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

ACIM Text Reading for July 13

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

i. 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 honour 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 honouring the Will of his Creator. The arrogance of sin, the pride of guilt, the sepulchre of separation, all are part of your unrecognised 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 saviour 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 fulfil the mighty task for which it was given you. Your new born 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 judgement. 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 July 13

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 #507: Am I correct in saying that every judgment, every instance of anger…every time we turn to the ego (the wrong mind), is a cry for pain and suffering and identically a cover against a cry for love, of going to the right mind?

A: Yes, anger, judgment, and choosing the wrong mind are all attacks; and yes, each one is a call for love. They are the effects of having chosen the separation, thereby identifying with the ego, which is the ultimate attack on the Son of God because it is a denial of our true Identity. What inevitably follows is a profound sense of loss and emptiness. What is lost is awareness of love’s presence. This loss is experienced in the feelings of deprivation, scarcity, need, and incompleteness that are at the root of every attack, whereby we seek to take from others what we think we lack. It is a desperate attempt to get back the love that was lost in the choice to separate. The choice is forgotten and denied, while the guilt for having made it is buried and projected out to everyone who is now perceived as having stolen the love and wholeness that are rightfully ours. Born of a deep sense of deprivation, attack is believed to be the only way to get what we need from everyone and everything outside of ourselves. In this search, whether it takes the form of special love or special hate, the ego seeks to fill the void left by the separation. Attack expresses the fear that what was lost will never again be found. It is therefore, an expression of fear.

By thus reinterpreting attack, A Course in Miracles teaches us a new way of perceiving it. It can now be seen as a way of “looking for love in all the wrong places,” as the song goes. The attacker is desperately seeking the “lost love.” However, no matter how perverse an attack may seem to be, it has not obliterated the part of the mind that holds the memory of God’s Love. If we are willing to let go of the ego’s judgment and accept the Holy Spirit’s interpretation, we acknowledge the right mind of the attacker and allow the Holy Spirit to respond with love. Thus the wrong mind is not reinforced, the attack is not perpetuated, and the love that was sought is found in the right place: the part of the mind of the attacker that remembers love, whenever he or she is ready to accept it.

As Jesus tells us in the text: “This is what recognizing fear really means. If you do not protect it, He [the Holy Spirit]will reinterpret it. That is the ultimate value in learning to perceive attack as a call for love” (T.12.I.8:8,9,10).


Q #508: According to the teachings of A Course in Miracles, how do I understand what is the lesson I have to learn from a situation that keeps coming over up and over again, which is more difficult each time? Is it that I have not been successful in getting the point, or might it be better to consider this a lifetime lesson and give up hoping not to repeat it?

A: Any situation that seems be a difficult one that recurs in our lives is simply a lesson in forgiveness that we have yet to accept. And what does that mean? That there is a guilty self- accusation that we are not yet willing to look at and so must keep projecting outside of ourselves so that it seems that the cause of the guilt and the pain is external rather than internal. The forms that these projections take are the specific relationships in our lives that seem to bring us distress and pain. But rather than seeing them as situations to get over and hopefully avoid in the future, the Course invites us to look upon them as our special function, the particular form in which we learn that our brother is guiltless and that therefore we are innocent as well (T.25.VI.4,5,6,7; T.25.VII.7,8,9).

Now the specific form of the lesson is “suited to your special needs, and to the special time and place in which you think you find yourself” although “the content is [always] the same” (T.25.VII.7:3,2). And this simply means that the form is the one that the ego originally made in order for us to feel at the mercy of someone or something else, so that responsibility for how we feel seems to rest on the outside situation. And if we have managed in our lives to escape from the situation at one time or another, it will simply reappear in a somewhat different form (a “new” relationship), for it is always mirroring what remains to be healed within.

The specific situation represents a particular expression of whatever specific belief about the separation from God we are unconsciously holding onto — betrayal, abandonment, rejection, loss, inadequacy, etc. And behind each of those thoughts stands the self-accusation — for this is what we believe we did to God when we chose our individual self over His Love. So if we can identify the unforgiveness or judgment associated with each recurrence of the difficult situation, the next step is having the willingness to accept responsibility for that thought without self-condemnation, that is, “with the Holy Spirit’s kind perception of specialness; His use of what you made, to heal instead of harm” (T.25.VI.4:1). And it is in that process of looking without judgment that we are released from the inner guilt that has been fueling the external projections. Does this mean that the external situation will no longer occur? Not necessarily. But it will mean that we will no longer interpret it in personal terms, that is, we will no longer feel in some way victimized by it or at its mercy, as we are learning to recognize that nothing outside ourselves can affect us.

