbol of fear, a sign of sin and death. Remember, then, that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves. Their meaning cannot lie in them, but must be sought in what they represent. And they may thus mean everything or nothing, according to the truth or falsity of the idea which they reflect. Confronted with such seeming uncertainty of meaning, judge it not. Remember the holy Presence of the One given to you to be the Source of judgment. Give it to Him to judge for you, and say:

“Take this from me and look upon it, judging it for me.
Let me not see it as a sign of sin and death, nor use it for destruction.
Teach me how not to make of it an obstacle to peace,
But let You use it for me, to facilitate its coming.”

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 23

Lesson 174

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(157) Into His Presence would I enter now.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(158) Today I learn to give as I receive.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #383: What does Ken mean when he says “Say not no to the ego” I believe this was said in an audio-tape series.

A: We are not saying “not no” to the ego. If it was stated this way on the tape, it was misspoken. The ego can be understood as a “no” to God, and to the Identity that God has given us as His innocent Son. Saying “not no” is a way of saying that we deny the reality of the ego’s thought system, and accept the truth of who we are as God’s Son. It means we do notsay no. This is related to the idea that A Course in Miracles is a process of unlearning who we are not, so that who we are can return to our awareness. The truth does not require any affirmative response on our part to be what it is — it only requires that we say “not no.”

The Course tells us that God established our identity as His innocent Son: “I am your Father and you are My Son”(W.pII.10.5:3). We have responded: “No, I am not; I am who I say I am.” And we have a long list of who we say we are. The process of forgiveness is teaching us to let go of all these concepts of the self, attributes of our made up identities, in this process we are saying “not no.”   When we have said “not” to all of our no’s, we will have cleared our minds of all the obstacles that blocked awareness of our true selves: “When every concept has been raised to doubt and question, and been recognized as made on no assumptions that would stand the light, then is the truth left free to enter in its sanctuary, clean and free of guilt. There is no statement that the world is more afraid to hear than this: I do not know the thing I am, and therefore do not know what I am doing, where I am, or how to look upon the world or on myself. Yet in this learning is salvation born. And What you are will tell you of Itself” (T.31.V.17:5,6,7,8,9).


Q #384: I experience a free-floating anxiety or unsettled feeling sometimes after I read A Course in Miracles. This awareness doesn’t seem to have any content other than since I believe the truth of what I read, I should feel peaceful, not unsettled. Yet, what I read doesn’t seem to “stick” in my memory as something I can draw on. My life has been filled with beliefs that have filled my time with worldly concerns about who I am in relation to others and why I am afraid of money, etc. Since I started studying the Course again, I know my fears are not real and I don’t experience fear very often. I’ve experienced some deep feelings of peace and clarity lately and I wish this would become more frequent. I think perhaps I’m trying too hard or that I’m too focused on ME as being solely responsible to learn and not asking the Holy Spirit to help me learn what I need to learn. I’ve felt alone all my life – believing in God but as somehow separate from me.

A: To your right mind, the Course’s message is one that opens the door to peace. But to your ego, or wrong mind, the Course’s message will at some level be experienced as a threat, for the purpose of the Course is to teach us how to undo the ego. So long as you remain identified with your ego in any way — as all of us here continue to do — it is not surprising that you may at times experience anxiety or other unsettled feelings as you read the Course. And you are certainly not alone in finding your memory failing you when you want to be able to apply the Course’s principles, which you may have just been reading and studying five minutes earlier and now find you haven’t a clue as to what you were looking at. Anyone who has attempted to do the workbook lessons and remember them at various intervals throughout the day has found these lapses all too familiar. But again, the “forgetting” is simply an ego defense to protect itself from being undone. The preoccupation with the things of the world –our personal and bodily needs and concerns — is yet another form of defense that keeps us rooted in our ego identity, oblivious to the actual choice such a perception of ourselves represents.

We may know intellectually that our fears are not real and experience some peace as a result of this realization. But there are layers to our fear, so while we may move beyond fear of some of those old familiar monsters under the bed, we find there are others still lurking behind the shut doors of the closets of our minds, continuing to affect us until we are willing to open the doors and let the light shine on their nothingness. But there is no need to be concerned that they still linger for, again, that is to be expected until we get to the bottom of the layers of fear and release all the guilt that is concealed beneath them. And that is a process that for most of us will take time. So be patient with yourself and yes, please don’t forget that you are not alone in this process, that in fact you cannot do it alone, and that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are ever present in your mind, available to help you remember the way back home, which is where we have been all along, simply with the covers pulled over ourselves so we can’t see beyond the darkness we have hidden ourselves in (T.11.VIII.13,14; T.12.II.4,5).

health is inner peace

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 22

ACIM Text Reading for June 22

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

IX. The Third Obstacle: The Attraction of Death

To you and your brother, in whose special relationship the Holy Spirit entered, it is given to release and be released from the dedication to death. For it was offered you, and you accepted. Yet you must learn still more about this strange devotion, for it contains the third obstacle that peace must flow across. No one can die unless he chooses death. What seems to be the fear of death is really its attraction. Guilt, too, is feared and fearful. Yet it could have no hold at all except on those who are attracted to it and seek it out. And so it is with death. Made by the ego, its dark shadow falls across all living things, because the ego is the “enemy” of life.

And yet a shadow cannot kill. What is a shadow to the living? They but walk past and it is gone. But what of those whose dedication is not to live; the black-draped “sinners,” the ego’s mournful chorus, plodding so heavily away from life, dragging their chains and marching in the slow procession that honors their grim master, lord of death? Touch any one of them with the gentle hands of forgiveness, and watch the chains fall away, along with yours. See him throw aside the black robe he was wearing to his funeral, and hear him laugh at death. The sentence sin would lay upon him he can escape through your forgiveness. This is no arrogance. It is the Will of God. What is impossible to you who chose His Will as yours? What is death to you? Your dedication is not to death, nor to its master. When you accepted the Holy Spirit’s purpose in place of the ego’s you renounced death, exchanging it for life. We know that an idea leaves not its source. And death is the result of the thought we call the ego, as surely as life is the result of the Thought of God.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 22

Lesson 173

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(155) I will step back and let Him lead the way.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(156) I walk with God in perfect holiness.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #437: There is one aspect of being a student of A Course in Miracles that just keeps nagging me. In answering Question #235 you stated that neither God nor Jesus intervenes in the world to fix problems. Does this mean that we are just on our own within the dream and have no one we can turn to for help? I understand the ultimate goal of the Course is to undo the dream, but while we are working toward that goal we are “stuck” within the dream and have things we have to accomplish just to be able to continue working with the Course. Is there really no help from within to assist us in doing what we need to do within the dream? A child may believe there is a monster under his bed, and he is terrified. An adult knows there is nothing under the bed, but he doesn’t just dismiss what the child believes and leave him comfortless. The adult does everything it can to make the child feel safe. I just find it difficult to believe that if I need something within the dream, even though to Jesus it may be just as unreal as the monster under that child’s bed, that I can’t get any help from him to accomplish what I need to do just to be able to continue within the dream.

