ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for September 22

ACIM Text Reading for September 22

Chapter 30 ~ The New Beginning

VII. The Justification for Forgiveness
Anger is never justified. Attack has no foundation. It is here escape from fear begins, and will be made complete. Here is the real world given in exchange for dreams of terror. For it is on this forgiveness rests, and is but natural. You are not asked to offer pardon where attack is due, and would be justified. For that would mean that you forgive a sin by overlooking what is really there. This is not pardon. For it would assume that, by responding in a way which is not justified, your pardon will become the answer to attack that has been made. And thus is pardon inappropriate, by being granted where it is not due.

Pardon is always justified. It has a sure foundation. You do not forgive the unforgivable, nor overlook a real attack that calls for punishment. Salvation does not lie in being asked to make unnatural responses which are inappropriate to what is real. Instead, it merely asks that you respond appropriately to what is not real by not perceiving what has not occurred. If pardon were unjustified, you would be asked to sacrifice your rights when you return forgiveness for attack. But you are merely asked to see forgiveness as the natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help. Forgiveness is the only sane response. It keeps your rights from being sacrificed.

This understanding is the only change that lets the real world rise to take the place of dreams of terror. Fear cannot arise unless attack is justified, and if it had a real foundation pardon would have none. The real world is achieved when you perceive the basis of forgiveness is quite real and fully justified. While you regard it as a gift unwarranted, it must uphold the guilt you would “forgive.” Unjustified forgiveness is attack. And this is all the world can ever give. It pardons “sinners” sometimes, but remains aware that they have sinned. And so they do not merit the forgiveness that it gives.

This is the false forgiveness which the world employs to keep the sense of sin alive. And recognizing God is just, it seems impossible His pardon could be real. Thus is the fear of God the sure result of seeing pardon as unmerited. No one who sees himself as guilty can avoid the fear of God. But he is saved from this dilemma if he can forgive. The mind must think of its Creator as it looks upon itself. If you can see your brother merits pardon, you have learned forgiveness is your right as much as his. Nor will you think that God intends for you a fearful judgment that your brother does not merit. For it is the truth that you can merit neither more nor less than he.

Forgiveness recognized as merited will heal. It gives the miracle its strength to overlook illusions. This is how you learn that you must be forgiven too. There can be no appearance that can not be overlooked. For if there were, it would be necessary first there be some sin that stands beyond forgiveness. There would be an error that is more than a mistake; a special form of error that remains unchangeable, eternal, and beyond correction or escape. There would be one mistake that had the power to undo creation, and to make a world that could replace it and destroy the Will of God. Only if this were possible could there be some appearances that could withstand the miracle, and not be healed by it.

There is no surer proof idolatry is what you wish than a belief there are some forms of sickness and of joylessness forgiveness cannot heal. This means that you prefer to keep some idols, and are not prepared, as yet, to let all idols go. And thus you think that some appearances are real and not appearances at all. Be not deceived about the meaning of a fixed belief that some appearances are harder to look past than others are. It always means you think forgiveness must be limited. And you have set a goal of partial pardon and a limited escape from guilt for you. What can this be except a false forgiveness of yourself, and everyone who seems apart from you?

It must be true the miracle can heal all forms of sickness, or it cannot heal. Its purpose cannot be to judge which forms are real, and which appearances are true. If one appearance must remain apart from healing, one illusion must be part of truth. And you could not escape all guilt, but only some of it. You must forgive God’s Son entirely. Or you will keep an image of yourself that is not whole, and will remain afraid to look within and find escape from every idol there. Salvation rests on faith there cannot be some forms of guilt that you cannot forgive. And so there cannot be appearances that have replaced the truth about God’s Son.

Look on your brother with the willingness to see him as he is. And do not keep a part of him outside your willingness that he be healed. To heal is to make whole. And what is whole can have no missing parts that have been kept outside. Forgiveness rests on recognizing this, and being glad there cannot be some forms of sickness which the miracle must lack the power to heal.

God’s Son is perfect, or he cannot be God’s Son. Nor will you know him, if you think he does not merit the escape from guilt in all its consequences and its forms. There is no way to think of him but this, if you would know the truth about yourself.

“I thank You, Father, for Your perfect Son,
and in his glory will I see my own.”
Here is the joyful statement that there are no forms of evil that can overcome the Will of God; the glad acknowledgment that guilt has not succeeded by your wish to make illusions real. And what is this except a simple statement of the truth?

Look on your brother with this hope in you, and you will understand he could not make an error that could change the truth in him. It is not difficult to overlook mistakes that have been given no effects. But what you see as having power to make an idol of the Son of God you will not pardon. For he has become to you a graven image and a sign of death. Is this your savior? Is his Father wrong about His Son? Or have you been deceived in him who has been given you to heal, for your salvation and deliverance?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for September 22

Lesson 264
I am surrounded by the Love of God.

Father, You stand before me and behind, beside me, in the place I see myself, and everywhere I go. You are in all the things I look upon, the sounds I hear, and every hand that reaches for my own. In You time disappears, and place becomes a meaningless belief. For what surrounds Your Son and keeps him safe is Love itself. There is no source but this, and nothing is that does not share its holiness; that stands beyond Your one creation, or without the Love which holds all things within itself. Father, Your Son is like Yourself. We come to You in Your Own Name today, to be at peace within Your everlasting Love.

My brothers, join with me in this today. This is salvation’s prayer. Must we not join in what will save the world, along with us?

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #1295: Traditional psychotherapy and A Course in Miracles seem to define the term ego in different ways. I’ve been in counseling for about the past two years and my therapist is working with me to build an ego. She tells me that I’ve got to get an ego first before I can give it up. It would seem that what she defines as ego and what Jesus is talking about are two different things, but I’m not completely sure just how to sort them out.

A: Counselors and therapists use the term ego thanks to Sigmund Freud. Freud divided the human personality into three parts: id, ego, and superego. According to his theory, the id operates on the pleasure principle, seeking immediate gratification for our instinctual drives. The superego is our internal, moral censor that represses the id. And the ego mediates between the id, superego, and the outside world, seeking to find means for us to express ourselves in socially acceptable ways. The ego is the conscious part of the psyche — basically the personality with which we identify.

Today’s counselors who speak of the ego do not necessarily view the psyche from a Freudian perspective. But they have largely adopted the word ego as a shortcut for saying our personality and identity as an individual . The goal of most counselors is to assist others in becoming healthier individuals — helping them to be more comfortable and functional within this world. So, we could say that they are helping their clients or patients to develop healthy egos.

When Jesus speaks of the ego in the Course, he is basically talking about the entire human psyche, conscious and unconscious. He tells us that the person we think we are is a false self, born of our mistaken belief that we could create a substitute for our true identity as God’s beloved Son. Thus, A Course in Miracles is all about recognizing that we would be happier if we released our grip on the ego and embraced the Holy Spirit instead. Therefore, for many Course students, the term ego has taken on a sinister ring — making the idea of developing a healthy one sound contradictory, if not downright frightening. However, this is the result of a misunderstanding. The Course encourages us to live in this world but know we are not of it. And doing that requires ego strength. To not develop a healthy ego represents fear, which must be unlearned if we are ever to move beyond fear to acceptance of God’s Love.

So, far from turning the ego into an enemy, Jesus would have us forgive it (and thus forgive ourselves) as the first step to moving beyond it. While he would ultimately have us let the ego go; Jesus would be the first to agree that we cannot move beyond the ego until we see it for what it is and make peace with it. Thus, like a great therapist, he asks us to simply watch it — turning our experience of being an ego (which, within this dream, seems to be the entirety of who we are) into a classroom in which we learn more and more about ourselves every day.

The Course and most forms of counseling do part ways in that, in counseling, becoming at peace with yourself within this world is typically the final goal, while in the Course, it is only a step toward awakening. Yet, despite both this fundamental difference and differences in the use of language, there is certainly no inherent conflict between the Course and the process of therapy. It is simply important for Course students to hold the aim of therapy as a means to an end and not an end itself.

teach not that i died in vain

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 28

ACIM Text Reading for August 28

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

VIII. The “Hero” of the Dream

The body is the central figure in the dreaming of the world. There is no dream without it, nor does it exist without the dream in which it acts as if it were a person to be seen and be believed. It takes the central place in every dream, which tells the story of how it was made by other bodies, born into the world outside the body, lives a little while and dies, to be united in the dust with other bodies dying like itself. In the brief time allotted it to live, it seeks for other bodies as its friends and enemies. Its safety is its main concern. Its comfort is its guiding rule. It tries to look for pleasure, and avoid the things that would be hurtful. Above all, it tries to teach itself its pains and joys are different and can be told apart.

The dreaming of the world takes many forms, because the body seeks in many ways to prove it is autonomous and real. It puts things on itself that it has bought with little metal discs or paper strips the world proclaims as valuable and real. It works to get them, doing senseless things, and tosses them away for senseless things it does not need and does not even want. It hires other bodies, that they may protect it and collect more senseless things that it can call its own. It looks about for special bodies that can share its dream. Sometimes it dreams it is a conqueror of bodies weaker than itself. But in some phases of the dream, it is the slave of bodies that would hurt and torture it.

The body’s serial adventures, from the time of birth to dying are the theme of every dream the world has ever had. The “hero” of this dream will never change, nor will its purpose. Though the dream itself takes many forms, and seems to show a great variety of places and events wherein its “hero” finds itself, the dream has but one purpose, taught in many ways. This single lesson does it try to teach again, and still again, and yet once more; that it is cause and not effect. And you are its effect, and cannot be its cause.

Thus are you not the dreamer, but the dream. And so you wander idly in and out of places and events that it contrives. That this is all the body does is true, for it is but a figure in a dream. But who reacts to figures in a dream unless he sees them as if they were real? The instant that he sees them as they are they have no more effects on him, because he understands he gave them their effects by causing them and making them seem real.

How willing are you to escape effects of all the dreams the world has ever had? Is it your wish to let no dream appear to be the cause of what it is you do? Then let us merely look upon the dream’s beginning, for the part you see is but the second part, whose cause lies in the first. No one asleep and dreaming in the world remembers his attack upon himself. No one believes there really was a time when he knew nothing of a body, and could never have conceived this world as real. He would have seen at once that these ideas are one illusion, too ridiculous for anything but to be laughed away. How serious they now appear to be! And no one can remember when they would have met with laughter and with disbelief. We can remember this, if we but look directly at their cause. And we will see the grounds for laughter, not a cause for fear.

Let us return the dream he gave away unto the dreamer, who perceives the dream as separate from himself and done to him. Into eternity, where all is one, there crept a tiny, mad idea, at which the Son of God remembered not to laugh. In his forgetting did the thought become a serious idea, and possible of both accomplishment and real effects. Together, we can laugh them both away, and understand that time cannot intrude upon eternity. It is a joke to think that time can come to circumvent eternity, which means there is no time.

A timelessness in which is time made real; a part of God that can attack itself; a separate brother as an enemy; a mind within a body all are forms of circularity whose ending starts at its beginning, ending at its cause. The world you see depicts exactly what you thought you did. Except that now you think that what you did is being done to you. The guilt for what you thought is being placed outside yourself, and on a guilty world that dreams your dreams and thinks your thoughts instead of you. It brings its vengeance, not your own. It keeps you narrowly confined within a body, which it punishes because of all the sinful things the body does within its dream. You have no power to make the body stop its evil deeds because you did not make it, and cannot control its actions nor its purpose nor its fate.