In Jesus’ words from the end of the text: “Trials are but lessons that you failed to learn presented once again, so where you made a faulty choice before you now can make a better one, and thus escape all pain that what you chose before has brought to you. In every difficulty, all distress, and each perplexity Christ calls to you and gently says, “My brother, choose again.” He would not leave one source of pain unhealed, nor any image left to veil the truth. He would remove all misery from you whom God created altar unto joy. He would not leave you comfortless, alone in dreams of hell, but would release your mind from everything that hides His face from you” (T.31.VIII.3:1,2,3,4,5).

be of good cheer

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 11

ACIM Text Reading for July 11

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

i. The Attraction of Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 11

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 #236: One of the things I find hardest to accept about A Course in Miracles is its apparent dismissal of humanity’s “higher strivings,” as embodied, especially, in art and science. Clearly what the Course understands by our “creations” is something entirely different from “creativity” in the artistic or scientific sense. The latter, it would seem, generates nothing more than illusion within illusion (shades of Plato?), rather than pointing Man to a higher and more beautiful reality. Does this mean that artists and scientists should pack it in, and the rest of us dismiss their efforts as part of the big ego-distraction?

A: You raise an important question, one that has troubled many students and observers of  A Course in Miracles. On the one hand, it is indeed possible to concentrate on learning and practicing forgiveness while setting aside for a while this dimension of the Course’s theory. On the other hand, this issue cannot be ignored if one is to attain a comprehensive understanding of what the Course is saying about our world and ourselves.

Examining this issue in the light of the two levels on which this Course is written, along with the distinction between form and content might help with your concern.

Although it is true that artistic and scientific “creativity” “generates nothing more than illusion within illusion,” this does not mean that “artists and scientists should pack it in, and the rest of us dismiss their efforts as part of the big ego-distraction” — any more than the fact that the body is part of the ego’s plan to attack God means that surgeons, chiropractors, dentists, physical therapists, etc., should “pack it in.” The Course would indeed not be the practical, gentle, and kind course that it is if this were what it advocated.

First, throughout the Course, Jesus is trying to help us see things from his point of view, to step outside the entire world to view its origin in the thought system we maintain in our minds, and to see what we have given up in exchange for our individual, separate existence, so that we may have a better basis for understanding and evaluating what we have. He appeals to us in many ways to recognize that even the best of what we have in this world is unimaginably miniscule when compared to the glory that we rejected in our choice to prefer separation over oneness.

Jesus consistently teaches us that nothing in this world, or of this world, is of God, and therefore it has no reality. On this level of absolute truth, which we call Level One, all human activity is futile and meaningless. The only genuine creativity is in Heaven, in the extension of infinite Love: “True giving is creation. It extends the limitless to the unlimited, eternity to timelessness, and love unto itself. It adds to all that is complete already. . . by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything it has away, thus securing it forever for itself” (W.pI.105.4:2,3,4,5).

Moving from Level One of the Course to Level Two — which is the level of teaching in which Jesus communicates in a framework that is meaningful to us, and which he can use to start us back up the ladder our choice to be separate led us down (T.28.III.1:2) — he tells us that we have a split mind, and that when we left Heaven (an impossibility of course), we took with us the memory of all we left behind, but buried it far beyond awareness. Since it is still there in our split minds, however, it can be evoked. Practicing A Course in Miracles is one way of bringing this memory back into awareness. In fact, anything at all may be utilized toward this end, including the work of artists and scientists. But it is not the form that is decisive, although the form may be the starting point. It is what the form reminds us of that is relevant, its content, in other words. The perfection of Michelangelo’s statue of David, for example, can transport one from the physical realm to the non-physical, abstract perfection of God’s creation in Heaven. The same inspiration can come from viewing a distorted body, however. It is entirely conditional on the viewer first choosing to shift from the wrong mind to the right mind, from identifying with the ego to identifying with the Atonement principle, that the separation never happened in reality.