A: Helen Schucman’s experience was that Jesus helped her with very specific things in her life, even with things that were not essential to her being able to “continue within the dream,” as you expressed it. There is nothing wrong in asking Jesus or the Holy Spirit for help with specifics, as Jesus explains in the “Ladder of Prayer” section in The Song of Prayer pamphlet. There he helps us understand what “asking-out-of-need” is all about. In fact, he says that “no one who is uncertain of his Identity can avoid praying in this way” (S.II.2:3). He just does not want us to stay at that level of relationship with either ourselves or him, because there is so much more that awaits us. He wants us to value his love above any specific form in which it may be reflected. In asking for help and comfort within the dream, you will not get stuck as long as you remember, among other things, that “the world was made that problems could not be escaped.” (T.31.IV.2:6). Our egos are sly and always seeking ways to join us in our study of the Course. And this would be one of its favorite ways: in the guise of prayer to reinforce our identity as real individuals with real needs in a real world, rekindling hope that we will yet be happy here. What will help you avoid this trap is to keep in mind that we are always dealing with symbols, symbols for dynamics in our minds that are outside time and space entirely. This is brought to light in Chapter 17 of Kenneth’s book, Absence from Felicity.

Having said this, though, it is still true that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are not active in the world. That is the importance of understanding the metaphysics of the Course, particularly the symbolic nature of everything we experience within the illusion of separation, as is made clear in the chapter in Kenneth’s book just referred to. Our experience of Jesus, as well as of ourselves, will change as we identify less and less with the body, and as we take the differences we perceive among us less and less seriously. Jesus’ love will be associated less and less with answers to prayers for specifics, and more and more with the “song”: “Therefore, it is not the form of the question that matters, nor how it is asked. The form of the answer, if given by God, will suit your need as you see it. This is merely an echo of the reply of His Voice [the Holy Spirit]. The real sound is always a song of thanksgiving and of Love.…In true prayer you hear only the song. All the rest is merely added. You have sought first the Kingdom of Heaven, and all else has indeed been given you” (S.1.I.2:6,7,8,9; 3:4,5,6).

Finally, sometimes it helps to remember his reassuring words and simply trust that we will get through what seems like a very trying existence in this world: “You do not walk alone. God’s angels hover near and all about. His Love surrounds you, and of this be sure; that I will never leave you comfortless” (W.pII.ep.6:6,7,8).


Q #438: I have been wondering about a passage in A Course in Miracles that says that a conflict arises because a voice demands we obey. If we do obey, rage will follow because we will feel coerced, and if we don’t, that part of the mind will be outraged. Either way, rage will result. The Course says that this state is caused by a lack of love. My question regards my own experience. I have usually disobeyed that voice because of its cruel demanding way. I feel intense guilt because this voice reminds me that I hurt someone because I didn’t follow its instructions. So how should I feel about this voice that tells me I am wrong or I don’t deserve what I have because I didn’t follow its decree? I really need to know if I need to do anything to right the wrong because I really desperately want to get rid of all this and replace it with forgiveness.

A: The only voice that would cruelly demand obedience, or judge you in any way belongs to the ego. It is a voice that will always reflect the painful effects of having chosen to believe that the separation is real, that such a belief is a sin, guilt is justified, and punishment is inevitable. There is no resolution to this through retribution, or behavior of any kind. For a student of the Course, the only way out of its circuitous system of judgment and condemnation is to apply its principles as carefully and consistently as possible. There is no need to “do” anything else. That is how to listen to the Voice of the Holy Spirit in a practical way, and only this will lead to freedom from guilt.

The passage you refer to, T.2.VI.5, is speaking about the conflict in the wrong mind. It is not contrasting the wrong mind with the right mind. It describes the insanity that follows a choice to identify with the ego thought system, and then to attempt to assuage the inevitable fear by controlling behavior, without making another choice in the mind. It is one of the ways the ego tries to have its cake and eat it, too: keep the thought of separation real, but get rid of the guilt and fear that go with it.

The passage says that “conflict is an expression of fear” (T.2.VI.7:1, italics ours); in other words, conflict is telling us that we have become afraid. In the same paragraph the Course goes on to say: “Fear arises from lack of love”(T.2.VI.7:6). Thus, fear is the result of the choice to be separate from love. Conflicted behavior and rage are the outcome when we choose separation, and then try to behave in a way that seems loving, convinced that in this way we will appease a punishing god. The bottom line in all of this is that it doesn’t work. The only thing that does work is to be honest about what we want. The process the Course leads us through can be effective only if learn to recognize all the ways our thoughts, beliefs, and acts show us the choice we have made in the mind to be separate, and then recognize the heavy price we pay (all the pain, anguish, and conflict experienced in our individual lives, and in the world). Jesus invites us to ask ourselves if we really want to pay this price for our individual, separate, and meaningless existence in the world. The process takes practice because we are so strongly attached to belief in our identity as bodies.

The Course is clear and uncompromising, but coercion of any kind is completely inconsistent with the gentleness and love of Jesus’ message. When the Course speaks of “obeying” the laws of the mind, it is not referring to a choice to be obedient or not, especially not forced obedience. It means that because “ideas leave not their source” (T.27.VII.13), a choice in the mind will have certain inevitable effects. In other words, the effect “obeys” the cause. The choice for separation always produces guilt and fear. It reinforces the ego thought system and belief in the identity of the body. The choice for the Holy Spirit’s correction (not coercion) results in peace, and allows the extension of love, which reinforces the truth of who we are. Eventually this will be all we truly want.

kingdom of god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 21

ACIM Text Reading for June 21

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VIII. The Attraction of Pain

Your little part is but to give the Holy Spirit the whole idea of sacrifice. And to accept the peace He gives instead, without the limits that would hold its extension back, and so would limit your awareness of it. For what He gives must be extended if you would have its limitless power, and use it for the Son of God’s release. It is not this you would be rid of, and having it you cannot limit it. If peace is homeless, so are you and so am I. And He Who is our home is homeless with us. Is this your wish? Would you forever be a wanderer in search of peace? Would you invest your hope of peace and happiness in what must fail?

Faith in the eternal is always justified, for the eternal is forever kind, infinite in its patience and wholly loving. It will accept you wholly, and give you peace. Yet it can unite only with what already is at peace in you, immortal as itself. The body can bring you neither peace nor turmoil; neither joy nor pain. It is a means, and not an end. It has no purpose of itself, but only what is given to it. The body will seem to be whatever is the means for reaching the goal that you assign to it. Peace and guilt are both conditions of the mind, to be attained. And these conditions are the home of the emotion that calls them forth, and therefore is compatible with them.