The world but demonstrates an ancient truth; you will believe that others do to you exactly what you think you did to them. But once deluded into blaming them you will not see the cause of what they do, because you want the guilt to rest on them. How childish is the petulant device to keep your innocence by pushing guilt outside yourself, but never letting go! It is not easy to perceive the jest when all around you do your eyes behold its heavy consequences, but without their trifling cause. Without the cause do its effects seem serious and sad indeed. Yet they but follow. And it is their cause that follows nothing and is but a jest.

In gentle laughter does the Holy Spirit perceive the cause, and looks not to effects. How else could He correct your error, who have overlooked the cause entirely? He bids you bring each terrible effect to Him that you may look together on its foolish cause and laugh with Him a while. You judge effects, but He has judged their cause. And by His judgment are effects removed. Perhaps you come in tears. But hear Him say, “My brother, holy Son of God, behold your idle dream, in which this could occur.” And you will leave the holy instant with your laughter and your brother’s joined with His.

The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.

This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes. The Holy Spirit will repeat this one inclusive lesson of deliverance until it has been learned, regardless of the form of suffering that brings you pain. Whatever hurt you bring to Him He will make answer with this very simple truth. For this one answer takes away the cause of every form of sorrow and of pain. The form affects His answer not at all, for He would teach you but the single cause of all of them, no matter what their form. And you will understand that miracles reflect the simple statement, “I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo.”

Bring, then, all forms of suffering to Him Who knows that every one is like the rest. He sees no differences where none exists, and He will teach you how each one is caused. None has a different cause from all the rest, and all of them are easily undone by but a single lesson truly learned. Salvation is a secret you have kept but from yourself. The universe proclaims it so. Yet to its witnesses you pay no heed at all. For they attest the thing you do not want to know. They seem to keep it secret from you. Yet you need but learn you chose but not to listen, not to see.

How differently will you perceive the world when this is recognized! When you forgive the world your guilt, you will be free of it. Its innocence does not demand your guilt, nor does your guiltlessness rest on its sins. This is the obvious; a secret kept from no one but yourself. And it is this that has maintained you separate from the world, and kept your brother separate from you. Now need you but to learn that both of you are innocent or guilty. The one thing that is impossible is that you be unlike each other; that they both be true. This is the only secret yet to learn. And it will be no secret you are healed.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 28

Lesson 240
Fear is not justified in any form.

Fear is deception. It attests that you have seen yourself as you could never be, and therefore look upon a world which is impossible. Not one thing in this world is true. It does not matter what the form in which it may appear. It witnesses but to your own illusions of yourself. Let us not be deceived today. We are the Sons of God. There is no fear in us, for we are each a part of Love Itself.

How foolish are our fears! Would You allow Your Son to suffer? Give us faith today to recognize Your Son, and set him free. Let us forgive him in Your Name, that we may understand his holiness, and feel the love for him which is Your Own as well.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #677: Would you kindly assist me in understanding section VIII of Chapter 27, titled “The ‘Hero’ of the Dream,” in particular, the meaning of the following quote:

“Though the dream itself takes many forms, and seems to show a great variety of places and events wherein its ‘hero’ finds itself, the dream has but one purpose, taught in many ways. This single lesson does it try to teach again, and still again, and yet once more; that it is cause and not effect. And you are its effect, and cannot be its cause.”

A: This passage is saying that the ego’s purpose for the dream is to deceive us into believing that we are each a single, lonely figure in the dream of the world, each with our own separate interests and needs, rather than the dreamer of the dream of the world and all the figures in it. If we are a figure — a body — in the dream, then we are the dream’s effect and the dream is our cause. But if we are the dreamer, we are the cause and the dream/world is the effect.

To help understand this passage further, consider what is really happening in the split mind and what the ego wants us to believe, described in the sentences you quote. The “you” Jesus is addressing and is always referring to in A Course in Miracles is our mind, outside of time and space and outside the dream. It is the split mind of the Son of God, after we have seemingly fallen asleep and begun to dream of separation. Much like what we experience in our nighttime dreams, we do not remember that we are the dreamer but think instead that we are one of the figures in the dream, a body, the “hero” of the dream. So we have accepted the body as our identity and believe that all of the rest of the dream — the world — is outside of ourselves, beyond our control, exerting its influence on us against our will. And yet all along, we, as the dreaming mind, are making the whole thing up.

But this confusion about our identity is exactly what the ego wants us to believe in order to achieve its purpose — to keep us asleep and dreaming the dream of separation, without ever realizing that it is our dream. So the world we seem to be experiencing outside of our physical selves, which includes our parents and their parents, etc., seems to be the cause of the self we think we are — the body. In other words, the ego has convinced us that we, as a body which contains a brain which reacts and thinks and feels, are the effect of the world, and how we feel is a result of our interactions with that outside world and all the people in it. So we never consider the possibility that we, as a mind, are not the effect but rather the cause of the world, of the dream. And this subterfuge serves a very deliberate purpose, for now the cause of all of our unhappiness and pain and loss seems to be the world/the dream, rather than the decision we are making within our mind to see ourselves as separate from love. If we really knew our own choice is the cause, we would not remain asleep and dreaming much longer, and the ego — the thought of separation — would then simply disappear.

Think again of your dreams at night. We may have all kinds of experiences in the dream that we attribute to the other figures and the “outer world” of our dream while we are still asleep and dreaming. But upon awakening, we recognize that all those feelings were not caused by anything in the dream itself but rather by our mind that was dreaming the entire contents of the dream, including both the dream figure we thought we were and everything seemingly separate from it. The dream is one, single, unitary illusion that continues to fool us about reality while we remain asleep. So one of Jesus’ primary objectives with the Course is to help us understand the real nature of cause and effect, so we can undo our confusion and eventually remember Who we truly are, beyond even the illusory split mind.

In a lovely passage early in the text, Jesus calls to us: “Hear, then, the one answer of the Holy Spirit to all the questions the ego raises: You are a child of God, a priceless part of His Kingdom, which He created as part of Him. Nothing else exists and only this is real. You have chosen a sleep in which you have had bad dreams, but the sleep is not real and God calls you to awake. There will be nothing left of your dream when you hear Him, because you will awaken. Your dreams contain many of the ego’s symbols and they have confused you. Yet that was only because you were asleep and did not know. When you wake you will see the truth around you and in you, and you will no longer believe in dreams because they will have no reality for you. Yet the Kingdom and all that you have created there will have great reality for you, because they are beautiful and true” (T.6.IV.6).

*

Q #100: I wonder about the passage T.27.VIII.6:2. I know my ego is quite resourceful and finds ways to delay progress, which is why I have grown to walk over this passage. Now, with all my basic human understanding, the only way to remember not to laugh is that at one time, for some reason, prior to this event, we had also not laughed; for it is not possible for a mind to “remember” or to “re-call” what has never entered the mind. And at this section, Jesus is not talking about us reliving that instant, hence, creating our world and its constancy. If we understand oneness, perfection, Love, how can something that is not oneness, perfection, Love be remembered? How could it had been part of our existence?

A. The language of A Course in Miracles can be a stumbling block for many people, which appears to be the case here. In one sense, your analysis of the function of memory is logical; but logical analysis can often get in the way of truly understanding Jesus’ message. The Course is not written as would an academic or scholarly treatise, in which precision and consistency in language is essential. While intellectually on a high, sophisticated level—with a clearly recognizable, internally consistent metaphysics—the Course is nonetheless expressed in more of a poetic fashion, where the meanings of words and concepts are permitted to be stretched, and as a result are not always consistent. There are several other instances of seeming inconsistency, in addition to the one you point out.

Anticipating this type of question no doubt, Jesus explains in the introduction to the clarification of terms: “This is not a course in philosophical speculation, nor is it concerned with precise terminology. It is concerned only with Atonement, or the correction of perception…All terms are potentially controversial, and those who seek controversy will find it. Yet those who seek clarification will find it as well. They must, however, be willing to overlook controversy, recognizing that it is a defense against the truth in the form of a delaying maneuver.…A universal theology is impossible, but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary. It is this experience toward which the course is directed. Here alone consistency becomes possible because here alone uncertainty ends” (C.in.1:1,2; 2:1,2,3,4,5,6,7).

As these passages indicate, the Course does not lend itself to the kind of logical analysis you engaged in, as that is not its purpose. It was not meant to be approached that way, and if it is, one will not get very far with it before being tempted to dismiss it because of the looseness of its language and apparent changes in meaning. What is also helpful is to recognize that the meaning of words is often relative to the point that Jesus is making, or to the essence of what he is teaching in that particular passage, which could differ when he is making some other point. This can be frustrating to readers, without a doubt. On the other hand, though, it is purposeful, in that it forces readers to pay very careful attention to what they are reading in order not to miss the point Jesus is making.

Moreover, the Course makes it clear that the human intellect itself is often an impediment in the quest for truth: “You are still convinced that your understanding is a powerful contribution to the truth, and makes it what it is” (T.18.IV.7:5). It is a paradox that we must learn, by first using our intellectual powers, that our intellectual powers are a defense against the truth, which goes along with the Holy Spirit directing us to use the world and time as a means of learning that the world and time are illusory. We are just challenged on every single level to examine the premises and the values and expectations we bring to our study of the Course, so that we can identify exactly what we are thinking and doing that keeps love and truth out of our awareness.

For some further study of this issue, you might want to consult our tape album, “Duality As Metaphor in A Course in Miracles” and Chapter 2 “The Course’s Use of Language — I” in Few Choose to Listen, Volume II of The Message of A Course in Miracles.

you have no idea

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 21

ACIM Text Reading for August 21

Chapter 27 ~ The Healing of the Dream

I. The Picture of Crucifixion
The wish to be unfairly treated is a compromise attempt that would combine attack and innocence. Who can combine the wholly incompatible, and make a unity of what can never join? Walk you the gentle way, and you will fear no evil and no shadows in the night. But place no terror symbols on your path, or you will weave a crown of thorns from which your brother and yourself will not escape. You cannot crucify yourself alone. And if you are unfairly treated, he must suffer the unfairness that you see. You cannot sacrifice yourself alone. For sacrifice is total. If it could occur at all it would entail the whole of God’s creation, and the Father with the sacrifice of His beloved Son.

In your release from sacrifice is his made manifest, and shown to be his own. But every pain you suffer do you see as proof that he is guilty of attack. Thus would you make yourself to be the sign that he has lost his innocence, and need but look on you to realize that he has been condemned. And what to you has been unfair will come to him in righteousness. The unjust vengeance that you suffer now belongs to him, and when it rests on him are you set free. Wish not to make yourself a living symbol of his guilt, for you will not escape the death you made for him. But in his innocence you find your own.

Whenever you consent to suffer pain, to be deprived, unfairly treated or in need of anything, you but accuse your brother of attack upon God’s Son. You hold a picture of your crucifixion before his eyes, that he may see his sins are writ in Heaven in your blood and death, and go before him, closing off the gate and damning him to hell. Yet this is writ in hell and not in Heaven, where you are beyond attack and prove his innocence. The picture of yourself you offer him you show yourself, and give it all your faith. The Holy Spirit offers you, to give to him, a picture of yourself in which there is no pain and no reproach at all. And what was martyred to his guilt becomes the perfect witness to his innocence.