From another angle: since our minds are split, we are not totally insane; and therefore we are sometimes motivated by selflessness, defenselessness, and a willingness to see our interests as shared with everyone else’s. Thus, the efforts of a scientist or doctor to relieve pain and reduce human misery can serve as a reminder of our ego-free state in our right minds, the reflection of our pure innocence and oneness as Christ. Jesus would never simply dismiss our efforts as meaningless in and of themselves — whether they be the “higher strivings” of humanity, or the humble efforts of a street cleaner to keep the neighborhood looking nice. Jesus looks only at the purpose, which can transcend self-centeredness, self-aggrandizement, or be limited solely to them. The value of our activities is associated only with their purpose, which is always the result of a decision made in our minds to see either shared or separate interests. We therefore can serve each other best by being reminders of the truth and flawless beauty of our immaculate Identity as Christ, which is reflected in our right minds, and which we witness to by our willingness to see all people as the same. Again, this may come through the work of scientists, artists, poets, or welders in a factory. It is always a matter of content, not form.

shine it away


 

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 10

ACIM Text Reading for July 10

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

B. 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 hasno hope of pleasure. But neither can it bring you fear of pain. Pain is the only ‘sacrifice’ the Holy Spirit asks, and this He wouldremove.

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 on 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 July 10

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 #238: I have been a student of A Course in Miracles since 1982. I have been experiencing insomnia for about 18 years. I read and reread the “Sickness is a defense against the Truth” lesson. I have so much extra information in the form of Excerpts and Ken Wapnick tapes. I am aware that the ego is doing this to keep me off balance and have me constantly identify with the body, making it very, very real. I wake so early and just lie there and try to stop the negative thoughts coming through. I ask the Holy Spirit to undo everything I have done to bring this on. I ask Jesus to take my hand and help me. But I always wind up falling in with the ego, and getting so angry that it makes my life much more difficult. It keeps me so worn out that it makes it difficult to remember to keep listening for the still, small voice. If only it were a big, booming voice.

A: You do not mention whether or not you are taking measures to help with your insomnia on the level of form. This is of course the place to start the healing process, since we do believe we are bodies and, as you say, we take the body very seriously by making it real. One can be faithful to the Course process of recognizing the ego at work, while using whatever remedies may help in treating the illness. As with so many of our problems the ego gets us coming and going. As you point out, your insomnia serves the ego in several ways — as an initial distraction, as a way of causing conflict, and as a great way to drown out “the still small voice,” not to mention the guilt at having engaged so vigorously with the ego in the whole process. It is indeed an exhausting situation which certainly exacerbates the effects of insomnia.

Have you tried listening to your ACIM tapes? If they don’t put you to sleep, this would then be a useful way of spending the time you are awake, and would defeat the ego’s goal of distraction and conflict. If, with this little willingness to hear the message of the Course during these early morning hours, you are no longer interested in trying to get to sleep, maybe the ego would give up using insomnia as a weapon. It is a particularly ingenious weapon since A Course in Miracles is teaching us how to awaken from the dream, and the ego chooses the “lack of sleep” as an attack device.

In the ego’s arsenal insomnia becomes the victimizer. Using the body in this way is the usual ego strategy designed to produce feelings of victimization, seemingly dissociated with the mind. The Course, on the other hand, tells us that the problem originates in the mind that made a choice to identify with the ego’s world of separation and specialness prior to the insomnia and the ensuing anger. Although magic works to bring the problem into the dream in form, it does not work to bring about the correction. The Holy Spirit’s help relies on our willingness to take responsibility for this choice in order to have the error undone. The negative thoughts you mention will not disappear without this willingness to take responsibility. Very often the honest recognition of saying; “I am in this predicament (insomnia, or whatever) because “I want to be an angry victim“, takes some of the punch out of it. At least it clears up some of the clutter in our confused minds and makes way for the beginning of healing.