But think you which it is that is compatible with you. Here is your choice, and it is free. But all that lies in it will come with it, and what you think you are can never be apart from it. The body is the great seeming betrayer of faith. In it lies disillusionment and the seeds of faithlessness, but only if you ask of it what it cannot give. Can your mistake be reasonable grounds for depression and disillusionment, and for retaliative attack on what you think has failed you? Use not your error as the justification for your faithlessness. You have not sinned, but you have been mistaken in what is faithful. And the correction of your mistake will give you grounds for faith.

It is impossible to seek for pleasure through the body and not find pain. It is essential that this relationship be understood, for it is one the ego sees as proof of sin. It is not really punitive at all. It is but the inevitable result of equating yourself with the body, which is the invitation to pain. For it invites fear to enter and become your purpose. The attraction of guilt must enter with it, and whatever fear directs the body to do is therefore painful. It will share the pain of all illusions, and the illusion of pleasure will be the same as pain.

Is not this inevitable? Under fear’s orders the body will pursue guilt, serving its master whose attraction to guilt maintains the whole illusion of its existence. This, then, is the attraction of pain. Ruled by this perception the body becomes the servant of pain, seeking it dutifully and obeying the idea that pain is pleasure. It is this idea that underlies all of the ego’s heavy investment in the body. And it is this insane relationship that it keeps hidden, and yet feeds upon. To you it teaches that the body’s pleasure is happiness. Yet to itself it whispers, “It is death.”

Why should the body be anything to you? Certainly what it is made of is not precious. And just as certainly it has no feeling. It transmits to you the feelings that you want. Like any communication medium the body receives and sends the messages that it is given. It has no feeling for them. All of the feeling with which they are invested is given by the sender and the receiver. The ego and the Holy Spirit both recognize this, and both also recognize that here the sender and receiver are the same. The Holy Spirit tells you this with joy. The ego hides it, for it would keep you unaware of it. Who would send messages of hatred and attack if he but understood he sends them to himself? Who would accuse, make guilty and condemn himself?

The ego’s messages are always sent away from you, in the belief that for your message of attack and guilt will someone other than yourself suffer. And even if you suffer, yet someone else will suffer more. The great deceiver recognizes that this is not so, but as the “enemy” of peace, it urges you to send out all your messages of hate and free yourself. And to convince you this is possible, it bids the body search for pain in attack upon another, calling it pleasure and offering it to you as freedom from attack.

Hear not its madness, and believe not the impossible is true. Forget not that the ego has dedicated the body to the goal of sin, and places in it all its faith that this can be accomplished. Its sad disciples chant the body’s praise continually, in solemn celebration of the ego’s rule. Not one but must believe that yielding to the attraction of guilt is the escape from pain. Not one but must regard the body as himself, without which he would die, and yet within which is his death equally inevitable.

It is not given to the ego’s disciples to realize that they have dedicated themselves to death. Freedom is offered them but they have not accepted it, and what is offered must also be received, to be truly given. For the Holy Spirit, too, is a communication medium, receiving from the Father and offering His messages unto the Son. Like the ego, the Holy Spirit is both the sender and the receiver. For what is sent through Him returns to Him, seeking itself along the way, and finding what it seeks. So does the ego find the death it seeks, returning it to you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 21

Lesson 172

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(153) In my defenselessness my safety lies.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(154) I am among the ministers of God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #56: If on one level, as the Course suggests, we are responsible for our lives and our choices and deeds, why would I choose to be such a fool? Why wouldn’t all of us or most of us choose to enter this world as children of loving, spiritual, intelligent, wealthy and genetically sound parents?

A: Yes, if it’s really my choice, why indeed would I set things up so miserably for myself? The answer lies in understanding that my secret goal, kept hidden even from myself, is to be the victim of others in all of my relationships so that I never get in touch with the real cause of my misery. We think the world, beginning with our parents and continuing with all our subsequent relationships, is the cause of our pain and unhappiness. But it is not. The world and all of our relationships are only a clever, self-manufactured diversion to keep the real source of our unhappiness — our all-consuming desire that the separation be real, at any cost — hidden from ourselves. But why would we want to keep the real source hidden? The reason is that we value our individual, separate self more than all the love and happiness in the universe, and we’d even be willing to kill for it. But we’d rather not admit to that. Because if we did, then we might be more willing to let go of our identification with the ego and the special individual self that we each think we are. For what could our experience be but pain and unhappiness and lovelessness if we could in reality separate ourselves from Love?

We make up an external world, starting with our parents, out of all the guilt, pain, attack and murder that we have imagined in our mind — thoughts that seem very real and frightening to us once we seek to make the separation real. As the Course describes it, “The world you perceive is a world of separation. Perhaps you are willing to accept even death to deny your Father…it is governed by the desire to be unlike God…The world you made is therefore totally chaotic, governed by arbitrary and senseless ‘laws,’ and without meaning of any kind. For it is made out of what you do not want, projected from your mind because you are afraid of it” (T.12.III.9:1,2,5,6,7)

The world then is the effect and not the cause of how we feel, no matter how much we may have convinced ourselves otherwise. And so it follows, “If the cause of the world you see is attack thoughts, you must learn that it is these thoughts which you do not want. There is no point in lamenting the world. There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically” (W.pI.23.2).

And so even if we could make the world and all of our relationships in any way we want, the building blocks are still the contents of the ego mind, and the goal remains the same — to see myself as a victim, with anyone but myself responsible for all my problems and how I feel. And that is what determines our experience in the world, regardless of the form the world may take, so long as the ego thought system remains our choice. As a result, even if I set it up to be the child of “loving, intelligent, wealthy and genetically sound parents”, I will still not be happy. And I will still find some reason to blame others, starting with my parents, for my unhappiness, until I’m ready to ask for another way. And that other way will involve looking within my own mind to uncover the blocks that I have placed there to the awareness of love’s presence, so that they can be removed (T.in.1:7). And the happiness I will then experience will have nothing to do with anything in the external world, including my parents.

awake & remember

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 20

ACIM Text Reading for June 20

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VII. The Second Obstacle: The Belief the Body is Valuable for What It Offers

We said that peace must first surmount the obstacle of your desire to get rid of it. Where the attraction of guilt holds sway, peace is not wanted. The second obstacle that peace must flow across, and closely related to the first, is the belief that the body is valuable for what it offers. For here is the attraction of guilt made manifest in the body, and seen in it.

This is the value that you think peace would rob you of. This is what you believe that it would dispossess, and leave you homeless. And it is this for which you would deny a home to peace. This “sacrifice” you feel to be too great to make, too much to ask of you. Is it a sacrifice, or a release? What has the body really given you that justifies your strange belief that in it lies salvation? Do you not see that this is the belief in death? Here is the focus of the perception of Atonement as murder. Here is the source of the idea that love is fear.

The Holy Spirit’s messengers are sent far beyond the body, calling the mind to join in holy communion and be at peace. Such is the message that I gave them for you. It is only the messengers of fear that see the body, for they look for what can suffer. Is it a sacrifice to be removed from what can suffer? The Holy Spirit does not demand you sacrifice the hope of the body’s pleasure; it has no hope of pleasure. But neither can it bring you fear of pain. Pain is the only “sacrifice” the Holy Spirit asks, and this He would remove.