The power of witness is beyond belief because it brings conviction in its wake. The witness is believed because he points beyond himself to what he represents. A sick and suffering you but represents your brother’s guilt; the witness that you send lest he forget the injuries he gave, from which you swear he never will escape. This sick and sorry picture you accept, if only it can serve to punish him. The sick are merciless to everyone, and in contagion do they seek to kill. Death seems an easy price, if they can say, “Behold me, brother, at your hand I die.” For sickness is the witness to his guilt, and death would prove his errors must be sins. Sickness is but a “little” death; a form of vengeance not yet total. Yet it speaks with certainty for what it represents. The bleak and bitter picture you have sent your brother you have looked upon in grief. And everything that it has shown to him have you believed, because it witnessed to the guilt in him which you perceived and loved.

Now in the hands made gentle by His touch, the Holy Spirit lays a picture of a different you. It is a picture of a body still, for what you really are cannot be seen nor pictured. Yet this one has not been used for purpose of attack, and therefore never suffered pain at all. It witnesses to the eternal truth that you cannot be hurt, and points beyond itself to both your innocence and his. Show this unto your brother, who will see that every scar is healed, and every tear is wiped away in laughter and in love. And he will look on his forgiveness there, and with healed eyes will look beyond it to the innocence that he beholds in you. Here is the proof that he has never sinned; that nothing which his madness bid him do was ever done, or ever had effects of any kind. That no reproach he laid upon his heart was ever justified, and no attack can ever touch him with the poisoned and relentless sting of fear.

Attest his innocence and not his guilt. Your healing is his comfort and his health because it proves illusions are not true. It is not will for life but wish for death that is the motivation for this world. Its only purpose is to prove guilt real. No worldly thought or act or feeling has a motivation other than this one. These are the witnesses that are called forth to be believed, and lend conviction to the system they speak for and represent. And each has many voices, speaking to your brother and yourself in different tongues. And yet to both the message is the same. Adornment of the body seeks to show how lovely are the witnesses for guilt. Concerns about the body demonstrate how frail and vulnerable is your life; how easily destroyed is what you love. Depression speaks of death, and vanity of real concern with anything at all.

The strongest witness to futility, that bolsters all the rest and helps them paint the picture in which sin is justified, is sickness in whatever form it takes. The sick have reason for each one of their unnatural desires and strange needs. For who could live a life so soon cut short and not esteem the worth of passing joys? What pleasures could there be that will endure? Are not the frail entitled to believe that every stolen scrap of pleasure is their righteous payment for their little lives? Their death will pay the price for all of them, if they enjoy their benefits or not. The end of life must come, whatever way that life be spent. And so take pleasure in the quickly passing and ephemeral.

These are not sins, but witnesses unto the strange belief that sin and death are real, and innocence and sin will end alike within the termination of the grave. If this were true, there would be reason to remain content to seek for passing joys and cherish little pleasures where you can. Yet in this picture is the body not perceived as neutral and without a goal inherent in itself. For it becomes the symbol of reproach, the sign of guilt whose consequences still are there to see, so that the cause can never be denied.

Your function is to show your brother sin can have no cause. How futile must it be to see yourself a picture of the proof that what your function is can never be! The Holy Spirit’s picture changes not the body into something it is not. It only takes away from it all signs of accusation and of blamefulness. Pictured without a purpose, it is seen as neither sick nor well, nor bad nor good. No grounds are offered that it may be judged in any way at all. It has no life, but neither is it dead. It stands apart from all experience of love or fear. For now it witnesses to nothing yet, its purpose being open, and the mind made free again to choose what it is for. Now is it not condemned, but waiting for a purpose to be given, that it may fulfill the function that it will receive.

Into this empty space, from which the goal of sin has been removed, is Heaven free to be remembered. Here its peace can come, and perfect healing take the place of death. The body can become a sign of life, a promise of redemption, and a breath of immortality to those grown sick of breathing in the fetid scent of death. Let it have healing as its purpose. Then will it send forth the message it received, and by its health and loveliness proclaim the truth and value that it represents. Let it receive the power to represent an endless life, forever unattacked. And to your brother let its message be, “Behold me, brother, at your hand I live.”

The simple way to let this be achieved is merely this; to let the body have no purpose from the past, when you were sure you knew its purpose was to foster guilt. For this insists your crippled picture is a lasting sign of what it represents. This leaves no space in which a different view, another purpose, can be given it. You do not know its purpose. You but gave illusions of a purpose to a thing you made to hide your function from yourself. This thing without a purpose cannot hide the function that the Holy Spirit gave. Let, then, its purpose and your function both be reconciled at last and seen as one.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 21

Lesson 233
I give my life to God to guide today.

Father, I give You all my thoughts today. I would have none of mine. In place of them, give me Your Own. I give You all my acts as well, that I may do Your Will instead of seeking goals which cannot be obtained, and wasting time in vain imaginings. Today I come to You. I will step back and merely follow You. Be You the Guide, and I the follower who questions not the wisdom of the Infinite, nor Love whose tenderness I cannot comprehend, but which is yet Your perfect gift to me.

Today we have one Guide to lead us on. And as we walk together, we will give this day to Him with no reserve at all. This is His day. And so it is a day of countless gifts and mercies unto us.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #817: I have read your response to Question #317, which relates to physical disease, and understand that A Course in Miracles teaches that I need to question the idea that anything outside myself can disturb my peace, including illness. Can you please explain to me why the Course uses the following phrase when dealing with physical illness: “Behold me brother, at your hand I die” (T.27.I.4:6). Is the word “brother” being used figuratively? Is the Course suggesting that we address a virus thus?

A: Although you could read this line you quote from “The Picture of Crucifixion” to refer to viruses, in most passages, including this section, when Jesus speaks of our brothers, he is speaking of our relationships with others whom we perceive to be human beings like ourselves. And behind every illness and disease — in fact, behind all our pain and suffering, no matter what the perceived immediate cause in the world — can be found an accusation that one of our brothers or sisters is somehow to blame.

Sometimes the accusation is explicit: e.g., “You gave me your cold.” Or “If you hadn’t made me work so hard, I wouldn’t have gotten so stressed and worn out and caught this flu bug.” Sometimes the accusation is less direct: e.g., “Both my mother and my grandmother died of breast cancer, so I guess it was only a matter of time before I was going to be diagnosed with it myself.” Or “I’m just sure my lung disease is the result of all that secondary smoke I was exposed to all those years I worked in that small, crowded office.” And sometimes the accusation can be very subtle: e.g., “I know I just didn’t have all the opportunities for advancement that my friends had, with my parents not financially well off. And so I ended up with less education and a lower paying job. As a result, I just could not afford the kind of preventative medical care that could have helped me maintain better health.”

The point of the answer to Question #317 you refer to is that, at the level of content in the mind, it does not matter what form the victimizer seems to take in the world, whether it’s another person, a virus, an accident, a catastrophic meteorological or geological event, or anything else. The purpose is always to find someone or something outside myself that I can point a finger at and hold responsible for my suffering and pain, rather than to look within my own mind at the real cause — my decision for separation and attack. The purpose, in other words, is always, whatever the seeming expression of suffering in my body, to demonstrate my innocence by accusing my brother of the sin and attack I secretly accuse myself of.

By the way, when Jesus speaks in ‘The Picture of Crucifixion” of our use of our brother to prove our innocence, he is not addressing us as human beings, nor is he referring to our brothers as the bodies we perceive. Perceiving ourselves and our brothers as bodies is central to the ego’s plan to demonstrate our victimhood ( e.g., T.21.VIII.1:1,2) . Jesus is always addressing us as minds, albeit minds who happen to believe we are the bodies we seem to inhabit. That he is also regarding our brother as a mind and not a body is apparent from his observation later in the text: “Like you, your brother thinks he is a dream. Share not in his illusion of himself, for your Identity depends on his reality. Think, rather, of him as a mind in which illusions still persist, but as a mind which brother is to you. He is not brother made by what he dreams, nor is his body, “hero” of the dream, your brother. It is his reality that is your brother, as is yours to him. Your mind and his are joined in brotherhood. His body and his dreams but seem to make a little gap, where yours have joined with his” (T.28.IV.3 ; italics added ) . And so, in the end, we will come to realize that sickness is really a condition of guilt in the mind — only its nonsubstantial shadow seems to be expressed in the body (T.28.II.11:7) . From this realization, it follows that we are never the victim of anyone else’s actions, but only of our own thoughts.

guiltless mind

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 18

ACIM Text Reading for August 18

Chapter 26 ~ The Transition

VIII. The Immediacy of Salvation
The one remaining problem that you have is that you see an interval between the time when you forgive, and will receive the benefits of trusting in your brother. This but reflects the little you would keep between you and your brother, that you and he might be a little separate. For time and space are one illusion, which takes different forms. If it has been projected beyond your mind you think of it as time. The nearer it is brought to where it is, the more you think of it in terms of space.

There is a distance you would keep apart from your brother, and this space you perceive as time because you still believe you are external to him. This makes trust impossible. And you cannot believe that trust would settle every problem now. Thus do you think it safer to remain a little careful and a little watchful of interests perceived as separate. From this perception you cannot conceive of gaining what forgiveness offers now. The interval you think lies in between the giving and receiving of the gift seems to be one in which you sacrifice and suffer loss. You see eventual salvation, not immediate results.

Salvation is immediate. Unless you so perceive it, you will be afraid of it, believing that the risk of loss is great between the time its purpose is made yours and its effects will come to you. In this form is the error still obscured that is the source of fear. Salvation would wipe out the space you see between you still, and let you instantly become as one. And it is here you fear the loss would lie. Do not project this fear to time, for time is not the enemy that you perceive. Time is as neutral as the body is, except in terms of what you see it for. If you would keep a little space between you and your brother still, you then would want a little time in which forgiveness is withheld a little while. And this but makes the interval between the time in which forgiveness is withheld from you and given seem dangerous, with terror justified.

Yet space between you and your brother is apparent only in the present, now, and cannot be perceived in future time. No more can it be overlooked except within the present. Future loss is not your fear. But present joining is your dread. Who can feel desolation except now? A future cause as yet has no effects. And therefore must it be that if you fear, there is a present cause. And it is this that needs correction, not a future state.

The plans you make for safety all are laid within the future, where you cannot plan. No purpose has been given it as yet, and what will happen has as yet no cause. Who can predict effects without a cause? And who could fear effects unless he thought they had been caused, and judged disastrous now? Belief in sin arouses fear, and like its cause, is looking forward, looking back, but overlooking what is here and now. Yet only here and now its cause must be, if its effects already have been judged as fearful. And in overlooking this, is it protected and kept separate from healing. For a miracle is now. It stands already here, in present grace, within the only interval of time that sin and fear have overlooked, but which is all there is to time.

The working out of all correction takes no time at all. Yet the acceptance of the working out can seem to take forever. The change of purpose the Holy Spirit brought to your relationship has in it all effects that you will see. They can be looked at now. Why wait till they unfold in time and fear they may not come, although already there? You have been told that everything brings good that comes from God. And yet it seems as if this is not so. Good in disaster’s form is difficult to credit in advance. Nor is there really sense in this idea.

Why should the good appear in evil’s form? And is it not deception if it does? Its cause is here, if it appears at all. Why are not its effects apparent, then? Why in the future? And you seek to be content with sighing, and with “reasoning” you do not understand it now, but will some day. And then its meaning will be clear. This is not reason, for it is unjust, and clearly hints at punishment until the time of liberation is at hand. Given a change of purpose for the good, there is no reason for an interval in which disaster strikes, to be perceived as “good” some day but now in form of pain. This is a sacrifice of now, which could not be the cost the Holy Spirit asks for what He gave without a cost at all.