Feeling guilty about it will only add to the ego’s scheme. What the Course advises with regards to the laws of chaos applies to the ego’s goals in your insomnia, as with all ego schemes: “Let us, then, look upon them calmly, that we may look beyond them, understanding what they are [ego lies that have no real effect], not what they would maintain [that the separation and the body are real]” (T.23.II.1:4). “Calmly” is a very important word here; it means looking without judgment, without adding more guilt to the ego’s fire. This process of looking honestly is how we wake up to the truth the Course is teaching us, and in this waking we find our rest: “Rest does not come from sleeping but from waking” (T.5.II.10:4).

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A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 9

ACIM Text Reading for July 9

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

i. 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. Love is attracted only to love. Overlooking guilt completely, it sees no fear. Being wholly without attack, it could not be afraid. Fear is attracted to what love sees not, and each believes that what the other looks upon does not exist. Fear looks on guilt with just the same devotion that love looks on itself. And each has messengers which it sends forth, and which return to it with messages written in the language in which their going forth was asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am made welcome in the state of grace, which means you have at last forgiven me. For I became the symbol of your sin, and so I had to die instead of you. To the ego sin means death, and so atonement is achieved through murder. Salvation is looked upon as a way by which the Son of God was killed instead of you. Yet would I offer you my body, you whom I love, knowing its littleness? Or would I teach that bodies cannot keep us apart? Mine was of no greater value than yours; no better means for communication of salvation, but not its Source. No one can die for anyone, and death does not atone for sin. But you can live to show it is not real. The body does appear to be the symbol of sin while you believe that it can get you what you want. While you believe that it can give you pleasure, you will also believe that it can bring you pain. To think you could be satisfied and happy with so little is to hurt yourself, and to limit the happiness that you would have calls upon pain to fill your meagre store and make your life complete. This is completion as the ego sees it. For guilt creeps in where happiness has been removed, and substitutes for it. Communion is another kind of completion, which goes beyond guilt, because it goes beyond the body.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 9

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 #308: I’m not sure how to present this question, because anything I say will most likely be projection and/or an area of my own unrecognized guilt, some unconscious need for drama, to be a victim or martyr, some call for help in me. But please elaborate the Course’s position as to why there is hatred and often times cruelty from others when the A Course in Miracles becomes one’s path. This has been my path since 1986 and I don’t thrust it upon others. If I am asked, I will talk about it. When I ask for help I often don’t hear the answer or I’m too upset and caught up in fear.

A: First of all, it will be helpful to distinguish others’ feelings and reactions from your own. For your own reactions are all that you ever really need to be concerned with. Any thought system which so uncompromisingly threatens the ego thought system, as the Course does, will have to be perceived as threatening to anyone who is still identified with the ego. So, as you work with the Course, whether you speak to others of its principles or not, they at some level will have to recognize the difference in you in those moments when you are practicing forgiveness and are identified with your right mind. And if they are threatened by that, then hatred and cruelty — among a variety of ego reactions — are “natural” and not unexpected responses to protect their ego identity. As Jesus points out, “frightened people can be vicious” (T.3.I.4:2).

None of this really has anything to do with you or your own lessons in forgiveness, unless you in turn react to their reactions to you. For you are now in your wrong mind and are identifying with the guilt there over separation and attack on God that you believe is real. But this is nothing to feel embarrassed or apologetic about. All of us who still believe we are here in this world in the body have unhealed minds that believe in the reality of our own guilt. And any experience that allows us to get in touch with that guilt — which will automatically be projected outward onto others if we are not aware of its origin in our own mind — can be very helpful. So bless your brothers for being the screens for your own projections, for when you react to them with upset and fear, feeling like a victim or a martyr, you are uncovering what your ego has wanted to keep hidden from you, if you are willing to look at it that way. And whenever you remember and are ready, you can look at the no-longer-buried guilt with Jesus or the Holy Spirit, who will remind you that it is all made-up. You may initially be unable to access this help when you are in the middle of the confrontation with someone else, but the only thing that matters is that, at some point in time, you remember you have a different choice about how you can perceive that interaction. And that opens the door to the help that is always available to us.


Q #309: It keeps being emphasized in the answers here that we need to bring our ego thoughts to the love of Jesus in our right minds. How do we know we are doing that? What I mean is that it’s not like talking to someone in human form where you can see them and hear them and speak directly with them and know you are doing it.