Peace is extended from you only to the eternal, and it reaches out from the eternal in you. It flows across all else. The second obstacle is no more solid than the first. For you want neither to get rid of peace nor limit it. What are these obstacles that you would interpose between peace and its going forth but barriers you place between your will and its accomplishment? You want communion, not the feast of fear. You want salvation, not the pain of guilt. And you want your Father, not a little mound of clay, to be your home. In your holy relationship is your Father’s Son. He has not lost communion with Him, nor with himself. When you agreed to join your brother, you acknowledged this is so. This has no cost, but it has release from cost.

You have paid very dearly for your illusions, and nothing you have paid for brought you peace. Are you not glad that Heaven cannot be sacrificed, and sacrifice cannot be asked of you? There is no obstacle that you can place before our union, for in your holy relationship I am there already. We will surmount all obstacles together, for we stand within the gates and not outside. How easily the gates are opened from within, to let peace through to bless the tired world! Can it be difficult for us to walk past barriers together, when you have joined the limitless? The end of guilt is in your hands to give. Would you stop now to look for guilt in your brother?

Let me be to you the symbol of the end of guilt, and look upon your brother as you would look upon me. Forgive me all the sins you think the Son of God committed. And in the light of your forgiveness he will remember who he is, and forget what never was. I ask for your forgiveness, for if you are guilty, so must I be. But if I surmounted guilt and overcame the world, you were with me. Would you see in me the symbol of guilt or the end of guilt, remembering that what I signify to you you see within yourself?

From your holy relationship truth proclaims the truth, and love looks on itself. Salvation flows from deep within the home you offered to my Father and to me. And we are there together, in the quiet communion in which the Father and the Son are joined. O come ye faithful to the holy union of the Father and the Son in you! And keep you not apart from what is offered you in gratitude for giving peace its home in Heaven. Send forth to all the world the joyous message of the end of guilt, and all the world will answer. Think of your happiness as everyone offers you witness of the end of sin, and shows you that its power is gone forever. Where can guilt be, when the belief in sin is gone? And where is death, when its great advocate is heard no more?

Forgive me your illusions, and release me from punishment for what I have not done. So will you learn the freedom that I taught by teaching freedom to your brother, and so releasing me. I am within your holy relationship, yet you would imprison me behind the obstacles you raise to freedom, and bar my way to you. Yet it is not possible to keep away One Who is there already. And in Him it is possible that our communion, where we are joined already, will be the focus of the new perception that will bring light to all the world, contained in you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 20

Lesson 171

REVIEW V
Introduction

We now review again. This time we are ready to give more effort and more time to what we undertake. We recognize we are preparing for another phase of understanding. We would take this step completely, that we may go on again more certain, more sincere, with faith upheld more surely. Our footsteps have not been unwavering, and doubts have made us walk uncertainly and slowly on the road this course sets forth. But now we hasten on, for we approach a greater certainty, a firmer purpose and a surer goal.

Steady our feet, our Father. Let our doubts be quiet and our holy minds be still, and speak to us. We have no words to give to You. We would but listen to Your Word, and make it ours. Lead our practicing as does a father lead a little child along a way he does not understand. Yet does he follow, sure that he is safe because his father leads the way for him.

So do we bring our practicing to You. And if we stumble, You will raise us up. If we forget the way, we count upon Your sure remembering. We wander off, but You will not forget to call us back. Quicken our footsteps now, that we may walk more certainly and quickly unto You. And we accept the Word You offer us to unify our practicing, as we review the thoughts that You have given us.

This is the thought which should precede the thoughts that we review. Each one but clarifies some aspect of this thought, or helps it be more meaningful, more personal and true, and more descriptive of the holy Self we share and now prepare to know again:

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

This Self alone knows Love. This Self alone is perfectly consistent in Its Thoughts; knows Its Creator, understands Itself, is perfect in Its knowledge and Its Love, and never changes from Its constant state of union with Its Father and Itself.

And it is this that waits to meet us at the journey’s ending. Every step we take brings us a little nearer. This review will shorten time immeasurably, if we keep in mind that this remains our goal, and as we practice it is this to which we are approaching. Let us raise our hearts from dust to life, as we remember this is promised us, and that this course was sent to open up the path of light to us, and teach us, step by step, how to return to the eternal Self we thought we lost.

I take the journey with you. For I share your doubts and fears a little while, that you may come to me who recognize the road by which all fears and doubts are overcome. We walk together. I must understand uncertainty and pain, although I know they have no meaning. Yet a savior must remain with those he teaches, seeing what they see, but still retaining in his mind the way that led him out, and now will lead you out with him. God’s Son is crucified until you walk along the road with me.

My resurrection comes again each time I lead a brother safely to the place at which the journey ends and is forgot. I am renewed each time a brother learns there is a way from misery and pain. I am reborn each time a brother’s mind turns to the light in him and looks for me. I have forgotten no one. Help me now to lead you back to where the journey was begun, to make another choice with me.

Release me as you practice once again the thoughts I brought to you from Him Who sees your bitter need, and knows the answer God has given Him. Together we review these thoughts. Together we devote our time and effort to them. And together we will teach them to our brothers. God would not have Heaven incomplete. It waits for you, as I do. I am incomplete without your part in me. And as I am made whole we go together to our ancient home, prepared for us before time was and kept unchanged by time, immaculate and safe, as it will be at last when time is done.

Let this review be then your gift to me. For this alone I need; that you will hear the words I speak, and give them to the world. You are my voice, my eyes, my feet, my hands through which I save the world. The Self from which I call to you is but your own. To Him we go together. Take your brother’s hand, for this is not a way we walk alone. In him I walk with you, and you with me. Our Father wills His Son be one with Him. What lives but must not then be one with you?

Let this review become a time in which we share a new experience for you, yet one as old as time and older still. Hallowed your Name. Your glory undefiled forever. And your wholeness now complete, as God established it. You are His Son, completing His extension in your own. We practice but an ancient truth we knew before illusion seemed to claim the world. And we remind the world that it is free of all illusions every time we say:

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

With this we start each day of our review. With this we start and end each period of practice time. And with this thought we sleep, to waken once again with these same words upon our lips, to greet another day. No thought that we review but we surround with it, and use the thoughts to hold it up before our minds, and keep it clear in our rememberance throughout the day. And thus, when we have finished this review, we will have recognized the words we speak are true.

Yet are the words but aids, and to be used, except at the beginning and the end of practice periods, but to recall the mind, as needed, to its purpose. We place faith in the experience that comes from practice, not the means we use. We wait for the experience, and recognize that it is only here conviction lies. We use the words, and try and try again to go beyond them to their meaning, which is far beyond their sound. The sound grows dim and disappears, as we approach the Source of meaning. It is Here that we find rest.