Yet this illusion has a cause which, though untrue, must be already in your mind. And this illusion is but one effect that it engenders, and one form in which its outcome is perceived. This interval in time, when retribution is perceived to be the form in which the “good” appears, is but one aspect of the little space that lies between you, unforgiven still.

Be not content with future happiness. It has no meaning, and is not your just reward. For you have cause for freedom now. What profits freedom in a prisoner’s form? Why should deliverance be disguised as death? Delay is senseless, and the “reasoning” that would maintain effects of present cause must be delayed until a future time, is merely a denial of the fact that consequence and cause must come as one. Look not to time, but to the little space between you still, to be delivered from. And do not let it be disguised as time, and so preserved because its form is changed and what it is cannot be recognized. The Holy Spirit’s purpose now is yours. Should not His happiness be yours as well?

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 18

Lesson 230
Now will I seek and find the peace of God.

In peace I was created. And in peace do I remain. It is not given me to change my Self. How merciful is God my Father, that when He created me He gave me peace forever. Now I ask but to be what I am. And can this be denied me, when it is forever true?

Father, I seek the peace You gave as mine in my creation. What was given then must be here now, for my creation was apart from time, and still remains beyond all change. The peace in which Your Son was born into Your Mind is shining there unchanged. I am as You created me. I need but call on You to find the peace You gave. It is Your Will that gave it to Your Son.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #411: In A Course in Miracles, Jesus says, “You can not make the body the Holy Spirit’s temple, and it will never be the seat of love. It is the home of the idolater, and of love’s condemnation. For here is love made fearful and hope abandoned” (T.20.VI.6:1,2,3). And previous to that he states of idols, specifically referring to the body that “The body is the ego’s chosen weapon for seeking power through relationships” (T.20.VI.4:3). The other day I saw a woman who was pregnant and it made me think of birth, pregnancy, the separation, and what purpose birth serves. Is not the birthing of another body extending the thought of separation since the body is “the ego’s chosen weapon for seeking power?” Aren’t we just making the thoughts of separation greater and the illusion/dream more so through the birth of a body?

A: It would seem so; but in the passages you have cited, Jesus is speaking to us on what we refer to as Level One: the contrast between reality and illusion. On that level, the body symbolizes only the ego’s murderous nature and its ongoing intention to perpetuate separation and conflict; and therefore in and of itself, the body can never be anything holy or loving. But on another level (Level Two), speaking to us within the framework of what we think is real, Jesus teaches us that “love does not condemn it [the body] and can use it lovingly, respecting what the Son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions” (T.18.VI.4:8). His gentle means of helping us is to teach us how to use what we regard as real (even though he knows it is not real and was made to attack truth) to undo the sense of separation we feel within ourselves and in relation to everyone else. He thus tells us to regard the world and the body first as neutral (W.pII.294), and then to concentrate on the purpose of what we think and do; and that purpose will always be a variation of one of two themes: the reinforcement of our belief in separation or of the undoing of that belief through forgiveness. As we progress in this way of thinking, we will gradually and naturally begin to disidentify with the body, until we finally accept its total unreality. Thus our lives become classrooms in which we choose either the ego or Jesus as our teacher. Seen from this perspective, then, birthing — as with anything else — can be in accord with the ego’s purpose for us or with Jesus’ purpose: a wrong-minded choice or a right-minded choice. This is what we refer to as Level Two: wrong-minded versus right-minded choices within the dream of separation.

So when you see a pregnant woman, just watch your own thoughts, remembering that you do not know what her specific Atonement path involves. That could be the classroom she has chosen in which to learn her specific lessons of forgiveness. In that sense, your thoughts could be along these lines: “We both believe we are here, which means we both believe we rejected our true Identity and left our home in Heaven in order to establish an independent separate existence of our own; and we both have within us the means and all the help we need to correct our mistake and return Home. The specifics of our lives may be different, but our purpose is the same, and Jesus’ loving help is equally present to both of us.”

One last thought. To think that separation can be made worse is to make the error real — the cardinal “sin” of Course students! Linear time is one of the ego’s cleverest tricks to make us think that our experience is fresh and real. It is just another way to validate our existence as individuals. Orienting us in the right direction, Jesus tells us that we “but see the journey from the point at which it ended, looking back on it, imagining we make it once again; reviewing mentally what has gone by” (W.pI.158.4:5). In that sense, we cannot make the separation greater or increase the illusion. Our awakening from this dream of separation, however, is dependent on the purpose for which we use the world and our bodies. In that sense, we can reinforce in our own minds our false identity as individual selves, or we can gradually undo this false identity with help from Jesus or the Holy Spirit in our practice of forgiveness. Giving birth to a baby is inherently neutral — it the purpose behind that decision that establishes its Atonement relevance. Pardon the pun, but you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water, a temptation practically all students of the Course fall prey to, when their egos blind their eyes to the two distinct levels on which Jesus speaks to us.

jesus there is no death

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 6

ACIM Text Reading for August 6

Chapter 25 ~ The Justice of God

VII. The Special Function
The grace of God rests gently on forgiving eyes, and everything they look on speaks of Him to the beholder. He can see no evil; nothing in the world to fear, and no one who is different from himself. And as he loves them, so he looks upon himself with love and gentleness. He would no more condemn himself for his mistakes than damn another. He is not an arbiter of vengeance, nor a punisher of sin. The kindness of his sight rests on himself with all the tenderness it offers others. For he would only heal and only bless. And being in accord with what God wills, he has the power to heal and bless all those he looks on with the grace of God upon his sight.

Eyes become used to darkness, and the light of brilliant day seems painful to the eyes grown long accustomed to the dim effects perceived at twilight. And they turn away from sunlight and the clarity it brings to what they look upon. Dimness seems better; easier to see, and better recognized. Somehow the vague and more obscure seems easier to look upon; less painful to the eyes than what is wholly clear and unambiguous. Yet this is not what eyes are for, and who can say that he prefers the darkness and maintain he wants to see?

The wish to see calls down the grace of God upon your eyes, and brings the gift of light that makes sight possible. Would you behold your brother? God is glad to have you look on him. He does not will your savior be unrecognized by you. Nor does He will that he remain without the function that He gave to him. Let him no more be lonely, for the lonely ones are those who see no function in the world for them to fill; no place where they are needed, and no aim which only they can perfectly fulfill.

Such is the Holy Spirit’s kind perception of specialness; His use of what you made, to heal instead of harm. To each He gives a special function in salvation he alone can fill; a part for only him. Nor is the plan complete until he finds his special function, and fulfills the part assigned to him, to make himself complete within a world where incompletion rules.

Here, where the laws of God do not prevail in perfect form, can he yet do one perfect thing and make one perfect choice. And by this act of special faithfulness to one perceived as other than himself, he learns the gift was given to himself, and so they must be one. Forgiveness is the only function meaningful in time. It is the means the Holy Spirit uses to translate specialness from sin into salvation. Forgiveness is for all. But when it rests on all it is complete, and every function of this world completed with it. Then is time no more. Yet while in time, there is still much to do. And each must do what is allotted him, for on his part does all the plan depend. He has a special part in time for so he chose, and choosing it, he made it for himself. His wish was not denied but changed in form, to let it serve his brother and himself, and thus become a means to save instead of lose.

Salvation is no more than a reminder this world is not your home. Its laws are not imposed on you, its values are not yours. And nothing that you think you see in it is really there at all. This is seen and understood as each one takes his part in its undoing, as he did in making it. He has the means for either, as he always did. The specialness he chose to hurt himself did God appoint to be the means for his salvation, from the very instant that the choice was made. His special sin was made his special grace. His special hate became his special love.

The Holy Spirit needs your special function, that His may be fulfilled. Think not you lack a special value here. You wanted it, and it is given you. All that you made can serve salvation easily and well. The Son of God can make no choice the Holy Spirit cannot employ on his behalf, and not against himself. Only in darkness does your specialness appear to be attack. In light, you see it as your special function in the plan to save the Son of God from all attack, and let him understand that he is safe, as he has always been, and will remain in time and in eternity alike. This is the function given you for your brother. Take it gently, then, from your brother’s hand, and let salvation be perfectly fulfilled in you. Do this one thing, that everything be given you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 6

Lesson 218
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

(198) Only my condemnation injures me.

My condemnation keeps my vision dark, and through my
sightless eyes I cannot see the vision of my glory.
Yet today I can behold this glory and be glad.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #258: I have been trying to forgive a major person in my life for some time now, both prior to starting A Course in Miracles and, with more focus, since beginning it. As a result, there have been times when I seem to have let go of much of my grievance, but then something triggers the hurt, and it all comes raging back again. Sometimes it feels like I’m just lopping off the top of this poisonous weed of grievance, rather than pulling it out by the roots. What advice would you have in such a situation? Should I see forgiveness as a process, or is it an either/or, once and for all decision? And if the latter, how do I finally make it?

A: Your metaphor for how you are pulling weeds is an apt one. You’re not yet getting to the root of the problem so long as you keep your focus on the other person, for that is playing into what Jesus refers to in the Song of Prayer pamphlet as “forgiveness-to-destroy” (S.2.II). The ego’s version of forgiveness is to make sin real in someone else and then attempt to “forgive” it. As you’re finding, this just does not work. But that of course is always the ego’s goal — “Seek, but do not find” (T.16.V.6:5).

The Course, in contrast, is attempting to lead you towards an experience of true forgiveness in which you recognize that “what you thought your brother did to you has not occurred” (W.pII.1:1). In the metaphysical sense, this is true at the level of the actual behavior you are hold­ing against this other person, since we are the dreamer of our dream and we assign the roles to the figures in our dream. But the more practical level to understand Jesus’ meaning is to recognize that it is your interpretation of what this other person has done that is the cause of your anger and your grievance, and not what the person actually has done (M.17.4). You are blaming this person at some level for robbing you of your peace, love, joy, security, etc. But no one can deprive us of any of these experiences unless we have first chosen to give them away (T4.IV.3:3). So the good news is that we don’t have to change what the other person has done, which, of course, we can’t do anyway. We only need help with changing our interpretation of what has happened. How do we do that?

What most of us are not in touch with is that we carry within our minds a huge burden of unacknowledged guilt that unconsciously controls our interpretations of all our interactions by dictating that we seek and find guilt in everyone but ourselves (T.19.IV.B.i.12). The source of our guilt is the mistaken belief, which we cling to, that we have established a separate individual existence apart from God, at His expense. And the cost to Him has been His total annihilation. Guilt at such a horrendous offense is unimaginable, and so our defense is to project it outside of our minds. Our anger at someone else then is always our attempt to justify seeing the guilt of separation outside of us, thus obscuring the projection we are making (T.6.in.1:2).

All of us are trying to do exactly the same thing. We are all walking around with intense guilt, covered over with a seething rage that is our attempt to deny the guilt within and see it outside. We may try to put a nice, socially appropriate face of innocence on all of this (T.31.V.2), but the anger, and the guilt fueling it, are always bubbling just below the surface. And there they will remain, affecting all our interactions, sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, until we are willing to do the challenging and difficult work of looking within, past the anger to the guilt buried beneath it. So forgiveness then really has nothing to do with the other person, which explains in part our resistance to practicing it. For, rather than justifying our anger, if we really want to heal, Jesus is asking us to recognize that our grievances are nothing more than a cover for our guilt. Anger then becomes a signal that there is a dark place within our mind. And Jesus helps us see that our guilt, like our anger, is not what it appears to be. It only seems real and heavy and serious while it remains shrouded in darkness. Its unreality becomes apparent when we allow the light of true forgiveness to shine upon it. This is the release we seek and yet, while we remain identified still with our ego, it is also a cause for fear.