A: Although we can never be certain in any moment if we have turned our minds away from the ego and joined with Jesus, one of the clearer indications is when we feel a release from the heaviness and strain of the judgments we have been holding onto. For that in the end is all that forgiveness is and, whether or not we are conscious of joining with Jesus, we have when we let go of our thoughts of condemnation and attack. When we are honest with ourselves, we can always be aware of the tension we are holding (in our minds, projected onto our bodies) when we are judging, whether it is the negative judgment of hatred and repulsion or the so-called positive judgment of desire and attraction — the feeling that someone or something outside of us is what we want and need. Tension in all its myriad manifestations is always a signal of conflict and separation, whether we interpret it as good or bad.

Jesus is not really a separate entity or being like your mother or a best friend, but rather is simply a presence we can experience, whom we can relate to in our minds, at a personal level, while we still believe we are persons. You perhaps have had the experience as you read his words in A Course in Miracles that Jesus is there with you and that he really is speaking to you. Don’t let your ego fool you into believing that is only your imagination. That experience is more real than all the experiences with other bodies that we seek after to stave off our loneliness. Joining and peace occur in the mind, and not between bodies. That is why we can feel very lonely despite being surrounded by others, if our thoughts are of separation and isolation. And we can feel quite content and complete just thinking of someone who is not physically present whose love and acceptance we are sure of. Jesus wants us to know that, no matter the vagaries and vacillations of worldly love, his love is always constant, always there. In those moments when we doubt it, we can simply pick up his book and read his words and his promises. There are many, but consider this one passage from the very end of the workbook: “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.ep.6:6,7,8).

tiny mad idea

A Course in Miracles Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 8

ACIM Text Reading for July 8

Chapter 19 ~ The Attainment of Peace

A. 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 centre 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 your brother 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 and your brother 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 acknowledgement of the journey’s end. For Heaven knows you well, as you know Heaven. No illusions stand between you and your brother 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 organised 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 the 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?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 8

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 #306: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for about 14 years now and lately I keep thinking about dying. It comes to my mind all the time. It’s not particularly scary; but why all this preoccupation with death?

A: It is not unusual to have thoughts of death become more frequent as you diligently work with Jesus in undoing your ego. The part of you that is identified with the ego — and has been for ages — will experience itself as “dying.” Actually, all that is happening is that you are withdrawing your belief in the ego thought system. “As you approach the Beginning, you feel the destruction of your thought system upon you as if it were the fear of death. There is no death, but there is a belief in death” (T.3.VII.5:9,10). A major part of the process involves shifting your sense of who you truly are, so it would be evident that the “you” that is withdrawing the belief and has chosen Jesus as its teacher is not what is “dying.” That decision-making part of your mind is simply choosing to identify no longer with a false identity, but with the reflection of its true Self represented in your right mind by the Atonement principle.

The preoccupation with death should diminish and finally disappear when there is no more fear of letting go of your identity as an individual. Without knowing more about you, though, we do not know whether this is the only source of the thoughts. In general, we would recommend consulting with a professional if these death thoughts persist for an extended period of time.


Q #307: I have been studying A Course in Miracles for over a year now. For the last few months, I have been having this strange and wonderful feeling — my body starts physically vibrating during my morning and night meditations. I feel like something inside me is about to take off, like an airplane, a kind of inner weightlessness. After my meditation, I feel great and full of energy. But sometime this feeling that I am experiencing makes me think and think again. I wonder if other students are or have experienced the same thing I am. I also wonder if it is okay to feel that way.

A: Although a variety of explanations could be offered to account for your experience with your body, all you need to know is that our own minds translate any experience of abstract love, such as we may experience in meditation, into a form that we can accept, since our ego-identified minds fear the abstract. At times the form may be, as you are experiencing, sensations in your body that you find pleasant, even pleasurable. What will be most helpful to remember as you have such experiences is that you want to be willing to let go of any judgments you may have about them as either good or not good. Or any thoughts to make a big deal out of them. If you enjoy the experience, there is certainly nothing wrong with that. You just don’t want to make an altar to the experience and then seek after that, for, as wonderful as it may seem, it still falls far short of what Jesus is holding out to us in his Course. For it is still only a specific symbol, a temporary form, through which you are allowing yourself to feel his healing comfort and unlimited love.