Lesson 171

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(151) All things are echoes of the Voice for God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(152) The power of decision is my own.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #221: As I understand it, all things of form in this world, both animate and inanimate, are part of the Sonship, and all parts of the Sonship need to be in the real world for the Second Coming to occur. I know there really is only one mind, but within the illusion of separation there seems to be many split minds. Also, since I need only be concerned with the healing of my own mind, there seems to be a direct relationship between my body and my mind. Does each thing of form in this world of separation have a mind that needs to be healed? How can this be? I know some form of this question has been asked before, but I still don’t get it.

A: Yes, A Course in Miracles teaches that there really is only one mind, but we have the illusion of there being many split minds. The Second Coming is the collective return to awareness of our reality as the one Son of God; it is the complete healing of the mind of the Sonship.

This is extremely difficult to understand. In fact, it is impossible to understand if you are identified with your individual existence as a human being, because that identity was set up by the ego to block all understanding of the mind that is outside time and space, and which contains the key to understanding the origin of our existence as separated, fragmented beings. Very little in the Course will make sense if you try to relate it to your experience in the world. We all try to do that, of course, because that is our only reference point for understanding anything. That is why Jesus starts us out on that level, but if we stay on that level, where we still think of ourselves as physical/psychological beings in the world, we will not get very far with the Course. Once again, that is because we always try to understand it from a perspective within time and space, and Jesus is teaching us that that perspective was made to block us from getting back to our minds. It was made to proliferate problems and mysteries that would grab our attention and then occupy our attention completely, so that we would never realize it is all a defense against the truth.

Jesus is outside this limited perspective entirely, and he is training us — through the exercises in the workbook — to gradually let go of our way of perceiving, and replace it with his. As we get further along the path of this thought-reversal, these types of questions will disappear, because we will identify less and less with our separated existence, and therefore we will have first-hand experiences of a shared identity. We will be more attracted to oneness than to division and separation.


Q #222: For some time now I have been studying the “human relations” techniques as taught by Dale Carnegie in his best selling books and famous seminar. Carnegie teaches that I should always talk in terms of others’ interests, that I should never tell others they’re wrong (but should call attention to their mistakes indirectly), and that the only way to win an argument is not to have one. I had avoided using these techniques until quite recently because I had considered them to be quite manipulative. In the language of A Course in Miracles, I believed it could even be stated that such techniques are attempts to murder other people because they are attempts to control others and get from them what I want. But over the last few weeks I have been using these techniques consistently, and I have been stunned at how well they have worked!

It recently occurred to me that Carnegie’s human relations techniques ultimately reveal the investment most of us have in maintaining our specialness and our separateness. In fact, such techniques seem to be geared toward helping others reinforce their own specialness and separateness as well. But there have also been times I realize when I could not have dealt in a civil manner with some people without using the Carnegie techniques. For some people (myself among them, I’m sure), the idea that they are not special or separate is a fearful idea. Could it be that in some cases the Carnegie techniques could actually be a form of forgiveness, just as taking medication for an illness is a form of forgiveness?

A: What you are recognizing is a fundamental teaching of the Course: that purpose is everything (T.4.V.6:8,9,10,11; T.24.VII.6:1,2,3). One of the most significant contributions of the Course to the world’s spiritualities is that, rather than advocating denial and rejection of the ways of the world, it teaches that we can use what the ego has made for separation and attack to serve a different purpose — forgiveness. The key is to be willing to allow the specific forms to serve the Holy Spirit’s purpose rather than our own (T.6.V.A.2:4,5).

You have recognized that tools of manipulation and murder in the hands of the ego can become the means for seeing both your brother and yourself in a different light. But first, you must have made a decision to see both of you differently — as having shared rather than separate interests. Your intent has shifted from having your own needs met through controlling your brother to recognizing at some level that you both have the same need to be forgiven, to be seen in the light of true charity. So now, what was made to reinforce separation and specialness becomes a means for undoing them. As always, the value lies not in the specific technique or form, but in the purpose you are giving it.

The issue of purpose is addressed further in Question #57.

the journey to god

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 19

ACIM Text Reading for June 19

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

VI. The Attraction of Guilt

The attraction of guilt produces fear of love, for love would never look on guilt at all. It is the nature of love to look upon only the truth, for there it sees itself, with which it would unite in holy union and completion. As love must look past fear, so must fear see love not. For love contains the end of guilt, as surely as fear depends on it. Overlooking guilt completely, it sees no fear. Being wholly without attack, it could not be afraid. Fear is attracted to what love sees not, and each believes that what the other looks upon does not exist. Fear looks on guilt with just the same devotion that love looks on itself. And each has messengers which they send forth, and which return to them with messages written in the language in which their going forth was asked.

Love’s messengers are gently sent, and return with messages of love and gentleness. The messengers of fear are harshly ordered to seek out guilt, and cherish every scrap of evil and of sin that they can find, losing none of them on pain of death, and laying them respectfully before their lord and master. Perception cannot obey two masters, each asking for messages of different things in different languages. What fear would feed upon, love overlooks. What fear demands, love cannot even see. The fierce attraction that guilt holds for fear is wholly absent from love’s gentle perception. What love would look upon is meaningless to fear, and quite invisible.

Relationships in this world are the result of how the world is seen. And this depends on which emotion was called on to send its messengers to look upon it, and return with word of what they saw. Fear’s messengers are trained through terror, and they tremble when their master calls on them to serve him. For fear is merciless even to its friends. Its messengers steal guiltily away in hungry search of guilt, for they are kept cold and starving and made very vicious by their master, who allows them to feast only upon what they return to him. No little shred of guilt escapes their hungry eyes. And in their savage search for sin they pounce on any living thing they see, and carry it screaming to their master, to be devoured.

Send not these savage messengers into the world, to feast upon it and to prey upon reality. For they will bring you word of bones and skin and flesh. They have been taught to seek for the corruptible, and to return with gorges filled with things decayed and rotted. To them such things are beautiful, because they seem to allay their savage pangs of hunger. For they are frantic with pain of fear, and would avert the punishment of him who sends them forth by offering him what they hold dear.

The Holy Spirit has given you love’s messengers to send instead of those you trained through fear. They are as eager to return to you what they hold dear as are the others. If you send them forth, they will see only the blameless and the beautiful, the gentle and the kind. They will be as careful to let no little act of charity, no tiny expression of forgiveness, no little breath of love escape their notice. And they will return with all the happy things they found, to share them lovingly with you. Be not afraid of them. They offer you salvation. Theirs are the messages of safety, for they see the world as kind.

If you send forth only the messengers the Holy Spirit gives you, wanting no messages but theirs, you will see fear no more. The world will be transformed before your sight, cleansed of all guilt and softly brushed with beauty. The world contains no fear that you laid not upon it. And none you cannot ask love’s messengers to remove from it, and see it still. The Holy Spirit has given you His messengers to send to your brother and return to you with what love sees. They have been given to replace the hungry dogs of fear you sent instead. And they go forth to signify the end of fear.