We resist looking within, preferring to hold on to our anger and to continue to project our guilt, because these are the layers of defense that we unconsciously see as protecting our individual self (T.21.IV.1,2,3). And so beneath the anger and the guilt is fear — fear that if we forgive we will disappear, that God will seize back the life we stole from Him. For all these reasons, forgiveness will be a process for us, as you suggest, and not simply a once-and-for-all decision — until the very end of the process, when we are ready to let go completely of our ego identity.

The more we are willing to uncover our own guilt and allow it to be healed, the more we will come to recognize that those against whom we have been holding our grievances are only in need of the same release that we have been seeking. And their guilt is no more real than our own. With that recognition, we can experience real forgiveness, for the interpretation of what has happened between us is now the Holy Spirit’s and no longer our own.

For further discussions of the process of forgiveness, you may wish to look at Questions #44 and #69.

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 5

ACIM Text Reading for August 5

Chapter 25 ~ The Justice of God

VI. The State of Sinlessness
The state of sinlessness is merely this: The whole desire to attack is gone, and so there is no reason to perceive the Son of God as other than he is. The need for guilt is gone because it has no purpose, and is meaningless without the goal of sin. Attack and sin are bound as one illusion, each the cause and aim and justifier of the other. Each is meaningless alone, but seems to draw a meaning from the other. Each depends upon the other for whatever sense it seems to have. And no one could believe in one unless the other were the truth, for each attests the other must be true.

Attack makes Christ your enemy, and God along with Him. Must you not be afraid with “enemies” like these? And must you not be fearful of yourself? For you have hurt yourself, and made your Self your “enemy.” And now you must believe you are not you, but something alien to yourself and “something else,” a “something” to be feared instead of loved. Who would attack whatever he perceives as wholly innocent? And who, because he wishes to attack, can fail to think he must be guilty to maintain the wish, while wanting innocence? For who could see the Son of God as innocent and wish him dead? Christ stands before you, each time you look upon your brother. He has not gone because your eyes are closed. But what is there to see by searching for your Savior, seeing Him through sightless eyes?

It is not Christ you see by looking thus. It is the “enemy,” confused with Christ, you look upon. And hate because there is no sin in him for you to see. Nor do you hear his plaintive call, unchanged in content in whatever form the call is made, that you unite with him, and join with him in innocence and peace. And yet, beneath the ego’s senseless shrieks, such is the call that God has given him, that you might hear in him His Call to you, and answer by returning unto God what is His Own.

The Son of God asks only this of you; that you return to him what is his due, that you may share in it with him. Alone does neither have it. So must it remain useless to both. Together, it will give to each an equal strength to save the other, and save himself along with him. Forgiven by you, your savior offers you salvation. Condemned by you, he offers death to you. In everyone you see but the reflection of what you choose to have him be to you. If you decide against his proper function, the only one he has in truth, you are depriving him of all the joy he would have found if he fulfilled the role God gave to him. But think not Heaven is lost to him alone. Nor can it be regained unless the way is shown to him through you, that you may find it, walking by his side.

It is no sacrifice that he be saved, for by his freedom will you gain your own. To let his function be fulfilled is but the means to let yours be. And so you walk toward Heaven or toward hell, but not alone. How beautiful his sinlessness will be when you perceive it! And how great will be your joy, when he is free to offer you the gift of sight God gave to him for you! He has no need but this; that you allow him freedom to complete the task God gave to him. Remembering but this; that what he does you do, along with him. And as you see him, so do you define the function he will have for you, until you see him differently and let him be what God appointed that he be to you.

Against the hatred that the Son of God may cherish toward himself, is God believed to be without the power to save what He created from the pain of hell. But in the love he shows himself is God made free to let His Will be done. In your brother you see the picture of your own belief in what the Will of God must be for you. In your forgiveness will you understand His Love for you; through your attack believe He hates you, thinking Heaven must be hell. Look once again upon your brother, not without the understanding that he is the way to Heaven or to hell, as you perceive him. But forget not this; the role you give to him is given you, and you will walk the way you pointed out to him because it is your judgment on yourself.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 5

Lesson 217
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

(197) It can be but my gratitude I earn.

Who should give thanks for my salvation but myself?
And how but through salvation can I find the Self to
Whom my thanks are due?

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #981: There is a line in A Course in Miracles ( T.25.VI.6:8 ): “His special hate became his special love.” This line appears to say that special love is something good or positive. I was under the impression that for the Course “special love” was just as ego driven, and therefore just as “bad,” as “special hate.”

A: This is a good example of how the Course sometimes gives a term a different meaning. In this case, “special love” is not referring to the specialness of the ego’s love. It refers to a relationship transformed by the Holy Spirit. The passage tells us that the mind that chose hate and sin can choose love and grace. It thereby illustrates Jesus’ teaching that the Holy Spirit uses what the ego made to condemn as a means of salvation. That is not to say that the ego’s use of special love becomes “good.” As with everything of the ego, the special relationship is neither good nor bad. It merely reflects the mind’s choice to identify with the thought of separation and the belief that illusion is real. When the mind chooses the Holy Spirit instead of the ego, the special love or hate relationship is reinterpreted by Him as a classroom to learn to undo the belief in separation. Thus the relationship becomes the means of salvation.

The passage you refer to is further clarified in the text where we are told: “In His function as Interpreter of what you made, the Holy Spirit uses special relationships, which you have chosen to support the ego, as learning experiences that point to truth. Under His teaching, every relationship becomes a lesson in love” ( T.15.V.4:5,6 ). When a relationship is transformed by the Holy Spirit and becomes a “lesson in love,” it is then “special” in a new sense. What makes it special is that its purpose has been changed. The ego’s goal of using it to establish differences and make the separation real is changed to the Holy Spirit’s curriculum of undoing separation through forgiveness. Forgiveness uncovers the exclusiveness of the ego’s love that is used to defend specialness . While the ego bids us use special love to find one’s own completion, the Holy Spirit teaches wholeness expressed in love that is inclusive, not special. Our goal is not to see the special relationship as positive or negative, nor to try not to have them, but to let the Holy Spirit use them to lead us beyond the ego’s specialness to the reflection of love for all the Sonship that He represents.

you have no idea

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for August 1

ACIM Text Reading for August 1

Chapter 25 ~ The Justice of God

II. The Link to Truth
It cannot be that it is hard to do the task that Christ appointed you to do, since it is He Who does it. And in the doing of it will you learn the body merely seems to be the means to do it. For the Mind is His. And so it must be yours. His Holiness directs the body through the mind at one with Him. And you are manifest unto your holy brother, as he to you. Here is the meeting of the holy Christ unto Himself; nor any differences perceived to stand between the aspects of His Holiness, which meet and join and raise Him to His Father, whole and pure and worthy of His everlasting Love.

How can you manifest the Christ in you except to look on holiness and see Him there? Perception tells you you are manifest in what you see. Behold the body, and you will believe that you are there. And every body that you look upon reminds you of yourself; your sinfulness, your evil and, above all, your death. And would you not despise the one who tells you this, and seek his death instead? The message and the messenger are one. And you must see your brother as yourself. Framed in his body you will see your sinfulness, wherein you stand condemned. Set in his holiness, the Christ in him proclaims Himself as you.

Perception is a choice of what you want yourself to be; the world you want to live in, and the state in which you think your mind will be content and satisfied. It chooses where you think your safety lies, at your decision. It reveals yourself to you as you would have you be. And always is it faithful to your purpose, from which it never separates, nor gives the slightest witness unto anything the purpose in your mind upholdeth not. Perception is a part of what it is your purpose to behold, for means and end are never separate. And thus you learn what seems to have a life apart has none.

You are the means for God; not separate, nor with a life apart from His. His life is manifest in you who are His Son. Each aspect of Himself is framed in holiness and perfect purity, in love celestial and so complete it wishes only that it may release all that it looks upon unto itself. Its radiance shines through each body that it looks upon, and brushes all its darkness into light merely by looking past it to the light. The veil is lifted through its gentleness, and nothing hides the face of Christ from its beholders. You and your brother stand before Him now, to let Him draw aside the veil that seems to keep you separate and apart.

Since you believe that you are separate, Heaven presents itself to you as separate, too. Not that it is in truth, but that the link that has been given you to join the truth may reach to you through what you understand. Father and Son and Holy Spirit are as One, as all your brothers join as one in truth. Christ and His Father never have been separate, and Christ abides within your understanding, in the part of you that shares His Father’s Will. The Holy Spirit links the other part–the tiny, mad desire to be separate, different and special–to the Christ, to make the oneness clear to what is really one. In this world this is not understood, but can be taught.

The Holy Spirit serves Christ’s purpose in your mind, so that the aim of specialness can be corrected where the error lies. Because His purpose still is one with Both the Father and the Son, He knows the Will of God and what you really will. But this is understood by mind perceived as one, aware that it is one, and so experienced. It is the Holy Spirit’s function to teach you how this oneness is experienced, what you must do that it can be experienced, and where you should go to do it.

All this takes note of time and place as if they were discrete, for while you think that part of you is separate, the concept of a Oneness joined as One is meaningless. It is apparent that a mind so split could never be the Teacher of a Oneness Which unites all things within Itself. And so What is within this mind, and does unite all things together, must be its Teacher. Yet must It use the language that this mind can understand, in the condition in which it thinks it is. And It must use all learning to transfer illusions to the truth, taking all false ideas of what you are, and leading you beyond them to the truth that is beyond them. All this can very simply be reduced to this:

What is the same can not be different,
And what is one can not have separate parts.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for August 1

Lesson 213
I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

(193) All things are lessons God would have me learn.

A lesson is a miracle which God offers to me, in place of
thoughts I made that hurt me. What I learn of Him becomes
the way I am set free. And so I choose to learn His lessons
and forget my own.

I am not a body. I am free.
For I am still as God created me.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

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

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

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

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

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

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ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for July 7

ACIM Text Reading for July 7

Chapter 21 ~ Reason and Perception

VI. The Function of Reason
Perception selects, and makes the world you see. It literally picks it out as the mind directs. The laws of size and shape and brightness would hold, perhaps, if other things were equal. They are not equal. For what you look for you are far more likely to discover than what you would prefer to overlook. The still, small Voice for God is not drowned out by all the ego’s raucous screams and senseless ravings to those who want to hear It. Perception is a choice and not a fact. But on this choice depends far more than you may realize as yet. For on the voice you choose to hear, and on the sights you choose to see, depends entirely your whole belief in what you are. Perception is a witness but to this, and never to reality. Yet it can show you the conditions in which awareness of reality is possible, or those where it could never be.

Reality needs no cooperation from you to be itself. But your awareness of it needs your help, because it is your choice. Listen to what the ego says, and see what it directs you see, and it is sure that you will see yourself as tiny, vulnerable and afraid. You will experience depression, a sense of worthlessness, and feelings of impermanence and unreality. You will believe that you are helpless prey to forces far beyond your own control, and far more powerful than you. And you will think the world you made directs your destiny. For this will be your faith. But never believe because it is your faith it makes reality.