For a related discussion, see Question #181.

teach not that i died in vain

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for June 28

ACIM Text Reading for June 28

Chapter 20 ~ The Vision of Holiness

III. Sin as an Adjustment

The belief in sin is an adjustment. And an adjustment is a change; a shift in perception, or a belief that what was so before has been made different. Every adjustment is therefore a distortion, and calls upon defenses to uphold it against reality. Knowledge requires no adjustments and, in fact, is lost if any shift or change is undertaken. For this reduces it at once to mere perception; a way of looking in which certainty is lost and doubt has entered. To this impaired condition are adjustments necessary, because it is not true. Who need adjust to truth, which calls on only what he is, to understand?

Adjustments of any kind are of the ego. For it is the ego’s fixed belief that all relationships depend upon adjustments, to make of them what it would have them be. Direct relationships, in which there are no interferences, are always seen as dangerous. The ego is the self-appointed mediator of all relationships, making whatever adjustments it deems necessary and interposing them between those who would meet, to keep them separate and prevent their union. It is this studied interference that makes it difficult for you to recognize your holy relationship for what it is.

The holy do not interfere with truth. They are not afraid of it, for it is within the truth they recognize their holiness, and rejoice at what they see. They look on it directly, without attempting to adjust themselves to it, or it to them. And so they see that it was in them, not deciding first where they would have it be. Their looking merely asks a question, and it is what they see that answers them. You make the world and then adjust to it, and it to you. Nor is there any difference between yourself and it in your perception, which made them both.

A simple question yet remains, and needs an answer. Do you like what you have made? –a world of murder and attack, through which you thread your timid way through constant dangers, alone and frightened, hoping at most that death will wait a little longer before it overtakes you and you disappear. You made this up. It is a picture of what you think you are; of how you see yourself. A murderer is frightened, and those who kill fear death. All these are but the fearful thoughts of those who would adjust themselves to a world made fearful by their adjustments. And they look out in sorrow from what is sad within, and see the sadness there.

Have you not wondered what the world is really like; how it would look through happy eyes? The world you see is but a judgment on yourself. It is not there at all. Yet judgment lays a sentence on it, justifies it and makes it real. Such is the world you see; a judgment on yourself, and made by you. This sickly picture of yourself is carefully preserved by the ego, whose image it is and which it loves, and placed outside you in the world. And to this world must you adjust as long as you believe this picture is outside, and has you at its mercy. This world is merciless, and were it outside you, you should indeed be fearful. Yet it was you who made it merciless, and now if mercilessness seems to look back at you, it can be corrected.

Who in a holy relationship can long remain unholy? The world the holy see is one with them, just as the world the ego looks upon is like itself. The world the holy see is beautiful because they see their innocence in it. They did not tell it what it was; they did not make adjustments to fit their orders. They gently questioned it and whispered, “What are you?” And He Who watches over all perception answered. Take not the judgment of the world as answer to the question, “What am I?” The world believes in sin, but the belief that made it as you see it is not outside you.

Seek not to make the Son of God adjust to his insanity. There is a stranger in him, who wandered carelessly into the home of truth and who will wander off. He came without a purpose, but he will not remain before the shining light the Holy Spirit offered, and you accepted. For there the stranger is made homeless and you are welcome. Ask not this transient stranger, “What am I?” He is the only thing in all the universe that does not know. Yet it is he you ask, and it is to his answer that you would adjust. This one wild thought, fierce in its arrogance, and yet so tiny and so meaningless it slips unnoticed through the universe of truth, becomes your guide. To it you turn to ask the meaning of the universe. And of the one blind thing in all the seeing universe of truth you ask, “How shall I look upon the Son of God?”

Does one ask judgment of what is totally bereft of judgment? And if you have, would you believe the answer, and adjust to it as if it were the truth? The world you look on is the answer that it gave you, and you have given it power to adjust the world to make its answer true. You asked this puff of madness for the meaning of your unholy relationship, and adjusted it according to its insane answer. How happy did it make you? Did you meet with joy to bless the Son of God, and give him thanks for all the happiness that he held out to you? Did you recognize your brother as the eternal gift of God to you? Did you see the holiness that shone in both of you, to bless the other? That is the purpose of your holy relationship. Ask not the means of its attainment of the one thing that still would have it be unholy. Give it no power to adjust the means and end.