Love, too, would set a feast before you, on a table covered with a spotless cloth, set in a quiet garden where no sound but singing and a softly joyous whispering is ever heard. This is a feast that honors your holy relationship, and at which everyone is welcomed as an honored guest. And in a holy instant grace is said by everyone together, as they join in gentleness before the table of communion. And I will join you there, as long ago I promised and promise still. For in your new relationship am I made welcome. And where I am made welcome, there I am.

I am made welcome in the state of grace, which means you have at last forgiven me. For I became the symbol of your sin, and so I had to die instead of you. To the ego sin means death, and so atonement is achieved through murder. Salvation is looked upon as a way by which the Son of God was killed instead of you. Yet no one can die for anyone, and death does not atone for sin. But you can live to show it is not real. The body does appear to be the symbol of sin while you believe that it can get you what you want. While you believe that it can give you pleasure, you will also believe that it can bring you pain. To think you could be satisfied and happy with so little is to hurt yourself, and to limit the happiness that you would have calls upon pain to fill your meager store and make your life complete. This is completion as the ego sees it. For guilt creeps in where happiness has been removed, and substitutes for it. Communion is another kind of completion, which goes beyond guilt, because it goes beyond the body.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 19

Lesson 170

There is no cruelty in God and none in me.

No one attacks without intent to hurt. This can have no exception. When you think that you attack in self-defense, you mean that to be cruel is protection; you are safe because of cruelty. You mean that you believe to hurt another brings you freedom. And you mean that to attack is to exchange the state in which you are for something better, safer, more secure from dangerous invasion and from fear.

How thoroughly insane is the idea that to defend from fear is to attack! For here is fear begot and fed with blood, to make it grow and swell and rage. And thus is fear protected, not escaped. Today we learn a lesson which can save you more delay and needless misery than you can possibly imagine. It is this:

You make what you defend against, and by your own
defense against it is it real and inescapable. Lay down
your arms, and only then do you perceive it false.

It seems to be the enemy without that you attack. Yet your defense sets up an enemy within; an alien thought at war with you, depriving you of peace, splitting your mind into two camps which seem wholly irreconcilable. For love now has an “enemy,” an opposite; and fear, the alien, now needs your defense against the threat of what you really are.

If you consider carefully the means by which your fancied self-defense proceeds on its imagined way, you will perceive the premises on which the idea stands. First, it is obvious ideas must leave their source, for it is you who make attack, and must have first conceived of it. Yet you attack outside yourself, and separate your mind from him who is to be attacked, with perfect faith the split you made is real.

Next, are the attributes of love bestowed upon its “enemy.” For fear becomes your safety and protector of your peace, to which you turn for solace and escape from doubts about your strength, and hope of rest in dreamless quiet. And as love is shorn of what belongs to it and it alone, love is endowed with attributes of fear. For love would ask you lay down all defense as merely foolish. And your arms indeed would crumble into dust. For such they are.

With love as enemy, must cruelty become a god. And gods demand that those who worship them obey their dictates, and refuse to question them. Harsh punishment is meted out relentlessly to those who ask if the demands are sensible or even sane. It is their enemies who are unreasonable and insane, while they are always merciful and just.

Today we look upon this cruel god dispassionately. And we note that though his lips are smeared with blood, and fire seems to flame from him, he is but made of stone. He can do nothing. We need not defy his power. He has none. And those who see in him their safety have no guardian, no strength to call upon in danger, and no mighty warrior to fight for them.

This moment can be terrible. But it can also be the time of your release from abject slavery. You make a choice, standing before this idol, seeing him exactly as he is. Will you restore to love what you have sought to wrest from it and lay before this mindless piece of stone? Or will you make another idol to replace it? For the god of cruelty takes many forms. Another can be found.

Yet do not think that fear is the escape from fear. Let us remember what the text has stressed about the obstacles to peace. The final one, the hardest to believe is nothing, and a seeming obstacle with the appearance of a solid block, impenetrable, fearful and beyond surmounting, is the fear of God Himself. Here is the basic premise which enthrones the thought of fear as god. For fear is loved by those who worship it, and love appears to be invested now with cruelty.

Where does the totally insane belief in gods of vengeance come from? Love has not confused its attributes with those of fear. Yet must the worshippers of fear perceive their own confusion in fear’s “enemy”; its cruelty as now a part of love. And what becomes more fearful than the Heart of Love Itself? The blood appears to be upon His Lips; the fire comes from Him. And He is terrible above all else, cruel beyond conception, striking down all who acknowledge Him to be their God.

The choice you make today is certain. For you look for the last time upon this bit of carven stone you made, and call it god no longer. You have reached this place before, but you have chosen that this cruel god remain with you in still another form. And so the fear of God returned with you. This time you leave it there. And you return to a new world, unburdened by its weight; beheld not in its sightless eyes, but in the vision that your choice restored to you.

Now do your eyes belong to Christ, and He looks through them. Now your voice belongs to God and echoes His. And now your heart remains at peace forever. You have chosen Him in place of idols, and your attributes, given by your Creator, are restored to you at last. The Call for God is heard and answered. Now has fear made way for love, as God Himself replaces cruelty.

Father, we are like You. No cruelty abides in us, for there is none in You. Your peace is ours. And we bless the world with what we have received from You alone. We choose again, and make our choice for all our brothers, knowing they are one with us. We bring them Your salvation as we have received it now. And we give thanks for them who render us complete. In them we see Your glory, and in them we find our peace. Holy are we because Your Holiness has set us free. And we give thanks. Amen.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #70: What we see and experience are the forms of the mortal mind. Is it right to think about forms of beauty in nature and art and all lovable things, as the underlying content of divine Mind?

A: A Course in Miracles actually teaches something different. There is nothing in the world of form that comes from the divine Mind, including the underlying content. This is the strict nondualism that is the core of the metaphysics of the Course. It is uncompromising on this level. The extension of God’s Love — known in the Course as creations — has no equivalent in the world. Therefore, to the extent to which we are identified with the world of form, we would not be able to understand what these creations are.

The world of form and everything we see and experience — whether beautiful or grotesque, lovable or repulsive — comes from the split mind, the post-separation mind that seems to have broken away from its oneness as a Thought in the Mind of God. This, of course, is all illusory, and is why the very first lesson in the workbook is “Nothing I see…means anything” and is followed by “I have given everything…all the meaning it has for me.”

The focus of the teachings and exercises in the Course is the mind rather than the outside world. The training is geared towards having us recognize that our perceptions are directly caused by the choice we make in our minds to identify either with the ego (our wrong mind) or the Holy Spirit (our right mind). Thus, we are taught that the world “is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition” (T.21.in.1:5). This means that if we have chosen the Holy Spirit’s thought system of forgiveness to direct our thinking, this will be the content of all our perceptions. Then anything at all could be a source of inspiration to us and remind us of the truth and beauty of God. But this would not be because of some quality inherent in the form itself. A work of art or a beautiful scene in nature could inspire us and lift us out of our finite world only because a choice has already been made in our minds to let go of our investment in seeing separation and limitation as reality. The content of the divine Mind is pure Love, pure oneness, pure formlessness. Within the illusion, within the dream, we can experience the reflection of this in our minds, but again only because we have first denied the denial of truth, which removes the barriers to the awareness of the love that is always present in our minds.