There is another vision and another Voice in Which your freedom lies, awaiting your choice. And if you place your faith in them, you will perceive another Self in you. This other Self sees miracles as natural. They are as simple and as natural to It as breathing to the body. They are the obvious response to calls for help, the only one it makes. Miracles seem unnatural to the ego because It does not understand how separate minds can influence each other. Nor could they do so. But minds cannot be separate. This other Self is perfectly aware of this. And thus it recognizes that miracles do not affect another’s mind, only Its Own. There is no other.

You do not realize the whole extent to which the idea of separation has interfered with reason. Reason lies in the other Self you have cut off from your awareness. And nothing you have allowed to stay in your awareness is capable of reason. How can the segment of the mind devoid of reason understand what reason is, or grasp the information it would give? All sorts of questions may arise in it, but if the basic question stems from reason, it will not ask it. Like all that stems from reason, the basic question is obvious, simple and remains unasked. But think not reason could not answer it.

God’s plan for your salvation could not have been established without your will and your consent. It must have been accepted by the Son of God, for what God wills for him he must receive. For God wills not apart from him, nor does the Will of God wait upon time to be accomplished. Therefore, what joined the Will of God must be in you now, being eternal. You must have set aside a place in which the Holy Spirit can abide, and where He is. He must have been there since the need for him arose, and was fulfilled in the same instant. Such would your reason tell you, if you listened. Yet such is clearly not the ego’s reasoning. Your reason’s alien nature to the ego is proof you will not find the answer there. Yet if it exists for you, and has your freedom as the purpose given it, you must be free to find it.

God’s plan is simple; never circular and never self-defeating. He has no Thoughts except the Self-extending, and in this your will must be included. Thus, there must be a part of you that knows His Will and shares it. It is not meaningful to ask if what must be is so. But it is meaningful to ask why you are unaware of what is so, for this must have an answer if the plan of God for your salvation is complete. And it must be complete, because its Source knows not of incompletion.

Where would the answer be but in the Source? And where are you but there, where this same answer is? Your Identity, as much a true effect of this same Source as is the answer, must therefore be together and the same. O yes, you know this, and more than this alone. Yet any part of knowledge threatens dissociation as much as all of it. And all of it will come with any part. Here is the part you can accept. What reason points to you can see, because the witnesses on its behalf are clear. Only the totally insane can disregard them, and you have gone past this. Reason is a means that serves the Holy Spirit’s purpose in its own right. It is not reinterpreted and redirected from the goal of sin, as are the others. For reason is beyond the ego’s range of means.

Faith and perception and belief can be misplaced, and serve the great deceiver’s needs as well as truth. But reason has no place at all in madness, nor can it be adjusted to fit its end. Faith and belief are strong in madness, guiding perception toward what the mind has valued. But reason enters not at all in this. For the perception would fall away at once, if reason were applied. There is no reason in insanity, for it depends entirely on reason’s absence. The ego never uses it, because it does not realize that it exists. The partially insane have access to it, and only they have need of it. Knowledge does not depend on it, and madness keeps it out.

The part of mind where reason lies was dedicated, by your will in union with your Father’s, to the undoing of insanity. Here was the Holy Spirit’s purpose accepted and accomplished, both at once. Reason is alien to insanity, and those who use it have gained a means which cannot be applied to sin. Knowledge is far beyond attainment of any kind. But reason can serve to open doors you closed against it.

You have come very close to this. Faith and belief have shifted, and you have asked the question the ego will never ask. Does not your reason tell you now the question must have come from something that you do not know, but must belong to you? Faith and belief, upheld by reason, cannot fail to lead to changed perception. And in this change is room made way for vision. Vision extends beyond itself, as does the purpose that it serves, and all the means for its accomplishment.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for July 7

Lesson 188
The peace of God is shining in me now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #42: Does A Course in Miracles refer to “God” as an interactive god who makes changes and alterations to our physical and worldly existence in relation to our daily actions? The Course initially states that we are changeless but later refers to all the various changes which we make as we progress. I do not understand if we are capable of making any changes or not? If we are changeless, why bother doing anything at all because we are what we are anyway.

A: Although much of the Course refers to God in personal terms, as if He were a concerned Father, distinct from His children, who is watching over us, when we understand the basic metaphysical teachings of the Course on God, it becomes apparent that these kinds of personal, human references to God can not be meant literally. They represent the Course’s attempt to “use the language that this [finite] mind can understand, in the condition [of separation] in which it thinks it is” (T.25.I.7:4) and to correct the misperceptions we hold of God from our ego interpretation of God as an angry, vengeful Father who seeks to punish us for our attacks on Him.

The Course spends very little time on the impossible task of describing to our limited, finite minds the true nature of God, His creations, and reality — “there is no symbol for totality” (T.27.III.5:1) — but there are a few attempts. For example, from the workbook, “What He creates is not apart from Him, and nowhere does the Father end, the Son begin as something separate from Him” (W.pI.12:4). And acknowledging the impossibility of capturing in words That Which is beyond all concepts and symbols: “Oneness is simply the idea God is. And in His Being, He encompasses all things. No mind holds anything but Him. We say ‘God is,’ and then we cease to speak, for in that knowledge words are meaningless. There are no lips to speak them, and no part of mind sufficiently distinct to feel it is now aware of something not itself. It has united with its Source. And like its Source Itself, it merely is” (W.p.I.169.5).

So God, Who is “All in all” (T.7.IV.7:4), can not act on a part of Himself, as if it were separate from Him. And even to refer to Him as “Him” is to attribute a personal nature to the Source of all that in reality is totally abstract. The Course therefore does not describe God as interacting with his children in the world. That role is given to the Holy Spirit as the Voice for God, providing the Holy Spirit a symbolic function, unlike the Father and the Son (T.5.I.4:1). But since the world is all a projection of the basic ego illusion, which has no reality, there really is no world in which the Holy Spirit intervenes, only a mind that believes there is a world. And even then the Voice for God has no active function in the mind — “It merely reminds” (T.5.II.7:4) us of the truth about ourselves and God, which has never changed.

The Course also refers to God as “the Changeless,” (W.pI.112.2:2) and “Formlessness” (W.pI.186.14:1), Who creates “only the changeless” (T.6.IV.12:4). Consequently, it is inconceivable that He could be involved in making changes and alterations in a world of form.

And that brings us to the second question you raise about our changelessness. In our reality as spirit, nothing has changed and we remain sinless, perfect and at one with our Source — this is the principle of the Atonement, repeated numerous times throughout the Course. It is in this sense that we are truly changeless. But clearly this is not what we believe or experience about ourselves. And so the Course does not simply assert what is real and true and leave it at that. That would not be of any help to us, trapped as we seem to be in the morass of our mistaken beliefs. So the Course accepts us where we think we are, acknowledging that we believe that we are each a separate physical being, living as a body in a world of time and space, struggling against forces that seem to be beyond our control. And it offers us the means — forgiveness, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit — to find the way out of this meaningless, senseless maze of beliefs in which we have imprisoned ourselves (T.26.V.4:1). Not because any of it is real, but only because we believe it is. And so long as we believe we have changed ourselves from our true reality as Christ, we will need to move through a seeming process of change that undoes all the changes we believe we have introduced into our identity, until we at last realize that in reality nothing has changed at all and we are back at home in the Heaven we never left, where we have always been. So this is a process of undoing, and not really doing at all. And any change we may seem to experience in the process of undoing our mistaken beliefs is as illusory as the initial thought of change that seemed to expel us from Heaven. But while we hold on to the belief that change is both possible and real, then change will be our experience. And our only choice will be whether to seek for change that reinforces guilt and separation and seems to take us even farther from our true home, or change that results from the practice of forgiveness in the context of our worldly relationships, allowing us to return.

health is inner peace

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 23

ACIM Text Reading for May 23

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

VI. The Bridge to the Real World

The search for the special relationship is the sign that you equate yourself with the ego and not with God. For the special relationship has value only to the ego. To the ego, unless a relationship has special value it has no meaning, for it perceives all love as special. Yet this cannot be natural, for it is unlike the relationship of God and His Son, and all relationships that are unlike this one must be unnatural. For God created love as He would have it be, and gave it as it is. Love has no meaning except as its Creator defined it by His Will. It is impossible to define it otherwise and understand it.

Love is freedom. To look for it by placing yourself in bondage is to separate yourself from it. For the Love of God, no longer seek for union in separation, nor for freedom in bondage! As you release, so will you be released. Forget this not, or Love will be unable to find you and comfort you.

There is a way in which the Holy Spirit asks your help, if you would have His. The holy instant is His most helpful aid in protecting you from the attraction of guilt, the real lure in the special relationship. You do not recognize that this is its real appeal, for the ego has taught you that freedom lies in it. Yet the closer you look at the special relationship, the more apparent it becomes that it must foster guilt and therefore must imprison.

The special relationship is totally meaningless without a body. If you value it, you must also value the body. And what you value you will keep. The special relationship is a device for limiting your self to a body, and for limiting your perception of others to theirs. The Great Rays would establish the total lack of value of the special relationship, if they were seen. For in seeing them the body would disappear, because its value would be lost. And so your whole investment in seeing it would be withdrawn from it.

You see the world you value. On this side of the bridge you see the world of separate bodies, seeking to join each other in separate unions and to become one by losing. When two individuals seek to become one, they are trying to decrease their magnitude. Each would deny his power, for the separate union excludes the universe. Far more is left outside than would be taken in, for God is left without and nothing taken in. If one such union were made in perfect faith, the universe would enter into it. Yet the special relationship the ego seeks does not include even one whole individual. The ego wants but part of him, and sees only this part and nothing else.

Across the bridge it is so different! For a time the body is still seen, but not exclusively, as it is seen here. The little spark that holds the Great Rays within it is also visible, and this spark cannot be limited long to littleness. Once you have crossed the bridge, the value of the body is so diminished in your sight that you will see no need at all to magnify it. For you will realize that the only value the body has is to enable you to bring your brothers to the bridge with you, and to be released together there.

The bridge itself is nothing more than a transition in the perspective of reality. On this side, everything you see is grossly distorted and completely out of perspective. What is little and insignificant is magnified, and what is strong and powerful cut down to littleness. In the transition there is a period of confusion, in which a sense of actual disorientation may occur. But fear it not, for it means only that you have been willing to let go your hold on the distorted frame of reference that seemed to hold your world together. This frame of reference is built around the special relationship. Without this illusion there could be no meaning you would still seek here.

Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference. The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions. Delay will hurt you now more than before, only because you realize it is delay, and that escape from pain is really possible. Find hope and comfort, rather than despair, in this: You could not long find even the illusion of love in any special relationship here. For you are no longer wholly insane, and you would soon recognize the guilt of self-betrayal for what it is.

Nothing you seek to strengthen in the special relationship is really part of you. And you cannot keep part of the thought system that taught you it was real, and understand the Thought that knows what you are. You have allowed the Thought of your reality to enter your mind, and because you invited it, it will abide with you. Your love for it will not allow you to betray yourself, and you could not enter into a relationship where it could not go with you, for you would not want to be apart from it.

Be glad you have escaped the mockery of salvation the ego offered you, and look not back with longing on the travesty it made of your relationships. Now no one need suffer, for you have come too far to yield to the illusion of the beauty and holiness of guilt. Only the wholly insane could look on death and suffering, sickness and despair, and see it thus. What guilt has wrought is ugly, fearful and very dangerous. See no illusion of truth and beauty there. And be you thankful that there is a place where truth and beauty wait for you. Go on to meet them gladly, and learn how much awaits you for the simple willingness to give up nothing because it is nothing.