Prisoners bound with heavy chains for years, starved and emaciated, weak and exhausted, and with eyes so long cast down in darkness they remember not the light, do not leap up in joy the instant they are made free. It takes a while for them to understand what freedom is. You groped but feebly in the dust and found your brother’s hand, uncertain whether to let it go or to take hold on life so long forgotten. Strengthen your hold and raise your eyes unto your strong companion, in whom the meaning of your freedom lies. He seemed to be crucified beside you. And yet his holiness remained untouched and perfect, and with him beside you, you shall this day enter with him to Paradise, and know the peace of God.

Such is my will for you, and for each of you for one another and for himself. Here there is only holiness and joining without limit. For what is Heaven but union, direct and perfect, and without the veil of fear upon it? Here are we one, looking with perfect gentleness upon each other and on ourselves. Here all thoughts of any separation between us become impossible. You who were prisoners in separation are now made free in Paradise. And here would I unite with you, my friends, my brothers and my Self.

Your gift unto your brother has given me the certainty our union will be soon. Share, then, this faith with me, and know that it is justified. There is no fear in perfect love because it knows no sin, and it must look on others as on itself. Looking with charity within, what can it fear without? The innocent see safety, and the pure in heart see God within His Son, and look unto the Son to lead them to the Father. And where else would they go but where they will to be? Each of you now will lead the other to the Father as surely as God created His Son holy, and kept him so. In your brother is the light of God’s eternal promise of your immortality. See him as sinless, and there can be no fear in you.

 

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for June 28

Lesson 179

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(167) There is one life, and that I share with God.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

(168) Your grace is given me. I claim it now.

God is but Love, and therefore so am I.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #202: I am a professional who works with kids. I have wondered what are some basics of A Course in Miracles that you all talk about when it comes to working with children, as a parent, teacher, counselor, coach, or whatever role is in use. I use “what do you want to come out of this?” Unfortunately, most kids are not conscious enough to answer that question with much wisdom. I also emphasize the role of “choice.” What else?

A: We addressed this issue in Q #179 in the context of parenting. It is always a good thing to help children (as well as adults) to accept responsibility for their behavior, and to help them realize that choices are available to them; but the concepts and principles of the Course are far beyond what children and most adolescents are capable of grasping. Children must first learn to become strong, healthy egos in order to function effectively and to cope with the many challenges in world. A basically sound level of psychological stability is necessary before anyone can “safely” begin to deal with the concept of the world and individuality as illusions. Immature or psychologically fragile people can be thrown into a panic, or far worse, if they are inappropriately confronted with such topics.

The best way to teach the Course to children is to demonstrate it in our own lives. The focus should always be on the content in our minds — watching for, and then bringing to the love of Jesus, all of our ego thoughts and dynamics: for example, our need to control, dominate, or cannibalize (psychologically) others; our need to manipulate and use others to get what we want and then dispense with them. When we humbly acknowledge that we have been wrong in our choice of teachers, and then choose the teacher of forgiveness in our right minds, we will automatically manifest the message of the Course in our lives. The words we say do not matter, because if we are centered in the love of Jesus, then whatever we do or say will be loving and the most helpful to the children in our care. Children will connect with the source of our words or actions, and consequently they will feel safe and accepted regardless of what they do. When discipline is called for, if we have let go of our ego for just an instant, our behavior will be conducted in a manner that is appropriately firm and effective, but not punitive, retaliative, judgmental, condescending, nor triggered by anger or by fear. Again, the message the children will get — after their normal period of pouting — is that they are cared for and accepted, even though what they just did was not acceptable. We all can attest to the fact that the teachers and adults who stand out in our memories of our childhood are those who were kind and caring and accepting of us, or were just the opposite. The words they said have probably been forgotten — except for those perhaps that manifested acceptance or rejection. Children immediately tune into the message being transmitted through the adult’s words and behavior.

Jesus asks us to be like him, to take him as our model. And therefore the way we teach our children is to be a model for them of our right minds. A helpful paragraph to study in this regard is under “The Function of the Teacher of God” in the manual (M.5.III.2).

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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