The key is to regard everything we perceive as a symbol of either the Holy Spirit or the ego, remembering “that neither sign nor symbol should be confused with source, for they must stand for something other than themselves” (T.19.C.11:2).

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 18

ACIM Text Reading for June 18

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

V. The First Obstacle: The Desire to Get Rid of It

The first obstacle that peace must flow across is your desire to get rid of it. For it cannot extend unless you keep it. You are the center from which it radiates outward, to call the others in. You are its home; its tranquil dwelling place from which it gently reaches out, but never leaving you. If you would make it homeless, how can it abide within the Son of God? If it would spread across the whole creation, it must begin with you, and from you reach to everyone who calls, and bring him rest by joining you.

Why would you want peace homeless? What do you think that it must dispossess to dwell with you? What seems to be the cost you are so unwilling to pay? The little barrier of sand still stands between you and your brother. Would you reinforce it now? You are not asked to let it go for yourself alone. Christ asks it of you for Himself. He would bring peace to everyone, and how can He do this except through you? Would you let a little bank of sand, a wall of dust, a tiny seeming barrier, stand between your brothers and salvation? And yet, this little remnant of attack you cherish still against each other is the first obstacle the peace in you encounters in its going forth. This little wall of hatred would still oppose the Will of God, and keep it limited.

The Holy Spirit’s purpose rests in peace within you. Yet you are still unwilling to let it join you wholly. You still oppose the Will of God, just by a little. And that little is a limit you would place upon the whole. God’s Will is one, not many. It has no opposition, for there is none beside it. What you would still contain behind your little barrier and keep separate from your brother seems mightier than the universe, for it would hold back the universe and its Creator. This little wall would hide the purpose of Heaven, and keep it from Heaven.

Would you thrust salvation away from the giver of salvation? For such have you become. Peace could no more depart from you than from God. Fear not this little obstacle. It cannot contain the Will of God. Peace will flow across it, and join you without hindrance. Salvation cannot be withheld from you. It is your purpose. You cannot choose apart from this. You have no purpose apart from your brother, nor apart from the one you asked the Holy Spirit to share with you. The little wall will fall away so quietly beneath the wings of peace. For peace will send its messengers from you to all the world, and barriers will fall away before their coming as easily as those that you interpose will be surmounted.

To overcome the world is no more difficult than to surmount your little wall. For in the miracle of your holy relationship, without this barrier, is every miracle contained. There is no order of difficulty in miracles, for they are all the same. Each is a gentle winning over from the appeal of guilt to the appeal of love. How can this fail to be accomplished, wherever it is undertaken? Guilt can raise no real barriers against it. And all that seems to stand between you must fall away because of the appeal you answered. From you who answered, He Who answered you would call. His home is in your holy relationship. Do not attempt to stand between Him and His holy purpose, for it is yours. But let Him quietly extend the miracle of your relationship to everyone contained in it as it was given.

There is a hush in Heaven, a happy expectancy, a little pause of gladness in acknowledgment of the journey’s end. For Heaven knows you well, as you know Heaven. No illusions stand between you now. Look not upon the little wall of shadows. The sun has risen over it. How can a shadow keep you from the sun? No more can you be kept by shadows from the light in which illusions end. Every miracle is but the end of an illusion. Such was the journey; such its ending. And in the goal of truth which you accepted must all illusions end.

The little insane wish to get rid of Him Whom you invited in and push Him out must produce conflict. As you look upon the world, this little wish, uprooted and floating aimlessly, can land and settle briefly upon anything, for it has no purpose now. Before the Holy Spirit entered to abide with you it seemed to have a mighty purpose; the fixed and unchangeable dedication to sin and its results. Now it is aimless, wandering pointlessly, causing no more than tiny interruptions in love’s appeal.

This feather of a wish, this tiny illusion, this microscopic remnant of the belief in sin, is all that remains of what once seemed to be the world. It is no longer an unrelenting barrier to peace. Its pointless wandering makes its results appear to be more erratic and unpredictable than before. Yet what could be more unstable than a tightly organized delusional system? Its seeming stability is its pervasive weakness, which extends to everything. The variability the little remnant induces merely indicates its limited results.

How mighty can a little feather be before the great wings of truth? Can it oppose an eagle’s flight, or hinder the advance of summer? Can it interfere with the effects of summer’s sun upon a garden covered by snow? See but how easily this little wisp is lifted up and carried away, never to return, and part with it in gladness, not regret. For it is nothing in itself, and stood for nothing when you had greater faith in its protection. Would you not rather greet the summer sun than fix your gaze upon a disappearing snowflake, and shiver in remembrance of the winter’s cold?

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 18

Lesson 169

By grace I live. By grace I am released.

Grace is an aspect of the Love of God which is most like the state prevailing in the unity of truth. It is the world’s most lofty aspiration, for it leads beyond the world entirely. It is past learning, yet the goal of learning, for grace cannot come until the mind prepares itself for true acceptance. Grace becomes inevitable instantly in those who have prepared a table where it can be gently laid and willingly received; an altar clean and holy for the gift.

Grace is acceptance of the Love of God within a world of seeming hate and fear. By grace alone the hate and fear are gone, for grace presents a state so opposite to everything the world contains, that those whose minds are lighted by the gift of grace can not believe the world of fear is real.

Grace is not learned. The final step must go beyond all learning. Grace is not the goal this course aspires to attain. Yet we prepare for grace in that an open mind can hear the Call to waken. It is not shut tight against God’s Voice. It has become aware that there are things it does not know, and thus is ready to accept a state completely different from experience with which it is familiarly at home.

We have perhaps appeared to contradict our statement that the revelation of the Father and the Son as One has been already set. But we have also said the mind determines when that time will be, and has determined it. And yet we urge you to bear witness to the Word of God to hasten the experience of truth, and speed its advent into every mind that recognizes truth’s effects on you.

Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say “God is,” and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel that it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is.

We cannot speak nor write nor even think of this at all. It comes to every mind when total recognition that its will is God’s has been completely given and received completely. It returns the mind into the endless present, where the past and future cannot be conceived. It lies beyond salvation; past all thought of time, forgiveness and the holy face of Christ. The Son of God has merely disappeared into his Father, as his Father has in him. The world has never been at all. Eternity remains a constant state.

This is beyond experience we try to hasten. Yet forgiveness, taught and learned, brings with it the experiences which bear witness that the time the mind itself determined to abandon all but this is now at hand. We do not hasten it, in that what you will offer was concealed from Him Who teaches what forgiveness means.