The new perspective you will gain from crossing over will be the understanding of where Heaven is. From this side, it seems to be outside and across the bridge. Yet as you cross to join it, it will join with you and become one with you. And you will think, in glad astonishment, that for all this you gave up nothing! The joy of Heaven, which has no limit, is increased with each light that returns to take its rightful place within it. Wait no longer, for the Love of God and you. And may the holy instant speed you on the way, as it will surely do if you but let it come to you.

The Holy Spirit asks only this little help of you: Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship which still attracts you, enter with Him into a holy instant, and there let Him release you. He needs only your willingness to share His perspective to give it to you completely. And your willingness need not be complete because His is perfect. It is His task to atone for your unwillingness by His perfect faith, and it is His faith you share with Him there. Out of your recognition of your unwillingness for your release, His perfect willingness is given you. Call upon Him, for Heaven is at His Call. And let Him call on Heaven for you.

***

ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 23

Lesson 141
REVIEW IV
Introduction

Now we review again, this time aware we are preparing for the second part of learning how the truth can be applied. Today we will begin to concentrate on readiness for what will follow next. Such is our aim for this review, and for the lessons following. Thus, we review the recent lessons and their central thoughts in such a way as will facilitate the readiness that we would now achieve.

There is a central theme that unifies each step in the review we undertake, which can be simply stated in these words:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

That is a fact, and represents the truth of What you are and What your Father is. It is this thought by which the Father gave creation to the Son, establishing the Son as co-creator with Himself. It is this thought that fully guarantees salvation to the Son. For in his mind no thoughts can dwell but those his Father shares. Lack of forgiveness blocks this thought from his awareness. Yet it is forever true.

Let us begin our preparation with some understanding of the many forms in which the lack of true forgiveness may be carefully concealed. Because they are illusions, they are not perceived to be but what they are; defenses that protect your unforgiving thoughts from being seen and recognized. Their purpose is to show you something else, and hold correction off through self-deceptions made to take its place.

And yet, your mind holds only what you think with God. Your self-deceptions cannot take the place of truth. No more than can a child who throws a stick into the ocean change the coming and the going of the tides, the warming of the water by the sun, the silver of the moon on it by night. So do we start each practice period in this review with readying our minds to understand the lessons that we read, and see the meaning that they offer us.

Begin each day with time devoted to the preparation of your mind to learn what each idea you will review that day can offer you in freedom and in peace. Open your mind, and clear it of all thoughts that would deceive, and let this thought alone engage it fully, and remove the rest:

My mind holds only what I think with God.

Five minutes with this thought will be enough to set the day along the lines which God appointed, and to place His Mind in charge of all the thoughts you will receive that day.

They will not come from you alone, for they will all be shared with Him. And so each one will bring the message of His Love to you, returning messages of yours to Him. So will communion with the Lord of Hosts be yours, as He Himself has willed it be. And as His Own completion joins with Him, so will He join with you who are complete as you unite with Him, and He with you.

After your preparation, merely read each of the two ideas assigned to you to be reviewed that day. Then close your eyes, and say them slowly to yourself. There is no hurry now, for you are using time for its intended purpose. Let each word shine with the meaning God has given it, as it was given to you through His Voice. Let each idea which you review that day give you the gift that He has laid in it for you to have of Him. And we will use no format for our practicing but this:

Each hour of the day, bring to your mind the thought with which the day began, and spend a quiet moment with it. Then repeat the two ideas you practice for the day unhurriedly, with time enough to see the gifts that they contain for you, and let them be received where they were meant to be.

We add no other thoughts, but let these be the messages they are. We need no more than this to give us happiness and rest, and endless quiet, perfect certainty, and all our Father wills that we receive as the inheritance we have of Him. Each day of practicing, as we review, we close as we began, repeating first the thought that made the day a special time of blessing and of happiness for us; and through our faithfulness restored the world from darkness to the light, from grief to joy, from pain to peace, from sin to holiness.

God offers thanks to you who practice thus the keeping of His Word. And as you give your mind to the ideas for the day again before you sleep, His gratitude surrounds you in the peace wherein He wills you be forever, and are learning now to claim again as your inheritance.

***

ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #392: Reading the following passage in the text of A Course in Miracles brought up a question I’ve had for some time now: “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition. The urgency is only in dislodging your mind from its fixed position here. This will not leave you homeless and without a frame of reference. The period of disorientation, which precedes the actual transition, is far shorter than the time it took to fix your mind so firmly on illusions” (T.16.VI.8:1,2,3,4,5).

Some three years ago, I was doing selected workbook lessons and had reached a state of mind quite different from my “normal” functioning in the world. I was experiencing myself as at one with everyone and everything and aware that the mind is only one. This lasted for quite a while. But it was followed by a period of most intense and vicious ego attacks and I felt completely out of control – seemingly unable to prevent my ego from hurting me in all kinds of ways – sickness, finances, inner state of turmoil, attacking others, attraction to death, etc. I’m now doing the workbook again. How do I know whether I’m being gentle? And how do I sincerely attempt to do what Jesus asks in the workbook without holding back? My prior experience was that doing any one lesson could take me home if I did it wholeheartedly. How does one know that one’s head is far enough above the water to withstand the inevitable return of fear as long as one’s mind is split?

A: The “retaliation of the ego” is really the eruption of the part of your own mind that does not want to relinquish its independence, which would have happened had you continued to identify with oneness. If all at once in a flash you could accept oneness without reservation, chances are you would not be here in the world in the first place. So your response should be respect for the depth of your fear of oneness, but also gratitude for your willingness to return to the pure oneness of Love. Now it’s a matter of patience with yourself and trusting in the process that has begun. It is a gradual process of growing into what seems to be a new identity, but is really just accepting back your natural state of being, which you swore you would never do (T.19.IV.D.6). The strength of our resistance and our fear usually takes us by surprise. One of the most commonly asked questions is how to tell if one’s head is far enough above water to withstand the inevitable return of fear. There really is no way of knowing; but being too concerned about that can detract from our work of forgiving right now.

There is a way of acknowledging and respecting your fear without giving it power over you or denying it either. As you go along, a sense of balance should develop between these two extremes. You never want to force yourself to work with the lessons or to study the text. Any need you might feel to do the lessons perfectly and as quickly as possible always comes from your ego, as time is nothing to Jesus. He’s big on patience and gentleness, not perfection. Readiness does not mean mastery, he tells us (T.2.VII.7:8,9); and being too serious about the lessons just makes the error real. After all, we are undoing something that never happened, and “the outcome is as certain as God” (T.2.III.3:10).

The practice of forgiveness itself will gradually reduce your fear and sense of disorientation. Specifically, the more you practice seeing your interests as not different from anyone else’s — and feeling comfortable with that perception — the more you are undoing the underlying belief in separation, which is the source of all fear. Jesus clearly knows what is involved in this process, and he instructs and reassures us many times, such as in the passage you quoted.

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Q #377: “Whenever your thoughts wander to a special relationship which still attracts you, enter with Him into a holy instant, and there let Him release you.” (T.16.VI.12:1) But how? How do I “enter with Him into a holy instant” — and then “let Him release me”? “He needs only your willingness…” (next sentence). I sincerely want to be released from this relationship because I find it ridiculous anyway — but to date I have been failing miserably and do not know how to get out of it.

A: You have found the key to answer your question in the next sentence: “He needs only your willingness…” However, the willingness required here is not the same as wanting to get out of a relationship because it is ridiculous or in some other way undesirable. It is the willingness to recognize and take responsibility for the ego’s use of the relationship, which is always to make the separation real and hold on to guilt.

Any relationship that attracts you, whether you characterize it as special love or special hate, holds a multitude of thoughts, beliefs, and judgments about yourself and the other person, all based on the belief in separation, thus giving rise to guilt. You enter the holy instant with the Holy Spirit through the process of forgiveness. The first step in this process is to be willing to recognize all the beliefs and judgments you bring to the relationship, and then to question them in the light of the teachings of A Course in Miracles to whatever extent you understand them. This changes the purpose of the relationship from the ego’s goal to the Holy Spirit’s. If you are willing to have these beliefs and judgments transformed by the Holy Spirit, you will be released of them, and His perception will replace yours; thus you enter the Holy Instant. “Never approach the holy instant after you have tried to remove all fear and hatred from your mind. That is its function. Never attempt to overlook your guilt before you ask the Holy Spirit’s help. That is His function. Your part is only to offer Him a little willingness to let Him remove all fear and hatred, and to be forgiven” (T.18.V.2:1,2,3,4,5). Your release is the release of guilt. The relationship will fall away when you no longer have any attraction to the beliefs, judgments and their ensuing guilt in the specific form that this relationship represents.

Into Christ's Presence

ACIM Text Reading & Workbook Lesson for May 21

ACIM Text Reading for May 21

Chapter 16 ~ The Forgiveness of Illusions

IV. The Illusion and the Reality of Love

Be not afraid to look upon the special hate relationship, for freedom lies in looking at it. It would be impossible not to know the meaning of love, except for this. For the special love relationship, in which the meaning of love is hidden, is undertaken solely to offset the hate, but not to let it go. Your salvation will rise clearly before your open eyes as you look on this. You cannot limit hate. The special love relationship will not offset it, but will merely drive it underground and out of sight. It is essential to bring it into sight, and to make no attempt to hide it. For it is the attempt to balance hate with love that makes love meaningless to you. The extent of the split that lies in this you do not realise. And until you do the split will remain unrecognised, and therefore unhealed.

The symbols of hate against the symbols of love play out a conflict that does not exist. For symbols stand for something else, and the symbol of love is without meaning if love is everything. You will go through this last undoing quite unharmed, and will at last emerge as yourself. This is the last step in the readiness for God. Be not unwilling now; you are too near, and you will cross the bridge in perfect safety, translated quietly from war to peace. For the illusion of love will never satisfy; but its reality, which awaits you on the other side, will give you everything.

The special love relationship is an attempt to limit the destructive effects of hate by finding a haven in the storm of guilt. It makes no attempt to rise above the storm, into the sunlight. On the contrary, it emphasises the guilt outside the haven by attempting to build barricades against it, and keep within them. The special love relationship is not perceived as a value in itself, but as a place of safety from which hatred is split off and kept apart. The special love partner is acceptable only as long as he serves this purpose. Hatred can enter, and indeed is welcome in some aspects of the relationship, but it is still held together by the illusion of love. If the illusion goes, the relationship is broken or becomes unsatisfying on the grounds of disillusionment.

Love is not an illusion. It is a fact. Where disillusionment is possible, there was not love but hate. For hate is an illusion, and what can change was never love. It is sure that those who select certain ones as partners in any aspect of living, and use them for any purpose which they would not share with others, are trying to live with guilt rather than die of it. This is the choice they see. And love, to them, is only an escape from death. They seek it desperately, but not in the peace in which it would gladly come quietly to them. And when they find the fear of death is still upon them, the love relationship loses the illusion that it is what it is not. When the barricades against it are broken, fear rushes in and hatred triumphs.

There are no triumphs of love. Only hate is at all concerned with the ‘triumph of love’. The illusion of love can triumph over the illusion of hate, but always at the price of making both illusions. As long as the illusion of hatred lasts, so long will love be an illusion to you. And then the only choice remaining possible is which illusion you prefer. There is no conflict in the choice between truth and illusion. Seen in these terms, no-one would hesitate. But conflict enters the instant the choice seems to be one between illusions, but this choice does not matter. Where one choice is as dangerous as the other, the decision must be one of despair.