All learning was already in His Mind, accomplished and complete. He recognized all that time holds, and gave it to all minds that each one might determine, from a point where time was ended, when it is released to revelation and eternity. We have repeated several times before that you but make a journey that is done.

For oneness must be here. Whatever time the mind has set for revelation is entirely irrelevant to what must be a constant state, forever as it always was; forever to remain as it is now. We merely take the part assigned long since, and fully recognized as perfectly fulfilled by Him Who wrote salvation’s script in His Creator’s Name, and in the Name of His Creator’s Son.

There is no need to further clarify what no one in the world can understand. When revelation of your oneness comes, it will be known and fully understood. Now we have work to do, for those in time can speak of things beyond, and listen to words which explain what is to come is past already. Yet what meaning can the words convey to those who count the hours still, and rise and work and go to sleep by them?

Suffice it, then, that you have work to do to play your part. The ending must remain obscure to you until your part is done. It does not matter. For your part is still what all the rest depends on. As you take the role assigned to you, salvation comes a little nearer each uncertain heart that does not beat as yet in tune with God.

Forgiveness is the central theme that runs throughout salvation, holding all its parts in meaningful relationships, the course it runs directed and its outcome sure. And now we ask for grace, the final gift salvation can bestow. Experience that grace provides will end in time, for grace foreshadows Heaven, yet does not replace the thought of time but for a little while.

The interval suffices. It is here that miracles are laid; to be returned by you from holy instants you receive, through grace in your experience, to all who see the light that lingers in your face. What is the face of Christ but his who went a moment into timelessness, and brought a clear reflection of the unity he felt an instant back to bless the world? How could you finally attain to it forever, while a part of you remains outside, unknowing, unawakened, and in need of you as witness to the truth?

Be grateful to return, as you were glad to go an instant, and accept the gifts that grace provided you. You carry them back to yourself. And revelation stands not far behind. Its coming is ensured. We ask for grace, and for experience that comes from grace. We welcome the release it offers everyone. We do not ask for the unaskable. We do not look beyond what grace can give. For this we can give in the grace that has been given us.

Our learning goal today does not exceed this prayer. Yet in the world, what could be more than what we ask this day of Him Who gives the grace we ask, as it was given Him?

By grace I live. By grace I am released.
By grace I give. By grace I will release.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #7: How does one forgive oneself? I have a pen pal in prison who is new to the Course. He is in prison for assaulting his girlfriend. He says he is learning to forgive others but not himself. He is angry and ashamed of himself for hurting her. I can see his actions as a “call for love,” a mistake to be corrected and not a sin to be punished. He no doubt was a victim who became a victimizer, and keeps reliving it now. I would tell him to let it go — “Brother, choose again.” But could I say this to myself? I have dealt with depression most of my life and guilt is a familiar companion. My ego’s accusations seem overwhelming when I do one thing wrong. I see when I project my guilt onto others and I know it’s not helpful to blame and accuse myself when I judge others. But what if I really hurt someone else in some way? I could try to make amends and move on, but I don’t think my ego would let me off the hook that easily. I seem only to be able to release myself from guilt by experiencing pain for the length of time my ego dictates. I know there has to be “another way.” Why am I kind to others and mean to myself? To top it all off, I seek my addictions to get some relief from the pain of the guilt, and then I feel guilty for indulging in the addiction. I need a way out of this. Can we project guilt onto ourselves as well as others? I know I will come to understand why I don’t love myself and why I even hate myself at times. I am still learning. It is ironic that, as my friend in prison is trying to forgive himself, I am in my own prison trying to do the same.

A: It does seem that as we learn more and more to release others from the projections of our own guilt, we then feel stuck with the guilt ourselves. Jesus tells us that “as blame is withdrawn from without, there is a strong tendency to harbor it within” (T.11.IV.4:5). But he goes on to say, “It is difficult at first to realize that this is exactly the same thing, for there is no distinction between within and without” (4:6), and then, “Blame must be undone, not seen elsewhere” (5:3). So how do we do that?

The question you raise, “How does one forgive oneself?”, is a good one, but it is actually the wrong question. Because we are still so strongly identified with our egos, we can not forgive ourselves, at least not by ourselves (i.e., on our own, which is the ego state). That is why we need Jesus or the Holy Spirit, or whatever nonjudgmental symbol of love and acceptance we feel comfortable with, to look with us at our “sins”. We need someone outside of our guilt-based thought system who knows the truth about who we really are, to whom we can give our guilt, once we have uncovered it and recognized its purpose and its cost. We believe that we are bodies that can hurt and be hurt by each other. Jesus knows we are spirit, the guiltless Son of God who is incapable of attack. We don’t believe that and in fact we don’t want to believe it, because we still want the separation and our own individuality to be real. And so the forgiveness process must involve joining with someone or something outside of ourselves, such as Jesus, who knows separation and attack and guilt are not real. We are incapable of this realization on our own, by definition.

The ego, as you are experiencing it for yourself, tells us that we need to atone for our sins through suffering and sacrifice. But that only reinforces our belief that our guilt is real and that God is a punishing God who seeks revenge for our very real sins. And all of our attempts then to gain release through expiation are just forms of magic that fail to address the real problem in the mind. We need to understand that the problem is not the guilt we believe we are experiencing for our transgressions here in the world. Those “sins” are really deliberate distractions, serving the purpose of keeping our focus here in the world, looking for magical solutions to release our guilt (e.g., making amends) or to avoid experiencing it (e.g., addictions). But these only prevent us from looking deeper into our mind to the real source of all of our pain and guilt (and everyone else’s) — the belief that we have not only separated ourselves from our loving Source, but that we have been willing to kill Him, to destroy Love, to be on our own. However, if we can join with a reflection of that Love, such as Jesus or the Holy Spirit, and look at our self-accusations with their loving presence beside us, we will have to realize at some level that we have not destroyed love. And in that recognition, real forgiveness — for what has never happened — is possible, dissolving all guilt and releasing us from our self-imposed prison. And then whatever action or behavior, if any, may be most helpful and healing in response to our so-called transgressions against others in the world will simply flow through us.

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Q #8: When we try to look at our ego, shall we look without judgment at the problems of the world or shall we only realize, that we choose the ego? Or is this the same?

A: Your questions presuppose that one can choose the ego and look without judgment, which is only possible if one is in a state of denial. The ego knows only judgment, which is based on its fundamental mistake of making the error real. What you want to do is live your life by paying attention to what you think and how you feel. If you find yourself getting angry, fearful, gleeful, etc. from problems in the world, whether personal or general, recognize that you have chosen the ego. It is this recognition that is the “looking.” You look at your ego’s choices with Jesus beside you. You look without judgment as illustrated in this quote:

Call it not sin but madness, for such it was and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it (T.18.I.6:7,8,9).

Remembering that the ego is a choice, you simply acknowledge the choice you have made without giving it power to take away your peace.

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