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. It is not necessary to seek for what is true, but it is necessary to seek for what is false. Every illusion is one of fear, whatever form it takes. And the attempt to escape from one illusion into another must fail. If you seek love outside yourself you can be certain that you perceive hatred within, and are afraid of it. Yet peace will never come from the illusion of love, but only from its reality.

Recognise this, for it is true, and truth must be recognised if it is to be distinguished from illusion: The special love relationship is an attempt to bring love into separation. And, as such, it is nothing more than an attempt to bring love into fear, and make it real in fear. In fundamental violation of love’s one condition, the special love relationship would accomplish the impossible. How but in illusion could this be done? It is essential that we look very closely at exactly what it is you think you can do to solve the dilemma which seems very real to you, but which does not exist. You have come close to truth, and only this stands between you and the bridge that leads you into it.

Heaven waits silently, and your creations are holding out their hands to help you cross and welcome them. For it is they you seek. You seek but for your own completion, and it is they who render you complete. The special love relationship is but a shabby substitute for what makes you whole in truth, not in illusion. Your relationship with them is without guilt, and this enables you to look on all your brothers with gratitude, because your creations were created in union with them. Acceptance of your creations is the acceptance of the oneness of creation, without which you could never be complete. No specialness can offer you what God has given, and what you are joined with Him in giving.

Across the bridge is your completion, for you will be wholly in God, willing for nothing special, but only to be wholly like to Him, completing Him by your completion. Fear not to cross to the abode of peace and perfect holiness. Only there is the completion of God and of His Son established forever. Seek not for this in the bleak world of illusion, where nothing is certain and where everything fails to satisfy. In the Name of God, be wholly willing to abandon all illusions. In any relationship in which you are wholly willing to accept completion, and only this, there is God completed, and His Son with Him.

The bridge that leads to union in yourself must lead to knowledge, for it was built with God beside you, and will lead you straight to Him where your completion rests, wholly compatible with His. Every illusion you accept into your mind by judging it to be attainable removes your own sense of completion, and thus denies the Wholeness of your Father. Every fantasy, be it of love or hate, deprives you of knowledge for fantasies are the veil behind which truth is hidden. To lift the veil that seems so dark and heavy, it is only needful to value truth beyond all fantasy, and to be entirely unwilling to settle for illusion in place of truth.

Would you not go through fear to love? For such the journey seems to be. Love calls, but hate would have you stay. Hear not the call of hate, and see no fantasies. For your completion lies in truth, and nowhere else. See in the call of hate, and in every fantasy that rises to delay you, but the call for help that rises ceaselessly from you to your Creator. Would He not answer you whose completion is His? He loves you, wholly without illusion, as you must love. For love is wholly without illusion, and therefore wholly without fear. Whom God remembers must be whole. And God has never forgotten what makes Him whole. In your completion lie the memory of His Wholeness and His gratitude to you for His completion. In His link with you lie both His inability to forget and your ability to remember. In Him are joined your willingness to love and all the Love of God, Who forgot you not.

Your Father can no more forget the truth in you than you can fail to remember it. The Holy Spirit is the bridge to Him, made from your willingness to unite with Him and created by His joy in union with you. The journey that seemed endless is almost complete, for what is endless is very near. You have almost recognised it. Turn with me firmly away from all illusions now, and let nothing stand in the way of truth. We will take the last useless journey away from truth together, and then together we go straight to God, in joyous answer to His call for His completion.

If special relationships of any kind would hinder God’s completion, can they have any value to you? What would interfere with God must interfere with you. Only in time does interference in God’s completion seem to be possible. The bridge that He would carry you across lifts you from time into eternity. Waken from time, and answer fearlessly the call of Him Who gave eternity to you in your creation. On this side of the bridge to timelessness you understand nothing. But as you step lightly across it, upheld by timelessness, you are directed straight to the Heart of God. At its centre, and only there, you are safe forever, because you are complete forever. There is no veil the Love of God in us together cannot lift. The way to truth is open. Follow it with me.

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ACIM Workbook Lesson for May 21

Lesson 140
Only salvation can be said to cure.

“Cure” is a word that cannot be applied to any remedy the world accepts as beneficial. What the world perceives as therapeutic is but what will make the body “better.” When it tries to heal the mind, it sees no separation from the body, where it thinks the mind exists. Its forms of healing thus must substitute illusion for illusion. One belief in sickness takes another form, and so the patient now perceives himself as well.

He is not healed. He merely had a dream that he was sick, and in the dream he found a magic formula to make him well. Yet he has not awakened from the dream, and so his mind remains exactly as it was before. He has not seen the light that would awaken him and end the dream. What difference does the content of a dream make in reality? One either sleeps or wakens. There is nothing in between.

The happy dreams the Holy Spirit brings are different from the dreaming of the world, where one can merely dream he is awake. The dreams forgiveness lets the mind perceive do not induce another form of sleep, so that the dreamer dreams another dream. His happy dreams are heralds of the dawn of truth upon the mind. They lead from sleep to gentle waking, so that dreams are gone. And thus they cure for all eternity.

Atonement heals with certainty, and cures all sickness. For the mind which understands that sickness can be nothing but a dream is not deceived by forms the dream may take. Sickness where guilt is absent cannot come, for it is but another form of guilt. Atonement does not heal the sick, for that is not a cure. It takes away the guilt that makes the sickness possible. And that is cure indeed. For sickness now is gone, with nothing left to which it can return.

Peace be to you who have been cured in God, and not in idle dreams. For cure must come from holiness, and holiness can not be found where sin is cherished. God abides in holy temples. He is barred where sin has entered. Yet there is no place where He is not. And therefore sin can have no home in which to hide from His beneficence. There is no place where holiness is not, and nowhere sin and sickness can abide.

This is the thought that cures. It does not make distinctions among unrealities. Nor does it seek to heal what is not sick, unmindful where the need for healing is. This is no magic. It is merely an appeal to truth, which cannot fail to heal and heal forever. It is not a thought that judges an illusion by its size, its seeming gravity, or anything that is related to the form it takes. It merely focuses on what it is, and knows that no illusion can be real.

Let us not try today to seek to cure what cannot suffer sickness. Healing must be sought but where it is, and then applied to what is sick, so that it can be cured. There is no remedy the world provides that can effect a change in anything. The mind that brings illusions to the truth is really changed. There is no change but this. For how can one illusion differ from another but in attributes that have no substance, no reality, no core, and nothing that is truly different?

Today we seek to change our minds about the source of sickness, for we seek a cure for all illusions, not another shift among them. We will try today to find the source of healing, which is in our minds because our Father placed it there for us. It is not farther from us than ourselves. It is as near to us as our own thoughts; so close it is impossible to lose. We need but seek it and it must be found.

We will not be misled today by what appears to us as sick. We go beyond appearances today and reach the source of healing, from which nothing is exempt. We will succeed to the extent to which we realize that there can never be a meaningful distinction made between what is untrue and equally untrue. Here there are no degrees, and no beliefs that what does not exist is truer in some forms than others. All of them are false, and can be cured because they are not true.

So do we lay aside our amulets, our charms and medicines, our chants and bits of magic in whatever form they take. We will be still and listen for the Voice of healing, which will cure all ills as one, restoring saneness to the Son of God. No voice but this can cure. Today we hear a single Voice which speaks to us of truth, where all illusions end, and peace returns to the eternal, quiet home of God.

We waken hearing Him, and let Him speak to us five minutes as the day begins, and end the day by listening again five minutes more before we go to sleep. Our only preparation is to let our interfering thoughts be laid aside, not separately, but all of them as one. They are the same. We have no need to make them different, and thus delay the time when we can hear our Father speak to us. We hear Him now. We come to Him today.

With nothing in our hands to which we cling, with lifted hearts and listening minds we pray:

Only salvation can be said to cure.
Speak to us, Father, that we may be healed.

And we will feel salvation cover us with soft protection, and with peace so deep that no illusion can disturb our minds, nor offer proof to us that it is real. This will we learn today. And we will say our prayer for healing hourly, and take a minute as the hour strikes, to hear the answer to our prayer be given us as we attend in silence and in joy. This is the day when healing comes to us. This is the day when separation ends, and we remember Who we really are.

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ACIM Q & A for Today

Q #229: I am confused by a passage from Lesson #140 in A Course in Miracles: “Only salvation can be said to cure.” It says, “So do we lay aside our amulets, our charms and medicines …We will be still and listen for the Voice of healing, Which will cure all ills as one.…” I believe that we create our own sickness. I have had hypothyroidism for the past 24 years or so and have also been diagnosed with depression. I do believe in the absolute faith in God and His truth. Do I stop taking my medications? I realize that I have an underlying fear of the consequences of untreated hypothyroidism. Can my faith remove these conditions? Is the healing referred to here physical, spiritual, or otherwise. I feel very lost about this.

A: Please do not stop taking your medications. That is not the goal of this workbook lesson. Jesus would never ask us to give up anything in the world of form that still seems to help us feel better, that controls our bodily symptoms and reduces our pain and fear (T.2.IV.4:5,6,7,8,9,10; 5). He is only trying to get us to look beyond our tacit assumptions about sickness and cures.

Specifically, the purpose of this lesson is to help us begin to understand that it is not the body that is sick or that should be our focus for healing. Rather it is the mind that believes that separation and guilt are real. That is the idea behind the lines: “Atonement does not heal the sick, for that is not a cure. It takes away the guilt that makes the sickness possible. And that is cure indeed” (W.pI.140.4:4,5,6). And later in the lesson, “Let us not try today to seek to cure what cannot suffer sickness [the body]. Healing must be sought but where it is [in the mind], and then applied to what is sick [the mind], so that it [the mind] can be cured” (W.pI.140.7:1,2). This idea is asserted with great clarity in the text: “The body needs no healing. But the mind that thinks it is a body is sick indeed!” (T.25.in.3:1,2).

This lesson is not attempting to bring about any change in our behavior, such as having us stop our medications. Rather, we are being invited to open up to a different way of thinking about what is sick and why. And once we begin to accept that illness is in the mind and comes from our unconscious but illusory belief in guilt — guilt over thinking we have separated ourselves from and attacked our Source — we can then begin to understand that healing simply involves a process of undoing these beliefs — what the Course refers to as forgiveness. So keep taking your medications, but at the same time, invite Jesus in to look with you at the guilt in your mind that has led you to believe not only that you are a body, but that you deserve to suffer. Jesus accepts neither of those beliefs about you, but you still do, and so you need his guidance.

As a point of clarification, the Course’s meaning of faith is different from traditional uses, such as in faith healing. God does not heal our sickness — the Course is not asking us to place our faith in Him to take away all our illness and pain. By faith, the Course is referring to the allegiance we give to either the ego or the Holy Spirit to guide our thinking, with the inevitable outcomes that follow putting our faith in each teacher (T.13.IX.2:3,4,5,6). Place your faith in the ego’s interpretation of yourself and others and you are guaranteeing yourself guilt, fear, pain, illness and death. Place your faith in the Holy Spirit’s interpretation and you are guaranteeing yourself peace, love, joy and life. And to place your faith in the Holy Spirit means that you are willing to replace judgment and attack upon yourself and others with the healing balm of forgiveness.

For related discussions on healing and illness, see also Questions #57, #128 and #142.

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